As the Trump administration struggles to reunite migrant children and parents separated under the brutal “zero-tolerance policy,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions welcomed more than 40 new immigration judges in an event held in Falls Church, Virginia, with a rather controversial speech.
The former Alabama senator received a lot of criticism for telling the incoming judges not to show too much sympathy to the cases, implying it would cloud their judgment and decision making.
“When we depart from the law and create nebulous legal standards out of a sense of sympathy for the personal circumstances of a respondent in our immigration courts, we do violence to the rule of law and constitutional fabric that bind this great nation. Your job is to apply the law — even in tough cases,” he told the largest class of immigration judges in the United States’ history.
The attorney general also insulted the attorneys who represent undocumented immigrants while suggesting the judges shared the same rhetoric as President Donald Trump and his equally incompetent administration.
“Good lawyers, using all of their talents and skill, work every day—like water seeping through an earthen dam—to get around the plain words of the [immigration law] to advance their clients’ interests. Theirs is not the duty to uphold the integrity of the act. That is our most serious duty,” Sessions said, reminding the judges their job was to “restore the rule of law” to the immigration system.
Although, in his own seemingly racist way, the Republican noted the system “must always respect the rights of aliens,” he also cautioned the judges to be wary of “fake claims” – which seems in line with Trump’s repeated attempts to discredit the media by calling it “fake news.”
“Just as we defend immigrant legal rights, we reject unjustified and sometimes fake claims,” Sessions continued. “The law is never serviced when deceit is rewarded so that the fundamental principles of the law are defeated.”
He also defended the administration's “zero-tolerance” policy that tore apart hundreds of families and subjected thousands of children to lasting mental health trauma.
“No great and prosperous nation can have both a generous welfare system and great prosperity, and open borders,” the attorney general added. “Such a policy is radical, it's dangerous, it's never been adopted here, or any other major nation that I am aware of, so it must be rejected out of hand, and the American people have done so.”
Needless to say, his anti-immigrant speech did not go over well with migrant rights advocates.
“The reality is that it is a political statement which does not articulate a legal concept that judges are required to be aware of and follow,” said immigration judge Dana Marks, who is also a spokesperson for the National Association of Immigration Judges, according to the BuzzFeed News. “It did appear to be a one-sided argument made by a prosecutor.”
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters/Leah Millis