Attorney General Jeff Sessions used a Thursday visit to the U.S.-Mexico border to claim substantial progress in stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, just a few months into the Trump administration.
"Through the strong leadership of President Trump and [Homeland Security] Secretary [John] Kelly, we have already made incredible progress and have seen the lowest number of border crossings in at least 17 years," Sessions said with Kelly standing beside him in Texas.
"For those that still seek to violate our laws and enter the country illegally, let me be very clear: Don't come, when you are caught, you will be detained, adjudicated and deported," Sessions warned.
Sessions reiterated that he will hire more immigration judges, and promised to bring on 50 more this year and 75 next year. There is a current backlog of more than 542,000 pending immigration cases.
"We will attack this backlog and see these cases adjudicated. We will maintain our borders, we will enforce Congress' duly enacted laws, and we will protect our communities from the scourge of cartels and gangs," Sessions added.
Sessions reminded all U.S. attorneys' offices of his recent memo that directed them to target illegal immigrants for felonies and coordinate with each office's newly-appointed border security coordinator. However, there are currently no sitting U.S. attorneys after Sessions asked for the resignations of all Obama administration holdovers last month. All 93 positions are vacant, as the second and third ranking nominees at the Justice Department have yet to be confirmed.
Kelly also took questions after Sessions' prepared remarks and emphasized his support for a border wall.
"It's absolutely essential that we build a wall, but that wall has to be combined with technology," he said. "We need to continue on this initiative to reinforce the southwest border with barrier."
Kelly said that so far, the Trump administration's tougher rhetoric on immigration enforcement is keeping illegal border crossings so low.
"Why immigrants are not making it to the United States is because of what we're saying we're going to do, but just as importantly is what we're doing," he said. "There is a legal way to come to the United States […] And that's what we need to enforce."
After visiting El Paso on Thursday, the two are expected to be in San Diego on Friday.