Senator Jeff Sessions: Immigration Reform Is All About “Ethnic Politics”

As we were reading our feed this morning, we came across yet another shining moment from Alabama senator Jeff Sessions (R), one of the more vocal critics of immigration reform. Sessions made an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation and basically said that this whole immigration reform push is all about “ethnic politics” and that Latinos are pretty much low-skilled and poor. Ironically, Sessions also said that he is the one speaking for Latinos.

Here is what Sessions said: “Bob, Hispanics are here today by the millions. They’re working in the $20,000-$40,000 income level. Their wages will be impacted adversely. Their ability to get a job and retirement benefits and health care benefits. Somebody needs to speak up for them. And I really believe that the numbers in the bill, the lack of enforcement effectiveness in the bill, puts us in a position where it will impact all Americans that are out there working today adversely, and the C.B.O. has said, that the Federal Reserve in Atlanta has said that. Harvard economists have said that. There’s little doubt about that. And so I think we appeal to — we move away from ethnic politics and we try to appeal to all people based on what’s best for America and for them.”

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The entire video interview (along with the full transcript of Sessions’ remarks) follows here.

SCHIEFFER: Alright, I want to turn now to Jeff Sessions, senator from Alabama. He is also a Republican. And he doesn’t want any part of this bill. Senator, I’ve just got to ask you this question, do you think Republicans get it on immigration? Because people like Lindsey Graham are saying if you don’t do something, reaching out to Hispanics, you — it might not — you might not need to run anybody for president next time, because with the demographics changing in this country, it’s going to be impossible to elect a Republican president if you don’t get substantial Hispanic support.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ALABAMA: Bob, we need to do the right thing, right thing for America and I think appeal to all people, particularly Hispanics and African Americans and minorities that are here.

SCHIEFFER: But why are you so much against this amendment?

SESSIONS: Well, I’m opposed to the bill because it doesn’t do what it says, Bob. This bill grants amnesty first, and a mere promise of enforcement in the future, even with the Corker-Hoeven amendment, all of which has been put in now a 1,200 page vote we’ll have Monday afternoon that nobody has read. These promises of 20,000 agents won’t take place, or are not required until 2021. No money is being appropriated for that. This is merely an authorization. The fencing — we passed a law to have 700 miles of double-wide fencing, double-layered fencing. That — this bill is weaker than that, and it gives — it has a specific provision that says that Secretary Napolitano does not have to build any fence if she chooses not to, and she’s publicly said we’ve had enough fencing. So the reason this bill was in trouble; the reason this amendment was thrown in here at the last minute was because the promises weren’t fulfilled, and this legislation, this amendment doesn’t fulfill its promises, either, frankly. And we’re going to have amnesty first, no enforcement in the future. We’re going to have increased — we’re going to have continued illegality, at least 75 percent according to the CBO report. And CBO concludes that the legal immigration will be dramatically increased and we’ll have — in addition to that, we’re going to have lower wages and higher unemployment according to the CBO analysis of this bill. Why would any member of Congress want to vote for a bill at a time of high unemployment, falling wages, to bring in a huge surge of new labor that can only hurt the poorest among us the most?

SCHIEFFER: What kind of a political message does that send to Hispanics?

SESSIONS: Bob, Hispanics are here today by the millions. They’re working in the $20,000 to $40,000 income level. Their wages will be impacted adversely. Their ability to get a job, to get a job with retirement benefits and health care benefits — somebody needs to speak up for them. And I really believe that the numbers in the bill, the lack of enforcement effectiveness in the bill, puts us in a position where it will impact all Americans that are out there working today adversely. And the CBO has said that. The Federal Reserve in Atlanta has said that. Harvard economists have said that. There’s really little doubt about that. And so I think we appeal to — we move away from ethnic politics and we try to appeal to all people based on what’s best for America and for them.

SCHIEFFER: So, as of right now, do you think this bill will pass the Senate? Or do you think you can defeat it?

SESSIONS: Bob, they said it was — had 70 votes last week, and then all of a sudden, it started sinking when people learned more about it. I think, if people find out this amendment does not accomplish what the sponsors believe it does, I think the bill could be back in trouble again.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you very much, Senator. We appreciate you coming by this morning. We’ll be back in a moment with some personal thoughts about Congress.

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