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Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has been one of the loudest and bigoted voices in the Senate — and he’s just been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the next Attorney General of the United States.
During his time in the Senate, Sessions has scooped up every chance he’s had to trash immigration reform — oftentimes in really disgusting ways — as well as immigrants. It should be no surprise, then, why he was the first sitting Senator to jump on the Trump Train last year.
Trump and Sessions are a natural fit: His awful record on immigrants, people of color, LGBT Americans and other minority groups stretches back decades — and that’s the bigotry he wants to bring with him into the next Administration.
“Sessions Prosecuted Black Civil Rights Workers During His Time As a US Attorney”: From Cosmo: “One of Sessions’s most notorious cases was against the activists Albert Turner, his wife Evelyn Turner, and Spencer Hogue, who worked to give African Americans more political control after the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Sessions brought so many charges against them that they were facing 100 years in prison. ‘They called them voter fraud cases, and we called them voter persecution cases,’ said Hank Sanders, a defense lawyer for the activists. A jury found them not guilty on all counts.”
Sessions Tanked His Own Federal Judge Nomination Over Accusations of “Racial Insensitivity”: Before Sessions was elected to the Senate, he was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986. But, his nomination was squashed “amidst accusations of racial insensitivity.” What did these accusations consist of? Well, Sessions once reportedly joked that he “used to think [the KKK] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers”; he called the 1965 Voting Rights Act a “piece of intrusive legislation,” and he’s said that a white civil rights lawyer was a “disgrace to his race.”
When Sessions eventually realized his judicial chances were moot, he ran for Alabama’s Senate seat and won.
In the Senate, the The Sessions Agenda Has Been To Attack Immigrant Families, With Help From Some Of The Worst Anti-Immigrant Figures: Sessions has made fighting against immigration reform and immigration actions like DACA his signature issue, in coordination with the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), the nativist NumbersUSA* and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) — the latter of which is a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group — all originating from a founder with white nationalist beliefs, John Tanton.
*(NumbersUSA wanted us to correct the fact that it is not an SPLC-designated hate group. It’s not. NumbersUSA was founded by John Tanton, a eugenicist known for his white nationalists views. More on Tanton here. As SPLC notes, Tanton and NumbersUSA’s Executive Director Roy Beck have a long history of working together. Another anti-immigrant group founded by Tanton, FAIR, is an SPLC-designated hate group.)
CIS is probably best known for crafting the notorious “self-deportation” strategy, which Mitt Romney embraced during his failed 2012 bid for the White House. They also promote the myth that immigrants are stealing American jobs, a line that Sessions repeatedly echoes.
Sessions Objected to Resolution Honoring Cesar Chavez: Sessions doesn’t limit his animus towards Latinos to immigration. In 2014, he objected to a resolution honoring Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez after Sen. Bob Menendez asked unanimous consent to move it forward in the U.S. Senate. In response, Sen. Menendez asked, “How can they look back at the sacrifices Cesar Chavez made for our country and fail to recognize the accomplishments of this great American Hero?”
Sessions Once Opposed A Version of the Violence Against Women Act: In 2012, Sessions was among the conservatives who opposed the “once broadly bipartisan 1994 legislation” because it offered protections to undocumented women and lesbians. “I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition,” he said. “You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?”
And none of this even includes the testimony from Thomas Figures, a Black attorney who worked for him, that Sessions called him “boy” on multiple occasions; that time that Sessions called the NAACP and ACLU “un-American” and “communist-inspired”; that time when Sessions was asked about the term “nativist,” he responded with “What’s wrong with that?”; that time he said opponents of the Confederate flag “seek to delegitimize the fabulous accomplishments of our country”; and then that time Sessions said Trump’s sexual assault comments were not sexual assault at all.
An in-depth 2015 report from America’s Voice on Sessions’s immigration record is available here.
As Frank Sharry said earlier today: “When Sessions was nominated to serve as a federal judge some three decades ago, the U.S. Senate rejected him. Senators from both parties cited his racist comments, hostility towards civil rights groups and a temperament considered unworthy of a federal judge. He then was elected to the Senate by the people of Alabama.”
“But being elected to the Senate by a popular vote is one thing; being confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the nation’s top enforcer of the nation’s civil rights laws is another. The Senate should do what the Senate did 30 years ago and reject his nomination.”