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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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBarrett confirmation stokes Democrats' fears over ObamaCare On The Money: Power players play chess match on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi bullish, Trump tempers optimism | Analysis: Nearly 1M have run out of jobless benefits Grassley: Voters should be skeptical of Biden's pledge to not raise middle class taxes MORE (R-Iowa.)

Leading opponent of Obama's actions, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House 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 SchumerChuck SchumerGraham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs Lewandowski: Trump 'wants to see every Republican reelected regardless of ... if they break with the president' Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  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."