Attorney General Jeff Sessions visits Otay Mesa to tout new immigration crackdown

A boy weeps after being caught illegally crossing into the U.S. border from Mexico near McAllen Texas U.S.   Thomson Reuters

A boy weeps after being caught illegally crossing into the U.S. border from Mexico near McAllen Texas U.S. Thomson Reuters

The country "cannot take everyone on Earth who is in a hard situation", Sessions said, before referring to a Gallup poll that indicated 150 million people around the world want to immigrate to the United States.

Crossing the USA border without authorization is already a misdemeanor on the first offense, and can be a felony for people who have been previously taken out of the U.S.

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions vowed Monday to prosecute anyone who crosses the southern border illegally, acknowledging it may mean separating families.

Currently, border patrol agents usually try to keep families united by sending all their members to the same detention center, but with the new policy "most parents will be prosecuted and children sent to a separate refugee facility", the official said.

In a news conference Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the separation is due to the legal process, adding that citizens in the US are also separated from their families when they're arrested. "If you don't want your child to be separated, then don't bring them across the border illegally".

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"It's obvious that we can not take everyone who wants to come here without also hurting the interests of the citizens we are sworn to serve and protect".

He said he has sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwest and moved 18 immigration judges to the border to help with asylum claims. "Attorney General Sessions continues to abuse his authority to expedite removals and deprive detained immigrants of legal counseling and due process, which further highlights this administration's hostility towards immigrant communities".

Attorney General Jeff Sessions gestures as he speaks at the California Peace Officers' Association 26th Annual Law Enforcement Legislative Day on March 7, 2018, in Sacramento.

Sessions said last week that USA attorneys and federal judges will be sent to the southern border to deal with immigration cases, while Nielsen warned that anyone who crosses the border illegally will be prosecuted.

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