The Justice Department will send 35 prosecutors and 18 judges to the southern U.S. border to bolster efforts to prosecute immigrants entering the U.S. illegally, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday.
Among the assistant attorneys dispatched to the border, 15 will be allocated to Texas, eight to California, six to Arizona and six to New Mexico. The immigration judges, meanwhile, will be deployed to adjudicate cases in courts along the U.S-Mexico border in parts of the same states.
“The American people made very clear their desire to secure our borders and prioritize the public safety and national security of our homeland,” Sessions said in a statement. “Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is essential to our republic. By deploying these additional resources to the Southwest border, the Justice Department and the Trump Administration take yet another step in protecting our nation, its borders, and its citizens. It must be clear that there is no right to demand entry without justification.”
Unveiling the measure at the DOJ Wednesday, Sessions pointed to a caravan of asylum-seeking Central American migrants, which has made its way through Mexico in recent months, as part of the impetus behind the decision.
"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed," he said. "People are not going caravan or otherwise stampede our border. We need legality and integrity in the system. People should wait their turn, ask to apply lawfully before they enter our country. So we're sending a message worldwide."
He added: "We're sending a message worldwide: 'Don't come illegally. Make your claim to enter America in the lawful way and wait your turn.'"
Thousands of migrants largely fleeing violence in countries like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador made their way toward the southern U.S. border earlier this year. Though the so-called caravan was mostly broken up by Mexican authorities, roughly 28 of its members were accepted for processing by U.S. border authorities in San Diego earlier this week, according to the Associated Press.
Reports of their progress prompted repeated public rebukes from President Donald Trump, who tweeted Monday that the migrants are "openly defying our border" and showing "how weak & ineffective U.S. immigration laws are."
The Trump administration has moved to crackdown on illegal border crossings, with Sessions unveiling charges against 11 caravan members on Monday.