As a Miami immigration lawyer, I read with alarm the remarks made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who just concluded a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border, didn’t mince words Tuesday when addressing border patrol agents in Nogales, Arizona. Below are some frequently asked questions.
What did Attorney General Jeff Sessions say in his speech?
In his speech and remarks, Sessions unveiled new priorities and guidance for federal prosecutors to enforce immigration law. He made his focus clear: ramping up prosecution of nonviolent crimes committed by undocumented individuals. In fact, every U.S. attorney’s office in the country is now required to assign someone as “border security coordinator.” If you have any questions in regard to this, you should speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
What does the Justice Department’s new guidance include?
The new guidance includes:
- Federal prosecutors are now required to pursue felony charges against immigrants who commit document fraud or identity theft. Assuming a false identity or “aggravated identity fraud” will carry a two-year mandatory minimum sentence. Sessions said prosecutors should also prioritize fraudulent or “green card” marriages.
- Prosecutors are also required to pursue felony charges against anyone “transporting or harboring three or more aliens,” Sessions said. “We are going to shut down and jail those who have been profiting off this lawlessness.”
- Sessions also increased unauthorized entry into the United States from a misdemeanor to a felony on the second offense “if certain aggravating circumstances are present,” he said. A 2014 Pew analysis, however, found that a boom in offenders sentenced in federal courts was largely driven by unlawful reentry convictions, which increased 28-fold between 1992 and 2012, accounting for nearly half the increase in federal sentences in that time period.
- Sessions also said he had directed all U.S. Attorneys offices to prioritize prosecution of assaults on federal law enforcement. “If someone dares to assault one of our folks in the line of duty, they will do federal time for it,” Sessions said. In his testimony before congress last November, former Customs and Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan said that assaults on his officers last year increased 200 percent. Last year, three officers in the 21,000 strong force were killed in the line of duty — compared to no officers killed in 2015. In 2007, however, seven officers were killed.
If you have any questions in regard to this, I urge you to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer immediately.
What other remarks did Jeff Sessions make during his speech?
Aside from outlining new policy, Sessions didn’t miss the opportunity to rehash the tenuous link between violent crime and undocumented immigration. Reports have indicated that U.S.-born citizens commit violent crimes at a much higher rate than their undocumented counterparts. But Trump, Sessions, and other immigration hardliners have often pointed to particularly gruesome and horrific incidents of undocumented crime to make their case and trotted out family members of victims at events.
When asked about civil rights’ advocates’ concerns over ramping up militarization along the border, Sessions replied that he had met with “a number of civil rights leaders already” with whom he “discussed a number of issues.” He didn’t elaborate further.
Sessions was also asked what he planned to do about undocumented parents whose child was born in the U.S. His answer was vague. “We want everyone to comply with the law,” Sessions said. “[Being here] lawfully doesn’t mean that others can enter the country unlawfully. We do have that challenge, we want people to understand that they are not entitled to enter unlawfully.” If you have any questions in regard to this, you may want to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer.
I am an undocumented immigrant. What advice do you have for me?
First, I would point out that every individual’s case is different. Each case may have a different avenue of relief. Regardless, I would highly recommend that you consult with a Miami immigration lawyer immediately if you are an undocumented immigrant. Strict immigration enforcement is the hallmark of the Trump administration; you and/or your loved ones are at risk of removal (deportation) under this administration’s policies. As such, it would be in your best interests to consult with a Miami immigration attorney to determine if you, or your family has any avenues of relief. Remember: all consultations are confidential, so you are not at risk simply because you consulted with a Miami immigration attorney.
If you would like more information on deportation defense, obtaining U.S. citizenship, or obtaining a green card, please contact Miami immigration lawyer Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at murraysilva.com.