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“Another Nativist Bites the Dust”

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Frank Sharry on the end of the road for Jeff Sessions

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice: 

“Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is no longer a force in American politics. 

He rose to prominence with the rise of Donald Trump, became the nation’s Attorney General and aggressively pursued the most xenophobic agenda in modern American history. From the Muslim Ban to the end of DACA to family separation to the gutting of asylum, Sessions sported a Cheshire cat grin as he imposed cruelty on immigrants and refugees.

Now, for all intents and purposes, his political career is over, having been defeated in a Republican primary in his home state of Alabama. Sure, he was defeated in large part because Trump wanted to punish him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, as required by DOJ rules. But it is still noteworthy that one of the leading anti-immigrant figures of our generation has been thrown on the ash heap of history.

I have watched Sessions for two decades. He ran for Senate after the Senate rejected him for a federal judgeship due to his overt expressions of racism directed at African Americans. I always had the impression that he needed a new outlet for his full-blown racism and found it in immigration and immigrants. He must have thought he was flying high when he endorsed the xenophobic nationalist in the Republican presidential primary and his guy won. 

It turns out he flew too close to the sun. And like other nativist blowhards, the wax on his wings melted and he fell to the ground. He joins others who have similarly bitten the dust: Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, Steve King of Iowa, Corey Stewart of Virginia, Kris Kobach of Kansas, Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania, Dave Brat of Virginia and more. The anti-immigrant movement and its spokespersons still live on, of course, and some of these characters are still striving to be relevant. In fact, today’s GOP is defined by racism, xenophobia and white grievance. 

But the heyday of the nativist movement is passing and almost past. 

That is because of the dynamic Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions turbocharged. Their anti-immigrant radicalism has forced the American people to choose. They have. By record margins, Americans reject the Trumpian embrace of racism and xenophobia. Whatever mobilizing effect xenophobia has with GOP voters, it has a bigger backlash effect with the emerging multiracial majority. Nativism is a force trapped in a cul-de-sac, and the GOP will have a very hard time getting out of it.

That is why, come November, we are optimistic that Trump will join Sessions and others in the anti-immigrant Has-Been Hall of Shame, and the GOP will face a very, very steep climb out of the very, very deep hole these two helped dig.”