Perhaps accidentally, Democrats gave Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions an opening to discuss immigration policy — one of the issues on which the minority sees him as most potentially disruptive — in his own preferred terms. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who represents just one of two Midwestern states that broke against Trump, asked for clarity on his restrictionist views by asking Sessions to consider the high-profile successes of immigrants.
“We have 70 of our Fortune 500 companies headed by immigrants,” said Klobuchar. “At one point, 200 of our Fortune 500 companies were either formed by immigrants or kids of immigrants. Roughly 20 percent of our Nobel laureates are foreign-born.”
That queued Sessions up to argue that immigration reform, in the form that nearly has passed in previous Senates, was too slanted toward corporate interests.
“If you bring in a larger flow of labor, then it does impact adversely the wage prospects and job prospects of American citizens,” said Sessions. “I think we should evaluate immigration on whether or not it serves the national interest, not the corporate interest. It has to serve the people’s interest first.”
Indeed, that was how Donald Trump had rebutted the idea that immigration was good for America if those immigrants made economic contributions. In a 2015 interview with Breitbart News’s radio show, Trump went down that path with host Steve Bannon, and found agreement.
“When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think …” said Bannon, trailing off. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
Democrats, buoyed by polling that shows most voters in favor of “comprehensive” immigration reform, have sometimes ignored the zero-sum argument made by Bannon and Sessions. But it was among the reasons the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, has been attacked by the Southern Poverty Law center. And it was among the reasons that FAIR has endorsed Sessions.