(Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday the Justice Department plans to hire 300 additional assistant U.S. attorneys to help fight a recent national increase in crime, including a focus on transnational gangs such as MS-13.
"As you all know, we have a multi-front battle in front of us right now: an increase in violent crime, vicious gangs, an opioid epidemic, threats from terrorism and human traffickers," Sessions said in a speech in Las Vegas.
Referring to so-called sanctuary cities, Sessions said one problem is the refusal of 300 U.S. jurisdictions to hand over illegal immigrants who commit crimes to federal immigration authorities. "These jurisdictions are protecting criminals rather than their law-abiding residents," he said.
Sessions noted the U.S. murder rate had risen 10 percent nationwide in just one year, marking the largest increase since 1968. The increase was from 2014 to 2015, the latest figures available. Murder and crime rates generally in the United States have fallen over the last several decades.
President Donald Trump had made the restoration of law and order one of the planks of his election campaign.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Bernadette Baum)