Witness Embarrasses GOP Senator Who Wants To Divide Immigrant Families

The same day the Republican National Committee released its high-profile rebranding report, specifically calling for the party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) went off-message. At a Senate Juidiciary hearing Monday, Sessions called for cutting out families entirely from the immigration system, arguing that keeping families together is not in the best interest of the U.S.

Sessions asked President of Asian American Justice Center Mee Moua if a country can legitimately decide that it wants to admit one productive family member, but not another, less motivated individual. Moua schooled Sessions about what would happen under his plan to shift entirely to an employment-based system: it would rip apart families and disadvantage women:

MOUA: Senator Sessions, coming from the Asian American community when in the 1880s we were the first people to be excluded explicitly by the United States immigration policy I’m well aware that this country has never hesitated in the way that it chooses to exercise its authority to permit people to either enter or depart its borders. And we know that the Asian American community in particular didn’t get to enjoy the benefit of immigration to this country until the 1960s when those restrictive policies were lifted. So I know very well and very aware that…

SESSIONS: Well let me just say, it seems to me. It’s perfectly logical to think there are two individuals, let’s say in a good friendly country like Honduras. One is a valedictorian of his class, has two years of college, learned English and very much has a vision to come to the United States and the other one has dropped out of high school, has minimum skills. Both are 20 years of age and that latter person has a brother here. What would be in the interest of the United States? …

MOUA: Senator I think that under your scenario people can conclude about which is in the best interest of the United States. I think the more realistic scenario is that in the second situation that individual will be female, would not have been permitted to get an education and if we would create a system where there would be some kind of preference given to say education, or some other kind of metrics, I think that it would truly disadvantage specifically women and their opportunity to come into this country.

Sessions became flustered by Moua’s reply, saying, “Well, it certainly is a problem around the world.” Watch it:

Two-thirds of legal immigration is family-based, and a majority of immigrants are now women, thanks to the emphasis on family visas since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Today, 70 percent of immigrant women gain permanent residence through family-based visas, compared to 61 percent of men. With 4 million people caught in the backlogs and country-specific quotas, it can take two decades for a sibling to immigrate.