Attorney General Jeff Sessions/Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM Attorney General Jeff Sessions/Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is beefing up the Southern District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office by giving it eight new prosecutors to handle an increase in illegal immigration cases.

Sessions’ recent announcement comes as a caravan of 1,000 mostly Central American immigrants have been waiting to request asylum at the U.S. border, many of them fleeing violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Sessions is placing a total of 35 new assistant U.S. attorney positions to the five offices along the Southwest border. The Southern District of Texas has one of the heaviest immigration dockets in the nation, and the eight new prosecutors assigned to the district will specifically be used to handle improper entry, illegal re-entry and alien smuggling cases, prosecutors said.

“The SDTX regularly prosecutes multiple thousands of illegal entry, illegal re-entry and smuggling cases per year,” said Ryan Patrick, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas. “These new attorneys will go toward increased enforcement of the administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward those who illegally enter the county and other immigration matters. Our offices in Laredo, McAllen, Brownsville and Corpus Christi are the front line in this effort.”

The recent increase in apprehensions at the Southwest border is due in part to the Justice Department’s “Zero-Tolerance Policy” on illegal re-entry, alien smuggling and improper-entry cases, an initiative that was announced last month, Sessions noted.

“The American people made very clear their desire to secure our borders and prioritize the public safety and national security of our homeland,” Sessions said. “Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is essential to our republic. By deploying these additional resources to the Southwest border, the Justice Department and the Trump administration take yet another step in protecting our nation, its borders and its citizens. It must be clear that there is no right to demand entry without justification.”