BY MICHAEL SCANLON
For the Bulletin
Speaking in Las Cruces Wednesday, April 11, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised Southwest law enforcers and vowed ever-tougher measures to secure the United States border with Mexico.
“On behalf of President Trump, who stands firm for law enforcement, we thank each of you for your service, we have your back, and we support you in the efforts you and your team make very day to make our communities safe, to stand up for law and order and discipline and public safety,” Sessions told a meeting of the Southwestern Border Sheriff’s Coalition.
“What the border does, in fact, does impact the whole country,” Sessions said. “A 2,000-mile border means that our country is vulnerable to transnational criminal organizations. These are drug cartels, street gangs like MS-13.”
Sessions made his remarks at the Ramada Palms Hotel on University Avenue.
As the attorney general spoke, a group of protesters outside decried the administration’s hard-line policies, among other things. At one point, protesters entered the Ramada Palms and could be heard shouting in the hallway. The outburst occurred before Sessions appearance.
Sessions cautioned the sheriffs about what he described a dangerous and deadly drugs he believes are coming across the border and urged them to keep up the fight against illegal drug trafficking.
“We do not need to continue to allow this unprecedented death toll to impact our country,” he said.
Sessions summarized the steps the Trump Administration is taking in its border crackdown, including a zero-tolerance policy for undocumented border crossings, closing loopholes in existing law, pressing Congress for money to build a border wall, sending National Guard troops to the border, stepping up immigration courts, and outlawing so-called “sanctuary cities,”, those cities and counties that don’t fully cooperate with federal officials to apprehend undocumented immigrants.
Both Las Cruces and Doña Ana County have established policies limiting the responsibilities of local police and sheriff’s officers in cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement – policies that could qualify the city and county for “sanctuary city status. Whether Sessions was aware of that was unclear.
“We’re going to deal with those cases more effectively. It’s time to fix some of these problems,” Sessions said to a burst of applause from attendees at the meeting.
“Wearing a badge takes courage, but officers on the border are facing, no doubt, more significant challenges still, Sessions said. “We have limited resources, we have manpower needs and you face a particularly violent threat every day. We have a crisis here. We know it, the president knows it, and we’re determined to do something about it.
“With President Trump, we have a new era of support for law enforcement like we haven’t seen for many years. You might even say we have a new sheriff in town.”