As a senator, Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions became Congress’ leading advocate not only for a crackdown on illegal immigration, but also for slowing all immigration, increasing mass deportations and scrutinizing more strictly those entering the U.S. As attorney general, he’d be well positioned to turn those ideas into reality, the Associated Press reports. Immigration laws are enforced by other agencies, but the Justice Department plays a crucial role in setting policies and legal underpinnings that shape the system. And if Donald Trump sticks with his campaign promises, immigration will be a top priority.
Sessions could execute maneuvers to limit which nationalities the U.S. would accept as refugees and to reverse a federal policy that protects young people from deportation. “The president has the clear power to suspend immigration to protect America,” Sessions said during the Republican convention. Sessions favors limiting the number of refugees coming into the U.S. and turning away children who arrive at the border alone who are attempting to reunite with families living in the U.S. The attorney general can direct prosecutors to increase the number of criminal cases brought against immigrants caught crossing the border; guide legal opinions to defend executive actions; prioritize hiring more judges for federal immigration courts; overturn decisions made by a federal immigration appeals panel, and challenge the legality of state immigration policies.