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Obama's Latest Immigration Nominee Says It's Impossible to Enforce All Federal Laws


"...precludes the idea that I can fully enforce all the thousands of federal statutes..."

President Barack Obama addresses the crowd on issues surrounding the protests in Ferguson, Mo., after meeting with community leaders about the executive actions he is taking to fix the immigration system Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

President Barack Obama's nominee to be assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has told senators she does not believe it will be possible for her to enforce all federal laws in her new job.

Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked nominee Sarah Saldana several questions about how she would approach her role as a top immigration official. One of those was whether the nation would be safer if Obama fully enforced immigration laws as they are written.

Obama President Barack Obama's nominee to hold a key immigration post says it won't be possible for her to enforce all federal laws.

But Saldana said that's an unrealistic goal, and said she supports the idea of prosecutorial discretion.

"My own experience in making tough prosecutorial decisions by my 100-county district clearly precludes the idea that I can fully enforce all the thousands of federal statutes and regulations on the books for which I am responsible," she wrote.

"I believe that the use of prosecutorial discretion is an important management and law enforcement tool," she added.

In a later question about what it means for the president to "faithfully" execute the laws, Saldana said that means the allocation of "limited resources to best meet the nation's needs."

Saldana is expected to be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as Wednesday. She was also asked by GOP senators on that committee whether it's the requirement to faithfully execute the laws is consistent with a president's decision not to enforce a law because the he believes it's not as important as other laws.

"It can be, depending on the applicable facts, circumstances and the availability of resources," she wrote. "Whether the tension arises between statues, or between parts of statutes, the concept of prosecutorial discretion does involve prioritizing some activities over others."

The senators also asked Saldana whether she agreed that Obama had the authority to go around Congress and allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and work legally.

"I believe that the president of the United States, as others before him, has legal authority to take executive action to address areas within the purview of the executive branch," she replied.

"It is my understanding that the recently announced executive action pertaining to immigration was reviewed, shaped and considered by a number of people in whom I have great confidence, including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder," she added. "Unless and until the president's action is invalidated or withdrawn, I am bound to faithfully execute applicable laws, regulations and policy."

She also said she doesn't believe Obama's action will lead to more illegal immigration. The Obama administration has said that the executive action would prioritize the removal of new illegal immigrants, which should slow illegal immigration.

However, many Republicans say the mere act of easing immigration rules by executive action will likely inspire more people to try crossing the border.

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