Time heals all wounds.
31 years ago, after being deemed “too racist” for a federal judgeship by the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III, receded back to the South. Yesterday Senator Sessions was approved by the same committee that rejected him over three decades ago. Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, now waits for further confirmation on the Senate Floor. From his experience in Mobile, Alabama to his time in Washington, D.C. Senator Sessions has proven he will rend the fabric of civil rights that has been delicately constructed through decades of constant sacrifice.
Senator Sessions fits in perfectly with the “at all costs” mentality fostered by President Trump and his top advisor Steve Bannon toward immigrants. In 2009, the senator praised Operation Streamline, a relatively unknown Department of Homeland Security policy enacted by the Bush administration in 2005 and rolled back by the subsequent Obama administration. It was aimed at “streamlining” the process of deporting immigrants caught illegally crossing the border delineated in three key approaches: en masse hearings, zones of “zero tolerance,” and forced plea bargains.
Instead it has created a system of assembly-line justice divorced from fundamental constitutional and human principles. It has maxed out capacities of detention centers and U.S. district attorneys, detracting from the prosecution of greater crimes. It’s an approach which has turned many would-be refugees and asylum seekers into victims.
As time has revealed the deep flaws of this partisan policy, Sessions has reiterated his belief that Streamline was effective and expressed his intent to restore it. Senator Sessions’ opposition to sanctuary cities, and his critical view of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) neither bode well for the diverse and generous community of Austin nor reflect the noble ideals of the state.
The hallmark of American democracy, often touted as a testament to the brilliance of the Founding Fathers, is the system of checks and balances cemented in the Constitution. It is because he fails to uphold these checks and balances that Senator Sessions is uniquely unqualified to be the attorney general of the United States.
“He’s going to be the nation’s top law man,” says Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. “That puts him in a position to direct the legal agenda of the Trump administration.” The attorney general can sometimes, indeed on occasion if asked to, guide the presidency. Senator Sessions appears to understand this. In the confirmation hearing of Sally Yates, the Alabama republican stated his belief that the attorney general has the “responsibility to say ‘no’ to the president if he asks for something improper.” However, his track record indicates otherwise. As attorney general for the state of Alabama, Jeff Sessions bent the interpretation of the state constitution, almost unilaterally granted a large donor business in state infrastructure projects and announced support for chain gangs used by a local police force. By the standards Sessions has laid out for others he is failing miserably.
Jeff Sessions is likely to be confirmed, but with his record in mind, Congress and the American public must keep a watchful eye on him. In an administration swamped with allegations of impropriety, corruption, and conflicts of interest, it will take a man or woman with great strength to control the executive branch. Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions III is not that man.
Hasan is a business freshman from Plano. Follow him on Twitter @UzzieHasan