In stark terms, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Monday warned families from Central America and elsewhere that they will be broken up if parents try to sneak their children into the United States illegally.
“If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” Sessions said at a law enforcement gathering in Arizona. “If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
His comments come as he has hardened his public rhetoric and taken further action on illegal immigration. Just last week he announced that the Justice Department would be sending 35 federal prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to the Southwest border to deal with a backlog of cases made worse by the so-called “caravan” of Central Americans that arrived at the U.S. border days earlier.
“We are not going to let this country be invaded. We will not be stampeded. We will not capitulate to lawlessness,” Sessions said Monday in Scottsdale, Ariz., as he touted his new “zero tolerance” policy for illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexican border.
“This is not business as usual. This is the Trump era,” he added.
Noting that 11 million people are already in the United States illegally, Sessions said “restoring the rule of law with regard to immigration” will help “reduce crime” in U.S. cities.
But, he said, “right now we are dealing with a massive influx of illegal aliens across our Southwest Border … and the Department of Justice will take up as many of those cases as humanly possible until we get to 100 percent.”
Sessions said he has a “simple” message for those contemplating trying to sneak into the United States: “If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. ... If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border. If you make false statements to an immigration officer or commit fraud in our system to obtain an immigration benefit, that’s a felony. We will put you in jail.”