By Ed Diokno
Views from the Edge
The confirmation of Jeff Sessions Feb. 9 as U.S. Attorney General, despite a long record of racism and acts against immigration reform and voting rights, sparked heated reactions from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who fought against his nomination.
“It is deeply troubling that the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions despite his extreme anti-immigrant record and reports that he played a role in President Trump’s executive order to ban Muslims and Syrian refugees,” stated Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the largest AAPI civil rights organization.
“Sessions has been the standard bearer for a nativist vision of America, sounding the alarm regarding the “unprecedented” percentage of the American population that is foreign-born – without regard for the fact that the current percentage is lower than during the late 1800s, when the foreign-born were overwhelmingly from Western Europe,” said the AAAJ press statement.
“The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum calls upon the U.S. Senate to stop playing politics with lives of our communities. AAPI women and gender non-conforming people demand political leadership of the highest character and integrity. We will hold Sen. Sessions accountable as attorney general as we persist toward a vision in which all members of our community can live safe and authentic lives. We will not sit idle as appointments like Sessions compromise that vision of freedom.”
The Senate’s vote came after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was barred from speaking on the Senate floor against Sessions Tuesday night. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said her speech, in which she was reading a letter by the late civil rights activist Coretta Scott King against Sessions’s federal judgeship nomination in the 1980s, was impugning another senator and against Senate rules.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 8, 2017
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, released the following statement on the Senate’s confirmation of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions:
“America needs a forceful advocate for fairness in its next Attorney General — someone who will fight for justice for all people — not a rubber stamp for the President. Unfortunately, Senator Sessions’ record and refusal to recuse himself from voting on other Trump nominees proves he will not be that person,” said the Asian American senator.
“Senator Sessions voted against extending hate crime protections to Americans who are targeted because of their gender, disability or sexual orientation. He argued for religious discrimination against Muslims. He wanted to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage and criticized legal protections for people with disabilities as ‘irritating’ and ‘unnecessary.’
“I am disappointed that Senator Sessions will now be in a position to erode the civil rights countless Americans bled to protect. I worry about what his Department of Justice will mean for our neighbors with disabilities, Americans of all sexual orientations, people of color and others who have historically been denied equal protection under our nation’s laws when public officials entrusted to enforce those protections turned a blind eye.”
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