The Justice Department has had perhaps the roughest ride of any Cabinet branch during the first 100 days of the Trump administration, says the Washington Times, facing hostile judges who have blocked the president’s immigration plans, the ouster of the acting attorney general and accusations of racism leveled against Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearings. But the department also has covered the most ground when it comes to implementing the administration’s priorities. Sessions has deployed more immigration judges to the border and prioritized prosecutions of illegal immigrants who commit crimes in order to speed up deportations. He has stepped back from use of court-enforced agreements meant to guide local police reforms and rescinded orders that would have phased out the federal government’s use of private prisons.
One of the most notable changes has been the shift in how officials talk about violent crime. Though crime rates remain at near historic lows, Sessions and Trump have repeatedly alleged a growing crime wave. “A lot of it has been laying the foundation for things to come — the way the administration talks about crime and talks about drugs,” said Ames Grawert, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice Program. “That’s a big shift in rhetoric. What we have seen is using that fear and idea of a crime wave … to try to justify what the administration wants to do in rolling back some Obama-era criminal justice policies.”