On Friday, Jeff Sessions — who is the U.S. Attorney General — said that he wants to prosecute those who cross the U.S. border illegally.
Sessions further said that he was ordering U.S. attorneys who function in states on the Mexican border — which includes Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico — to give priority to cases that involve first-offenders. He did this, he says, in response to the fact that illegal border crossings have risen sharply lately, to the level they were during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Also on Friday, President Trump signed a memorandum that will put an end to a policy that is commonly known as “catch and release.” This policy lets undocumented immigrants be released from detention while they wait for a court hearing on their immigration status. During the 2016 presidential campaign, then candidate Donald Trump promised to end the policy. Though it has remained in effect mainly because there is a current shortage of detention space to house immigrants. In the memo, the president called on both the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to compose a list of military facilities that could be used to house undocumented immigrants awaiting hearings.
This week, the president additionally called for the deployment of the National Guard on the Mexican border, to help protect it. He did this, he said, because he has so far been unable to procure sufficient funding for the building of a wall along the border as he promised during the presidential campaign. In response to the memo, Jim Mattis — who is the U.S. Defense Secretary — signed another memo that will deploy up to 4,000 National Guard troops along the border. The memo, though, made a point of stating that these troops will not be engaged in law enforcement, nor will they be allowed to engage immigrants at all.
Next week, around 150 National Guards troops from Arizona will be sent to the Mexican border, as per an order by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. Also sending troops to the border this week will be Texas, which will send around 250 of them.
Over the years, the United States on a number of occasions has sent military forces to the Mexican border.