U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave his thoughts on the pending immigration negotiations at Norfolk, Virginia’s Slover Library Friday after the administration’s “framework” took shape.
Sessions proclaimed that current immigration policies are “not serving America’s interests” in his address after being introduced by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy McCormick of the Eastern District of Virginia. “For a permanent fix … of our immigration laws, Congress needs to act,” he said, moving to address the new framework, which has come under fire from immigration hawks in the congressional GOP.
Despite concerns about the prospective deal – which includes amnesty and a “path to citizenship” for potentially millions of illegal aliens, just like previous amnesty pushes – Sessions heartily approved of the rationale behind the Trump administration’s agenda behind the concessions they are demanding in exchange for amnesty: a merit based system to replace chain migration and visa lotteries and building a wall on the southern border. “There is nothing wrong, nothing immoral to develop a policy of immigration we believe strengthens America and makes us a greater country,” he told the audience.
Citing illegal alien crime – especially the transnational gang violence plaguing Virginia – and national security concerns given the majority of terror arrestees being foreign born, Sessions laid out the case for ending chain migration and the “diversity visa lottery” as follows:
The American people have known for more than 30 years – the American people are right about this – that our immigration system is broken. It’s intentionally designed to be blind to merit. It doesn’t favor education or skills. It just favors anybody who has a relative in America — and not necessarily a close relative.
That defies common sense. Employers don’t roll dice when deciding who to hire. Our incredible military doesn’t draw straws when deciding whom to accept. But for some reason, when we’re admitting new Americans — the future of this country — our government uses a randomized lottery system and chain migration.
The attorney general cited the historical experience of fellow English-speaking countries Australia and Canada, both of which have long had well-developed, strict merit-based immigration criteria, in support of the proposition. He characterized these systems as “based on their likelihood of assimilating, thriving in the country, and contributing to society as a whole.”
“There was no chance the people of Canada would want to go back to their old system,” Sessions cited an “architect” of that country’s merit-based immigration policy as having told him.
Turning to enforcement to prevent further illegal immigration, Sessions trumpeted President Trump’s signature campaign promise – the wall – which is included in the administration’s framework. He said:
The President is determined to finally build a wall at the Southern border. This will make it harder – much harder – and more expensive for illegal aliens to break our laws and smuggle drugs or even human beings into this country. For many, it will become too costly, or too much trouble, and they will stay home.
Most importantly, the wall will send a message to the world that in the United States of America, we enforce the laws of this country.
“Our goal is not to see how many people we can arrest,” Sessions continued. “… But to end the illegality and restore in this country a legal system of immigration. We want people to apply and wait their turn. And if they’re not selected, they are not entitled to come into the country illegally. It’s just that simple.”
Sessions also took the opportunity to continue his campaign against the policies of “sanctuary” jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration enforcement. “These so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies force police to release criminal aliens back into the community — no matter what their crimes they may have committed in those jurisdictions,” he said. “And we’re not going – and cannot – continue giving federal grants to cities that actively undermine the safety of federal law officers and intentionally frustrate our efforts to reduce crime in America.”
“That’s why under President Trump’s leadership, we’ve started to channel federal law enforcement funding to cities that do cooperate with immigration enforcement,” Sessions added.
The attorney general touted his department’s latest round of pressure application to these jurisdictions: a new set of information requests on their policies – backed up by an explicit threat of subpoena – looking to uncover evidence of violation of federal law.