Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced the end of the DACA program on Tuesday, once praised laws that kept Jewish refugees from entering the United States as “good for America” - a contention that attests to the ex-Alabama senator’s ever-present nativist convictions.
Sessions was referring in his remarks, first made two years ago on Steve Bannon’s Breitbart News radio program, to the National Origins Act, which established minuscule quotas for immigrants coming to the country from Eastern and Southern Europe and other “non-white” areas of the world.
Passed in 1924, that regime stayed in force until 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson helped open up the United States to a greater volume of more diverse immigrants. The National Origins Act has fallen into historical disrepute for its discriminatory character, and because it was implicated in the exclusion of those fleeing the Holocaust.
On the same show, Sessions bemoaned that America was now in a period of “radical change” when it came immigration, a sentiment to which Bannon agreed. Around the same time, the then-senator introduced a bill that would limit legal immigration. It was voted down almost unanimously in committee.
While a marginal figure in the Senate, Sessions has been able to use his new role as attorney general to influence immigration policy. He has long advocated the cancellation of DACA, which has permitted undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors to receive work permits and protections against deportation.