01.29.15

Correcting the Record: Reports That Loretta Lynch Believes Immigrants Not in Lawful Status Have a “Right to Work” Misstate Her Remarks

From The Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff
Correcting the Record: Reports That Loretta Lynch Believes Immigrants Not in Lawful Status Have a “Right to Work” Misstate Her Remarks

 During the Attorney General confirmation hearings, Republican Senators focused disproportionately on the political issue of immigration, instead of the merits of the nominee. Some conservative news sources have misrepresented remarks from Ms. Lynch in which she talked about immigrants’ opportunity to work to suggest she believes that all immigrants—including those here illegally—have a universal right to work.  Ms. Lynch said no such thing.

 Ms. Lynch testified clearly that there is no federal right
for immigrants not in lawful status to work

  • In response to Senators’ questions, Ms. Lynch testified that there is no federal right for immigrants who are not in lawful status to work:

Senator Schumer:  Absent appropriate authorization from DHS… is there any federal right for an immigrant who is not in lawful status to work?

Ms. Lynch:  No there’s not, to my knowledge. […]

Senator Schumer:  So again, to reiterate, you don’t believe that there’s a federal right for an immigrant who is not lawfully here to work?

Ms. Lynch:  No sir, not at all.

  • Remarks by Ms. Lynch concerning all individuals’ obligation to work did not imply that immigrants in unlawful status have a right to work in the U.S.:

Ms. Lynch:  I believe the right and the obligation to work is one that is shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here.  Certainly, if someone is here—regardless of status—I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace.

[…]

Senator Schumer:  Earlier you said you had a preference that all individuals here in the United States work regardless of status.  I think this is confusing for people because there are literally nearly 100 categories of statuses. . .  Many people who are not U.S. citizens have a legal right to work, for example, greencard holders. . . .What did you mean when you said you think everyone should work regardless of status?

Lynch:  When I made that comment I was really making more of a personal observation… As we grew up, we were all expected to try and find employment as part of becoming a responsible adult and as part of becoming a responsible member of society.  So I was making a personal observation based on the work ethic that’s been passed down to me by my family, not a legal observation.

Senator Schumer:  So again, to reiterate, you don’t believe that there’s a federal right for an immigrant who is not lawfully here to work?

Lynch: No sir, not at all.

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