What Jeff Sessions Thinks Is a Big Civil Rights Issue

Over the course of Obama’s presidency, I kept a close eye on the Civil Rights Division at DOJ—what Eric Holder called the “crown jewel of the department.” They are the ones who initiated the investigation of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, fought back against voter suppression, worked to dismantle the school to prison pipeline, and investigated police brutality.

We already know that this administration is taking the opposite position on all of those issues. Trump pardoned Arpaio, appointed a commission that is aimed at justifying voter suppression and encouraged police brutality. So what is the Civil Rights Division doing these days? Apparently you have to go to right wing news sites to answer that question. Here’s the story from Fox News that caught my eye today:

The Department of Justice announced Thursday it has filed a lawsuit against a Colorado corporation for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers.

The complaint alleges that in 2016, Crop Production discriminated against at least three United States citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas, because Crop Production preferred to hire temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program.

You can read DOJ’s announcement of that lawsuit at their web site. In trying to learn more about this, I ran across an article at the Daily Caller from August.

A Louisiana company paid more than $100,000 to 12 U.S. citizen workers Thursday following allegations that the company had favored foreign workers on temporary H2-B visas over American workers.

Barrios Street Realty LLC made the payments as a settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ had sued the company on behalf of the 12 U.S. citizens who applied for–but did not get jobs at the company.

(By way of explanation, H-2A visas are for temporary agricultural workers, while H-2B visas are for temporary non-agricultural workers.)

Apparently this is a big thing for the Civil Rights Division these days.

A Civil Rights Division official told Fox News that since the initiative’s launch, the division has opened 29 investigations of “potential discrimination against U.S. workers based on a hiring preference for foreign visa workers.”

I wonder if they’re looking into what’s going on at Trump’s businesses in Florida.

The Trump Organization is asking the federal government for special visas to hire scores of foreign workers for two of President Trump’s private clubs in Florida — the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach and the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

The requests for H-2B visas, posted on the Department of Labor website, are for 26 cooks, nearly 50 waiters and waitresses, plus housekeepers, a hostess and a bartender. The jobs range in pay from just under $12 to less than $14 an hour. Mar-a-Lago and the Jupiter club have relied on foreign workers in past years for staffing during their peak seasons, which run October through May.

Yeah, I don’t think so either.

When even Trump’s businesses depend on temporary foreign workers and the agricultural industry is suffering because they don’t have enough workers to harvest their crops, what Sessions’s DOJ is doing is not only a colossal waste of time and money—it could do serious damage to our economy. So remind me again why this is a priority? Oh yeah, it’s all about those brown people coming here to take “our” jobs.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.