Sessions pushes for crackdown on illegal immigrants who commit crimes

Sessions pushes for crackdown on illegal immigrants who commit crimes
© Greg Nash

The Department of Justice on Tuesday instructed prosecutors to crack down on undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, directing employees to step up "criminal immigration enforcement." 

The Justice Department will add 50 immigration judges this year and 75 next year, Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe shifting impeachment positions of Jonathan Turley Rosenstein, Sessions discussed firing Comey in late 2016 or early 2017: FBI notes Justice Dept releases another round of summaries from Mueller probe MORE said during a speech to Customs and Border Protection in Nogales, Ariz., along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We mean international criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent civilians, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks, even beheadings," Sessions said. "They threaten the very integrity of our nations and our hemisphere. It is here on this sliver of land, on this border, where we first take our stand. It is a direct threat to our legal system and to our peace and prosperity."

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Sessions strayed slightly from his prepared remarks. He had planned to say "where we first take our stand against this filth," a line that quickly made the rounds on social media. It is not uncommon for Sessions to not stick exactly to his speeches as written.

“In this fight, I am here to tell you, the brave men and women of the Customs and Border Protection: We hear you. We hear your concerns. We have your back. Under the president’s leadership and guided by his executive orders, we will secure this border and bring the full weight of both the immigration courts and the federal enforcement and prosecutor to combat this attack on our national security and our sovereignty,” he said.

Sessions in the speech said he directed federal prosecutors to “consider for prosecution” offenses including the transferring or harboring of undocumented immigrants and assaulting a law enforcement officer. 

Other offenses included in the directive for prosecution are document fraud and aggravated identity theft. 

Sessions also said undocumented immigrants who enter the country illegally after previously being removed will be “referred for felony prosecution.”

The attorney general said the department in the "Trump era" would focus on securing the border, dismantling drug cartels and prosecuting criminal undocumented workers.

“We will deploy a multifaceted approach.  We are going to interdict your drugs on the way into this country, your money on the way out, and investigate and prosecute your trafficking networks to the fullest extent of the law," he said. 

Updated at 3:23 p.m.