What is the penalty for hiring illegal immigrants

Tougher US penalties for illegal immigrants

"All those who want to enter this country illegally, be warned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when speaking to border officials in the state of Arizona tougher penalties for entry announced the US without immigration papers.

From then on, illegal immigrants from Mexico would be arrested directly and brought before a judge - until now they had usually just been brought back across the border.

A second offense could result in charges, as well as for the use of forged papers. The same applies to people smugglers and those who have illegally entered the country.

Sessions also issued a letter calling on prosecutors across the country to prioritize immigration cases and impose tougher penalties. More judges are to be hired so that the cases can be processed more quickly.

Against drug and human trafficking

According to the sessions, the tightening of the measures is aimed primarily at drug cartels and human trafficking groups. "The gangs are flooding the US with drugs, causing death and violence," he said. They turned American cities into "war zones".

Sessions' remarks met with criticism. "Once again, Attorney General Sessions is frightening the public by associating immigrants with criminals. Studies show that immigrants commit relatively fewer crimes than nationals born here," said Gregory Chen of the American Association of Immigration Lawyers.

US President Donald Trump had already declared illegal immigration to be one of his main concerns during the election campaign. Above all, he had repeatedly announced that he would have a wall built along the border with Mexico. In his speech in Arizona, Sessions defended these plans. The wall is helping to ward off illegal immigration.

mrk / se (afp, dpa, ap)