Jeff Sessions has suggested the U.S. should adopt Canada’s policy on immigration, backing a stricter set of criteria that prevented “illiterate” people from coming into the country.
The attorney general claimed President Donald Trump is not anti-immigration, but he said the administration wanted to see that people had the skills and education to prosper.
“What the American people want, have a right to, and what’s good for America is a lawful system of immigration. And when we admit people to our country, we should be like Canada,” he said in an interview with Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday.
“We should evaluate them and make sure they are going to be lawful, they are not threats to us, they have the education and skills level to prosper in America. That’s good for them and good for America,” he added on the Fox News show. “What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills, and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? That is not what a good nation should do and we need to get away from it.”
Sessions also backed Trump’s calls to do away with a lottery system, which the attorney general described as “ridiculous” and “absurd,” and suggested immigration from dangerous areas including those that had a “high number of terrorists” should be vetted and limited.
The president has faced criticism over the past week for allegedly questioning during an immigration meeting at the White House why people from “shithole” countries were coming to the U.S.
According to The Washington Post, the president said: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” while discussing Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries.
“Why do we need more Haitians?” Trump said, according to people familiar with the meeting.
Trump himself has denied the claims, tweeting on Friday: “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings—unfortunately, no trust!”
He later doubled down on his tough immigration rhetoric, writing: “I, as President, want people coming into our Country who are going to help us become strong and great again, people coming in through a system based on MERIT. No more Lotteries! #AMERICA FIRST.”
Trump’s shithole comments have led to claims of racism, while much of his immigration rhetoric is tarred with a similar brush. Indeed, during his campaign while proposing some of his more dramatic ideas for border control, including building a wall on the U.S.’ southern border, Trump was accused of using divisive and derogatory language towards Mexican people.
But Sessions defended the idea, claiming that Trump was attempting to change things for the better and trying to vet the people who come into the country commenting it was “unbelievable” such reform attempts were being met with resistance.
“We want to know who they are and make sure they’re going to be productive people, people who will flourish in America, who are going to not be terrorists, not be criminals, and that’s exactly correct for America,” he added.
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