The Senate Gang of 8 immigration bill will likely move to the Senate floor next week, and if there’s one person who’s been in front of the charge to delay and stall the bill, it’s Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL).
A profile by Jordan Fabian at ABC/Univision today goes into detail:
It would be hard to find a more persistent and vocal foe of the bipartisan Senate immigration bill than the Alabama Republican. But so far, Sessions has appeared to be more of a lone wolf rather than a man who’s on the cusp of rallying a large coalition to stymie the plan.
Sessions introduced 49 amendments to the bill last month, the most of which would have gutted its core proposals. (Only one of Sessions’ minor amendments was adopted without being changed). Several times a day his office also circulated materials from law enforcement groups like the ICE union and conservative pundits like Michelle Malkin and Erick Erickson blasting the plan. Sessions himself railed (and railed, and railed…) against the proposal during committee hearings, claiming it would hurt American workers and violate the rule of law.
Once the bill moves to the Senate floor in the next two weeks, Sessions will certainly amplify his efforts to defeat it, and key anti-immigration reform foes are betting on him winning the debate.
But, the story notes, Sessions and his anti-immigrant cohorts have been significantly marginalized this year by immigration reform supporters and a GOP that knows it must act on the issue. Public polling has found that 83% of American voters support immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Sessions may be determined to stand against the tide of history, but fewer people than ever are standing with him:
So far, Sessions has not been able to slow down or scuttle the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the proposal on a bipartisan 13-5 vote.
If his continued effort does manage to do some serious damage, Sessions would repeat the success he had in 2007 when he helped lead a conservative revolt against a similar immigration reform bill.
But that’s going to be much harder for a slew of reasons. Broadly, in the past year, the politics of immigration has shifted favorably towards those who support it. So much so that even pro-reform Republicans have proven to be more organized in defending the proposal both on and off Capitol Hill than they were six years ago.
Notably, immigration reform opponents quoted in the article—including the executive directors of two major Tanton network organizations, NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies—were quick to praise Sessions and his anti-immigrant work:
“While many people oppose things like this, there aren’t many people who take the lead,” said Roy Beck, executive director of the anti-immigration group NumbersUSA, which works closely with Sessions. “He is the chief spokesman … his success will be killing the bill on the floor.”
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which wants to reduce immigration levels, believes the bill can still be defeated, but acknowledges that his side is facing a more formidable opposition.
“[Sessions is] doing it in the face of a much better prepared and lavishly-funded pro-amnesty coalition,” he said.
Sessions has long had a cozy relationship with these groups: after immigration reform legislation was defeated in 2006-2007, NumbersUSA awarded Sessions their Defender of the Rule of Law award for his work in killing the bill. NumbersUSA and CIS’ sibling organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (or FAIR, which has been designated a hate group), gave Sessions their Franklin Society award, feted him at a board of advisors meeting, and made him the keynote speaker at their dinner. NumbersUSA and FAIR have both released multiple press statements in the past specifically to commend Sessions for his anti-immigrant work; a FAIR Newsletter in 2007 wrote that “no one played a more important and more public role in defeating” that year’s immigration bill.
And Sessions has been happy to return the favor: in 2012, Sessions took to the Senate floor to enter a statement into the Congressional Record commemorating NumbersUSA’s 15th anniversary, saying, “I congratulate [NumbersUSA] on a successful first 15 years and wish them even greater success over its next 15 years.” Tom Tancredo once did that too—and he’s an extremely anti-immigrant former Congressman who once called Miami a “third world country.” Now that Tancredo is no longer in office (though he is running for Governor of Colorado), we’re pretty sure that Jeff Sessions is NumbersUSA/CIS/FAIR’s very favorite member of Congress.