The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” net is catching illegal immigrants, both near the once-porous Southern Border and far from it.
Over the past month, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested at least 16 people in western and central Montana, with nine charged with being in the country illegally.
Ten arrests came at a mushroom harvesting camp in Mineral County, while other arrests came at various locations around the state, The Helena Independent Record reported.
According to a report in The Missoulian, several of those arrested had previously been deported.
Raids by ICE have been stepped up all across the country.
In Sandusky, Ohio, a raid on a flower and garden center netted 114 individuals, many of whom are currently undergoing deportation proceedings, NBC reported.
More than 160 people were arrested last week in the Los Angeles area after ICE stepped up its efforts against criminals, CNBC reported.
In remarks prepared for a Thursday speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Attorney General Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Sessions said the administration is giving Americans what they want.
“The American people have been begging and pleading with our elected officials for an immigration system that is lawful and that serves our national interest — one that we can be proud of. There is nothing mean-spirited about that. They are right, decent and just to ask for this,” Sessions said. “But for more than a decade now, the elites and Washington insiders have prioritized the interests of certain corporate interests and activist groups over what is best for the American people.”
Sessions noted that illegal immigration is in fact, illegal.
“Under the laws of this country, illegal entry is a misdemeanor. Re-entry after having been deported is a felony,” he said. “Under the law, we are supposed to prosecute these crimes. Accordingly, I have ordered our prosecutors to pursue 100 percent of the illegal entries on the Southwest border that DHS refers to us. If you cross the Southwest border unlawfully, then the Department of Homeland Security will arrest you and the Department of Justice will prosecute you. That is what the law calls for — and that is what we are going to do. Having children does not give you immunity from arrest and prosecution. It certainly doesn’t give immunity to American citizens.”
Sessions said children should not have to face the consequences of what their parents do.
“Our policies are discouraging people from making children endure that treacherous journey,” he said. “Everything the open-borders lobby is doing is encouraging that and endangering these children. It’s that simple. There’s only one way to stop this and that is for people to stop smuggling children. Stop crossing the border illegally with your children. Apply to enter lawfully. Wait your turn.”
Noting that no criminal justice system jails children and parents together, he said parents who want to avoid jail and separation should not try to break the law.
“They are the ones who broke the law, they are the ones who endangered their own children on their trek. The United States on the other hand, goes to extraordinary lengths to protect them while the parents go through a short detention period,” he said.
Sessions said the world needs to know that the United States will enforce its laws.
“We have to make a choice: Do we continue to allow the word to spread that you can come here illegally and there will be no consequences — or do we finally send the message that we enforce our laws?” he said. “In the Trump administration, we enforce the law. There is no right or entitlement — legal or moral — to come to this country. Immigration is a privilege that the American people have chosen to grant in certain cases. But we’ve got a choice here. We either have open borders or we have laws. It’s one or the other.”
Sessions said attacks from the media mean little.
“Some people in the media have chosen to attack us for enforcing the law. That doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “But I’m not ashamed of the United States of America. I am not going to apologize for carrying out our laws. That is my duty. President Trump ran for office promising to end the illegality and to fix our system. We are carefully and lawfully stopping the abuses in our system.”
“It is not a bad thing, but a good thing that President Trump is keeping his word. We intend to follow the mandate that he has received from the people. I embrace it,” Sessions added.