Attorney General Jeff Sessions traveled to Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday, April 11th, to threaten undocumented immigrants with federal prosecution for illegal entry into the United States. Sessions said that undocumented immigrants who entered the United States multiple times without authorization would now be charged with felonies in criminal prosecutions.
Sessions warned immigrants, “This is the Trump era.” He said that federal prosecutors would be diverted from bringing serious crimes to court in order to fulfill Donald Trump’s promise to get tough with immigrant workers.
According to Politico, the Attorney General’s trip to the Mexican border came as the first 100 days of the Trump administration are drawing to an inauspicious close. Trump’s major initiatives have nearly all crashed and burned, from the infamous Muslim Ban to the repeal of Obamacare. The Wall, which Mexico was supposed to pay for, is still in the pipe dream phase of construction.
Sessions is also moving immigration judges from courts around the country to the border. These transfers have caused tremendous delays in many courts. In New York, it now routinely takes two years for an immigrant facing deportation to get a hearing. In a world of limited resources, directing resources to the border means that resources in places like New York will be reduced.
In his speech and press statement, Sessions provided no insights into modern immigration. The immigrants he discusses are characterized as dangerous gang members and “filth,” stereotypes he could have lifted from the Breitbart website. The role of undocumented immigrants in the agricultural and service workforces was ignored.
Sessions also released a memo on Tuesday laying out the Justice Department’s priorities for immigration. None of the “priorities” includes guaranteeing fairness and due process to immigrants or protecting the rights of asylum seekers.