The Nation

Jeff Sessions’s Legacy Will Be Catastrophic for Asylum Seekers

By exploiting his power over the immigration courts, the former attorney general made it his goal to inflict long-lasting damage on the asylum system.

Read the full piece in The Nation

JEFF SESSIONS IS OUT. At the request of the president, the attorney general submitted his resignation letter to the White House the day after this week’s midterm elections.

His ouster was long expected. Ever since Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from overseeing the Justice Department investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump had been at his throat, criticizing his job performance on Twitter and reportedly berating him in the Oval Office. The New York Times described Trump and Sessions’s relationship as “one of the most acrimonious public standoffs between a commander in chief and a senior cabinet member in modern American history.”

Yet in spite of Trump’s obvious contempt for Sessions, the attorney general was one of the president’s most effective champions. Both men have based their vision for the country on white supremacy, and from his perch at Justice, Sessions did everything in his power to complement Trump’s brutality.

The starkest manifestation of their joint vision revealed itself in the administration’s treatment of immigrants in general, and Central American asylum seekers in particular; the family-separation initiative, a horrific, ongoing display of state-sponsored trauma, will be a stain on America’s reputation for generations. But while Trump boisterously proposed outlandish, even illegal immigration policies, Sessions took a quieter approach, exploiting his authority through legal minutiae. In the process, he inflicted long-lasting damage on the asylum system.


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