Lawrence Bryant / Reuters
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday ordered federal prosecutors to take a tougher approach against undocumented immigrants and the “filth” that are gangs and cartels along the border.
In prepared remarks, Sessions referred to it as a new era “where we first take our stand against this filth.”
“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era,” he told reporters along the border in Nogales, Arizona. “This is the Trump era.”
Sessions said federal prosecutors are now required to make prosecuting people who transport and harbor undocumented immigrants a top priority. And migrants who are in the country illegally, a misdemeanor, will now be charged with a felony if they enter or attempt to enter the US a second time and “certain aggravating circumstances are present.”
A memo issued Tuesday by Sessions elevated the immigration priorities and crimes that he said were “often not prosecuted in the past.”
Sessions also told federal prosecutors to continue to charge undocumented immigrants who re-enter the country after being deported with a felony. Priority would be given to undocumented immigrants with gang affiliations, who pose a risk to public safety, or have a criminal history, he added.
He also ordered US attorneys to charge undocumented immigrants, when possible, with document fraud and aggravated identity theft. He also directed prosecutors to make charging an assault on a federal law enforcement officer a top priority.
“If someone dares to assault one of our folks in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it,” Sessions said.
To handle the influx of cases, Sessions said his administration will put 50 more immigration judges on the bench this year, and 75 more in 2018.
The new direction from Sessions comes after President Trump signed executive orders putting almost all 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of immediate deportation.