"The purpose of this measure is to dissuade migrants from risking their lives to cross illegally through the inhospitable Sonoran Desert," the release stated. "By adding criminal consequences to all apprehensions, Tucson Sector plans to make the west desert region even more undesirable place to cross."
The release explained that the policy of prosecuting first offenders been "reinstated." Local media reports said the procedure had been abandoned during the Obama administration.
At busy border crossings such as El Paso in the state of Texas, first-time illegals are typically returned to their home countries without criminal charges.
The policy change in Arizona followed a recent memorandum from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that directed prosecutors to find ways to deter "first-time improper entrants," according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper.
The CPB release made no mention of Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, but instead depicted the measure as an attempt to save lives. The agency noted that Border Patrol agents had rescued 80 illegal aliens in June alone.
"Arizona’s desert shows no mercy for those unprepared for its remote, harsh terrain and unpredictable weather," the release said.
The first-time offenders in June were mostly convicted on misdemeanor charges, sentenced to time served and returned to their home countries with a warning that a second attempt would result in felony charges, according to local media reports.