Immigration Law

Sessions sends more prosecutors, supervisory judges to border to handle immigration cases

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday he is responding to the “crisis at the Southwest border” with additional prosecutors and the use of supervisory immigration judges.

Sessions said in a press release that 35 new assistant U.S. attorney positions have been allocated to U.S. attorney’s offices along the Southwest border. In addition, 18 current supervisory immigration judges will be used to hear immigration cases near the border. Courthouse News Service, the Arizona Republic, CBS News and Politico have coverage.

“By deploying these additional resources to the Southwest border,” Sessions said, “the Justice Department and the Trump administration take yet another step in protecting our nation, its borders, and its citizens. It must be clear that there is no right to demand entry without justification.”

The prosecutors will handle prosecutions of improper entry, illegal re-entry, and alien smuggling cases, Sessions said.

Sessions announced last month that he is adopting a “zero-tolerance policy” for illegal entry and attempted legal entry into the country. Sessions said he was directing U.S. attorney’s offices along the southwest border to prosecute all violations of the illegal entry law, to the extent practicable.

Sessions implemented the policy after a Department of Homeland Security report found a 203 percent increase in the number of people apprehended at the border or who arrived at ports of entry without entry documents between March 2017 and March 2018. Courthouse News Service reports, however, that apprehensions at the border fell to 304,000 in fiscal year 2017, the lowest number in about three decades. (More information on the statistics is available here.)

San Diego immigration attorney and former federal defender Andrew Nietor told Courthouse News Service that the allocation of new prosecutors is “striking” because local U.S. attorney’s offices typically decide prosecutors’ assignments.

The 18 supervisory immigration judges will handle border cases in person and via videoconference. Sessions previously announced a plan to speed up immigration cases by evaluating immigration judges based on case completions.

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