LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' trip to the New Mexico border (all times local):

1 p.m.

About three dozen people are protesting the Trump administration's plans for bolstering security along the U.S.-Mexico border as Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to address sheriffs from throughout the region.

Immigrant rights activists chanted in Spanish and waved signs Wednesday outside the New Mexico hotel where Sessions was scheduled to speak about immigration enforcement about an hour north of the border.

Their signs displayed opposition to the planned border wall and the deployment of National Guard troops to the region.

Sessions' trip to Las Cruces comes as construction begins nearby to replace about 20 miles (32 kilometers) of existing vehicle barriers with taller, more robust steel and concrete fencing.

Federal officials have said the sprawling desert area is a busy route for illegal crossings and drug smuggling.

___

12:11 a.m.

As thousands of National Guard troops deploy to the Mexico border, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is also traveling to the Southwest to speak about immigration to a meeting of sheriffs Wednesday.

Sessions will speak in Las Cruces at the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition Annual Spring Meeting with the Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition. The sheriffs' counties are located within 25 miles of the United States' southern border.

A 37 percent increase in illegal border crossings in March brought more than 50,000 immigrants into the United States.

The attorney general has directed federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry, including those entering the United States for the first time.

Immigrant rights activists promised to protest Sessions' visit.