On April 6, 2018, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III notified all U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border of a new “zero-tolerance policy” for offenses under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(prohibiting both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry in the United States by an alien). “The situation at our Southwest Border is unacceptable. Congress has failed to pass effective legislation that serves the national interest—that closes dangerous loopholes and fully funds a wall along our southern border. As a result, a crisis has erupted at our Southwest Border that necessitates an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The new policy comes as the Department of Homeland Security reported a 203 percent increase illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018. SeeDHS Southwest Border Migration FY2018.
The recent increase follows a steep drop in illegal border crossings after President Trump’s inauguration, which were historically low through most of his first summer in office.
On April 11, in a follow-up to his zero-tolerance policy, the Attorney General sent a memorandum for all federal prosecutors titled Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement, detailing the new charging-practice policies in immigration cases.
(The American Sentinel Newsletter notes that while the problem of illegal entry into our nation must be and remain a priority for the Trump Administration, zero-tolerance policies which strip local authorities of their discretion fly in the face of the very reasoning underlying the creation of local United States Attorneys – the need for charging decisions to reflect the will of the people in the district such decisions are being made – and are, in the opinion of the Sentinel, dangerously federalistic.)