The attorney general said the department in the "Trump era" would focus on securing the border, dismantling drug cartels and prosecuting criminal undocumented workers.
"For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned", Sessions said in remarks prepared for delivery. We are going to shut down and jail those who are profiting off this lawlessness - people who smuggle gang members and convicted criminals across the border, and who prey on those who don't know how unsafe the journey can be.
The Wall Street Journal's transcript of the speech included a slightly different version of the above line, saying: "it is here on this very sliver of land where we take our stand against this filth." . But his Tuesday speech during his first visit to the border offered the most comprehensive look yet at his plans for federal prosecutions of those in the country illegally.
Sessions concluded his remarks with a promise to "establish a system of immigration that we can be proud of".
"The battle is far from over".
Sessions made the announcement in Nogales, a border city that has witnessed a dramatic drop in immigrant and drug smuggling in recent years as more people enter the country in Texas, many of them Central Americans fleeing violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
"I knew strong Presidential leadership, unlike the wishy-washy-ness we've seen in the past, would impact the flow, but not as much as we've seen already", Sessions said.
Critics blasted the initiatives announced by Sessions as fear-mongering and anti-immigrant rhetoric not rooted in facts.
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US President Donald Trump is reportedly visiting China after he accepted the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. After their first face-to-face at the Mar-a-Lago resort, he trumpeted they had developed an "outstanding" relationship.
As for enforcement, each federal district has been instructed to have a "border security coordinator" in place by April 18, whose task it will be to oversee the investigation and prosecution of immigration-related crimes. But Trump, Sessions, and other immigration hardliners have often pointed to particularly gruesome and horrific incidents of undocumented crime to make their case and trotted out family members of victims at events.
Sessions said he hopes to streamline hiring to get 50 judges in place this year and an additional 75 in place next year. Gregory Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association accused Mr Sessions of drawing false connections between illegal immigrants and violent crime.
Under the new guidelines, the US' 94 Attorney offices would prosecute people engaged in human smuggling or harboring of undocumented immigrants.
A small group of demonstrators holding signs and chanting in protest of Sessions and USA immigration policy stood outside the Border Patrol compound during and after his remarks.
When delivering the speech, Sessions dropped that last bit about how Mexico is basically the origin of "filth".
"And nearly sort of a demoralization of the fabric of law enforcement and law and order", he said "And really an undermining of the respect we owe our law officers who walk these streets every day".