While President Trump’s White House staff is allegedly engaged in a debilitating internecine war between those who wish to pursue the agenda the President campaigned on and the so-called “West Wing Democrats” led by chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, one leading figure in the Trump administration is hewing relentlessly to the President’s campaign agenda.
And that person is Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Yesterday, Sessions paid a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border during a trip to Nogales, Arizona, where he spoke to a group of Customs and Border Protection agents and prosecutors.
(You can read General Sessions’ remarks in their entirety through this link.)
In his remarks, the Attorney General announced that he has issued a memo to United States Attorneys that mandates the prioritization of criminal immigration enforcement. The memo directs federal prosecutors to focus on offenses that, Sessions believes, if aggressively charged and prosecuted, can help prevent and deter illegal immigration.
Sessions declared: “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 immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.”
Additionally, the Attorney General revealed that the Department of Justice will add 50 more immigration judges to the bench this year and 75 next year. He also highlighted the Department’s plan to streamline its hiring of judges, reflecting the dire need to reduce the backlogs in our immigration courts:
In this fight, I am here to tell you, the brave men and women of Customs and Border Protection: we hear you and we have your back. 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.
The President has made this a priority — and already we are seeing the results. From January to February of this year, illegal crossings dropped by 40 percent, which was unprecedented. Then, last month, we saw a 72 percent drop compared to the month before the President was inaugurated. That’s the lowest monthly figure for at least 17 years.
This is no accident. This is what happens when you have a President who understands the threat, who is not afraid to publicly identify the threat and stand up to it, and who makes clear to law enforcement that the leadership of their country finally has their back. Together, we will drastically reduce the danger posed by criminal aliens, gang members and cartel henchmen.
In the analysis of our friends at the Heritage Foundation, Sessions backed up this statement by unveiling a series of new policies.
Most importantly, he announced that each of the 94 U.S. attorney’s offices must now designate one of its prosecutors as a Border Security Coordinator. Additionally, he announced that every federal prosecutor should consider prosecuting anybody accused of committing immigration-related offenses using the following guidelines:
Prosecute anyone suspected of transporting or harboring an illegal alien;
1. Charging those who unlawfully enter or attempt to enter the country with a felony offense if they have two or more prior misdemeanor convictions for improper entry, or one prior misdemeanor conviction for improper entry when accompanied by other aggravating circumstances;
2. Charging anyone who re-enters the country after a prior removal with a felony, if the person has criminal record indicating that he or she poses a danger to public safety or is affiliated with a gang;
3. Charging those who engage in identity theft or immigration-related document fraud with felonies, including mandatory minimum offenses; and
4. Charging anyone accused of assaulting, resisting, or impeding a federal law enforcement officer.
The announcement of the plan to appoint dozens of new immigration judges was welcome because there are over 540,000 cases pending before 301 immigration judges, which works out to about 1,800 cases per judge.
Sessions also announced that the Justice Department had “already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.”
This was part of the previously announced effort to reassign immigration judges to 12 cities (New York; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; San Francisco; Baltimore, Bloomington, Minnesota; El Paso, Texas; Harlingen, Texas; Imperial, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and Phoenix, Arizona) that have the highest number of illegal immigrants with criminal charges.
As our friends at Heritage observed, in addition to proceeding with building a wall along the Mexican border, the Trump administration has also called for the hiring of 5,000 more border patrol agents and 10,000 more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents over the next couple of years.
In concluding his remarks General Sessions brought his listeners back to the families of the victims of illegal alien violence, one of the key moments in President Trump’s campaign:
Why are we doing this? Because it is what the duly enacted laws of the United States require. I took an oath to protect this country from all enemies, foreign and domestic. How else can we look the parents and loved ones of Kate Steinle, Grant Ronnebeck, and so many others in [the] eye and say we are doing everything possible to prevent such tragedies from ever occurring again?
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