Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, made several comments about the new memo from the Justice Department while visiting the border between the US and Mexico. The memo sets many new priorities for immigration enforcement and ends the ‘catch and release’ policy used by the Obama administration.
Federal prosecutors have been ordered to prioritize leveling criminal charges against undocumented immigrants with other criminal convictions or who have been deported from the US before, as well as those who have assisted with smuggling other undocumented immigrants over the border. In prepared remarks, Sessions warned those still looking to enter the country illegally, that the Trump administration represented a new era in which lawlessness and the abdication of duty in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws were at an end, as was the former ‘catch and release’ policy.
The new guidelines mean that prosecutors can pursue felony charges against undocumented immigrants who have two or more convictions for misdemeanor illegal entry, or one for illegal entry and another more serious charge, including gang affiliation, or having a history of criminal felonies.
Undocumented immigrants committing offenses such as identity theft, improper entry via fake marriages, document or US visa fraud, or who resist or assault law enforcement officers carrying out immigration duties will also be new priorities for prosecutors. Sessions also announced the implementation of a new, more streamlined process for the hiring of immigration judges, to cut the enormous backlogs currently experienced by immigration courts.