Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (R-AL) is expected to be selected by his Republican colleagues to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration. He’ll be assisted by Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who’s expected to be selected as “Vice Chair” of the Subcommittee and who has intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of “prosecutorial discretion”–a topic that is sure to come up early and often in the Subcommittee’s agenda.
In light of today’s news, America’s Voice is releasing a new report entitled, “GOP’s Picks to Oversee Immigration Subcommittee on Senate Judiciary Committee Says A Lot About Their Real Agenda,” which takes an in-depth look at Session’s anti-immigration agenda as well as his long historical ties to nativist hate groups.
Among some of the key highlights:
Sessions Hired Staffer from Anti-Immigration Group: During the recent Senate debate, Sessions hired an employee of an organization sponsored by white nationalist John Tanton as “Special Counsel on Temporary Assignment to the Senate Judiciary Committee.” At the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), Janice Kephart serves as Director of National Security Policy. Before Sessions hired her, Kephart testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, alongside her CIS colleague Steven Camarota against the Senate bill. CIS vehemently opposes immigration, including legal immigration. CIS is probably best known for crafting the notorious “self-deportation” strategy, which Mitt Romney embraced during his 2012 bid for the White House. They also promote the myth that immigrants are stealing American jobs, a line that Sessions repeatedly echoes. Outside of CIS, Sessions has close relations with the other two leading anti-immigrant groups: NumbersUSA and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR.) He often quotes their work and regularly appears at their events. And, they return the favor.
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 tanked “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.” Of course, that was before he came to Congress and settled on the pet issue of immigration.
Mainstay of Sessions Committee Agenda is to Attack Immigrant Families: In recent years, both Sessions and Vitter have made fighting against the President’s revamped enforcement policies a signature issue. In September of 2014, Sessions pushed for a vote on an amendment to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In 2015, Sessions leapt off the starting gate with a broad, defensive challenge President Obama’s executive action on immigration. In fact, he’s already issued a 25-page anti-immigrant document for his GOP colleagues.
Sessions Objected to Resolution Honoring Cesar Chavez: Sessions doesn’t limit his animus towards Latinos to immigration. Last year, he objected to a resolution honoring Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez after Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) asked unanimous consent to move it forward in the U.S. Senate last year. In response, Sen. Menendez (D-NJ) 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?”