On April 6, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum directing federal prosecutors along the southwest border of the United States to adopt a “zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution under [8 U.S.C.] section 1325(a).” Later the same day, President Donald Trump issued a memorandum on “catch and release” at the border and other enforcement actions.
Mr. Sessions said the new zero-tolerance policy supersedes any existing policies, and that it should be applied “to the extent practicable, and in consultation with [the Department of Homeland Security].” If adopting such a policy requires additional resources, Mr. Sessions directs each office to identify and request those resources.
“You are on the front lines of this battle,” the memo states. He reminded federal prosecutors that “our goal is not simply more cases. It is to end the illegality in our immigration system.”
The Trump memo directs the Secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, and Health and Human Services, along with the Attorney General, to submit reports detailing all measures that their departments “have pursued or are pursuing to expeditiously end ‘catch and release’ practices.” Among other things, the reports must include measures taken to “allocate all legally available resources” to ensure the detention of people for violations of immigration law at or near the U.S. borders, and must provide a “detailed list of all existing facilities, including military facilities, that could be used, modified, or repurposed to detain aliens for violations of immigration law at or near the borders of the United States.” The reports must also include the number of credible fear and reasonable fear claims received, granted, and denied, in each year since the beginning of fiscal year 2009, “broken down by the purported protected ground upon which a credible fear or reasonable fear claim was made.”