It hasn’t taken long for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to clean house at the Department of Justice, an agency that faced criticism under the Obama administration for enabling federal overreach in state and local matters and for appearing lax in enforcing immigration laws.
Former Sen. Sessions, who was nominated by President Donald Trump for the top role and confirmed two months ago after a bitter Senate battle, has targeted so-called sanctuary cities by announcing that he would withhold federal grants from state and local governments that refuse to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deporting criminal aliens.
He also rolled back a slew of contentious Obama-era decrees that were considered by many to represent an unfair power grab, including a rule that forced schools to let students use whatever bathroom or changing room corresponds to their gender identity.
Sessions also created a new Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety headed by federal prosecutor Steven Cook, an agency dedicated to stemming the epidemic of violent crime that has broken out in several major urban centers. While the Obama administration was perceived as soft on violent crime, Sessions’ intense approach has been noticed throughout Capitol Hill and beyond.
In backing up his no-nonsense approach to dealing with crime, Sessions insists that he’s simply doing his job.
“When it comes to sanctuary cities, all we are requiring is that they, just like every other individual in the United States, follow Congress’s duly enacted laws,” DOJ spokesman Ian Prior told The Hill. “If requiring individuals and entities to follow the law and combating violent crime are seen as dramatic reversals, then we fully support such a sea change.”