U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the Trump administration’s new, toughened immigration law-enforcement policy while he visited the U.S.-Mexico border area near Nogales, Arizona, on April 11. Sessions earned a reputation as an outspoken advocate of strict enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws while representing Alabama as a senator for 20 years prior to assuming his present post.
While in Nogales, which is a port of entry into the United States, Sessions spoke to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel stationed there and distributed copies of a memo his office sent to U.S. attorneys that mandates the prioritization of immigration laws for criminal aliens. He then thanked the individuals serving at that station for hosting his visit and praised them for putting “themselves in harm’s way each day to secure our borders and protect us.”
Addressing the CBP, Sessions noted our nation’s southwest border is ground zero in the fight against illegal immigration. He observed that along that border, transnational gangs such as MS-13 and international drug cartels flood our country with drugs, resulting in a wave of death and violence.
He also noted that it is along our borders that criminal aliens, the "coyotes" who transport them, and the document-forgers who help illegal aliens gain entry “seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration.”
Sessions pulled no punches in describing the worst elements among the illegal aliens:
When we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.
It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.
Sessions assured the CBP personnel: “We hear you and we have your back.”
The attorney general emphasized that under President Trump’s leadership and through his executive orders, “we will secure this border and bring the full weight of both the immigration courts and federal criminal enforcement to combat this attack on our national security and sovereignty.”
Session’s address to CBP workers, which was posted online by the Justice Department, noted that, effective April 11, federal prosecutors are now required to consider for prosecution all of the following offenses:
• “The transportation or harboring of aliens.”
• In cases “where an alien has unlawfully entered the country, which is a misdemeanor, that alien will now be charged with a felony if they unlawfully enter or attempt to enter a second time and certain aggravating circumstances are present.”
• “Aliens that illegally re-enter the country after prior removal will be referred for felony prosecution — and a priority will be given to such offenses, especially where indicators of gang affiliation, a risk to public safety or criminal history are present.”
• “Where possible, prosecutors are directed to charge criminal aliens with document fraud and aggravated identity theft — the latter carrying a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.”
• All 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices are to “make the prosecution of assault on a federal law enforcement officer … a top priority. If someone [assaults an immigration enforcement officer] in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it.”
Sessions told the CBP staff that to ensure that these priorities are implemented, effective April 11, each U.S. Attorney’s Office (whether on the border or interior) will designate an assistant U.S. attorney as the border security coordinator for their district. This prosecutor will be responsible for coordinating the criminal immigration enforcement response for their respective offices.
Sessions followed up during his appearance on Fox News’ Hannity that same evening. He said that the Trump administration is trying to send a strong message to anyone thinking of trying to enter America illegally.
“The border is not open. Please don’t come.” Sessions said in an interview with host Sean Hannity. “You will be apprehended if you do come and you will be deported promptly. If you’re a criminal, you will be prosecuted, and if you assault our officers, we’re going to come at you [like] a ton of bricks.”
The message that Sessions delivered on April 11 is more than tough talk, apparently. We noted in an article on March 9 that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had issued a statement on March 8 sharing data released by CBP showing a 40-percent drop in apprehensions of illegal immigrants from January to February. The number of illegal aliens apprehended during that period fell from 31,578 to 18,762 persons.
Kelly’s statement observed: “The drop in apprehensions shows a marked change in trends. Since the Administration’s implementation of Executive Orders to enforce immigration laws, apprehensions and inadmissible activity is trending toward the lowest monthly total in at least the last five years.”
Photo: AP Images