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Jeff Sessions says DOJ will move more prosecutors, judges to border

Last Updated May 2, 2018 3:37 PM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice will be sending more prosecutors to the southern border, as a caravan of Central American migrants waits there to ask for asylum.

"We are announcing today that we are adding 35 assistant United States attorneys to the border to prosecute illegal entries into our country," Sessions said at the Justice Department.  

He also announced that the Justice Department would be moving 18 immigration judges to the border, to function "full-time" on moving asylum cases, a 50-percent increase in the number of immigration judges to handle asylum claims. Sessions said these would be supervisory judges who don't have existing case loads, in order to keep immigration cases moving. 

His comments come as a caravan of largely Central American migrants have been waiting to request asylum at the U.S. border after making a nearly 3,000 mile trek. A large majority of the migrants are primarily fleeing violence in Honduras. There are also many Guatemalans and Salvadorans. 

"We are not going to let this country be overwhelmed," Sessions 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.'"

The Justice Department has already taken action to stop those from seeking asylum by charging 11 people crossing the border illegally after finding them Monday night. Officials say 10 of them come from countries associated with the caravan.

Sessions previously referred to the caravan as "a deliberate attempt to undermine our laws and overwhelm our system."

While caravans from Central America have been making the journey to the border since 2008, they gained new attention after President Trump cited them as reasoning behind ramping up immigration enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Now, the caravan, which is over 1,000 people coming in from Honduras, thought they were just going to walk right through Mexico and right through the border," Mr. Trump said. 

Since then, Mr. Trump has signed a proclamation directing the U.S. National Guard to be deployed to provide military presence along the border in order to "secure" the southern border and halt the flow of drugs and people into the U.S.

Sessions told reporters that the U.S. immigration system currently treats people "extremely well." 

"Particularly children, they're treated with every courtesy. We fly them back home after they've entered. So, we're treating people fine. The question is if you don't want to have to go through this problem, don't come unlawfully," said Sessions.

He added, "It's not my problem, it's not the U.S. border control's problem when people try to force their way into the country unlawfully."

This is a developing story.