Jeff Sessions to review if Las Vegas a ‘sanctuary city,’ urges local police to work with DOJ
Sessions began his speech on Wednesday saying that the DOJ will begin to focus on the “increase in violent crime, vicious gangs, an opioid epidemic, threats from terrorism, and human traffickers.”
“The first and most important job of this government - and any government - is to protect the safety and the rights of its people. If we fail at this task, then every other government initiative ceases to be important,” Sessions said, according to the DOJ.
Sessions claimed that the crime rate has been going down since the 1990s, until two years ago, when the murder rate increased 10 percent across the nation in one year. He went on to say that under President Donald Trump, the DOJ is “getting serious” about securing the border and enforcing immigration laws.
He then went on to blame so-called “sanctuary cities” for the rise in violent crime.
“I want to be clear about this: local police are not the problem. I know that you want to help. The problem is that politicians have forbidden you to help,” Sessions said. “That makes all of us - and especially police officers on the front lines - less safe.”
Sessions said cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco “are protecting criminals rather than their law-abiding residents,” adding that he is not sure if Las Vegas should be considered a “sanctuary city.”
In 2016, a memo from the DOJ listed Clark County as a “sanctuary” jurisdiction that would be investigated to determine if it is complying with federal immigration policy. However, Sessions said that he is willing to review their status.
“You know there’s some list that was prepared before I became attorney general of cities and areas that are not - they’re sanctuary cities and not in compliance,” Sessions said, according to the Las Vegas Sun. “We are reviewing that. I’m not sure that was accurate and we’re going to get on that quickly.”
Sessions said that he spoke with Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo who enrolled his officers in ICE’s 287 G program, which allows local deputies to enforce immigration law
“This is just the type of force multiplier that we need,” Sessions said. “We will work to strengthen our partnerships with you - law enforcement on the front lines. You are ultimately the most effective resources that we as a country have in this effort.”
If Las Vegas is not removed from the list, they might be subject to a bill that was passed by the House two weeks ago. The No Sanctuary for Criminals Act would block any “sanctuary” jurisdiction from receiving certain federal grants from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
In April, Metro general counsel Liesel Freedman wrote a letter to the Justice Department, stating that the Las Vegas Metro Police Department “in its law enforcement and detention activities are in compliance” with federal immigration policies.