Sessions was speaking to a sympathetic group of citizens in Decatur, Alabama on 15 August. His subject was illegal immigration, a subject on which he has been the Senate’s most outspoken critic. He made no speech; he was just introduced and went immediately to his audience’s questions. In his answers, though, he made it imminently clear where he stands on the immigration question.
Question: Where on earth did that grotesque Kennedy-McCain bill come from?
Answer: The senator shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know where it came from, and he suspected that Kennedy and McCain themselves didn’t even know what was in their own bill. He believes that it may have been written by a staff of pro-immigration lawyers acting under the guidance of such interest groups as the US Chamber of Commerce and certain, though not all, farming interests. Calling the bill a "Guest Worker Plan" made it a phony. There was no correspondence between the title of the bill and its contents.
But Jeff Sessions did a rare and radical thing for a senator: he read the bill, and with the help of his staff discovered his famous 15 loopholes which he exposed in a speech on the Senate floor. (With its camouflage stripped away the bill is clearly seen as an amnesty plan.)
One young lady, apparently a naturalized citizen from Armenia, complained bitterly that she had been trying in vain to get a visa for her brother from Armenia to visit her for a month.
Meanwhile thousands were streaming across our border, illegal and unchecked. How could the senator reassure her? He of course couldn’t. Her experience is an individual manifestation of the insane juices marinating our immigration policies. About all that the senator could offer her was his sympathy.
Sessions’ response to questions was peppered with common sense, not surprising behavior for a man who as a youth worked in a hardware store and sold horse collars in Camden, Alabama. In this spirit he mentioned the problem of bilingualism, being brought on by the flood of un-Americanized illegal Hispanics. He cited Canada, where the population is split between the French speakers and the English speakers. "What if we in this room couldn’t understand each other?" he asked. (He might have added that the Canadian union hovers on the brink of dissolution because of the language rift.)
Speaking of Canada, Senator Sessions said he favors a "point system" for immigrants similar to that used in Canada. Points would be awarded, for example, for advanced education, financial capability, and special skills. The whole system should be designed, not to reward the immigrant, but "to further our national interests." (Bravo!)
The senator pointed out that under the proposed legislation an illegal immigrant could get a green card very early, then would be eligible for the "earned income tax credit," an income supplement awarded to low wage earners through the generosity of American taxpayers.
Question: What do you think about a wall on the border?
Answer: The wall in place near San Diego is working splendidly. Very few illegals have breached it. The wall should be extended to points where it is needed.
A pediatrician got the floor and spelled out his woeful tale. Arizona and California are not the only border states, he said. "Alabama is also a border state. These people come in and we have to take them. Some of them don’t even speak English, but some indigenous Indian dialect. They are illiterate in three languages."!
He was asked how he felt about requiring everyone to carry a national ID card. He was quietly thoughtful for a moment, then asked the audience, "How do you feel about that?" He asked for a show of hands for and against, and although the hands were not counted they appeared to be roughly equally divided.
The most refreshing moment of the evening came when Sessions expressed his forthright disagreement with the President on two points:
First, he did not buy Bush’s idea that matching "a willing worker with a willing employer" was sufficient to give amnesty to an illegal.
And on the second point Session was more emphatic than he had been at any time during the evening. His objection was to Bush saying that the illegal immigrants were "doing jobs Americans won’t do." "I told Karl Rove," Sessions said, "to tell the President never to say that again."
No other senator talks like this, and this meeting with Jeff Sessions reconfirms my opinion, and of many others with whom I have spoken, that he is our best bet for a good, commonsense president in 2008. He is a patriot bred in the Goldwater days who understands the great danger from illegal immigration facing our country, and who, having sold horse collars in Camden, Alabama, understands the practical aspects of the world.
Senator Sessions’ mind was not warped by National Revenue or anything else, but it was formed in the healthy mold of small-town Americanism.