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Unsurprising and Disturbing: Jeff Sessions Seeking New Ways for DOJ to Advance Anti-Immigrant Measures

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A new Washington Post story by David Nakamura and Matt Zapotosky, “Sessions Seeks Greater Role for Justice in Immigration Enforcement,” highlights how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking to use the power of the DOJ to advance anti-immigrant measures, implementing an extreme and unpopular mass deportation vision that Sessions has long embraced.

Sessions’ DOJ to play “more muscular” role in immigration policy

Fresh off appearing at a White House press briefing earlier this week to publicly shame, threaten, and scapegoat immigrants and communities that welcome immigrants, Sessions is now exploring a trip to the southern border and a series of DOJ actions that would advance an extreme anti-immigrant ideology and usurp the direction of immigration policy from other executive branch agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the Post story notes:

The Justice Department is seeking to play a more muscular role in the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement strategy, a move that is alarming immigrant rights advocates who fear Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ hard-line ideology could give Justice too much clout in determining policy. To highlight the department’s expanding role, Sessions is considering making his first trip to the southern border in mid-April to Nogales, Ariz., a busy border crossing region that features a major patrol station and already has miles of fencing and walls designed to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico.

… “Immigration is one of their top priorities, permeating every part of their agenda, and every part of the federal government and agencies,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said of the Trump White House. Sessions is “very much aligned with their ideology,” she said. “He is very knowledgeable. He’s worked on these issues for decades now and has very strong opinions. He’s finally in a position of power to use the department toward his vision and use the attorney general role as a bully pulpit.

Ways Sessions could attack immigrants as Attorney General

The news that Sessions is seeking a larger role for DOJ in shaping immigration policy is both unsurprising, given that Sessions is the “intellectual godfather” behind the Trump Administration’s mass deportation vision, as well as disturbing. As David Leopold wrote on Medium earlier this year in analysis titled, “Five Chilling Ways Senator Jeff Sessions Could Attack Immigrants as Attorney General,” Sessions’ intentions have been clear since he stepped foot in the U.S. Senate two decades ago:

As the nation’s top lawyer, head of the immigration court, and civil rights officer, Jeff Sessions would have access to multiple tools to harm immigrants and undermine due process. Given his rhetoric and record as a United States Senator, as well as his association with anti-immigrant extremists, there is every reason to believe he would use all of them.

Leopold goes on to list specific ways that Sessions could wreak havoc on our immigration system, including:

  • Impose his radical, anti-immigrant ideology on decisions by the federal immigration courts;
  • Expand the number of immigrants who are deported even though they qualify for a green card or asylum;
  • Reduce access to legal counsel and information about immigrants’ legal rights;
  • Criminalize immigrants by bringing trumped up charges against ordinary workers; and
  • Strong arm state and local police to become Trump deportation agents