U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will speak Thursday in Fort Wayne about the immigration priorities of the Trump administration, according to the Department of Justice.
The federal agency announced Tuesday that Sessions will appear at 1:15 p.m. at the Suite Level Lounge at Parkview Field. A department spokesman told The Journal Gazette that community leaders and attorneys have been invited to hear Sessions' remarks. The event is open to news media.
Fort Wayne-based immigration attorney Jerri Mead said she will attend.
“I am taking this opportunity to listen and take the measure of the man and policies of this administration,” Mead said Tuesday in an email. “As an immigration attorney, I need to discern as many of the upcoming changes and make meaningful strategy in order assist my clientele through their process.”
Two local progressive groups – People for the Common Good and United Activists of Fort Wayne Indiana – are organizing a rally from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday outside Parkview Field. As of late Tuesday, 39 people had indicated they planned to be at the rally, according to the groups' Facebook posting about Sessions' visit.
“Please come with signs to let him know that separating children from their parents at the border is unacceptable and is crossing a moral line,” the groups say on Facebook.
Sessions has defended the practice of separating adults and children when undocumented immigrants are detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Sessions, a former Republican U.S. senator from Alabama, has long been described as an immigration hard-liner. He angered Democratic lawmakers and former immigration judges Monday when he issued a ruling that immigration judges cannot consider domestic abuse and gang violence as grounds for granting asylum.
Sessions also has sought to punish municipal officials who fail to cooperate with ICE in the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Immigration has not been a hot issue in recent years in Fort Wayne, home to among the nation's largest communities of Burmese refugees. There have been at least two public demonstrations organized at the Allen County Courthouse Green against the immigration policies of the Trump administration since President Donald Trump took office in 2017.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Trump appeared to be softening his immigration position in an effort to improve North America's bid to host soccer's World Cup in 2026.
The Times reported that Trump has sent three letters to FIFA, soccer's governing body, that “contained increasingly specific guarantees that foreign teams, officials and even fans will face no restrictions on entering the U.S. for World Cup matches in 2026 if their countries qualify for the tournament. In effect, the letters assured officials voting on the event that Mr. Trump's hard-line stance on visas would not apply to the World Cup.”
The host of the 2026 World Cup will be selected today by FIFA.
Sessions was an early and avid supporter of Trump's candidacy. But they have had a rocky relationship since Sessions recused himself in March 2017 from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election won by Trump. On May 30, Trump tweeted that he wished he had chosen somebody other than Sessions as his attorney general.
Local TV stations first reported Monday night that Sessions will speak Thursday at Parkview Field, without naming their sources for the information about his pending visit. The Journal Gazette earlier received a tip about Sessions' planned appearance, but the Justice Department said Monday afternoon that an Indiana visit was not on Sessions' “public schedule” at that point.