Jeff Sessions: Parents and Children Illegally Crossing the Border Will Be Separated

Getty Images

Getty Images

"Today, we're here to send a message to the world that we're not going to let the country be overwhelmed", Sessions said in San Diego.

Crossing the US border without authorization is already a misdemeanor on the first offense, and can be a felony for people who have been previously taken out of the U.S.

The Trump administration will increase criminal prosecutions of parents entering the United States illegally and place their children in protective custody, stepping up efforts to tighten immigration enforcement, US officials said on Monday.

"If you cross the border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you -it's that simple".

By prosecuting adults and then treating their children as unaccompanied minors at the border, families would be separated as children are placed in shelters or with family while their cases for asylum are considered.

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Immigration activists denounced the new policy to separate parents from children, and said they expect to see it challenged in court. "The second situation when we separate is when we prosecute". "But we can not take everyone on this planet who is in a hard situation".

"This administration is set on tearing families apart, detaining immigrants without justification, leaving USA -born children without their parents and stoking fear in immigrant communities, all while siphoning off taxpayer dollars to fund a divisive and ineffective wall", according to a DNC statement.

Monday's announcement came about a week after hundreds of Central American migrants traveled to the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry seeking asylum following a monthlong caravan through Mexico.

The trip marked the fourth time a high-ranking Trump Administration official has visited the California-Mexico border region in recent months. "We need legality and integrity in our immigration system", he continued.

The attorney general already spoke out about the immigrant caravan once last week when federal prosecutors alleged that 11 of the immigrants had tried to cross the border illegally under the cover of darkness.

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