Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced criminal immigration enforcement priorities in line with the Trump Administration’s focus on border security, public safety and transnational criminal organizations. Although the emphasis is on the prosecution of criminal aliens and organizations, the statutory provisions prioritized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) could mean that large corporate employers also are at risk of criminal prosecution.
On April 11, 2017, the Attorney General released a memorandum to all federal prosecutors entitled “Renewed Commitment to Criminal Immigration Enforcement” (DOJ memorandum). The DOJ memorandum identifies the following statutory offenses as higher priorities and asks federal prosecutors to increase their efforts in these areas to “establish lawfulness in our immigration system.”
- 8 U.S.C. § 1324 (bringing in and harboring certain aliens), as well as 8 U.S.C. § 1327 (aiding and assisting criminal aliens to enter) and 8 U.S.C. § 1328 (importation of aliens for immoral purposes)
- 8 U.S.C. § 1325 (improper entry by alien)
- 8 U.S.C. § 1326 (reentry of removed aliens)
- 18 U.S.C. § 1028A (aggravated identity theft) and 18 U.S.C. § 1546 (fraud and misuse of visas, permits and other documents)
- 18 U.S.C. § 111 (assaulting, resisting or impeding officers)
The DOJ memorandum also directs each judicial district to designate a Border Security Coordinator whose responsibilities will include overseeing the investigation and prosecution of the foregoing offenses. In his speech following the release of the memorandum, the Attorney General also addressed increasing the number of administrative immigration judges, noting that the Administration intends to appoint 50 additional immigration judges to the agency in 2017 and 75 in 2018.
The DOJ memorandum was issued after President Donald Trump signed a series of Executive Orders that, among other things, directed DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase criminal and civil immigration-related enforcement.
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