AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA Executive Director Welcomes Anti-Trafficking Effort, Urges Focus on Real Threats

5/31/24 AILA Doc. No. 24053108. Admissions & Border, Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods


Washington, DC – The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a planned strategy to expand “Efforts to Dismantle Human Smuggling Operations and Support Immigration Prosecutions.” Stated tactics include “deploying Justice Department and DHS resources for targeted enforcement efforts.” Ben Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), responded with the following:

“Combatting human trafficking and smuggling, activities that are dominated by cartels is exactly where the Department of Homeland Security and DOJ should focus efforts to reduce crime and improve border management. Every year, victims suffer terrible trauma from these abhorrent crimes, so it is critical that law enforcement targets them to ensure the safety of American communities and the people who are victimized by cartels. The agencies should spend greater effort protecting victims of smuggling operations and end the practice of detaining them while they serve as witnesses against their traffickers.

“Of serious concern, however, is the agencies’ plan to increase prosecutions of people for improper entry or re-entry after removal. When President Biden took office, AILA urged him to scale back and even halt such prosecutions, and the depth of our concern has not changed. Such prosecutions are frequently done in such a way as to deny due process to people who are often rushed through proceedings. These prosecutions also waste finite resources that should be used to target criminal activities that pose threats to public safety, such as narcotics and illegal firearms trafficking or human smuggling. Moreover, the impact of these laws criminalizes conduct like trying to reunite with family, returning after erroneous deportation, or claiming asylum, while doing nothing to bring order and security to the southern border.”