Will Deficit Hawk Sessions Spend Big on Immigration?

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If President-elect Donald Trump insists on rounding up and deporting millions living in the U.S. without permission, attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions may have to abandon his usual preference for spending cuts, reports USA Today. A large scale roundup could cost tens of billions of dollars, depending on how many people are targeted and how fast the Trump administration wants it done. The Alabama senator is a deficit hawk on Capitol Hill who generally prefers to lower spending on non-military programs. At the Justice Department, he’ll be among those in charge of taking a more aggressive approach to immigration enforcement, which means more law enforcement, more judges, and more jail space, all of which cost money.

Sessions would have a key role in enlisting the help of local law enforcement, a policy he has favored for more than a decade. Turning neighborhood beat cops into immigration agents is controversial, but conservatives like Sessions say it’s the only way to put a dent in the 11 million people who have broken immigration laws. Expectations are high on Capitol Hill among conservatives who have complained that President Obama was not tough enough on local jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal immigration agents. “Senator Sessions will be poised to cut off federal law enforcement grants to the 10 largest sanctuary cities in the country on his first day as attorney general,” said Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that directs funding for the Justice Department. Local law enforcement organizations, many of which have endorsed Sessions’ nomination, say they would welcome legal clarity on what more they can do to get undocumented immigrants with criminal records out of their communities.

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