Attorney general nominee backs Obama's immigration actions

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch defended President Obama's executive actions on immigration Wednesday, but noted that she was not involved with the contentious decision.

Speaking of the Office of Legal Counsel memo laying out the legal justification for the action shielding millions of people in the country illegally from deportation, Lynch said, "I don't see any reason to doubt the reasonableness of those views."

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lynch echoed the administration's argument that the Department of Homeland Security is not able to deport all of the people in the country illegally, so it should prioritize categories like criminals and remove the threat of deportation from others.

That justification "seemed to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources," Lynch said.

"The Department of Homeland Security was seeking legal guidance on the most effective way to prioritize the removal of groups of large numbers of individuals given that their resources would not permit removal of everyone who fell within the respective category," she said.

She provided some distance by also saying, "I was not involved in the decisions that led to the executive actions that you referenced," responding to questiong from Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate panel questions Lynch on alleged FBI interference The Hill's 12:30 Report GOP senator surprises top Dem with birthday cake MORE (R-Iowa.)

Leading opponent of Obama's actions, Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsJustice Department developing strategies to shut down ‘sanctuary cities’: report Sally Yates slams Sessions on criminal justice reform Preet Bharara emailed DOJ about phone call from Trump: report MORE (R-Ala.) pressed Lynch on whether citizenship is a "civil right" for those who come the country illegally.

"Citizenship is a privilege, certainly it's a right for those of us born here," Lynch replied. "It's a privilege that has to be earned."

"I certainly agree, I'm a little surprised it took you that long," Sessions replied.

In introducing Lynch, Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerWarren cautions Dems against infighting FCC advances proposal to unmask blocked caller ID in threat cases Trump: Pelosi's leadership good for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) sought to separate Lynch and her qualifications from the broader immigration fight.

"The president’s immigration policies aren’t seeking confirmation today," Schumer said. "Loretta Lynch is."