US

Sessions Doubles Down On Police Right To Seize Private Property

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions called on police to increase civil forfeitures Monday, claiming the policy is an effective counter to drug trafficking.

Sessions spoke to National District Attorneys Association in Minnesota Monday, saying the forfeiture directive will be released this week.

“We hope to issue this week a new directive on asset forfeiture—especially for drug traffickers,” Sessions said. “With care and professionalism, we plan to develop policies to increase forfeitures. No criminal should be allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime. Adoptive forfeitures are appropriate as is sharing with our partners.”

Federal forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize property suspected to be involved in crimes, and while advocates claim it is essential to combating drug crime in particular, critics argue the policy is frequently abused. Critics have chipped away at forfeiture on both the federal and state level in recent weeks. Sessions’ announcement comes on the heals of a June Supreme Court ruling that narrowed criminal asset forfeiture as well as Illinois reforming its forfeiture laws earlier in July. (RELATED: Hostility To Asset Forfeiture Growing On Supreme Court)

The federal government seized nearly $2 billion through civil and criminal forfeiture in 2016.

Sessions also called on U.S. attorneys to crack down on immigration, saying, “our goal is not to reduce illegal immigration, but to end illegal immigration.”

“In just 5 states over 3 days ICE arrested 86 nationals. 62 had criminal convictions and 23 had been previously deported. 7 were fugitives with outstanding final orders of removal,” Sessions said. “One U.S. Attorney in an average non border state, told me they had presented 300 illegal reentry cases last year.”

Sessions touted Operation Streamline, an immigration initiative in place since 2005 in which Justice Department officials work together with the Department of Homeland security to prevent illegal immigration.

Sessions claimed the program is “turning the tide” on immigration following the addition of new personnel.

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