Sessions Mum on Border Wall As He Announces New Crackdown on Criminal Aliens, Gangs, Cartels

by SUSAN JONES April 12, 2017

In two speeches in Arizona on Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new measures to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, but he never once mentioned President Trump's long-promised border wall.

Sessions pointed to the sharp drop in illegal border crossings since Trump became president:

"This is what happens when you have a president who understands the threat, who is not afraid to publicly identify the threat and to stand up to it and who makes clear to law enforcement that the leadership of their country finally has their back, and tells the whole world that the illegality is over," Sessions told Customs and Border Protection agents in Nogales.

He then announced "new guidance" on criminal enforcement of immigration laws.

"Starting today, federal prosecutors are now required to consider for prosecution all of the following offenses, often not prosecuted in the past," Sessions said.

He outlined those offenses in both speeches:

-- The transportation or harboring of aliens. We are going to shut down and jail those who are profiting off this lawlessness - people who smuggle gang members and convicted criminals across the border, and who prey on those who don't know how dangerous the journey can be.

-- Further, where an alien has unlawfully entered the country, which is a misdemeanor, that alien will now be charged with a felony if they unlawfully enter or attempt to enter a second time and certain aggravating circumstances are present.

-- Also, aliens that illegally re-enter the country after prior removal will be referred for felony prosecution - and a priority will be given to such offenses, especially where indicators of gang affiliation, a risk to public safety or criminal history are present.

-- Fourth: where possible, prosecutors are directed to charge criminal aliens with document fraud and aggravated identity theft - the latter carrying a two-year mandatory minimum sentence.

-- Finally, and perhaps most importantly: I have directed that all 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices make the prosecution of assault on a federal law enforcement officer a top priority. If someone dares to assault one of our people in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it.

Sessions had a warning for those who continue to seek unlawful entry into this country: "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," he said.

Sessions also announced a series of reforms regarding immigration judges to address the backlogs in immigration courts:

"Pursuant to the President's executive order, we will now be detaining all adults who we apprehend at the border," Sessions said. "To support this mission, we have already surged 25 immigration judges to detention centers along the border.

"In addition, we will put 50 more immigration judges on the bench this year and 75 next year. We can no longer afford to wait 18 to 24 months to get these new judges on the bench. So today, I have implemented a new, streamlined hiring plan."

Sessions noted that Congress has set "very generous rules" for immigration to the United States, and the American people have "pleaded" with Congress to enforce those rules for many, many years:

"They have often gotten promises from their leaders, but no action. Now is the time for action. Now is a time we will have results."

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Susan brings to a strong background in broadcast writing and editing. She joined in April 1999, after working for 18 years as a television producer and news-writer in the Washington, D.C., Denver, and Greensboro, N.C., television markets. Susan holds a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College and a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University.    

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