A new directive by the Trump administration has paved the way for the criminal prosecution of every migrant caught jumping the US-Mexico border, as opposed to civil deportation proceedings employed in most cases up until now.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued the directive last week, announcing that DHS will refer those entering the country illegally for criminal cases.
Illegal entry into the United States is a misdemeanor crime, however attempts to sneak back in after a prior deportation are a felony which DHS says needs to be enforced.
“DHS will enforce the immigration laws as set forth by Congress,” said a Homeland Security official via the Washington Times.
The move will be a major test for federal prosecutors and courts, who could see their caseloads surge as they deal with what could be thousands of new cases each month.
But it’s likely to thrill Border Patrol agents who had begged for the government to impose serious consequences on illegal immigrants, for whom crossing the border, getting deported and trying again is just a part of their way of life. –Washington Times
On Monday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinforced the DOJ’s new push at curbing illegal immigration, telling a Scottsdale, Arizona law enforcement conference that those entering the country illegally with children will be subejct to separation.
“If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” said Sessions. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Later, speaking from San Diego, Sessions reiterated the push – only changing his language from “will be separated from you” to “may be separated from you as required by law.”
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you – and that child may be separated from you as required by law,” AG Jeff Sessions says during speech at U.S.-Mexico border. https://t.co/FjCeNLvINp pic.twitter.com/t0RRjU2inx
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) May 7, 2018
Protesting Sessions was a man equipped with a bullhorn wearing a white shirt which read “Nazi Fascistas ¡No Pasarán!” – who asks “Why are you here? Are you gonna be separating families? Don’t.. why are you doing this? Do you have a heart? Do you have a soul?”
— Artie Ojeda (@ArtieNBCSD) May 7, 2018
Sessions announced last Wednesday that the DOJ will be sending 35 prosecutors and 18 judges to the southern U.S. border in order to more efficiently prosecute illegal immigrants. Texas will receive 15 attorneys, followed by eight to California, six to Arizona and six to New Mexico. The judges will be deployed similarly.
“The American people made very clear their desire to secure our borders and prioritize the public safety and national security of our homeland,” said Sessions. “Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is essential to our republic. By deploying these additional resources to the Southwest border, the Justice Department and the Trump Administration take yet another step in protecting our nation, its borders, and its citizens. It must be clear that there is no right to demand entry without justification.”
In early 2018, the Washington Times reported on one migrant who was deported a record 44 times between 2000 and 2015, while migrants with over a dozen deportations “are not unusual.” The Times points out that the immigrant who murdered Kate Steinle in 2015 had been deported five times.
About two-thirds of all asylum claims lodged with U.S. Customs and Border Protection last year came between the ports of entry, meaning people jumped the border, were caught and then asked for asylum.
Homeland Security said those migrants, if they jump the border, will be prosecuted for illegal entry while their asylum cases proceed, just like other border jumpers. –Washington Times
“Those apprehended will be sent directly to federal court under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service, and their children will be transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. The U.S. Marshals will then place the individuals in approved detention centers during the course of the criminal process and, if convicted, to complete their sentences,” the official said.
“During the prosecutorial process, immigration proceedings will be advanced by ICE Enforcement Removal Operations (ERO). Upon completion of the criminal proceedings, and after a finding of removability, individuals will be returned to their country of origin.”
The DHS push to secure the border and criminally prosecute illegal entries into the country comes two weeks after the remains of a giant migrant “caravan” made its way from Central America to the San Ysidro border crossing. The last of the 181 asylum seekers from the caravan entered the U.S. on Friday and are currently being processed.
President Trump railed against the caravan, calling it a threat to national security, while Sessions referred to it as “a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system.”
It turns out all Trump needed to justify beefing up border enforcement was a giant caravan of illegal immigrants directly challenging the U.S. border.