Andrew Kerr on April 6, 2018
The Justice Department is implementing a “zero-tolerance policy” for any illegal border crossings into the United States, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Friday.
The new policy comes after the Department of Homeland Security reported earlier this week illegal border crossings had increased 203 percent from March 2017 to 2018.
The 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings from February 2018 to March 2018 marked the largest month-to-month proliferation since 2011, according to the Justice Department.
“The situation at our Southwest Border is unacceptable,” Sessions said in a statement announcing the new policy.
“Congress has failed to pass effective legislation that serves the national interest — that closes dangerous loopholes and fully funds a wall along our southern border,” he said. “As a result, a crisis has erupted at our Southwest Border that necessitates an escalated effort to prosecute those who choose to illegally cross our border.”
The new policy directs U.S. attorneys along the southwest border to prosecute all illegal immigrant border crossing referrals from the Department of Homeland Security “to the extent practicable.”
“To those who wish to challenge the Trump Administration’s commitment to public safety, national security, and the rule of law, I warn you: illegally entering this country will not be rewarded but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice,” Sessions said.
The surge in illegal border crossing proved “the crisis at our Southwest border is real,” DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said April 5.
“Illegal aliens continue to exploit our immigration laws,” Houlton said. “We need to close these dangerous loopholes that are being taken advantage of each and every day, gain operational control of the border, and fully fund the border wall system.”
President Donald Trump urged Congress in a tweet Wednesday to address the nation’s “very weak” border laws.
Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way – they want people to pour into our country unchecked….CRIME! We will be taking strong action today.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
While zero-tolerance policies have succeeded in cutting down illegal border crossings in the past, they’ve also provoked civil rights groups’ criticisms, according to The Washington Times.