The Day

The hypocrisy of Attorney General Sessions

- By THOMAS L. KNAPP Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertaria­n Advocacy Journalism (thegarriso­ 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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