- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Obama-era DACA deportation amnesty for “Dreamers” wasn’t illegal on its face but rather because of the way it was being carried out, Attorney General Jeff Sessions told Congress on Wednesday.

Mr. Sessions said the policy might have been defended if illegal immigrants were evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but he said the near-blanket level of approvals — more than 92 percent according to the latest statistics — undercut its legality.

“A DACA program might be legal if it was done on an individualized basis. But the Department of Justice can’t just wipe out whole sections of the American law and say we’re not going to enforce it,” Mr. Sessions told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He helped scrap the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program last month, ruling that the department could no longer defend the policy in court. After that, the Homeland Security Department announced a six-month phaseout of the program.

But Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat and a longtime defender of illegal immigrant Dreamers, said Mr. Sessions contradicted the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, which serves as the main legal voice of the government.

The OLC issued an opinion in 2014 saying it thought DACA and a later amnesty, known as DAPA that applied to a broader set of illegal immigrants, would be legal.

“Check your website — that opinion is still on your website — that DACA is lawful,” Mr. Durbin said.

But courts have since ruled DAPA illegal and questioned the operations of DACA, and Mr. Sessions said those rulings helped undercut the amnesty, leading him to conclude he couldn’t defend it.

Mr. Sessions said he doubted he could reveal his communications with the OLC ahead of his decision, nor would he say whether he spoke with Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose threat to sue to stop DACA helped forced last month’s phaseout decision.

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