Jefferson “Jeff” Beauregard Sessions III is a Republican Senator from Alabama. He serves as the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee and sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
He is considered one of the Senate’s most conservative members and most ardent opponents to immigration reform. Session’s views are generally in lock-step with the organized anti-immigrant movement, to which he is closely aligned. He has attended anti-immigrant rallies, and he has sought legislative counsel from the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and NumbersUSA. He has also upheld the dubious research of those groups in his press releases and media appearances.
Sessions, like the anti-immigrant movement as a whole, frames his opposition to immigrants as a means to defend the American worker. In 2009 NumbersUSA published a press release claiming that Sessions was “the No. 1 champion for the American workers on immigration issues.”
Sessions has no real interest in defending workers and, in fact, his voting record is decidedly anti-labor. He has opposed extending payroll cuts that would save working families around $1,000 a year and he opposed the American Jobs Act that would have created tax breaks for working families. In truth, Sessions’ interest in the American worker is only a means to rally people around his anti-immigrant agenda.
Session’s beliefs have in the past embroiled him in controversy. In 1986, racial controversy cost Sessions a federal judgeship in Alabama after he was accused of racial insensitivity by Thomas Figures, a former assistant to the U.S. Attorney in Alabama. In his sworn testimony, Figures claimed that Sessions said that the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I learned they smoked pot.”
Another Justice Department employee testified that Sessions had referred to the NAACP and the ACLU as “un-American” and “Communist-inspired” groups that “forced civil rights down the throats of people.”
Recently, Sessions has been fixated on attacking the broadly successful Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which has seen over 600,000 young immigrants already living in the U.S. apply and receive temporary relief from deportation.