The Democrats using a letter written by Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife to smear then-Sen. Jeff Sessions aren’t mentioning another important letter she signed warning of the threat liberal immigration laws pose to black workers.
The second letter from Coretta Scott King urged Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch not to repeal sanctions on employers of illegal immigrants, because of the “devastating impact” it could have on unskilled and semi-skilled workers, particularly in the black and Hispanic communities. She signed the letter in 1991, along with eight CEOs of leading African-American organizations and coalitions, lobbying on behalf of the minority voters they then represented all over the country.
King and the other leaders detail an argument for enforcement of immigration laws in the letter that will sound familiar to anyone who has paid attention to Sessions’ hawkish positions on immigration, which he became known for in the Senate. They were concerned that Hatch’s proposal to get rid of the sanctions on employers who hired illegal immigrants would cause another problem — discrimination against minority American workers in favor of cheaper illegal immigrant workers.
“We are concerned, Senator Hatch, that your proposed remedy … will cause another problem — the revival of the pre-1986 discrimination against black and brown U.S. and documented workers, in favor of cheap labor — the undocumented workers,” they wrote. “This would undoubtedly exacerbate an already severe economic crisis in communities where there are large numbers of new immigrants.”
Democrats of course harped on a very different letter King wrote in 1986, when Sessions was up for a federal judgeship nomination. King asserted Sessions opposed laws that helped secure black voting rights, and therefore should not be confirmed by the Senate for the judgeship. Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren gleefully used the letter to attack Sessions on the Senate floor Wednesday, in knowing violation of a rule against attacking the character of other senators in the chamber.
Warren’s stunt was an attempt to protest Sessions’ confirmation as President Donald Trump’s attorney general, conveniently timed just ahead of the Senate vote — and an announcement that she has a new book coming out in April. The resulting flurry of headlines and memes ensured plenty of publicity for Warren and the other Democrats who began reading the letter outside the chamber.
Of course, none of those Democrats are drawing any attention to King’s 1991 letter espousing support for some of Sessions’ positions on immigration. He was confirmed Wednesday night as attorney general.