President Trump Friday signed three new Executive Orders to protect law enforcement, strengthen public safety, fight crime and dismantle drug cartels.
The new Executive Orders are, Enforcing Federal Law With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking; Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety; and, Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal and Local Law Enforcement Officers.
House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said in response to Trump’s executive actions that, “Our nation continues to face a number of public safety threats and I applaud President Trump for taking action to improve the security of our communities. Over the past year, we’ve witnessed an increase in attacks on law enforcement officers, a rise in violent crime in our nation’s cities and a continued flow of illicit and dangerous drugs pouring into the United States. These threats to the rule of law and public safety must be addressed so that we protect Americans and police officers from harm. President Trump’s executive orders are a good first step toward restoring law and order and I look forward to working with the President, Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions, and [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary [John] Kelly on other measures to increase the safety of our citizens and security of our nation.”
Jeffery Robinson, Deputy Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Director of the Trone Center for Justice and Equality, had a much different response.
He said in a statement that, “President Trump intends to build task forces to investigate and stop national trends that don’t exist. We have seen historic lows in the country’s crime rate and a downward trend in killings against police officers since the 1980s. The president not only doesn’t acknowledge these facts about our nation’s safety, he persists in ignoring the all-too-real deaths of black and brown people at the hands of law enforcement.”
“There are some cities that have had recent rises in violent crime, and they deserve help,” he said, noting, “every locality in America wants to further reduce crime and violence. But task forces premised on misinformation, and looking in the wrong places for the wrong problems, are not the answer.”
Addressing transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), the Executive Order, Enforcing Federal Law With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking, says, “A comprehensive and decisive approach is required to dismantle these organized crime syndicates and restore safety for the American people.”
The order states that, “Transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including transnational drug cartels, have spread throughout the nation, threatening the safety of the United States and its citizens. These organizations derive revenue through widespread illegal conduct, including acts of violence and abuse that exhibit a wanton disregard for human life. They, for example, have been known to commit brutal murders, rapes and other barbaric acts.”
“These groups are drivers of crime, corruption, violence and misery,” the order says. “In particular, the trafficking by cartels of controlled substances has triggered a resurgence in deadly drug abuse and a corresponding rise in violent crime related to drugs. Likewise, the trafficking and smuggling of human beings by transnational criminal groups risks creating a humanitarian crisis. These crimes, along with many others, are enriching and empowering these organizations to the detriment of the American people.”
Consequently, Trump’s order mandates that, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to: strengthen enforcement of federal law in order to thwart transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including criminal gangs, cartels, racketeering organizations and other groups engaged in illicit activities that present a threat to public safety and national security and that are related to, for example: The illegal smuggling and trafficking of humans, drugs or other substances, wildlife, and weapons; corruption, cybercrime, fraud, financial crimes, and intellectual-property theft; or the illegal concealment or transfer of proceeds derived from such illicit activities.”
The order sets policy that:
- Ensure[s] federal law enforcement agencies give a high priority and devote sufficient resources to efforts to identify, interdict, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including through the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of members of such organizations, the extradition of members of such organizations to face justice in the United States and, where appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, the swift removal from the United States of foreign nationals who are members of such organizations.
- Maximize[s] the extent to which all federal agencies share information and coordinate with federal law enforcement agencies, as permitted by law, in order to identify, interdict and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations.
- Enhance cooperation with foreign counterparts against transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations, including, where appropriate and permitted by law, through sharing of intelligence and law enforcement information and through increased security sector assistance to foreign partners by the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security.
- Develop strategies, under the guidance of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, to maximize coordination among agencies — such as through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Special Operations Division, the OCDETF Fusion Center and theInternational Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center — to counter the crimes described in subsection (a) of this section, consistent with applicable Federal law; and
- Pursue and support additional efforts to prevent the operational success of transnational criminal organizations and subsidiary organizations within and beyond the United States, to include prosecution of ancillary criminal offenses, such as immigration fraud and visa fraud and the seizure of the implements of such organizations and forfeiture of the proceeds of their criminal activity.
The Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal and Local Law Enforcement Officers Executive Order makes it the policy of the Trump administration to:
- Enforce all federal laws in order to enhance the protection and safety of federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers, and thereby all Americans.
- Develop strategies, in a process led by the Department of Justice and within the boundaries of the Constitution and existing federal laws, to further enhance the protection and safety of federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers.
- Pursue appropriate legislation, consistent with the Constitution’s regime of limited and enumerated federal powers, that will define new federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing federal crimes, in order to prevent violence against federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers.
In furtherance of the policy, the order requires the Attorney General to develop a strategy for the Justice Department’s use of existing federal laws to prosecute individuals who commit or attempt to commit crimes of violence against federal, state, tribal, and local law enforcement officers; coordinate with state, tribal, and local governments and with law enforcement agencies at all levels, including other federal agencies, in prosecuting crimes of violence against federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers in order to advance adequate multi-jurisdiction prosecution efforts.
The Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety Executive Order states, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to reduce crime in America. Many communities across the nation are suffering from high rates of violent crime. A focus on law and order and the safety and security of the American people requires a commitment to enforcing the law and developing policies that comprehensively address illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and violent crime. The Department of Justice shall take the lead on federal actions to support law enforcement efforts nationwide and to collaborate with state, tribal and local jurisdictions to restore public safety to all of our communities.”
In furtherance of this policy, the order directs “the Attorney General to establish, and to appoint or designate an individual or individuals to chair, a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety,” and that, “The Attorney General shall, to the extent permitted by law, provide administrative support and funding for the Task Force.”
The Attorney General also “shall determine the characteristics of the Task Force, which shall be composed of individuals appointed or designated by him,” and, “The Task Force shall exchange information and ideas among its members that will be useful in developing strategies to reduce crime, including, in particular, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime,” and, “based on that exchange of information and ideas, develop strategies to reduce crime; identify deficiencies in existing laws that have made them less effective in reducing crime and propose new legislation that could be enacted to improve public safety and reduce crime; evaluate the availability and adequacy of crime-related data and identify measures that could improve data collection in a manner that will aid in the understanding of crime trends and in the reduction of crime; and conduct any other studies and develop any other recommendations as directed by the Attorney General.”