Jeff Sessions: Parents and children illegally crossing the border will be separated

The attorney general said he hoped Monday's decision broadcasts a similar message about the Trump administration's aim to crack down on illegal immigration. "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border". "If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border".

In a prepared speech to state law enforcement officials, Sessions said, "If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you". Migrants with more than a dozen deportations on their records are not unusual. The new policy means all cases will be treated as a criminal matter in which immigrants face prison.

The Democratic National Committee denounced Sessions's comments and the Trump administration's immigration policy as an "affront to our values as a nation". "You're going to jail". "Mainly children are being brought by people who aren't their parents". There exists an annual, spring/summer uptick in unlawful entries.

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the practice in a case involving a Congolese asylum seeker who was separated from her seven-year-old daughter for five months and a Brazilian woman who was separated from her 14-year-old son after being arrested and serving almost a month in jail for illegal entry.

"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed", Sessions told reporters at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. And even if Sessions has no sympathy for the parents who knowingly violate American immigration law, the policy can further stress and traumatize the children, who came across the border through no fault of their own. "It's that simple", said Sessions.

The Trump administration announced a policy of unprecedented cruelty in its persecution of immigrant families Monday.

Immigration advocates say that family separations for criminal prosecutions and other circumstances have already been happening for months.

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"Every law-enforcement agency in this country separates parents with children when they're arrested for a crime". "We're on the side of law and order". "So I want to make this perfectly clear". This has always been the policy.

The administration has "zero tolerance" for lawbreakers at the border.

Currently, border crossers are often deported after their apprehension without being charged criminally. So too, the millions who have fled US-devastated war zones in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries in the Middle East.

The families - and many other illegal immigrants - are increasingly taking advantage of generous US asylum laws. Last fiscal year, the number of immigration prosecutions declined 14 percent, to almost 60,000.

After President Donald Trump called last month for renewed efforts to reduce illegal border crossings, Sessions ordered US attorneys on the border to prosecute migrants "to the extent practicable". The DHS said that there have been about 30,000 prosecution referrals since the start of the 2018 fiscal year in October, up from 18,642 prosecutions for the entire 2017 fiscal year.

"New figures show a mini-surge in March - a 200 percent increase in border apprehensions compared to a year ago".

  • Megan Austin