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Jacquelyn Martin
FILE - In this June 20, 2017, file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens during the Justice Department's National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, in Bethesda, Md. U.S. Attorney General Sessions has ordered a "zero tolerance" policy aimed at people entering the United States illegally for the first time on the Mexican border. His directive Friday, April 6, 2018, tells federal prosecutors in border states to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, which has historically been treated as a misdemeanor offense for those with few or no previous encounters with border authorities. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

SAN DIEGO — Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a "zero tolerance" policy aimed at people entering the United States illegally for the first time on the Mexican border.

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His directive Friday tells federal prosecutors in border states to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, which has historically been treated as a misdemeanor offense for those with few or no previous encounters with border authorities. Smugglers and repeat offenders are usually charged with more serious crimes.

Sessions tells prosecutors to ask for additional resources if needed to prosecute cases. As a model, he points to a Border Patrol effort launched in 2005 that typically resulted in a conviction and short time in jail.

Last week, Sessions established quotas for immigration judges to reduce court backlogs.