Here are some highlights from the Attorney General’s remarks:
Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed.
That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution. And the Department of Justice will take up those cases.
I have put in place a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.
If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you.
If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law.
If you make false statements to an immigration officer or file a fraudulent asylum claim, that’s a felony.
If you help others to do so, that’s a felony, too. You’re going to jail.
In order to carry out these important new enforcement policies, I have sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwest and moved 18 immigration judges to the border. These are supervisory judges that don’t have existing caseloads and will be able to function full time on moving these cases. That will be about a 50 percent increase in the number of immigration judges who will be handling the asylum claims.
Previously, the Attorney General sent a memorandum to all federal prosecutors on April 11, 2018, titled Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement , detailing new charging-practice policies in immigration cases. A Statement from DHS Press Secretary on April Border Numbers, released May, 2018, echoes the Attorney General’s remarks, warning: “If you enter our country illegally, you have broken the law and will be referred for prosecution. DHS has zero tolerance for those who break the law and will no longer exempt classes or groups of individuals from prosecution. Whether you are a single adult or an adult member of a family unit, if you are apprehended you will be prosecuted and put in removal proceedings.” The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s border migration numbers for April 2018 are here.
As The Sentinel Sees It:
The Sentinel is deeply concerned with the matter of illegal immigration and serious criminal acts involved with human smuggling across the borders of our great land.
We are likewise concerned about the overreaching nature Mr. Sessions past acts, both in the Senate and as our Attorney General and worry that this most current action will not reduce the number of people desperate to reach our country, but will instead increase their desperation, risking the lives of our troops and border agents.
Criminal prosecution zero tolerance policies take charging discretion away from the local United States Attorneys, who are put in place specifically for the purpose of determining, on a case-by-case basis, what the appropriate action is in any given situation.
These men and woman are selected carefully, not just for their extensive legal experience, but also for their awareness of the needs of their local communities. The exercise of their discretion and common sense help keep our justice system, if not perfect, one of best in the world.
Zero tolerance policies and Washington based mandates don’t only call into question the level of trust Attorney General Sessions has in our nation’s U.S. Attorneys, it also questions his respect for our entire system of justice and the will of the American people.
This matter extends well beyond the important question of immigration into other essential areas. Stripping the United States Attorneys of their charging discretion on this issue could well lead to a loss of it on others until, ultimately, only bureaucratic absolutes from the District remain.
The Sentinel stands firm on the importance of recognizing and addressing criminal conduct, but urges AG Sessions and President Trump to review this “zero tolerance” mandate and return charging authority to were it belongs, in the hands of the experienced men and women the President appointed and the Senate confirmed to make such decisions.