Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at Slover Library

Elizabeth Proffitt | Contributing Writer

This article was originally posted January 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Norfolk at the Slover Library on immigration and national security on Friday.

Sessions’ nearly half an hour-long speech began thanking the law enforcement officers and various Department of Justice personnel in attendance. He then addressed the importance of law enforcement in dealing with the “number of serious threats—from the vicious MS-13, to the deadliest drug epidemic in American history, to radical Islamic terrorism.”

That statement transitioned into Sessions’ belief that current American immigration policies do not support national interest, and that new policies should be applied under a merit based system.

Sessions’ read off Department of Justice statistics stating that the Department of Justice and Homeland Security are effective, but not effective for stopping the threats before they enter the country.

“Last week, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released a report that reveals that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has removed more than 1,700 aliens with national security concerns since 9/11,” Sessions said. “It also states that nearly three out of every four people convicted of international terrorism-related offenses in federal courts since 9/11 were born outside of this country,” Sessions said.

The attorney general then continued to tell stories of criminal immigrants who came into this country because of chain migration with a lawful permanent resident living in this country, including Mahmoud Amin Mohamed El-Hassan, a Sudanese national who lived in Woodbridge, Va.

Sessions then went on to quote one study out of Arizona that he did not mention by name to show alleged proof that immigrants are more dangerous than the public realizes.

“I’m sure you’ve heard that immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than average.  But one study that just came out looked at the prison population in Arizona and found that illegal aliens are more than twice as likely to be convicted of crimes as Arizonans,” Sessions said.

He insists that lax immigration policies are the reason for “tens of thousands of crimes” that would have “never happened” if the United States had stronger policies.

Sessions also said that lax immigration enforcement puts an “unnecessary and unfair burden on federal agents,” saying that it “is a myth that the FBI has unlimited agents that can spend unlimited time monitoring, surveilling people that might turn out to be dangerous,” Sessions said.

Sessions also went on to condemn “sanctuary policies” because they force police to release criminals back into the communities- no matter their crimes. Sessions relayed President Trump’s decision to channel federal law enforcement funding into cities that cooperate with immigration enforcement.

The attorney general also called for Congress to act to fix the broken immigration system in the nation. He believes the current system is intentionally designed to be blind to merit.

Sessions also reconfirmed the president’s plan to build a wall on the southern border of the United States, claiming that that will fix some of the nation’s immigration issues.

“The President is determined to finally build a wall at our Southern border.  This will make it harder and more expensive for illegal aliens to break our laws and smuggle drugs or even human beings into this country.  For many, it will become too costly, or too much trouble, and they will stay home,” Sessions said.

In the meantime, Sessions relays that the president has also proposed hiring more than 10,000 new ICE officers, 1,000 new ICE attorneys, 300 new immigration prosecutors, and nearly 400 new immigration judges. 

The attorney general’s closing remarks were a call to action to eliminate political bias and get the Department back to its fundamental mission of protecting the safety of Americans with integrity and fairness at any cost.

“A culture of defensiveness is not acceptable.  The Department of Justice does not always know what’s best, and it is not perfect.  And, it can never be that this Department conceals errors when they occur,” Sessions said.

He welcomes criticism from Congress as “part of the process” and that “truth produces confidence.”

Adding, “And, while we are open to fair criticism, we will of course defend our investigators and prosecutors from criticism that is unfair,” Sessions said.

While Sessions claimed to be open criticism, he did not take questions after his speech, leaving the room as one reporter asked him about Donald Trump’s past plans to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The general public was not admitted to Sessions’ speech however that didn’t stop public outcry at his appearance in Norfolk and his policies as a whole.

The activist group Indivisible757 protested the Sessions’ appearance before and after his speech in the hopes to get their message across, that as one sign read, “hate has no home here.”

“We are greatly concerned by Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions’ immigration policies. Marginalizing immigrants is a national security issue. People are being used as political pawns,” said one member.

Indivisible 757 wanted to make it clear that even if the government enacts policies that hurt immigrants that there are people in this country that care about them, chanting the slogan “we are all immigrants.”