Sessions Declares 'New Era' in Immigration Enforcement

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".

"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", Sessions said in his speech, according to prepared remarks. "Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings", said the USA attorney general.

The Wall Street Journal's transcript of the speech included a slightly different version of the above line, saying: "it is here on this very sliver of land where we take our stand against this filth." .

"The border is not open".

Sessions also increased unauthorized entry into the United States from a misdemeanor to a felony on the second offense "if certain aggravating circumstances are present", he said.

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Most states have followed the federal lead, some facing budget crises, Sessions said.

Sessions has been steadily expanding the Justice Department's role in the anti-immigration agenda of the Trump administration, but the border trip offered the most comprehensive look yet at his plans.

"This is no accident", he said, citing declining numbers of undocumented immigrants illegally entering the country.

His directives already exist under US law, the order only "mandates" USA attorneys to make such enforcement a priority. "This is the Trump era", Sessions said in remarks to immigration officials in Arizona Tuesday.

Jon Feere, a former legal policy analyst for the Center for Immigration Studies, or CIS, has been hired as an adviser to Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan. Trump 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.

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Sessions also issued a memo to federal prosecutors that would up charges against undocumented immigrants. Prior to becoming attorney general, Sessions was a senator from Alabama from 1997 to 2017 and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 to 1993. "We do have that challenge, we want people to understand that they are not entitled to enter unlawfully".

During his visit, he urged federal prosecutors to intensify their focus on immigration crimes such as illegal border crossing or smuggling others into the U.S.

Civil rights advocates, however, characterized Sessions' directive as an attempt to intimidate immigrant communities. He added that "it is here that criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document-forgers seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration".

But when he delivered the speech in Nogales, Ariz., Sessions left off the end of the sentence and made some other tweaks.

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But in the aftermath of the attack, Trump ordered the strike targeting the Shayrat air base in central Syria's Homs province with 59 Tomahawk missiles.

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