Immigrant children used to smuggle drugs: Sessions

PHOTO: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks on immigration policy and law enforcement actions at Lackawanna College in downtown Scranton, Pa., June 15, 2018.PlayButch Comegys/The Times-Tribune via AP
WATCH Families hope to reunite with kids as debate over separation at the border continues

Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the president's immigration policy Monday saying child immigrants are being used to smuggle drugs.

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Saying children bear the burden of a broken immigration system, Sessions, in a speech in front of School Resource Officers in Reno, Nev., argued they are ill-served because drug cartels use them to carry drugs across the border and often they are sent by themselves or with a "paid smuggler,"

"Think about this: in just four days at the end of March, Customs and Border Protection apprehended five juveniles who were allegedly smuggling fentanyl. The killer drug. Between the five of them, they allegedly had more than 35 pounds of fentenayl—enough to kill millions of people," Sessions said.

He said that immigrant children are the targets of MS-13.

"To have true compassion for our children, we must restore lawfulness to our immigration system and keep them safe—including immigrant children who are often the targets of vicious gang MS-13," Sessions said.

He highlighted what he said were examples of children being victimized by undocumented immigrants already in the U.S.

"MS-13 is recruiting children who were sent here as unaccompanied minors and some are brought to help replenish the gang and they are terrorizing immigrant schools and communities from Los Angeles to Louisville to Long Island to Boston. They are able to do so because we do not have a secure Southwest border," the nation's chief law enforcement officer said.

"And, if someone unlawfully enters our country and commits another crime in addition, especially crimes against children like these, they should be deported after serving their sentence—not protected by sanctuary policies," he exclaimed.

"If we refused to prosecute these adults for illegal entry—as many of our critics want us to do—that would be a disservice to the people of this country. It would be an insult to those who come here legally, waiting their turn, making their application," Sessions said.

"And most importantly: it would encourage and has already - more adults to bring more children illegally on a dangerous journey that puts these children at great risk," he continued.

It is also a costly operation, he said for the United States to care for unaccompanied children.

Sessions said they are going out of their way to avoid separating families and that "federal agencies" are working hard to care for the children who ultimately are separated.

He linked the nation's overdose problem to a "porous southern border."

Sessions said that if a family applies for asylum, they can be kept together - but that "they do not apply for asylum."

He also reiterated an administration talking point that the fix ultimately lies with Congress.

Sessions also said that DOJ will prosecute anyone who commits a crime that inhibits law enforcement to do their job as certain immigration activists have done.

At the same event, he also announced that DOJ was allocating $2 million for Las Vegas after the shooting in October and $1 million to officers in Broward County, Fla., to help officers who were working overtime after the tragedy.