Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday ordered a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants illegally crossing the southwest border, telling U.S. attorney’s offices to prioritize prosecuting offenders.
The top Justice Department official sent a memo to federal prosecutors near the border in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, to work with the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on illegal immigration.
“The situation at our southwest border is unacceptable. Congress has failed to pass effective legislation that serves the national interest — that closes dangerous loopholes and fully funds a wall along our southern border,” Sessions said.
The loopholes Sessions referred to were addressed earlier in the week by senior administration officials in a background briefing call with reporters. They said they’ve asked Congress to fix the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act and the Flores Settlement Agreement in order to speed the process of deporting some asylum seekers. The officials said that doing so would help alleviate a “huge backlog” of cases in immigration courts.
The Justice Department said there has been a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 and March 2018. They increased 37 percent from February 2018 to March 2018, the largest month-to-month increase since 2011.