WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has granted a record number of clemency petitions during his time in office, but do not expect to see blanket pardons “en masse” for undocumented immigrants or nonviolent drug offenders before Donald Trump takes office next month, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Thursday.
Speaking at a Politico Playbook breakfast event in Washington, Lynch was asked whether there was any possibility that the thousands of young undocumented immigrants — commonly known as “DREAMers” — could be pardoned as a group before Obama leaves office.
“The issue of pardoning someone is an individual decision that’s made on a case-by-case basis, and so there’s no legal framework or regulatory framework that allows for a pardon of a group en masse,” Lynch said.
Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez and other House Democrats have repeatedly called on the President since the election in November to provide pardons to those registered for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) program, both retroactively and prospectively. The White House has noted that a presidential pardon would not confer legal status on DACA recipients.
Lynch was also asked about any plans for a blanket pardon of those who committed nonviolent drug offenses.
“When you’re talking about clemency, the same as with pardons, it’s a very individualized decision. I think it would be hard to craft a system for a blanket commutation of a class of people,” Lynch said.
To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 people, the vast majority of whom were serving time for nonviolent drug crimes.