WASHINGTON — The Trump administration will require federal prosecutors to prioritize cases involving immigration-related offenses in an effort to reduce the clout of criminal organizations along the Southwest border and deter illegal entry into the United States.
A policy memorandum issued by the Justice Department Tuesday asks prosecutors to pursue cases against people accused of trafficking or harboring undocumented immigrants, as well as those undocumented immigrants who have been caught crossing the border illegally multiple times.
The memorandum also requires prosecutors to seek, as often as possible, deportation orders against defendants in immigration-related cases, and directs each office to designate a border security coordinator tasked with overseeing the investigation and prosecution of immigration cases.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the new policy guidelines during a tour of the Arizona-Mexico border, said a renewed push to combat illegal immigration “will drastically reduce the danger posed by criminal aliens, gang members, and cartel henchmen.”
“This is a new era. This is the Trump era,” said Sessions, according to prepared remarks released by DOJ. “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.”
Sessions also said that 25 immigration judges have been sent to adjudicate deportation cases at Homeland Security Department detention centers on the border. He also announced DOJ would hire 125 additional judges over the next two years to reduce a massive case backlog in the immigration courts.
This is the first tour of the U.S.-Mexico border Sessions is making as the nation’s top law enforcement officer. President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would crack down on criminal organizations that help drive illegal immigration and seek to deport 2 to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records.