Recently confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been one of President Donald Trump's most controversial Cabinet picks — not an insignificant distinction given that a number of his nominations have ruffled feathers. But now that the former Alabama senator has officially been named to the country's top law enforcement officials, the focus is shifting towards looking at the ways in which he could affect policy. What will Jeff Sessions do as attorney general? Sessions has already spoken out in favor of strict immigration rules, and it's also expected that he will be a champion for conservative Christian voters, many of whom are hoping that the Trump administration will move away from the Obama-era policies supportive of LGBTQ rights, and toward ones meant to protect so-called religious freedom.
According to CNN, a number of Sessions' former staffers have joined him at the White House, and together, the group is anticipated to push the kinds of policies that had long been seen as radical not just to Democrats, but to some Republicans, too. That's because, in addition to their strict position on illegal immigration, Sessions' team has also advocated for restrictions on legal immigration, and Washington sources have said that two former Sessions staffers were actually instrumental in advancing the highly-controversial travel ban that has since been put on hold by a federal court.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice — which is now overseen by Sessions — announced that the president intends to rescind the original Executive Order behind the travel ban, and to replace it with one meant to "eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns," according to Vox. Neither Trump nor the Department of Justice has indicated exactly what the new plan will include, but Sessions hasn't minced words as far as his own views on immigration.
According to BBC News, during Sessions' swearing in ceremony, the new Attorney General spoke in favor of what he called "a lawful system of immigration," and said "we need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety, pulls down the wages of working Americans." He also advocated for immigration policy "that serves the interest of the people of the United States," arguing that it wasn't "immoral" or "indecent" to fight for that, and also vowed that he'd take a hard line on crime, something he called a "dangerous and permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk."
It's not the first time Sessions has voiced his opinions against immigration. According to USA Today, Sessions has spoken out against allowing Syrian refugees into the country, claiming that it "places the safety and security of the American people at risk," and that there is a “clear nexus between immigration and terrorism.” He is also a strong proponent of deportation, supports Trump's desire to crack down on sanctuary cities, saying in October that the government "[loses its ability] to protect our communities from criminal aliens, terrorism, and cartel-related crime and violence" without a commitment from local law to cooperate with deportation.
Immigration isn't the only issue where Sessions will face opposition though. According to Business Insider, Sessions has long been an advocate for religious rights and against protection for LGBTQ concerns. As a senator, Sessions has said, for example, that he believed the separation of church and state is unconstitutional, and at his confirmation hearing, Sessions said he wasn't sure whether "a secular person [has] just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious."
In fact, Sessions has already begun advancing his pro-religious rights agenda. According to Business Insider, one of his first acts as Attorney General was to change the Justice Department's position on transgender rights. Now that Sessions is calling the shots,
The department is no longer asking a judge to limit an injunction restricting the federal government from telling schools that students should be able to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identity.
Of course, like Trump, it's expected that Sessions is just getting started. And given that he hasn't exactly made his anti-immigration views a secret, it seems reasonable to assume that Sessions will be a key ally in Trump's plan to take a tough stance on border security. But if the pushback and protests to the government's original travel plan are any indication, they will no doubt be up against a lot of opposition as they attempt to implement their plans.