Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Al., appeared to insert himself in discussions between the Congressional Black Caucus and senators working on a plan to revamp the nation's immigration laws by releasing a letter to the CBC from three members of the United States Commission on Civil Rights that warned the group about the potential negative impact new immigraton rules could have on African-American employment.
"In light of recent debates on comprehensive immigration reform, we are writing to address a rarely discussed effect of granting legal status or effective amnesty to illegal immigrants," the three commission members wrote in an undated letter to black caucus chair Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio. "Such grant of legal status will likely disproportionately harm lower-skilled African-Americans by making it more difficult for them to obtain employment and depressing their wages."
The commissioners stress that that they wrote the letter as individuals and not on behalf of the entire comission.
Sessions has spoken out against a comprehensive immigration overhaul package and prefers that more attention be given to securing U.S. borders. The black caucus has been quietly talking to Senate Democratic leaders and monitoring the work of the so-called "Gang of Eight" that is working on immigration legislation.
The black caucus, which supports revamping immigration laws, is seeking to ensure that whatever comes out of the Senate contains something that resembles the diversity visa program that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives essentially voted to do away with.
Fudge says scrapping diversity visas and replacing it with an immigration program that gives preference to high-skilled workers would adversely impact immigration from African and Caribbean countries.
Stephen Miller, Sessions' communications director, describes the writings of the three civil right commission panelists as a "powerful letter."