Did she misspeak or did illegals suddenly acquire the “right” to hold down a job in the United States when I wasn’t looking? Not even Obama goes that far, I think; the work permits being handed out under his new amnesty are a matter of dubious and “temporary” executive largesse, not a matter of right. Here’s the (slightly abridged) transcript of Lynch’s full exchange via Jeff Sessions’s office, which the first clip below doesn’t capture:
Let me ask you this: In the workplace of America today when we have a high number of unemployed, we’ve had declining wages for many years, we have the lowest of Americans working, who has more right to a job in this country? A lawful immigrant who’s here, a green-card holder or a citizen, or a person who entered the country unlawfully?
Well, Senator, I believe that the right and the obligation to work is one that’s shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here. And certainly, if someone here, regardless of status, I would prefer that they be participating in the workplace than not participating in the workplace…
So you think that a person that’s — anybody that’s here lawfully or unlawfully is entitled to work in America?
Senator, I’m not sure if I know — if I understand the basis for your question as — as to whether or not there’s a legal basis for them to work or not.
I asked you, who had — we’re talking about rights — who has the most rights? Does a lawful American immigrant or citizen have the right to have the laws of the United States enforced so that they might be able to work, or does a person who came here unlawfully have a right to demand a job?
Certainly, the benefits of citizenship confer greater rights on those of who are citizens than those — than those who are not.
Well, do you think a person that’s here unlawfully is entitled to work in the United States when the law says that employees can’t hire somebody unlawfully in America?..
I think that certainly the provision that you refer to regarding to the role of the employer in ensuring the legal status of those who are here is an important one and that we have to look at in conjunction with this issue in terms of preventing undocumented workers, who, as you’ve indicated before, are seeking employment.
Again, we want everyone to seek employment, but we have in place at this point in time a legal framework that requests or requires employers to both provide information about citizenship as well as not hire individuals without citizenship.
No, she concedes, illegals aren’t supposed to be working, and yes, citizens have more rights than illegals, but if illegal immigrants are going to be here, better that they work than sit around doing nothing. Where that leaves her policy-wise as the prospective chief law enforcement officer of the United States, I have no idea. Should she too exercise some “prosecutorial discretion” and decline to go after businesses who employ illegals, since, after all, they’re doing something productive? Or should she be more aggressive in deporting unemployed illegals so that they don’t end up as welfare cases? Her boss chose door number one, which I guess means she does too. Sessions followed that up with another hypothetical: What if a business fires its illegal employees in order to open up jobs for American citizens? Is that grounds for a discrimination suit in her eyes or is discriminating against people who aren’t allowed to work legally pretty much what U.S. law requires? As you’ll see in the second clip, via NRO, she dances around the question. All she’ll concede is that she supports Obama’s amnesty because it’s not really an “amnesty,” i.e. not a permanent change to the law. Formally, that’s correct. It could be undone by the next president or by Congress. As a practical matter, of course it’s permanent. Political reality and changing demographics will guarantee that.
The third clip, just for fun, is Mike Lee’s questioning of Lynch, which opens with a hypothetical about “prosecutorial discretion.” If the president can unilaterally immunize millions of illegals from removal, against the law as currently stated in the U.S. Code, couldn’t a governor also unilaterally set a 100 mph speed limit by declining to prosecute anyone traveling below that rate? That’s a cute example, but I prefer the one in which a future Republican president unilaterally lowers the federal income tax rate by ordering the IRS not to pursue anyone who refuses to pay more than 15 percent. That’s an example that hits the left where they live. If you want to give them second thoughts about the precedential value of O’s amnesty, taxes, not speed limits, is the way to go.