Attorney General Jeff Sessions' "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S.-Mexico border will likely lead to more undocumented immigrants winding up in federal prisons, The Hill is reporting.
Sessions this week told a crowd of law enforcement officers near the border that the Justice Department would be stepping up efforts to "achieve zero-tolerance, zero releases and 100 percent prosecution," according to Fox News.
"We have a crisis here," he said. "We know it, the president knows it and we're determined to do something about it."
As a result, U.S. attorneys are now expected to shift resources and prosecute every illegal entry case referred to them by the Department of Homeland Security, The Hill noted.
"They want to send a message: 'Don't bother coming. Not only are we going to send you back, but before we send you back we're going to put you in jail,'" said Eli Kantor, a Beverly Hills immigration lawyer.
And Ruthie Epstein, a policy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union, said illegal entry and re-entry already take up a tremendous amount of prosecutorial resources.
"Sessions directed U.S. attorneys to prioritize these even more," she said. "He wants every single person they can prosecute for illegal entry to be prosecuted."
But supporters of the policy insist it will serve as a deterrent.
"We see through countless examples when you send a very clear message you are serious about enforcing immigration laws, the people contemplating breaking the law respond rationally," said Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform.
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