Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sending 35 assistant U.S. attorneys and 18 immigration judges to the Mexican border to deal with a surge in illegal immigrants — as a caravan of Central Americans seeking asylum camps out at an entry point to the United States.
"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed," Sessions told reporters Wednesday. "People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our borders.
"We need legality and integrity in the system. People should wait their turn, ask to apply lawfully before they enter our country."
"We're sending a message worldwide: 'Don't come illegally. Make your claim to enter America in the lawful way and wait your turn.'"
Sessions called the U.S. entry system for legal immigration is "generous."
"The numbers have been increasing again," he said. "We want them to know . . . that we have a generous legal system for legal immigration . . . and those people should wait their turn."
Dozens of Hondurans, Guatemalans, and Salvadorans slept a third night outside the U.S. port of entry in Tijuana, Mexico, after traveling in a caravan across some 2,500 miles across Mexico to seek U.S. asylum.
Sessions noted the 18 immigration judges that will function "full-time" on moving asylum cases is a 50-percent increase over the current number of judges who handle it.
Sessions said these would be supervisory judges who do not have existing case loads, in order to keep immigration cases moving.
The Justice Department has already taken action to stop those from seeking asylum, charging 11 people crossing the border illegally after finding them Monday night.
Officials say 10 of them come from countries associated with the caravan.
Sessions previously referred to the caravan as "a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system."
According to CBS News, caravans from Central America have been making the journey to the border since 2008, but President Donald Trump has focused on the current surge as a reason for ramping up immigration enforcement.
Honduras, thought they were just going to walk right through Mexico and right through the border," Trump said, CBS News reported.
Since then, Trump signed a proclamation directing the National Guard to be deployed to provide military presence along the border in order to "secure" the southern border and halt the flow of drugs and people into the United States.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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