Donald Trump told his followers to heed what happened in Britain after the country voted to leave the European Union, implying he would bring the same philosophy that fueled that decision to the White House. So it is not that surprising that Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a potential Donald Trump running mate, is echoing the same warnings about refugees that precipitated the Brexit vote.
Sessions warned against the refugee policy proposed by presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a scathing press release Monday. According to the senator, Clinton's policy — the former secretary of state has called for the U.S. to accept 65,000 refugees from Syria and elsewhere — would lead to as many as 620,000 refugees entering the United States.
"Assuming Clinton's desire to bring in 65,000 Syrian refugees is in addition to the Obama Administration's current goal of admitting 10,000 this fiscal year (out of 85,000 total refugees), that would amount to an increase of 55,000 refugees. 55,000 on top of 85,000 totals 140,000 refugees," read Sessions' press release. "The Obama Administration's target for [fiscal year] 2017 is actually 100,000 refugees, meaning that adding 55,000 refugees to that would result in 155,000 refugees each year. Due to statutory flaws in our Refugee Admissions Program, the number could be as high as Hillary Clinton desires. Assuming her goal is to admit 155,000 refugees each year during a hypothetical first term in office, a Clinton Administration would admit at least 620,000 refugees in just four years — a population roughly the size of Baltimore."
Sessions emphasized the cost of such a decision, noting the taxpayer price tag to process that many refugees, but the Alabama senator is largely speculating that Obama and Clinton's refugee targets would be become yearly goals — to date Clinton has called for only 65,000 to be admitted total.
While Sessions' estimates could possibly turn out to be true, the warning of overwhelming numbers of immigrants and refugees flooding the country is not unlike some of the arguments made by British "leave" advocates. One piece of campaign material in particular — a poster showing a line of refugees with the caption "Breaking Point" — was accused of inciting paranoia about refugees and immigrants, if not general racial hatred.
Many British politicians and pundits pointed to the strain that refugees and immigrants were putting on the British economy by taking jobs that could have otherwise gone to native-born British citizens. Those in the "remain" camp largely wrote off the argument as inaccurate analysis used to justify a racist policy. Sessions' stance against refugees will likely be viewed the same way by opponents on the left in America.
Presumptive GOP nominee Trump has expressed his support for the Brexit referendum decision and consistently spoken about the need to curtail immigration and restrict Syrian refugees who are Muslim from entering the U.S. to mitigate the risk of terror. If Sessions has vice presidential aspirations, this attack on Clinton — one that could have easily come from Trump himself — will probably help his cause.