Donald Trump has promised to build a wall separating the US and Mexico to reduce illegal immigration and border-related crime.
Jeff Sessions toured the border and visited with Customs and Border Protection officers and agents. He answered few questions for reporters but promised that immigration laws would be enforced, whilst protecting the civil rights of those charged with crimes. He described the wall as a tool to fight illegal immigration and is part of a government approach including the Justice Department to deter illegal border crossing.
Under sessions, the Justice Department will have a greater role in immigration issues and the policies of Donald Trump. He has focused federal prosecutors this week to push immigration-related crime cases and to look specifically at individuals who have illegally crossed the US-Mexico border and deportees who have returned and committed crimes. There are plans to increase the number of federal prosecutors by 60 and US Marshalls by 40 to focus on border-related cases as well as the investment of millions of dollars to immigration courts. It is usually the role of the Secretary of Homeland Security, currently John F. Kelly, to meet border agents.
There is concern that Sessions and the Trump administration are scare-mongering by linking crime with immigration despite figures for illegal immigration and US-Mexico border-related crime having fallen in recent years. In Arizona, in 2016 there were 65,000 arrests of immigrants, and in 2012 twice this number.
Under US law those who protect or transport undocumented immigrants, or those who have crossed the border illegally twice or more, or who resist arrest or commit travel document fraud are subject to criminal prosecution.
This week’s directives did not conflict with any existing laws but did focus the prioritization of enforcement. Sanctuary cities, as they are termed, are an increasing feature of the American political landscape. The term is used for cities that “provide shelter” to the illegal immigrants by disallowing municipal funds or resources to be applied to enforcing federal immigration laws. The Donald Trump’s government has threatened to cut US Justice Department grants to the said cities that do not work with the federal immigration to forward the current administration's plans.
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