Sessions calls on law enforcement to 'dismantle' MS-13

Sessions calls on law enforcement to 'dismantle' MS-13
© Camille Fine

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBeto O'Rourke on impeachment: 'There is enough there to proceed' Rosenstein to appear for House interview next week Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure MORE called on federal law enforcement to "dismantle" the MS-13 gang through improved information sharing between different jurisdictions, including "sanctuary cities."

“Let me repeat my call to all law enforcement. Let’s dismantle MS-13. We have hurt them badly before, and we can and will hit them harder now," Sessions said on Thursday in remarks to the National Fusion Center Association. 

The Trump administration and other Republicans have used MS-13, a gang with a large presence in the U.S. that is made up largely of people with Central American background, as a talking point against sanctuary cities. These cities limit their cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration policies. 

President Trump recently accused the then-candidate in Virginia's gubernatorial race, Democrat Ralph Northam, of "fighting for" MS-13 in a tweet last month.

“Ralph Northam, who is running for Governor of Virginia, is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities,” Trump tweeted. “Vote Ed Gillespie!”

Sessions said sanctuary city policies hurt the Department of Justice's (DOJ) efforts to combat criminals who enter the U.S. illegally.

"Some cities, counties and states across America intentionally limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. Some even release convicted criminals who are wanted by ICE. That makes all of us less safe — especially law enforcement," Sessions said Thursday.


He added that the agency's threat to withhold federal funds to cities that refuse to allow federal immigration officials access to detention facilities was meant as an incentive to encourage cities to share information with the DOJ.

The DOJ announced in August that “a commitment to reducing crime stemming from illegal immigration” is now a prerequisite to receive funding through the department’s Public Safety Partnership Program.

"By placing conditions on a number of our grants, the Department is providing more incentives for these jurisdictions to share information with us. But we don’t want to withhold funds; we want a partnership of common interests," he said.