Frank Sharry: It’s Clear: Americans Cannot Count on Jeff Sessions to Defend Our Rights

WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 9, 2017 – Nominating Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General of the United States was one of Donald Trump’s first acts to prepare for his presidency, and the choice sent a clear and undeniable message: I actually did mean all of those extreme, bigoted things I said during the election.  Sessions’ “good old boy” record on civil rights is appalling, and should immediately disqualify him from being our nation’s chief defender of civil rights.

Senators who purport to care about civil rights, immigrant communities and an inclusive vision of America should place these principles over senatorial collegiality. If he was not a Senate colleague, he would be roundly and soundly rejected by each and every Democrat as unfit for the office of Attorney General. Those who pat him on the back and give him their support will end up owning every single thing he does. Every assault on civil rights. Every conniving attempt to go after immigrants. Every attempt at voter suppression. Make no mistake, this is a big vote that every member of the Senate — Democrat and Republican alike — will be judged by.

Since the announcement of Trump’s picks, civil rights groups have been sounding the alarm bell about Sessions’ anti-civil rights worldview and record.  In addition, for all those who care about immigrants and immigrant families, here are three more reasons to oppose Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General:

He has a long history of consorting with nativists to slander immigrants and block reasonable immigration reforms.  Sessions has close relations with the three main anti-immigrant groups: the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS),  NumbersUSA and theFederation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR.)  He often quotes their work and regularly appears at their events.  And, they return the favor.

He would bring his anti-immigrant ideology into the Attorney General’s office, with devastating consequences for immigrants.  As David Leopold writes on Medium:  “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.”

He is clearly on board with the “self-deportation,”mass deportation agenda, even when it had negative consequences on his very own state. Sessions is so ideologically driven that he remained a staunch supporter of HB 56, Alabama’s “show-me-your-papers” law, even after it was proven to hurt the state’s economy, families, schools, and reputation – as well as be legally flawed.

America needs an Attorney General that will defend all Americans. From his record, it is clear that many Americans, especially immigrants, minorities and LGBTQ Americans, cannot count on Jeff Sessions to defend our rights. If Senate Democrats and sensible Republicans believe in a multi-ethnic America where civil rights are not only respected but defended, they must vote against Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States.  Make no mistake: this is a defining vote for every Senator.

Frank Sharry is Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund: www.americasvoice.org