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Senator Sessions Still Doesn’t Get It

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Cross-posted at Left in Alabama:

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected Alabama’s appeal to consider the state’s 2011 “show me your papers” anti-immigration law, formally known as HB 56.  As a refresher, Alabama’s anti-immigrant law made international news for its Draconian “self-deportation” provisions, including targeting the immigration status of schoolchildren.

From a political, economic, and moral perspective, the Alabama law and its “self-deportation” vision are a demonstrated failure that should serve as a cautionary tale of how not to conduct immigration policy.  Yet despite the widespread criticisms and negative attention received by the law, not everyone has learned the lessons from Alabama’s failed “self-deportation” experiment.  In fact, Alabama’s very own Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)an enthusiastic supporter of HB 56 – wants to bring the failures of Alabama’s immigration approach to the nation.  At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Senator Sessions welcomed his allies from the anti-immigrant movement: Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, the advisor behind Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” strategy and the author of the Arizona and Alabama “show me your papers” laws; and Mark Krikorian, head of the anti-immigrant think tank Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) and the intellectual author of the “self-deportation” strategy.  Evidently unaware that this strategy may well have cost Romney the election, Kobach went on to remind listeners that “self-deportation is not some radical idea. It is simply the idea that people may comply with the law by their own choice.”

Said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

It’s truly remarkable that after all the backlash from the failure of  the ‘self-deportation’ approach in both the 2012 elections and in his home state, Sessions is still pursuing it as a matter of national policy.  If immigration reform fails and the ‘self-deportation’ proponents win, the GOP can certainly thank Sen. Sessions and his anti-immigrant allies for sealing the deal with Latino voters – negatively – for a generation.

While some of the law’s more devastating provisions were struck down by the judiciary, many consequences of the “self-deportation” approach remain on display in Alabama and give lie to Kobach’s notion that “self-deportation is not some radical idea.”  Labor shortages in the wake of HB 56 forced many farmers to cut back on the number of crops they planted; foreign companies halted investment, costing the state millions; reporting requirements turned neighbor against neighbor; and a Southern Poverty Law Center hotline saw more than 2,000 calls reporting civil and human rights abuses in the first week of its opening.  All this for a price tag of a whopping $11 billion per an estimate from the University of Alabama.

As New York Times editorial writer, Lawrence Downes, writes in a new blog post:

What’s the deal with Alabama?  Besides HB56, which tries hard to outdo Arizona’s SB1070 as the nastiest state immigration law in the country (and in many ways succeeds), Alabama has a United States Senator, Jeff Sessions, who is among the loudest of the die-hards now doing all they can to block, stall or kill immigration reform in Congress.

Added Sharry:

Evidently, Senator Sessions wants to do for the people of America what his state’s anti-immigrant law has done for the people of Alabama.  It’s up to the rest of the country to tell Senator Sessions ‘no thanks.’