US Attorney General Jeff Sessions [official website] on Tuesday announced [press release] his office has mandated immigration enforcement as a priority. In order to limit the number of undocumented immigrants in the country, the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] sent a memo [text, PDF] to all federal prosecutors instructing them to prosecute harboring and reentry cases as felonies instead of misdemeanors for repeat offenders. Furthermore, the order requires the designation of border security coordinators to ensure enforcement and track the amount of cases prosecuted. The memo also instructs felony charges for those who enter into a marriage to prevent deportation.
It is a high priority of the Department of Justice to establish lawfulness in our immigration system. While dramatic progress has been made at the border in recent months,much remains to be done. It is critical that our work focus on criminal cases that will further reduce illegality. Consistent and vigorous enforcement of key laws will disrupt organizations and deter unlawful conduct. I ask that you increase your efforts in this area making the following immigration offenses higher priorities.
Sessions also announced a plan to hire over 175 immigration judges to combat the backlog in immigration courts.
The focus on immigration policies continues to be a growing legal issue. JURIST Guest Columnist Ali Khan discussed [JURIST backgrounder] the potential deportation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US as a crime against humanity. A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman announced [JURIST report] Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration was no longer planning to separate women and children at the US’ southern border as a means of deterring immigration. The state of Massachusetts] on Tuesday requested [JURIST report] the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court find that state authorities lack jurisdiction to detain illegal immigrants. The California State Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill [JURIST report] on last Monday that would expand protections for undocumented immigrants by prohibiting state or local law enforcement from using resources to investigate, detain, report or arrest people for immigration violations