Credit: Associated Press

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday ordered federal prosecutors to push for harsher charges against undocumented immigrants who commit crimes on U.S. soil or re-enter the country illegally. He also mysteriously side-stepped a fear-mongering line about criminal “filth” supposedly plaguing the U.S.-Mexico border that was included in his prepared remarks on his new plans.


The line, which was intended to be used at a speech in the border city of Nogales, AZ, was repellant enough to raise more than a few eyebrows ahead of the event.

According to the prepared remarks, Sessions planned to say:

But it is also here, along this border, that transnational gangs like MS-13 and international cartels flood our country with drugs and leave death and violence in their wake. And it is here that criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document-forgers seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration.

Let’s stop here for a minute. When we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.

It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.


But when Sessions actually got up to give the address to border patrol agents, he dropped the “filth” line.

“They threaten the very integrity of our nations in our hemisphere,” he said. “It is here on this sliver of land, on this border where there first — we first take our stand.”

Sessions certainly isn’t one to kowtow to political correctness, so the omission was puzzling. Did an optics-obsessed aide intervene? Did he lose his place and accidentally drop the line? Did the ex-senator with white supremacist leanings have a momentary change of heart before plunging on to introduce yet another racist immigration policy?


Given the thrust of Tuesday’s memo—and the wider policies of this White House—that last option seems least likely. (I’ve reached out to the DOJ for comment about why the line was dropped and will update if I hear back.) Sessions’ directive is yet another crackdown targeting a much broader group of undocumented people, many of whom have no criminal record, under the guise of policing violent drug gangs.

And if Sessions nearly evoking “filth” to refer to a group of people, a favorite term that Nazi-era propagandists used to dehumanize Jews, doesn’t send enough of a shiver down your spine, the attorney general apparently did go on to declare: “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

As if that hasn’t been made clear already.