Christine Flowers: Jeff Sessions deserved better
An immigration attorney coming to the defense of Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, who lost his job as U.S, attorney general on Wednesday, is akin to a Christian coming to the defense of the lions of ancient Rome: It’s surprising and just plain weird.
But that is what this immigration attorney is going to do, and I understand that it won’t elicit enthusiasm from the extremes on the left or the right, particularly after the midterms.
At the outset, I have to note that I abhor the immigration policies put into place under Sessions, who embraced with obvious enthusiasm his role as Deporter-in-Chief. Since he took office, the following groups of people have been on his hit list: refugees, mothers with children, victims of domestic abuse, victims of gang violence, and anyone who uses the word caravan. He has reinterpreted longstanding administrative policy to narrow the options for asylum seekers, tried to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), severely limited the ability of immigration judges to exercise discretion, and implied that people like me are coaching our clients to lie about the persecution they suffered.
He’s done all of this under the guise of making America safer, which seems ironic, since the only large-scale terror attacks since Sessions took office were conducted by U.S. citizens who were already in the country, including Wednesday night’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that left 12 dead; the 2017 assault on GOP congressmen in which Sen. Steve Scalise was shot; and last month’s assassination of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The perpetrators of those crimes? Not a Middle Easterner, a Latino gang-banger, or an anchor baby in the bunch. So I am not a huge fan of Sessions’ approach to keeping America safe on the backs of people who are themselves desperate to find safety. His version of immigration reform is cruel and draconian.
Nevertheless, I’m disgusted by President Trump’s treatment of a man who was loyal to him, but who no longer served his purposes.
I believe that Trump demanded Sessions’ resignation because he knows that come January, he will be heading into choppy waters as the opposition party takes control of the House. With images of subpoenas dancing in his head, it seems that he wanted to put a firewall between himself and some crusading Democrats. Plus, he’s always seemingly resented Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian investigation.
But with that recusal, Sessions showed loyalty and integrity, two qualities that I admire and treasure. He deserves our respect for showing allegiance to the country over his boss.
I’m outraged about Trump’s firing of his most loyal minion. If the president actually looked at his Justice Department, he would see that Sessions has single-handedly advanced the Trump agenda on drugs, criminal justice, and, as I noted ruefully above, immigration. Trump gets up on his high horse at those ridiculous rallies and screams about caravans and the invasion at the southern border, but Sessions is the one who was actually doing something about it.
Take the word of an immigration lawyer: He made my life and my clients’ lives hell.
I’m also nauseated by the mean-spirited, petty way that Trump dispatched Sessions. According to reports, he sent John Kelly to do his dirty work and didn’t even have the guts to meet personally with the very first senator who endorsed him at the start of his then-quixotic campaign.
The immigration lawyer in me is glad to see Sessions go. But the part of me that respects courage, independence, and integrity is disgusted with the shameful treatment he received.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.