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Alabama Republican Slams Closed-Door Bipartisan Immigration Efforts

Conservative senator laments the fact that interest groups are "meeting in secret with a small group of senators" to craft bill.

Posted on March 19, 2013, at 3:34 p.m. ET

Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Sessions attacked a bipartisan effort to craft comprehensive immigration reform on Tuesday, charging the group is unfairly excluding conservatives such as himself who do not support a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers in the country.

"I don't feel it, I am left out. Everybody is left out," Sessions told reporters when asked if he felt he was being frozen out of the process, which is expected to produce the Senate's legislation later this spring.

"I think we'd be better off doing it in the committee, the judiciary committee, having experts, calling people who can raise the question of whether it effect low-income Americans … we need to talk about all of these things, and they shouldn't be hidden," the Alabama conservative added.

For months, a small group of Senate Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Charles Schumer and Marco Rubio, have been meeting behind closed doors in an effort to craft a compromise bill that gets enough buy-in from both sides to clear the Senate floor.

Sessions said he and a number of conservatives have a host of questions about the bill, ranging from the total cost to the future flow of immigrants and that the Senate shouldn't simply bring a bill to the floor without exhaustive committee review — something that has been done in the past

"Back in 2007 when the Senate is plopped down on the Senate floor, and it became clear didn't work, that's why it really died … the same interest groups who are meeting in secret with a small group of senators as in 2007," Sessions said.

Of course, even if those issues were dealt with to Sessions' satisfaction, given the fact that it is increasingly likely the bill will include some sort of pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers, it is unlikely to get his support. "My vision is that citizenship should not be a part of any legislation. That's been my view," Sessions acknowledged.

Sessions's comments came on the same day that Sen. Rand Paul, a darling of the conservative movement and a contender for the GOP's 2016 presidential nomination, came out in support of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.