Nearly 30 years ago, Dan-el Padilla arrived to the United States from the Dominican Republic. Around the same time, Jeff Sessions stood to become a federal judge after a nomination from President Ronald Reagan. In the end, the Republican-controlled Senate rejected him because former colleagues painted him as a racist. In those three decades, Padilla has gone from homeless shelters to studying at Princeton, Oxford, and earning a doctorate degree from Stanford. Sessions, on the other hand, has done little to distance himself from that reputation – instead impeding progress, namely for civil rights, immigration, and African Americans. Yet, Sessions could now become the next Attorney General.
After President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement came on Friday, outlets have begun to dig into Sessions’ track record. One video unearthed from 2006 features Sessions on the U.S. Senate floor. During an immigration reform debate under President George W. Bush’s administration, he stood before a crowd and denigrated Dominicans.
“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.”
Obviously, Sessions has never heard of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz, Dan-El Padilla, or even the peloteros that make up a chunk of Major League Baseball. And this is just the names that get publicity. Much like Trump did with Mexicans – who he called rapists and murderers – Sessions dangerously painted one group with a broad brush.
As a result, Dominicans have come out to shut down his hatred. Adriano Espaillat – who will become the first Dominican-American member of Congress (and its first formerly undocumented one) said, “Mr. Sessions would benefit from a tutorial about what Dominican Americans contribute to the United States. He should start by looking at the achievements of our community in New York and in cities all across the country. If Mr. Sessions’ appointment is any indication of the direction of President-elect Trump’s administration, then every American – regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or ethnic background – should take a stand and say that this appointment does not reflect the values that have made America great.”
Assemblywoman-elect Carmen De La Rosa reminded him that just like other groups, there are Dominicans who are doctors, lawyers, professors, and public servants. According to NY Daily News, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan) said that in order to become a fitting Attorney General, Sessions would have to “be someone who respects and is fair and is neutral to all groups.”
Junot communicated his message as concisely as possible: “This fucking bigot.”
Check out the video of the U.S. Senate session below:
[H/T: The Huffington Post]