When I walked into Sen. Jeff Sessions' office several years ago for my first one-on-one visit with him, I knew we could count on him to be a full champion for the rule of law in matters of immigration.
But I wanted to persuade him that it was just as important to change immigration policy out of compassion for beleaguered American workers.
With almost no prodding from me, the Alabama Senator astounded me with the depth of his sensitivity to the plight of vulnerable workers and with his resistance to chamber of commerce propaganda.
As reporters began calling me earlier this week about Sen. Sessions' ascendancy to the top Republican position on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, I emphasized this anecdote. There is no question that Sen. Sessions is known as one of the most conservative Members of Congress on matters of law and order, the courts and the Constitution. The stereotype of such persons is not that they are great advocates for workers. But that is exactly what Sen. Sessions is.
In that first meeting, Sen. Sessions described the way that the law of supply and demand was affecting many workers in Alabama who were having to compete with foreign workers -- both legal and illegal -- who were being enticed there by industry. I saw in him very real concern for how hard it is for workers in some occupations to make ends meet and to provide a decent life for their families. He couldn't fathom why the federal government would make their lives harder by importing foreign workers into their occupations.
Sen. Sessions is a great friend of business. But when business lobbyists have talked nonsense and shown utter disregard for the needs of America's workers on immigration matters, Sen. Sessions has never lacked the courage to stand up to the business lobbyists while siding with beleaguered U.S. workers. The Senator has a close enough relationship with business owners of Alabama to know what I have always contended that most business leaders prefer immigration policies that provide a level playing field among competitors and that don't undermine the quality of their communities. Most business owners don't have the slightest interest in the open-borders policies constantly pushed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyists.
Unfortunately, most of the Senators who campaign as friends of the workers end up siding with the Chamber and against the workers on immigration matters.
I invite you to look at the NumbersUSA immigration grade cards for all Senators. Those with "A" grades constantly protect U.S. workers from unfair foreign labor competition. But look at the Senators with the "D" and "F" grades. There you will find many who posture as pro-worker politicians but who do everything possible to collapse occupations with an unending flow of foreign workers.
Sen. Sessions has earned a grade of "A".
Sen. Specter of Pennsylvania, the No. 2 Judiciary man whom Sen. Sessions is replacing, has earned a "D+."
Finally, we have a Senator near the top who will speak and act at every opportunity against the anti-worker efforts of Leahy and Schumer.
Sen. Sessions is the real deal. From his much enhanced powerful position on Judiciary, he is likely to provide unemployed and struggling U.S. workers with their best voice for opening up jobs currently held by illegal foreign workers and for increasing wages, benefits and working conditions by reducing the flood of foreign workers into occupations.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
Updated: Fri, May 8th 2009 @ 11:37am EDT