Sessions: Foreign Lawsuits against States’ Immigration Policies ‘Baffling’

By Fred Lucas | December 2, 2011 | 4:16 PM EST

Demonstrators Caesar Marroquiz, left, of Philadelphia, Penn., and Ernesto Zumaya, 24, of Los Angeles link their arms together and wait to be arrested during a demonstration in the lobby of the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery, Ala., Tuesday Nov. 15, 2011. Several hundred demonstrators gathered to protest Alabama's strong new immigration law. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

( – Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) called foreign lawsuits against the illegal immigration policy of his state and others “baffling.”

Alabama enacted a tough enforcement law to crack down on illegal aliens. It is similar to the Arizona law passed in 2010. South Carolina passed a tough enforcement law set to take effect in January 2012. The Justice Department has taken legal action against all these states, and 16 foreign countries joined the lawsuits against the three states.

“I do find that baffling almost that a foreign country thinks that they should decide what powers a state has to enact legislation consistent with federal law,” Sessions told

“I mean, Arizona’s law is consistent with, complementary to, federal law. They do not attempt to prosecute people. They say you can’t get a job if you are here illegally. But that’s just complementary to federal law. I am baffled by that,” he added.

The countries involved in the case are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The Alabama law makes it a crime to be an illegal alien in the state, allows law enforcement to detain someone suspected of being in the country illegally, makes it illegal to give an illegal alien a ride and requires school districts to check the immigration status of students who enroll.

The South Carolina law requires law enforcement officers who make traffic stops to call federal immigration officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. The measure bars officers from holding someone solely on that suspicion. Opponents claim the measure encourages racial profiling. The law is set to take effect in January.

The Arizona law requires police officers to check the immigration status of individuals they stop for other offenses if there is reasonable suspicion that they are illegal aliens.

“It is true that if it is common knowledge that you can enter the country illegally and you will never be deported, and you will be put on a path to regularity, then that’s an incentive to come to the country illegally if you want to enter the country illegally,” Sessions said.

“I do believe excessive immigration pulls down wages. I do believe it is a factor in middle class skilled tradesmen having skills not properly compensated. I think there is a wealth gap that is hopefully temporary but is troubling out there,” he added.

The standing of the foreign lawsuits is questionable, but it does send a statement, said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform (FAIR), a pro-border enforcement advocacy group.

“It emboldens illegal aliens in the U.S. to know their home country supports their actions and this is an effort to stop local government enforcement trend at the local level,” Dane told “These lawsuits are like post cards from home supporting what you are doing and saying keep the money flowing.”

“We’ve got enough problems on our plate now,” Dane continued. “Now foreign governments want to dictate state policies.”