The hypocrisy of At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ses­sions

The Day - - OPINION - By THOMAS L. KNAPP Thomas L. Knapp is di­rec­tor and se­nior news an­a­lyst at the Wil­liam Lloyd Gar­ri­son Cen­ter for Lib­er­tar­ian Ad­vo­cacy Jour­nal­ism (the­gar­rison­cen­ter.org). He lives and works in north cen­tral Florida.

In a sur­prise White House ap­pear­ance on March 27, U.S. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions an­nounced his in­tent to make Amer­ica’s cities less safe and more vul­ner­a­ble to crime un­less he gets his way.

He didn’t say it quite like that, of course. In fact, he as­serted the op­po­site, ac­cus­ing so-called “sanc­tu­ary cities” of “mak[ing] our na­tion less safe by putting dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals back on the streets” and con­di­tion­ing fu­ture grants from the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice’s Of­fice of Jus­tice on cer­ti­fi­ca­tion by the re­cip­i­ent state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments that they are not “sanc­tu­ary” ju­ris­dic­tions.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the fed­eral gov­ern­ment should be hand­ing out money and equip­ment (es­pe­cially mil­i­tary equip­ment) to state and lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments and court sys­tems in the first place. Such gifts al­ways come with strings at­tached, as Ses­sions is demon­strat­ing with this stand. Bet­ter to keep lo­cal law en­force­ment lo­cally funded and lo­cally con­trolled.

That said, Ses­sions and his de­part­ment pre­sum­ably be­lieve that the money in ques­tion (re­cent ex­am­ples in­clude grants for “Smart Polic­ing,” po­lice body cam­eras, and sex­ual as­sault kits) makes com­mu­ni­ties safer. That’s why the money gets handed out, at least in the­ory.

If Ses­sions does be­lieve that his grants help keep us safe, then he’s es­sen­tially threat­en­ing to in­crease the like­li­hood that you or I will be as­saulted, raped, mugged or mur­dered un­less our lo­cal, county and state gov­ern­ments bend to his will.

That’s not very nice, Jeff. In fact, it’s the op­po­site of your job as At­tor­ney Gen­eral. As is sup­port­ing the very idea of Im­mi­gra­tion and

If the at­tor­ney gen­eral be­lieves that po­lice equip­ment grants help keep us safe, then by with­hold­ing them he’s es­sen­tially threat­en­ing to in­crease the like­li­hood that you or I will be as­saulted, raped, mugged or mur­dered.

Cus­toms En­force­ment “de­tain­ers.”

I hap­pen to live in a “sanc­tu­ary county.” In 2015, Alachua County, Florida Sher­iff Sadie Dar­nell set forth her de­part­ment’s pol­icy, which seems em­i­nently rea­son­able: The de­part­ment will not honor ICE “de­tain­ers” un­less they’re ac­com­pa­nied by ju­di­cial or­ders or war­rants.

Frankly, that should be the bot­tom line for ev­ery law en­force­ment agency in the coun­try. When it comes to keep­ing some­one in a cage who would oth­er­wise be free to go, “be­cause ICE wants him” isn’t good enough. The U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion is clear: “No per­son shall ... be de­prived of life, lib­erty, or prop­erty, with­out due process of law.”

If fed­eral law en­force­ment of­fi­cers can’t even be both­ered to see a judge and get an ar­rest war­rant, they shouldn’t be ask­ing lo­cal law en­force­ment to hold some­one for them, nor should Jeff Ses­sions be threat­en­ing the rest of us over it.

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