Sessions Announces ‘Zero-Tolerance’ Policy on Illegal Border Crossings Into U.S.

FILE – A U.S. border patrol agent escorts men being detained after entering the United States by crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico, in Roma, Texas, May 11, 2017.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced a “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal border crossings into the United States, directing federal prosecutors along the southern border to take up all cases of illegal entry referred by the Department of Homeland Security.

In a one-page memo, Sessions urged U.S. Attorneys in the border states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas “to adopt immediately a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution” under laws that make it a crime to enter the United States without proper documents.

“This zero-tolerance policy shall supersede any existing policies,” Sessions wrote. “If adopting such a policy requires additional resources, each office shall identify and request such additional resources.”

Late Friday, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum ordering an end to the policy known as “catch and release.” Under the policy, illegal immigrants are released from detention while awaiting a court hearing.

Trump had made ending the policy a campaign promise during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Last April, Sessions sent a memo similar to his Friday memo to U.S. Attorneys around the country, asking them to expand immigration prosecutions. But the directive gave them a measure of discretion in bringing criminal charges against an unlawful border crosser.

“This time it’s clear that any referral from DHS needs to be prosecuted to the extent practicable,” a Justice Department official explained, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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SOURCE: VOA News, Masood Farivar