President Trump’s administration has been a revolving door of high-profile advisors— and his Cabinet is no exception. In July 2017, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly resigned to become White House Chief of Staff. That September, Tom Price surrendered his position as Secretary of Health in Human Services after the scandalous fallout of taking taxpayer funded private charter flights. On separate occasions in March 2018, President Trump fired both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin on Twitter. But no one has been on the receiving end of the President’s (very vocal) disappointment quite like Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Interestingly, in February 2016, then-Senator Sessions was the first Senator to outright endorse then presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying memorably, “I told Donald Trump this isn’t a campaign, this is a movement.” Less than a year later, Jeff Sessions was being confirmed by the Senate as President Trump’s new Attorney General.
However, a few short months after that the relationship between the president and his attorney general quickly began to unravel after Sessions recused himself from any Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the election. Since then, there have been numerous instances in which the president has publicly condemned Sessions in the media or on Twitter. Most recently, when asked about his attorney general in an interview, the president stated, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”
Despite the political drama clouding Sessions’ tenure at the helm of the Justice Department, he has worked diligently to implement the president’s immigration agenda – the very issue that propelled him to the White House.
The reality is that Jeff Sessions has remained the same, steadfast defender of the integrity of U.S. immigration laws he was during his tenure in the United States Senate and the president is lucky to have him in his cabinet. In fact, on President Trump’s campaign page, it is the attorney general who can claim at least some credit for the majority of check marks on a page titled, “Promises Kept.”
Under the leadership of Sessions, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has escalated its efforts to rein in dangerous sanctuary cities by suing jurisdictions over their sanctuary policies. The first lawsuit—which was filed against the state of California for multiple sanctuary laws—came shortly after Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s reckless decision to publicly tip illegal aliens to pending Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions. After filing suit, Sessions appeared before the California Peace Officers’ Association and chastised Schaaf, telling the audience, “So here’s my message to Mayor Schaaf: How dare you. How dare you needlessly endanger the lives of law enforcement just to promote your radical open borders agenda.”
Additionally, the DOJ, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions, has taken great strides to streamline and revitalize the outdated immigration court system. First, Sessions introduced production quotas for immigration judges to reduce the current enormous immigration court backlog. Under this new system, to get a “satisfactory” rating on their performance evaluations, judges will be required to clear at least 700 cases a year and to have fewer than 15 percent of their decisions overturned on appeal. Similarly, Sessions has also streamlined the hiring process for immigration judges, leading to the largest new class of immigration judges since 2010. These changes are critical to maximizing efficiency and minimizing the whims of activist judges.
Most importantly, the DOJ, under the leadership of Jeff Sessions, has instructed federal prosecutors along the Southwest border to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for all offenses referred for prosecution under 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a), which prohibits both the attempted illegal entry and the illegal entry of an alien into the United States.
Previously, prosecutorial discretion, combined with over crowded court dockets, resulted in the large scale release of illegal aliens after apprehension, a practice known as “catch and release.” This policy, exacerbated by the Obama administration, has served as a pull factor for illegal aliens for years because the risk hardly compared to the reward. But today, there has been a notable decline in the number of illegal border crossings, because illegal aliens are receiving the message that, as Jeff Sessions said, “If you come here illegally, you will be prosecuted.”
Undoubtedly, in these highly polarizing times, there are many factors relevant in a performance review. But when it comes to implementing the immigration platform that the American people endorsed in 2016, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is certainly doing his job.