On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the next stages of cracking down on the illegal immigration problem in the U.S.
Sessions said that the Justice Department would aggressively prosecute repeat illegal immigrants and smugglers. He also said that the “catch and release” policy would be put to an end.
“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our laws, and the catch and release policies of the past are over,” said Sessions, while visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona. “Under the President’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.”
To make sure that the government can appropriately start executing these new strict immigration policies, the Justice Department will hire 125 more judges to handle immigration cases with in the next two years.
Opponents of the “new era” believe that attorneys should be focusing on improving public safety, instead of trying to scare illegal immigrants.
“Criminalizing immigration violations among individuals who are peaceably living in and contributing to our communities only will sow fear and chaos,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “Immigration enforcement should prioritize violent criminals and traffickers.”
According to a recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, roughly half of all federal arrests in 2014 were for immigration crimes. 93% of these occurred along the border.
However, cracking down on illegal immigration even more will ultimately reduce crime.
“Felony charges will be sought against those with two or more misdemeanor illegal entry convictions or at least one illegal entry conviction and another aggravating factor such as a felony criminal history, gang affiliation or prior removals from the U.S., writes The Washington Times. “Prosecutors were also told to give priority to identity theft, visa or document fraud committed by illegal immigrants, and assault on law enforcement officers engaged in immigration duties. Citing violence associated with drug cartels and the MS-13 criminal gang, Mr. Sessions said the measures are meant to reduce the danger posed by those who enter the United States illegally and commit crimes.”
Although Sessions announced that his department would be hiring more judges and Trump’s plan calls for 100 more border control officers, the Justice Department did not share anymore details about the other resources that will be allocated to reduce illegal immigration.
“The president’s budget blueprint made clear the department’s commitment to public safety, combating violent crime, drug trafficking and illegal immigration,” said Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior. “There will be additional details in the rollout of agency budgets this spring, but no further details at this time.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer expressed similar sentiments and said that the administration “is committed to ending the practice of smuggling gangs and cartels across the border that flood our country with drugs and violence.”
Editor’s note: Yet another Obama era policy finally off the books.