ABC’s Jim Avila Hectors Sen. Sessions for Opposing Immigration Plan

Liberal media members love to demonize any politician who stands in the way of their notion of progress, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has planted himself squarely in the path of the current immigration reform train. It was no surprise, then, that ABC News opted to berate him in an interview posted online to the network’s Power Players blog. [Read the post and watch the video here.]

Even the headline accompanying the blog entry -- “Sen. Jeff Sessions Almost Single-Handedly Trying to Derail ‘Gang of Eight’ Immigration Bill” -- was clearly intended to isolate and demonize Sessions. ABC senior national correspondent Jim Avila, who conducted the interview, put Sessions on the defensive right from his opening question (which was not really a question):


"There are some who question whether or not you really want to help this bill with amendments or whether or not your amendments are designed to in fact undercut the bill and kill it."

 

Sessions responded that his amendments were meant to expose the flaws in the bill as he saw them. But Avila just attempted to isolate the senator further: “Does it bother you that you do sound almost like a lone voice – amendments which put you sort of to the extreme, many people believe?”

The interview heated up when, responding to a question from Avila, Sessions said that he doesn’t support citizenship for the millions of illegal immigrants already in the United States, although he would confer legal resident status upon them. Avila fumed that such a system would create a “legal second class of citizens” that would “leave people vulnerable to being taken advantage of, as they are now, with lower salaries.”

So paying undocumented immigrants a low salary qualifies as taking advantage of them? One could argue that they took advantage of our lax border security to come live and work here. In fact, by accepting low wages, they are taking advantage of low-skilled Americans by either driving down their wages or squeezing them out of jobs. What's more, there are plenty of well-paid legal immigrants who are permanent residents. One's earning potential rarely has anything to do with his or her citizenship.

Sessions responded that he wanted to distinguish between those who entered the country legally and illegally. At that point, Avila pulled out a standard liberal journalist's cudgel lack, insinuating that a conservative stand is mean and lacks compassion:
 

 

"You sponsored the bill that would make all government services only in one language: English. There shouldn’t be an effort to help people who don’t speak English. That speaks to whether or not you are a compassionate person, does it not?"

 

That is the essence of liberal thought right there: in order to be compassionate, we must cater to anyone who wants to come live in this country by communicating in their native language. But the United States was established long ago as an English-speaking nation. [Yes, there's no official law designating English as the official language, but English is the language of debate in Congress and testimony in our courts.] We have always required immigrants to assimilate, and one of the ways they do that is by learning English. A basic proficiency in English is required to be naturalized as a citizen.

What's more, requiring assimilation is the truly compassionate thing to do, as it will help immigrants build a stronger life in America later on.

Liberals are always accusing conservatives of lacking compassion, and Avila was no different. Of course, as a journalist, Avila is not supposed to be an advocate, but that ship sailed long ago. Sessions was forced to defend himself throughout the entire interview, and he ended with his most vehement defense against this liberal journalist’s charges:

 

"I believe that people who have been here a long time deserve compassionate and reasonable treatment. Don’t say that’s not so... I don’t appreciate it if someone says that you are not kind, and you are mean-spirited, and you don’t like immigrants, because I do favor immigration."


Below is a partial transcript of the interview:

SESSIONS: This is the deal. You give immediate legal status to millions of the people that are here.

AVILA: Citizenship?

SESSIONS: I don’t favor citizenship.

AVILA: You believe a pathway to a legal second class of citizens who would be allowed to work here but would not receive the benefits of citizenship, that would in fact leave people vulnerable to being taken advantage of as they are now with lower salaries – why do you think there should be this second category of legal workers who are not citizens?

SESSIONS: I don’t think there’s any moral, legal, or other reason that that wouldn’t be a good policy. My view is there should be a distinction between people who enter lawfully and those who enter unlawfully.

AVILA: With all due respect, if you could answer some of the charges against you, that have been made against you because of these positions. Of whether or not your motives, whether or not you are actually compassionate. You sponsored the bill that would make all government services only in one language: English. There shouldn’t be an effort to help people who don’t speak English. That speaks to whether or not you are a compassionate person, does it not?

SESSIONS: I think that’s good policy. We want Americans who come here lawfully to be able to operate in the English language.

AVILA: So, someone who doesn’t speak the language, whether it’s Korean or Chinese or Spanish, and they’re in this country, you think that they should not be able to read something in their own language provided by the government?

SESSIONS: I think fundamentally that drivers’ licenses should be in English, and you should be able to speak English if you’re a citizen of the United States and get full citizenship. I believe in immigration. My amendment would allow immigration to continue in this country. I believe that people who have been here a long time deserve compassionate and reasonable treatment. Don’t say that’s not so. I believe this bill allows more people into the country than we can absorb economically, and somebody needs to be asking, what about those low-skilled American workers who are unemployed, whose salaries have not kept up even with inflation the last ten years. And I intend to make sure, as best as I can, that these issues are debated openly, and I don’t appreciate it if someone says that you are not kind, and you are mean-spirited, and you don’t like immigrants, because I do favor immigration.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.