HOUSTON – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appearing before federal law enforcement agency leaders in Houston, praised them for their efforts in fighting crime, especially in immigration matters.
Sessions said the federal government has "the back" of its federal agencies, for pursuing criminals who are not in the United States legally.
"The president and I support, respect and value you," he told federal leaders, "We are on your side."
Sessions mentioned crimes in Houston involving members of the MS-13 gang, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, and mentioned Jersey Village teenager Genesis Cornejo-Alvarado, a murder victim, found shot to death on a street curb. He said MS-13 members were charged in that case.
During his address about federal law enforcement,Sessions said Houston is estimated to have the "third-most illegal aliens of any metro area in America." He estimated 500,000 undocumented residents are in the Houston area.
Sessions said he is also opposed to sanctuary cities, which limit cooperation in enforcement of federal immigration actions.
"We cannot continue giving funds to cities who undermine federal law officers and the frustrate the efforts to reduce crime," Sessions said.
Last year, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo blasted anti-sanctuary cities measures in Texas, calling them counterproductive as they created an image of local officers being in the business of immigration enforcement.
While Sessions was inside the U.S. attorney's office of Houston, there were protesters outside drawing attention to their view of the federal government's current policies on immigration. People in the crowd believe immigrants who are not breaking the law are being unfairly targeted.
"I believe in peace. I believe in civil disobedience. I believe in working things out and I believe in the dignity of the human being," said one of the protesters.
Besides immigration law, Sessions also noted the deaths of Texas peace officers in recent years.
He emphasized the focus of the U.S. attorney's office is following the law, protecting public safety and protecting tax dollars..