Sessions: The new sheriff’s old-school policies
Jeff Sessions “is wasting no time” trying to bring back the good ol’ 1950s, said Jay Willis in GQ.com. Proclaiming this “the Trump era,” the attorney general traveled to the Mexican border last week to announce that his Justice Department would now prosecute and jail all undocumented aliens caught near the border—and file criminal charges against anyone who gave them shelter, even “their own family members.” As part of his Bull Connor–like crackdown on brown and black people, Sessions has advised sanctuary cities that he’ll withhold billions in federal funding if they don’t turn over undocumented immigrants arrested for crimes. Sessions is also moving to kill the Obama administration’s efforts to reform local police departments accused of brutality and racism, said Renée Graham in The Boston Globe. More than a dozen cities and counties had agreed to implement reforms to overcome systemic racial bias, but Sessions thinks such programs hurt “officer safety and morale.”
Sessions is simply carrying out Trump’s campaign promises, said Kelly Cohen in the Washington Examiner. In a presidency marked by chaos and drama, the attorney general is operating “the most smoothly of any administration official.” And “he’s just getting started,” said Laura Jarrettin CNN.com. The former Alabama senator is withdrawing the Obama administration’s protection for transgender students in public schools, saying that’s a local issue. He’ll seek to restore mandatory-minimum sentencing for drug offenses. And he’s reversed his department’s legal opposition to voter ID laws in several states. While campaigning with Trump, Sessions was wildly cheered when he said, “The American people are not happy with their government.” Now on immigration, crime, and policing, Sessions is making Trump voters happy.
I don’t recall the American people clamoring for a return to the failed war on drugs, said Nick Gillespie in Reason.com. Sessions adamantly opposes marijuana legalization, calling pot “only slightly less awful” than heroin, and has hinted he may prosecute weed users even in states where it’s been made legal. That’s just nuts. “Has there been a more ineffective and destructive government program than the decades-long drug war?” Prohibition never works, and only brings more crime and violence. Mandatory minimums and mass incarceration, meanwhile, have devastated minority communities. What a pity that Jeff Sessions, the new sheriff in town, wants to go back to failed policies from an earlier era. ■