Sen. Jeff Sessions has a history of being racist, sexist, and anti-LGBT. About 30 years ago, Sessions stood to become a federal judge after earning a nomination from President Ronald Reagan. The Republican-controlled Senate rejected him because former colleagues painted him as a racist. In the three decades since, Sessions has done nothing to distance himself from that reputations – instead impeding progress, namely for civil rights, immigrations, and Africans. Yet, he stands to become the country’s next Attorney General.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmations for Sessions began. Though protesters interrupted the session to denounce a man intent on taking the country backward, some members of the committee all but excused his actions, which have negatively affected so many communities of color. However, some did force Sessions to answer for some of his hateful actions and language. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse – a Democrat from Rhode Island – called him to task for his 2006 comments about the Dominican immigrants.
A decade ago, during an immigration reform debate under President George W. Bush’s administration, he unleashed vitriol. “Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society,” he said, according to the Huffington Post. “They come in because some other family member of a qualified relation is here as a citizen or even a green card holder. That is how they get to come. They are creating a false document to show these are relatives or their spouses and they married when it is not so.”
During the confirmation, Whitehouse reminded Sessions that Dominicans have enriched the United States, citing David Ortiz – aka Big Papi – as one of the biggest examples. “We have a vibrant Dominican community, who look at Big Papi, David Ortiz, swinging his bat for the Red Sox, and wonder why you said, ‘Almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us,” Whitehouse stated.
Sessions, who has visited the Dominican Republic, said he felt he could speak out on the topic because a local official told him that the “immigration flow was not on a basis of skills.” Though he absolutely singled out the Dominican population, he defended his comments by saying he was actually commenting on immigration as a whole. “The immigration flow from almost all of our countries, frankly, is based on family connection and other visas, rather than a skill-based program, more like Canada has today,” Sessions replied, according to Boston.com. “And that’s all I intended to be saying there. Please don’t see that as a diminishment or a criticism of the people of the Dominican Republic.”