CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions told The Daily Caller Friday law enforcement will get support from his department that some of them aren’t receiving from their own cities.
Sessions sat down with TheDC before he addressed lawmakers and law enforcement at the U.S. Court House in Central Islip to discuss the rising violence committed by MS-13 gang members on Long Island.
“I think the there’s been a huge surge of support for President Trump’s policies that reflect support for our police — honoring our police — respecting our police — defending our police and the work that they do every day. It’s dangerous. It’s tough. Our good officers need support,” Sessions said.
He went on to say, “If they commit crimes or violate people’s civil rights, this Department of Justice will come after them and anyone else that does that, but all we’ve got to get away from the idea of blaming the police. We need to be placing the blame on the murderers, thugs, the drug dealers and the gang guys who are killing people and robbing people and promoting prostitution of young girls and killing kids in school even.”
Sessions previously criticized President Barack Obama for signing an executive action known as Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which gives children of illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. when they were younger a path to legal residency.
Prior to the inauguration in January, Sessions said DACA was “very questionable, in my opinion, constitutionally,” so he doesn’t believe the Department of Justice would object to repealing it. “It would certainly be constitutional, I believe, to end that order,” he added at the time.
However, President Trump has since altered his rhetoric on DACA recipients, or Dreamers, telling the Associated Press in an interview that they can “rest easy.”
“Well the president, you know, is sympathetic to young people who were brought here at a young age. If they came illegally and the law hadn’t changed and they are subject to being deported, as I have said, but it’s quite clear that our priority is focusing on people in this country who committed serious crimes,” Sessions told TheDC.
Sessions went on to say, “We’ve got to get those people identified or prosecuted for their criminal acts and deported. So that’s taking up all our time–that and repeat entrants into the country. People who come in with false documents and marriage schemes that are bogus–so that’s where our focus and I think that’s what he meant…we’re on the right track.”
In response to the issue of sanctuary cities, Sessions sent a letter to nine municipalities warning if they were not complying with federal immigration law, their cities would lose federal grant funding. A federal judge placed a temporary order earlier this week on President Trump’s executive order to withhold any federal funds from sanctuary cities.
However, Sessions would not necessarily rule out arresting or charging an official who disobeyed federal immigration law. When asked by TheDC if he would go that far, he replied, “What we are focused on now–we’re focused now on encouraging our cities and county jurisdictions to work with us and change and re-evaluate some of their policies.”
Although New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and other mayors are explicitly against the Justice Department’s policies on enforcing federal immigration law, Sessions points to local law enforcement who support the policies.
“Well I think the average policeman is very much in favor of ending sanctuary city policies. In fact, in recent days the [Sergeant’s Benevolent Association] in New York explicitly said they agreed with Jeff Sessions about the sanctuary city policies and it’s soft on crime to have a sanctuary city policy,” Sessions said.
He went on to say, “I don’t understand why politicians–government officials would want to maintain a convicted criminal in their community after they’ve come here illegally. If they commit another crime in the country, they should clearly be deported in my opinion under the law, and I would think that we have a right to expect cities and other jurisdictions to support that.”
Critics of tougher immigration enforcement say that those in the country illegally will be fearful of stepping forward to give information about violent crimes because of the threat of deportation.
“Well I don’t think that’s accurate,” Sessions said. “First, are we talking about victims. I don’t know why they wouldn’t report or call 9 -1- 1, or otherwise, and our enforcement mechanism and the difficulty we’re having with sanctuary cities is that after an immigrant — an illegal — after they commit a crime and are convicted they’re supposed to be deported.”
“The sanctuary cities have a history of directing their police and law enforcement agencies not to even report their arrests. they’re in custody and not honoring detainers, so that the federal government can pick them up from the jail and then deport them,” he added.
Sessions is still relatively alone at the department. Although, the Senate recently confirmed Rod Rosenstein to be Deputy Attorney General, there are still many vacancies at DOJ to be filled and Obama holdovers still occupy a number posts. When asked by TheDC when it is expected to see new U.S. Attorney appointments, Sessions responded:
“I’ve got 12 that have got to get confirmed in the Senate. We’ve got 127 federal judge vacancies that need to be confirmed, and then we’ve got 94 United States attorneys that need to be confirmed,” Sessions stated. “So we’re moving names forward. And we’re trying to do good background checks to make sure that these U.S. attorneys are first rate because they are key leaders in the effort to reduce crime in America and create public safety.”
He added, “So, we need to get them confirmed as fast as possible. I don’t think we are much behind if at all, beyond historical times. Most U.S. attorneys are in by September or more before they are confirmed. We’re hoping to get some in as soon as possible.”
During Sessions’s visit to Central Islip, he met with leadership from the Suffolk County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, Nassau County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, Hempstead Police Department, New York State Police Department and the Suffolk County Probation Department.
According to his spokesman, “They discussed efforts to combat violent crime and how the Justice Department can provide assistance to local law enforcement. The Attorney General then met with the families of MS-13 victims Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens.”
Sessions also had a working lunch with federal law enforcement leadership and then met with federal prosecutors and agents working in and around Long Island before returning to Washington, D.C.