Children, parents entering U.S. illegally to be separated
"I have put in place a 'zero tolerance' policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple," Sessions said while addressing a law enforcement conference in California.
"If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law."
The comments cement the hardline policy shift as President Donald Trump continues his crackdown on undocumented immigration.
Earlier addressing a law enforcement group in Arizona, Sessions said after being referred from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal prosecutors "will take up as many of those cases as humanly possible until we get to 100 percent".
In order to accomplish that goal, Sessions said he has sent 35 prosecutors to the Southwestern United States and moved 18 immigration judges to the border.
U.S. immigration and border control agencies have reported a spike in illegal border crossing over the past year, and DHS said last month that over 50,000 individuals attempted to cross the border illegally for the second month in a row.
DHS officials said the number of illegal border crossings in April was three times higher than it was in April 2017.
Sessions said he has "no doubt" that many of those crossing the border illegally are fleeing dire conditions at home but noted that "we cannot take everyone on Earth who is in a difficult situation". ■