Attorney General Jeff Session said in a speech at the border town of Nogales, Arizona that a new era of immigration enforcement had dawned and that there will be drastic changes in Justice Department priorities in cracking down on illegal aliens.
"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned," Sessions said in remarks prepared for delivery. "This is a new era. This is the Trump era."He continued: "The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over."A memo Sessions issued Tuesday calls for federal attorneys to consider prosecution of anyone who harbors undocumented immigrants, with a priority given to violent cases or those that involve transporting or shielding three or more undocumented immigrants. Sessions also instructed the Justice Department to pursue felony charges when applicable for immigrants who try to enter the U.S. illegally on multiple occasions.In a policy move that could have broad implications, the attorney general asked prosecutors to consider charges for identity fraud and document theft "to the extent practicable." The department's attorneys also should consider felony prosecutions in cases of fraudulent marriages to obtain legal immigration status, the memo said.The border trip and call for stiffer immigration enforcement come as the Trump administration struggles to carry out his campaign promises in the first 100 days in office. ...Sessions' trip to the border Tuesday brings the focus back to immigration, even if the border wall remains more rhetoric than reality. In his Nogales speech, Sessions stressed the dangers of criminal gangs, whose members he said "turn cities and suburbs into war zones," "rape and kill innocent citizens" and profit from trafficking people across the border."Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings," he said in prepared remarks. "It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth."In the speech itself, Sessions omitted the phrase "against this filth."
No more catch and release. No more turning a blind eye to the flood of illegals who overwhelm our detention facilities. This is, indeed, a "new era."
It's safe to say that the way the Trump administration views our immigration laws is a radical departure from the way that previous presidents – Republican and Democrat – have seen the issue. While border crossings are down in recent months, there are still more than 700,000 illegals who have deportation orders against them and are still in the country. The administration has made deporting them a top priority, but since no effort had been made to keep track of them, it will be slow going enforcing those orders.
How much change can we realistically expect? It's not unreasonable to assume that we will see far fewer illegal border crossings than we've experienced in recent years. We can also expect more "self-deportation" of illegals, as there will certainly be a crackdown on companies that knowingly employ illegal aliens.
With more immigration judges, we can expect faster legal proceedings to process illegals. We should also expect deportation orders to be enforced immediately and stricter application of the law to those who re-enter the country illegally.
But we shouldn't expect miracles. The number of illegal aliens in the U.S. will still be in the millions when President Trump leaves office. But it will be hard for a presidential candidate to run on a platform that takes us back to the way it used to be. This is what the American voter wants and what they will get.