There was something bracingly honest about an op-ed article in The Washington Post last week by Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican. Under the headline “America Needs to Curb Immigration Flows,” Mr. Sessions, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary’s immigration subcommittee, argued the case for letting in fewer foreigners.
Even hard-liners on the same side of the issue as Mr. Sessions — like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Representative Lamar Smith of Texas and Representative Steve King of Iowa — take pains to cloak anti-immigration arguments with benign-sounding words of tolerant welcome. They say they support legal immigration. It’s illegal immigration they oppose.
But here is Mr. Sessions, ditching the usual Republican talking points on immigration, choosing instead to echo an uglier time in our history, when nativists wielded the spurious argument that the more immigrants taken in by America, the worse off America is. He’s advocating for “slowing the pace” of legal immigration, supposedly to increase job opportunities for native-born, low-skilled workers, particularly African-Americans. He equates a wave of immigration from the 1970s to the present with the continuing “contraction” of the middle-class. Admitting too many foreign-born workers, he says, lowers the wages of Americans, and he worries darkly about the effect of so many foreigners on “schools, hospitals and many other community resources.”