Obama left the door wide open for Congress to make a move on immigration during his SOTU speech. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a devout anti-immigrant hardliner, immediately tried to slam it shut. Sessions kicked his nativist rhetoric into high gear days before the speech with an op-ed in the USA Today on Jan 27.
America’s Voice reported:
“At USA Today, Sen. Sessions (R-AL) desperately tried to tie immigration reform to the growing concern over income inequality. He argues — again — that reform is bad for American workers and the US economy. Sessions and his anti-immigrant restrictionist friends had their say in the Senate last year, when that chamber held a series of hearings and markups before passing S. 744 with a 68-32 supermajority (and without Sessions). But apparently he continues to try and weigh in on the debate, reportedly by convening strategy sessions with House members and periodically publishing diatribes such as today’s.”
Yesterday, Sessions upped the ante by distributing a 30-page memo to all 232 House Republicans ahead of their annual retreat this week. In it, he again argues against any action on immigration. No doubt most of the “facts” Sessions relies on come straight from his cronies at NumbersUSA, FAIR, and Center for Immigration Studies. NumbersUSA even posted a copy of the memo prominently on its website
His reliance on these groups to prop up his extreme stance on immigration became vividly apparent last May when a Center for Immigration staffer, Janice Kephart, served as Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a “limited, special assignment” during the important mark-up meetings for Senate Bill 744. She was most often seen sitting behind Sen. Sessions. Video of the hearings has shown Kephart giving notes and speaking to the Alabama Senator either directly before or after he would launch into rambling, anti-immigrant diatribes meant to derail the talks.
Last summer, Sen. Sessions spoke at a D.C. rally organized by anti-immigrant groups that was billed as a march for black workers. The event was a poorly veiled attempt to use African Americans as a shield against accusations that the anti-immigrant lobby is racist and not at all interested in protecting U.S. workers.
The New Republic billed the rally “awkward racial politics,” saying, “when you gather a group of arch-arch-conservative starlets to ostensibly rally for black job creation, you tend to get some cognitive dissonance (as when the Breitbart livecast cut away from a string of black speakers for a conversation with Senator Jeff Sessions about listening to black voters).”
These aggressive moves by Sen. Sessions indicate that he continues to represent special-interest groups when it comes to immigration – specifically groups founded by white nationalist John Tanton — not the interests of his constituents.