Crime crackdown feared

By Clarissa Hinshaw

DeKALB — Students and faculty have expressed mixed reactions about President Donald Trump’s plan to enforce executive orders intended to strengthen law enforcement.

Trump signed three executive orders Feb. 9 in an effort to increase law enforcement and reduce crime. The first order directs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reduce “illegal immigration, drug trafficking and violent crime,” according to a Feb. 9 Vox article. The second order directs Sessions to strengthen prosecution for violent acts against police officers and the third order directs the presidential cabinet to review policies regarding drug offenses.

“As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens,” Trump said during a Feb. 28 Congressional address. “Bad ones are going out as I speak and as I have promised throughout the campaign.”

Associate sociology professor Simón Weffer-Elizondo focuses in criminology and said he is confused about the purpose of the executive orders because crime is down as a whole in the United States.

Although violent crime rates have risen over the past year, they are still below levels in the 1990s. Drug smuggling across the southern border has risen for some drugs and fallen for others, according to a Feb. 28 Washington Post article.

Weffer-Elizondo said he would not be surprised if the constitutionality of these orders is questioned, as the orders may conflict with the right to due process or citizens being treated justly under the law. He is concerned about the increased possible deportations.

“With these executive orders, there is a lot of uncertainty [regarding] how they will be enforced, in what manner and how it’s going to play out [in the] real world as opposed to just signing a piece of paper,” Weffer-Elizondo said. “I suspect when memos start coming in about some of the enforcement procedures, [the American Civil Liberties Union] will start looking over these sorts of things and [see if it is] violating constitutional rights such as due process.”

The ACLU stepped in to halt Trump’s original executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Weffer-Elizondo said he is concerned about racial profiling, potential laws taking away a student’s right to protest and immigrant students getting deported for crimes as minor as jaywalking.

Keyana Payne, junior political science major and political action chair of the NIU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she thinks the executive orders are impulsive and not rationally-based.

Payne said the NAACP needs to address mental health’s influence on crime rates, as she believes mental health will be ignored in enforcement of the executive orders.

“I think the media especially [are] going to make students be fearful, but what we want people to realize is they have more power than they think they do,” Payne said. “The goal is to not be fearful. The goal is to uplift each other.”