At a Senate Judiciary hearing on how comprehensive immigration reform should address the needs of women and families on Monday Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) argued family reunification policies should be cut out of the immigration system.
Immigration reform advocates at the hearing defended programs allowing immigrants to bring extended family members to the U.S., including adult siblings or adult children.
“Children will always be our children whether they’re over the age of 21 or not,” said Mee Moua, chief executive of the Asian American Justice Center and one of the witnesses at Monday’s hearing. “For us to start thinking about which members of our family we’re going to trade away is a dramatic and drastic departure from the core values of what has been driving this country since the founding days.”
At one point during the hearing Moua took the opportunity to give Sessions a history lesson and a piece of her mind.
Transcript of the exchange is below:
MOUA: Senator Sessions, coming from the Asian American community when in the 1880s we were the first people to be excluded explicitly by the United States immigration policy I’m well aware that this country has never hesitated in the way that it chooses to exercise its authority to permit people to either enter or depart its borders. And we know that the Asian American community in particular didn’t get to enjoy the benefit of immigration to this country until the 1960s when those restrictive policies were lifted. So I know very well and very aware that…
SESSIONS: Well let me just say, it seems to me. It’s perfectly logical to think there are two individuals, let’s say in a good friendly country like Honduras. One is a valedictorian of his class, has two years of college, learned English and very much has a vision to come to the United States and the other one has dropped out of high school, has minimum skills. Both are 20 years of age and that latter person has a brother here. What would be in the interest of the United States? …
MOUA: Senator I think that under your scenario people can conclude about which is in the best interest of the United States. I think the more realistic scenario is that in the second situation that individual will be female, would not have been permitted to get an education and if we would create a system where there would be some kind of preference given to say education, or some other kind of metrics, I think that it would truly disadvantage specifically women and their opportunity to come into this country.
On January 29, 2002, Mee Moua received over 51 percent of the votes in a four-way race to win the special election in Senate District 67 on St. Paul, Minnesota’s east side, becoming the first Hmong elected official in the United States.