Video and transcript are now available from the Center for Immigration Studies Immigration Newsmaker conversation with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, one of the nation’s top immigration experts. Sessions provided his insights into immigration policies and the politics of the issue, emphasizing throughout his interview with Mark Krikorian, the Center’s executive director, that U.S. immigration policy must serve the national interest, not the interest of the billions of people around the globe.
Sessions described the immigration battle that he has been involved in for over two decades: “The power of the forces that are out there working for massive immigration into America. You’ve got the far left, La Raza groups, the Democratic leftists and progressives who believe in open borders. And then you’ve got libertarian business types, big-business types who benefit from cheap labor in massive amounts who will sell a few more Coca-Colas or something if there’s more people here. They don’t really focus on what the interest of America is, how it will impact jobs for Americans and wages.”
Sessions, who is campaigning to take back the Alabama U.S. Senate seat that he held for two decades, recently called for a moratorium on employment-based immigration because of the economic problems caused by the pandemic.
• [I announced the need for a moratorium because] “we wanted to start the discussion and put the issue out before the American people … because it’s such a critical issue. The president did make a strong statement. I think the order is a beginning, a first step. He [the president] indicated and they’re indicating that more orders and regulations might be issued as time goes by. I think that will clearly be necessary because we’re not there yet.”
• “American immigration should serve American interest. It is not in the interest of America to bring in 1.4 million people just to take jobs – just to take jobs in the American economy – when we just laid off another 4 million last week. We now have 27 million unemployed.”
• “And if they don’t get the job and it goes to somebody from abroad, what happens to the American? Are they going to be on food stamps? Are they going to be on Medicaid? Will they continue to receive this emergency relief from the federal government? This is unthinkable. Everyone we can get to productive employment, to pay taxes to the government instead of drawing benefits from the government, is the way we should be working. And it’s going to be a tough time.”
• “… [If] the choice is between giving a job to an American or giving a job to somebody who applied to come here from abroad. It’s no choice at all to me.”
• “So many different examples of situations in which people are up for [visa] extensions. Maybe they came for three years and they want to be extended. They were never guaranteed more than three years or whatever their length of visa was. They’re not guaranteed the right to re-up and stay another three years if there’s no jobs in the economy… presumably they were needed to fill jobs that weren’t being filled. But when that’s no longer the case, they are not entitled to just demand to be able to stay… you don’t get to extend it– if it’s not in the national interest to do so.”
• “…if you bring in too much labor from abroad, wages go down. You flood the market, it will not go up. You bring in too much cotton, price of cotton falls. You bring in too much labor, the price of labor falls. There’s just no doubt about this.”
• “…our businesses like low-cost labor. That’s what they like… but their interest in profiting for their company and their stockholders is get the most productivity at the least cost. That’s what they try to do. And it’s us – politicians, government leaders – who are defending the American people”.
• “If I’m in the Senate they’re going to hear from me as they have in the past, but even more so. We are not going to sit there and let these masters of the universe dictate public policy that savages the wages and job security of millions of Americans who serve our country, fight our wars, and pay our taxes.”
• “But if the American people speak, as they have in the past, we’ve moved public opinion and we’ve moved Congress. So it’s time for us to take that opportunity right now, battle this out.”
• “You need to control your border. You need to be able to say who gets to come and what skills they have and what excuses or needs or justifications they have to come.”
• “We need to complete the wall. That will be a big asset. The president’s ability during this disaster to reduce the flow into our country has been amazingly successful.”
• “I don’t think he [President Trump] will have a stronger, more effective voice than I on those and other issues, too. That’s why I supported him. And I believe we can work together, and I will continue to because I want him to be successful. I want him to be reelected. I wanted him to be elected the first time. I worked harder than any other member of Congress. I was the most prominent member throughout Congress in supporting his agenda. So there we’ll have this opportunity, and I expect to be a real asset to his administration.”