Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday unveiled what he called a new “get tough” approach to immigration enforcement during his first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz. The nation’s top law enforcement officer vowed to confront the gangs and cartels plaguing the region and said the administration will bring more felony prosecutions against immigrants entering the country illegally.
“Where an alien has entered the country — which is a misdemeanor — that alien will now be charged with a felony if they unlawfully enter, or attempt to enter a second time, and certain aggravating circumstances are present,” Sessions said.
The attorney general credited Trump for a steep decline of border apprehensions this year, and declared that “the lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.” The attorney general proclaimed that we are living in a new era — “the Trump era.”
Via Fox News:
Sessions met with law enforcement, members of the military and border agents in Nogales, Ariz., urging their confidence in the administration as they push to implement policies boosting agents working to secure the southern border. The tone of his comments at times echoed the explicit rhetoric President Trump himself used when discussing illegal immigration and cartels during the campaign.
He said, “when we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean international criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into war zones, that rape and kill innocent civilians, and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings. It is here on this very sliver of land—on this border—that we take our stand. It is a direct threat to our legal system, peace, and prosperity.”
The Wall Street Journal’s transcript of the speech included a slightly different version of the above line, saying: “it is here on this very sliver of land where we take our stand against this filth.” That gave the mainstream media an opening to grossly misinterpret what he said.
Politico reporter Josh Dawsey took a partial quote from a Wall Street Journal story on Sessions’ speech out of context, tweeting that Sessions described illegal immigrants as filth. From there, it caught the eye of Tufts professor and writer of the Washington Post‘s Spoiler Alerts blog Daniel Drezner, and the misinterpretation spread throughout Twitter.
Sessions to border agents: “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth."https://t.co/lBHKcvaq0Q
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) April 11, 2017
Filth. He described illegal immigrants as "filth."
Whatever your views on immigration that's f**king embarrassing for a US official to say. https://t.co/sl5x5uLObK
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) April 11, 2017
See the Washington Free Beacon for several more “blue checkmarks” who feigned outrage at the fake news. Drezner at least corrected himself and apologized later when he realized his mistake. As it turned out, Sessions didn’t use the word “filth” even to describe the depraved rapists, drug smugglers, or machete-wielding head choppers coming over the border, so it was much ado about nothing.
Fox reports that Sessions issued a memo, timed with his visit, to all U.S. attorneys “asking federal prosecutors to renew focus on immigration enforcement.”
He asked them to focus on particular offenses that can help prevent and deter illegal immigration – and to each, designate a border security coordinator to oversee such efforts.
Last year, the Arizona area saw about 65,000 arrests—that’s roughly half the number of arrests agents made in 2012, according to Border Patrol data. Marijuana arrests also have dropped in the area by about 28 percent, from 1 million pounds in 2012 to 728,000 last year.
“We hear you, and we have your back,” Sessions said. “We will secure this border and bring the full weight of both the immigration courts and federal criminal enforcement to combat this attack on our national security and sovereignty.”
Sessions also urged U.S. attorneys to make the prosecution of assault on a federal law enforcement officer a “top priority.”
“If someone dares to assault one of our folks in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it,” he said.