Speaking from the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced major changes to Justice Department protocol when it comes to charging and prosecuting illegal aliens.
"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: 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," Sessions said.
Here are the details (bolding is mine):
Starting today, federal prosecutors are now required to consider for prosecution all of the following offenses:
- The transportation or harboring of aliens. As you know too well, this is a booming business down here. No more. We are going to shut down and jail those who have been profiting off this lawlessness — people smuggling gang members across the border, helping convicted criminals re-enter this country and preying 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 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.
Further, Sessions said prosecuting those who assault federal law enforcement officers will be a priority.
"If someone dares to assault one of our folks in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it," Sessions said.
The Attorney General also emphasized the administration's focus on dismantling violent cartels and dangerous gangs inside America cities.
"When we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings," Sessions said. "With the President’s Executive Orders on Border Security, Transnational Criminal Organizations and Public Safety as our guideposts, we will execute a strategy that once again secures the border; apprehends and prosecutes those criminal aliens that threaten our public safety; takes the fight to gangs like MS-13 and Los Zetas; and makes dismantlement and destruction of the cartels a top priority."