Jeff Sessions continues to press conservative agenda on immigration

Jeff Sessions
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions

In a letter taking to task Obama administration officials over the release from state custody of more than 100 deportable immigrants who later went on to commit violent crimes, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions continued to work with Republican allies to advance a conservative immigration policy in the Senate.

Sessions and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley — chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee where Session has taken an active role lately — sent a letter addressed to Secretary of State John Kerry, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Their letter railed against poor execution of deportation protocols by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, formally requesting detailed answers to a list of more than 25 specific inquiries about why 121 suspected killers were allowed to pass through the federal immigration enforcement system and remain in the country.

According to information provided by ICE, up to 121 homicides in the U.S. could have been avoided between Fiscal Year 2010 and 2014 had the aliens with criminal convictions been deported instead of released, Grassley and Sessions wrote. “This disturbing fact follows ICE’s admission that, of the 36,007 criminal aliens it released from ICE custody in FY 2013, 1,000 have been re-convicted of additional crimes in the short time since their release.”

The senators pointedly asked the Cabinet members, appointed by President Barack Obama, whether their agencies are “fully leveraging existing tools and resources to prevent these dangerous outcomes.”

“In the ongoing talks between the U.S. and Cuba, does the administration plan to make repatriation of all of those 30,000+ Cuban nationals, and not just some subset of that group, a condition precedent of granting diplomatic recognition to Cuba?” reads one  question. “If not, why not?”

The letter is in keeping with a long-term push on immigration on the part of Alabama’s junior senator. Last week, Sessions was vindicated in the conservative press after U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan expressed skepticism about Sessions’ claims that the Trans Pacific Partnership contains loopholes that could lead to a “flood” of new immigration.

Ryan had called the language within the proposed TPP that would relax restrictions on the “Movement of Persons,” including professionals operating independently, an “urban legend.”

Recent revelations about the trade deal, however, indicate that provisions to forbid mandatory interviews and economic means testing for visa-seekers are indeed part of the proposal, something that Sessions — dubbed by POLITICO as “the Senate’s anti-immigration warrior” — had spoken against.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas called Sessions “perhaps the most vocal member of our conference” on immigration after he led the charge in confronting his own caucus in opposition of new H-1B visas for skilled foreign workers, saying it negatively affects domestic job-seekers.

“We’ve got to ask — which hasn’t been asked — what does all this do to the ability of a college graduate who’s living at home with his parents because he can’t find a job?” said Sessions, chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration & the National Interest. That’s a familiar note in his protectionist quest against labor pool distortions because of foreign labor.

His approach to the issue evidently has struck a chord in his home state: Sessions was the only incumbent senator who ran unopposed in both primary and general elections in 2014.

Sessions and Grassley gave the administration officials addressed in their inquiry a July 6 deadline to respond.


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