U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will visit Boston on Thursday to speak to federal law enforcement officers about transnational criminal organizations.
Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama who was tapped by President Donald Trump to serve as the nation's top law enforcement officer, will speak at 3 p.m. Thursday at the U.S. attorney's office in the federal courthouse in Boston's seaport.
Earlier this year, Trump issued an executive order that directed Sessions and the Department of Justice to "interdict and dismantle" multinational gangs and cartels.
"Under President Trump, the Justice Department has zero tolerance for gang violence. Transnational criminal organizations like MS-13 represent one of the gravest threats to American safety," Sessions said in a speech this year, referring to a Latin American gang. "These organizations enrich themselves by pedaling poison in our communities, trafficking children for sexual exploitation and inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate."
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The Trump administration has made targeting MS-13 a priority and Sessions has worked to secure pledges from the attorneys general of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that they will also target MS-13, according to the DOJ.
Because gangs like MS-13 and other transnational groups tend to recruit immigrants into their ranks, Sessions has said that lax immigration law enforcement only exacerbates the problem.
"Harboring criminal aliens only helps violent gangs like MS-13," Sessions said earlier this year. "Sanctuary Cities are aiding these cartels to refill their ranks and putting innocent life — including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants — in danger."
The attorney general's suggestion that the DOJ might "claw-back" funds awarded to those who do not comply drew the ire of some in Massachusetts. Several Massachusetts municipalities — including Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea and Northampton — consider themselves sanctuary cities.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts plans to host an unwelcoming party Thursday to tell Sessions "his backwards, racist, anti-civil liberties policies are not welcome in Boston," according to a Facebook event invitation. The ACLU plans to gather on the sidewalk outside the federal courthouse at 2 p.m.