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How could Jeff Sessions as Attorney General affect California?




NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions arrives at Trump Tower on November 16, 2016 in New York City. . Trump is working on his his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president elect.   (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions arrives at Trump Tower on November 16, 2016 in New York City. . Trump is working on his his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president elect. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

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On Friday president-elect Donald Trump announced a number of key appointments... including naming Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as his nominee to be the next US Attorney General.

The former prosecutor was first elected to the Senate in 1996.

Sessions currently serves on the Judiciary Committee and has opposed immigration reform as well as bipartisan proposals to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences.

For more on Jeff Sessions and what this choice could mean going forward, especially for us here in the West, Take Two's Alex Cohen spoke with Adam Winkler. He's a professor of law at UCLA.

The California issues that Jeff Sessions could affect

Immigration

Well Jeff Sessions has been an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration and providing any benefits or welcome to those who are here illegally. He has called for stepped up enforcement of the immigration laws and for deportation of many if not all of our illegal immigrants. This is going to have a big impact on California, of course, because California has so many immigrants and a lot of undocumented immigrants. And if there's a stronger enforcement authority from the federal government, it's likely that many of those families in California in which are undocumented immigrants will likely suffer by seeing someone deported because of different immigration priorities that will lead to more people who are undocumented being deported.

Marijuana legalization

Well that's going to be one of the real interesting questions over the course of the Trump administration is what is the role of the federal government in enforcing the federal drug laws? California voters adopted proposition 64 legalizing marijuana, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The Obama administration made enforcement of federal marijuana laws a very low priority, allowing marijuana legalization to progress. Sessions is a staunch opponent of marijuana legalization and his department of justice is likely to take a different approach; one that makes enforcement a high priority meaning more prosecutions of marijuana dispensaries and pot users.

Environmental protection

I think it's likely that we're going to see a Sessions Department of Justice be less vigourous in enforcing the environmental laws and providing more settlements and negotiations with polluters that aren't necessarilly as protective of the residents of California as what we might have seen under the Obama administration or under a President Hillary Clinton. He is someone who believes Climate change is a hoax so is not likely to push for strong enforcement of our environmental laws.

To hear the full conversation, click the blue player above.

Answers have been edited for clarity.