All but the most conservative measures for immigration reform have been blocked by Republicans in the House of Representatives in the 19 months since a comprehensive bill was passed by the Senate in 2013. This is largely due to the influence Senator Jeff Sessions, who has proved to be a dogged opponent of the cause.
Sessions’ influence has expanded across the House and the Senate and he believes that the Republican Party is failing to defend American workers with the same kind of ferocity with which undocumented immigrants are defended by the Democrats. Sessions has, however, come in for criticism for being against a new border security bill, which is something he believes is an irrelevance without stricter enforcement of laws for undocumented immigrants already in the United States.
Sessions’ rise in importance correlates with his increasing criticism of the nation’s immigration system. He was named as the chairman of the immigration subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee last week and has this month released a handbook detailing his views on immigration, in which he criticizes not only illegal, but also legal immigration for depressing wages and lowering job prospects for US citizens.
While conservatives applaud Sessions, immigration advocacy group America’s Voice director Frank Sharry believes that the Republican Party will come to regret looking to him for advice on the issue. “He is intent on moving the center of gravity on immigration within the GOP far to the right, and … seems to be succeeding,” he says.