Candidate defends Obama's immigration policies
CHALLENGED BY Republicans, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on Wednesday defended President Barack Obama's decision to shelter millions of immigrants from deportation though they live in the United States (US) illegally. But she said they have no right to citizenship under the law.
She said that under the administration's policy, the Department of Homeland Security focuses its efforts on the removal of "the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us. It seems to be a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem" of illegal immigration, she said.
Lynch made her remarks in the opening moments of a hearing into her appointment as the nation's first black female attorney general, replacing Eric Holder who Republicans say has been too willing to follow Obama's political agenda.
Lynch, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is widely expected to win confirmation easily, if only because Republicans are so eager for Holder's tenure to end. He has been a lightning rod for conservative criticism, clashing with Republicans and becoming the first sitting attorney general held in contempt of Congress.
Settling into the witness chair for what promised to be a long day of questioning, Lynch promised a fresh relationship with law enforcement and Congress.
"I pledge to all of you and to the American people that I will fulfil my responsibilities with integrity and independence," she said.
"You're not Eric Holder, are you?" said Republican John Cornyn, one of the current attorney general's most persistent critics.
"No senator," she responded with a smile.
Senator Charles Grassley, the Republican committee chairman, made a similar point in the opening moments of the hearing. He said the department is "deeply politicised. But that's what happens when the attorney general of the United States views himself, in his own words, as the president's 'wingman'."