Trump signs executive actions aimed at crime crackdown

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President Trump signed three executive actions Thursday morning to further his “law and order” agenda, including orders to crack down on international crime and crimes against law enforcement.

“I’m signing three executive actions today designed to restore safety in America,” Trump said in the Oval Office after swearing in Jeff Sessions as attorney general. 

The orders will put plenty of work on the new attorney general’s plate. 

The first takes aim at international crime organizations, namely drug cartels, and orders a wide-ranging effort to further prosecute and deter such crime. 

It calls on the administration to strengthen federal law to reduce transnational criminal organizations, including those that smuggle drugs, people, and weapons and engage in financial and cyber crime.

{mosads}It also directs that federal law enforcement “give high priority and devote sufficient resources” to going after such organizations, including extraditing members to face prosecution in the United States, where possible, and deporting foreign nationals who are members of such groups.

The order calls on the heads of several agencies to review existing federal laws that could be used to further combat international crime groups, specifically naming the Immigration and Nationality Act. 

It additionally directs federal agencies to maximize information sharing among themselves and with foreign governments.

Trump said the order directs his administration “to undertake all necessary and lawful action to break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.” 

Another action focuses on preventing crime against law enforcement, including a push to define new federal crimes and potentially establish new mandatory minimum sentences.

The order directs the attorney general to review existing federal laws “to determine whether those laws are adequate to address the protection and safety” of law enforcement officers at all levels. 

Following that review, Sessions will make recommendations to the president for potential new legislation, which would include “defining new crimes of violence and establishing new mandatory minimum sentences for existing crimes of violence against” officers.

Sessions is also directed to evaluate all Justice Department grant funding programs “to determine the extent to which its grant funding supports and protects” officers and recommend any changes.

Finally, a third order is directed at crime reduction more broadly, giving Sessions broad authority to establish a task force aimed at developing strategies “to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime.” 

The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety — whose members will be chosen by Sessions — will propose new legislation and evaluate existing laws and data collection on crime.

“We have a crime problem,” Sessions said at his swearing-in.

“I wish the rise that we’re seeing in crime in America today were some sort of aberration or blip,” he continued, calling it a “dangerous permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.”

Trump has repeatedly said that crime is rising in the United States, though federal statistics indicate crime rates are at the lowest point since the 1960s.

The pace of executive actions had slowed in recent days after Trump kicked off his presidency by issuing a torrent of orders aimed at fulfilling his campaign promises. 

Trump’s most controversial order temporarily barring refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. has been blocked by a federal judge. 

Leaders in Congress and others inside the administration complained the rollout of the order was fumbled. Senior aides have reportedly taken steps to streamline the executive order process amid the fallout from the travel ban.

Updated at 2:05 p.m.  

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