Senator Jeff Sessions’ ideas for the Justice Department are a nightmare about to come true for immigrants. The legislative hearing to confirm him as director of the federal agency, far from demonstrating his capacity to defend civil rights, reflects the Democrats’ impotence to stop his nomination.
No Republicans will break ranks to block the confirmation of the most anti-immigrant senator, and only 51 votes are needed for Donald Trump’s pick to get the job. That does not mean that Sessions has moderated his controversial views.
For example, yesterday’s hearing showed once again his lack of nuance regarding the complex issue of immigration.
Sessions expressed that the priority is to deport criminals, while also justifying leaving Dreamers in a situation that would facilitate their deportation. He declared with a straight face that the solution to those youths’ problems would be a Congress-approved immigration reform, when he actually voted against it when he was presented the opportunity.
We worry about Sessions’ concerns about Latinos during the confirmation hearings of Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court. There, the senator devoted almost 30 minutes to the famous “wise Latina” comment, considering it biased, and later tried unsuccessfully to demonstrate that it was a problem that there are too many Latino judges compared to the number of lawyers of this ethnicity.
Sessions’ background leads us to believe that the Department of Justice will abandon its priority of defending minorities. His responses yesterday suggest that his loyalties will not lie with the American people, as he promised, as soon as there is a conflict with the Trump administration. The lack of definitions makes us fear that a restrictive ideology will prevail when interpreting the law.
Sessions represents a comeback to an idyllic past – an era in which racial minorities were oppressed to the point of being invisible. That concealment did not make America great, as followers who blame immigrants and affirmative action for their problems want us to believe.
Sessions’ nomination as attorney general is one of several cases in which the incoming government puts in charge the person less qualified for the job. His confirmation is a slap in the face of decades of progress to make this a fairer nation.