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GOP Senators Sessions and Vitter Will Lead Fight Against Immigration Reform

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vitter sessionsYesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its first hearing on immigration reform. We’ve noted many times that the momentum is on our side. The 2012 elections changed the game on this issue.

Our press release from earlier today title,d On Immigration Reform, The Tide Has Turned, makes four key points:

  • The Pro-Reform Side is Strong, Growing, and Engaged
  • Democrats are United and Leaning into the Issue
  • New Republican Voices Speaking Up in Favor of Reform
  • The Anti-Immigrant Movement is Increasingly Under Pressure By Conservative Critics

But, there are still some holdouts. On Tuesday, we published a post titled, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On Immigration: Do These Wingnuts Still Set The GOP Agenda? Lots of Republicans are looking for a better path. But,  two of those wingnuts, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AR) and David Vitter (R-LA),  made it clear they still want to set the agenda and are leading the opposition to reform. From Rebecca Leber at Think Progress:

Opponents to comprehensive immigration reform introduced legislation on Wednesday to counter the Senate bipartisan framework that calls for a tough path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The proposals from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and many of the same opponents from the 2007 reform debate, include preventing children born in the U.S. to undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens, cutting off federal funding to cities that “provide safe harbor, ” and expanding E-verify and other enforcement measures. One proposal to expand visas for high-skilled workers is an uncontroversial idea, but last year Republicans introduced a STEM bill that would have effectively reduced legal immigration, under the guise of expanding the program.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, Vitter said, “We don’t have the kind of commitment to law enforcement at this point that gives the American people the confidence that we’re moving on the right path. So this is no sure thing.”

Okay. We’ve warned the GOP about following the anti-immigrant leaders like Jeff Sessions and David Vitter. Here’s what we wrote about these two earlier this week. They’re going to lead the GOP off a demographic cliff:

Jeff Sessions (R-AL, aka “If it’s good enough for Alabama…”): In 2009,  America’s Voice published a report on Sessions, which noted his “ allies in the anti-immigration movement are confirmed hate groups, originating from the white nationalist mastermind, John Tanton.” Our report can be viewed here. If Sessions had his way, he’d force Alabama’s HB 56 anti-immigrant on the rest of the nation. That law inflicted hardship on immigrants and caused major problems for Alabama’s economy, causing crops to rot in the fields.  He’s also used the claim that immigrants are a burden as an excuse for why we should not pursue immigration reform with a path to citizenship at this time: “You’re not supposed to be admitted to America if you’re likely to be a charge on the public – if you’re going to need government aid to take care of yourself … It [2006 immigration bill] failed because it did not do what it said it would do… End the illegality first.”

David Vitter (R-LA, aka Mr. Prosecutorial Discretion): While Vitter is not on the Judiciary Committee, he’s established himself as one of the leading anti-immigrant voices in the GOP caucus. Yes, this is David “DC Madam” Vitter,  who became notorious in 2007 after his phone number turned up in the records of the “DC Madam” escort service.

But the guy has gall. In July 2011, Vitter sponsored a bill called the HALT Act, which sought to block President Obama’s powers of—you guessed it—prosecutorial discretion, as it relates to how the President can set deportation priorities for criminal and non-criminal immigrants. The thing is, after he was busted in his aforementioned scandal, prosecutors chose not to go after him and pursue charges, engaging in an exercise of triage and choice known as prosecutorial discretion.  This “only I can benefit” attitude led to Vitter being chewed out by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who accused Vitter of “hypocrisy to seek to limit the use of discretion when one has enjoyed the benefit himself.”