Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits Otay Mesa to tout new immigration crackdown

Adjust Comment Print

"If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you -it's that simple".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions holds news conference on immigration enforcement actions.

Families seeking asylum and presenting themselves at official US border crossings will be allowed to stay together as they seek protected status, according to a USA official familiar with the new policy.

All immigrants who cross the border illegally will be charged with a crime under a new "zero-tolerance" border enforcement policy, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday in a crackdown that could overwhelm already-clogged detention facilities and immigration courts with hundreds of thousands of new cases.

In a news conference Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the separation is due to the legal process, adding that citizens in the US are also separated from their families when they're arrested.

The attorney general previously spoke out about the caravan last week when federal prosecutors alleged that 11 of the immigrants had tried to cross the border illegally under the cover of darkness.

Reuters first reported the government's idea to separate parents and children apprehended at the border in March 2017.

Apprehensions have now risen to levels seen during the administration of former President Barack Obama, frustrating President Donald Trump, who has made illegal immigration a focal point of his administration.

Reports surfaced last month that various immigration and border officials are pressing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to prosecute all parents crossing the U.S. -Mexico border illegally with their children in an effort to set an example for other migrants.

An official with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Monday that the agency had signed onto the policy on Friday.

According to the Associated Press, Sessions said the Department of Justice will take on as many cases as it can, including people who are accused of lying to immigration officers and those who allegedly smuggle children and cross the border.