Sessions Ramps Up the Racist Rhetoric on Immigration

Steve Bannon might be losing some of his grip on power in the White House to Jared Kushner and “the generals,” but his white nationalist cause is gaining steam from his good buddy Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I pointed out yesterday how the AG’s plan to ramp up the war on drugs has no justification apart from a racist attempt to target people of color.

While visiting Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday, Sessions ramped up the racist rhetoric about immigrants in a speech he delivered during a tour of the Southern border.

But it is also here, along this border, that transnational gangs like MS-13 and international cartels flood our country with drugs and leave death and violence in their wake. And it is here that criminal aliens and the coyotes and the document-forgers seek to overthrow our system of lawful immigration.

Let’s stop here for a minute. When we talk about MS-13 and the cartels, what do we mean? We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens and who profit by smuggling poison and other human beings across our borders. Depravity and violence are their calling cards, including brutal machete attacks and beheadings.

It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.

The first thing I noticed is that for someone like Sessions, we have moved on from the disagreement over using “illegal immigrant/alien” instead of “undocumented immigrant.” He has now ramped things up by using the term “criminal aliens.” That is not simply a term reserved for the “cartels” he talked about. Sessions uses that nomenclature throughout the speech when referring to undocumented immigrants.

Secondly, Sessions sounds like disgraced Arizona Governor Jan Brewer when she said this in 2010:

We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings and the fact that people can’t feel safe in their community…

Our law enforcement agencies have found bodies in the desert, either buried or just lying out there, that have been beheaded.

That statement rated a “pants on fire” from PolitiFact and Brewer went on to apologize for her remarks. And yet here we have the Attorney General of the United States repeating the same racist lies seven years later.

What Sessions doesn’t want the American public to know is that the link between undocumented immigrants and violent crime is a myth. His lies are meant to fear-monger and provide cover for his racist policies.

Finally, the reference to fighting “against this filth” seems to have been a bridge too far even for Sessions. According to Carimah Townes, he left that line out of his speech. But it must have expressed the sentiments of either the Attorney General or his staff long enough to have been included in the transcript posted at the DOJ web site.

Josh Marshall is right to suggest that this kind of rhetoric amounts to “right wing apocalyptic snuff flicks and the kind of talk you hear from Steve Bannon and top aide Stephen Miller.” It would be disgraceful coming from any American — much less the Attorney General. Personally, I take this kind of thing as seriously as Sessions lying to Congress during his confirmation hearing. In a world that acknowledged equal justice for all, he would be out of a job for this speech alone.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.