Donald Trump’s attorney general will be in town tomorrow morning to banter about federal immigration policy and the push to eradicate the United States of MS-13.
Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen will be at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland on S. Charles Street for a 10:30 a.m. press conference, according to a media advisory. Their event will cover “the Administration’s efforts to combat MS-13 and carry out its immigration priorities.”
The Department of Homeland Security’s immigration policies under Trump have directly impacted Baltimore. U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement agents arrested 28 undocumented immigrants here this past fall amid a national sweep for “Operation Safe City.”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Nielsen as head of the agency less than a week ago.
As head of the U.S. Justice Department, Sessions has been at times been at odds with Baltimore through 2017. This summer, he withheld federal anti-violence funding from local law enforcement; his staff said the DOJ would reconsider if the city police department would change its policies for detaining undocumented immigrants in the city jail by notifying federal agents to come pick them up before they’re released.
In a response, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis pointed out that Baltimore doesn’t operate its city jail – that’s been the state’s responsibility since 1991 – and, in any event, said Sessions’ conditions were “a step in the wrong direction” for his city. The fact that Baltimore doesn’t set its out detention policies means it technically can’t qualify as a sanctuary jurisdiction, but that hasn’t stopped the DOJ from adding it to a list of such places.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has joined a federal lawsuit filed against the DOJ over its withholding of grant money due to sanctuary-like policies. She and law enforcement officials from 16 other jurisdictions are arguing his approach amounts to coercion that could deprive communities of vital federal resources if they don’t comply.
As for MS-13, the Salvadorean gang is known more for its presence in the D.C. suburbs than Baltimore, though its influence has spread across Maryland. In November, federal prosecutors indicted four alleged members from Annapolis, charging them with with violent crimes related to racketeering. Eight others from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties were indicted in October.