President Donald Trump signed executive orders designed to fight crime and oversaw the swearing in of Jeff Sessions as attorney general in his third week in office. These actions, along with meeting with law enforcement leaders, were intended to fulfill his campaign promise of “law and order.”
In President Obama’s last year in office, there was a bipartisan initiative to reduce sentencing for drug criminals. This effort, much like people’s hope for a “libertarian moment” in the 2016 election, seems to be put on hold during the Trump administration. (RELATED: Criminal Justice Bill Lowers Punishment For Smuggling Drugs In Submarines)
Trump’s executive order on crime creates a task force to find ways to reduce violent crime, calls for Attorney General Sessions to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who target police officers and orders the federal government focus its efforts on transnational criminal organizations, specifically drug cartels.
The orders call for increased deportations of members of gangs such as MS-13 and leaves open the possibility of mandatory minimum sentences for violence against police officers. The Koch-funded Cato Institute published a blog post criticizing these orders saying, “supporters of limited, constitutional government ought to be concerned about the orders that Trump signed yesterday.”
In a press release about the executive orders, the White House said they are “desperately needed,” as, “in 2016, murders in large cities increased by double digits.”
The orders do not stand alone in Trump’s efforts in week three to enact “law and order” and “respect to law enforcement,” as he said he would do in October. The president met with sheriffs from across the country on Tuesday.
The National Sheriff’s Association has supported President Trump and a source with intimate knowledge of the situation told TheDC that the group is open to filing an amicus brief supporting Trump’s temporary travel ban.
Then on Wednesday, Trump addressed police chiefs and sheriffs in Washington and told them, “We all see what happens and what’s been happening to you. It’s not fair. We must protect those who protect us.”
During the nomination process Jeff Sessions was the target of attacks on his character, and his tough on crime stances were largely ignored. Sessions called the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that Obama, the Koch brothers, and Republican senators supported “dangerous for America” and said “it’s more accurate to call it a ‘criminal leniency bill.'”
And while there has been a movement championed by Sen. Rand Paul to embrace marijuana legalization in the Republican Party, Sessions has said, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
After Attorney General Sessions was swore-in, Trump said: “Today’s ceremony should be seen as a clear message to the gang members and drug dealers terrorizing innocent people, your day is over. A new era of justice begins and it begins right now.”
Sessions said at the ceremony that the “crime problem” in the U.S. is a “a dangerous permanent trend that puts the health and safety of the American people at risk.” The new attorney general also called for a “lawful system of immigration, one that serves the interests of the people of the United States.”