Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland said he hasn’t “thought about” whether illegal entry into the United States should remain a crime during his confirmation hearing on Monday.
Garland, a federal appeals court judge, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for seven hours on Monday and was questioned about how the Justice Department would enforce immigration laws if he was confirmed.
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri asked Garland if he believed “illegal entry at America’s border should remain a crime.”
“I haven’t thought about that question. Uh, uh, I just haven’t thought about that question,” Garland responded.
“I think the president has made clear that we are a country of, with borders and with a concern about national security. I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter. I just don’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t thought about it.”
@HawleyMO seems to catch Biden’s AG nominee Merrick Garland off guard with a simple question about illegal immigration.
“I just haven’t thought about that question… I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter.” pic.twitter.com/h029GDu291
— Real America’s Voice (RAV) (@RealAmVoice) February 22, 2021
Hawley followed up by asking if Garland would “continue to prosecute unlawful border crossings” if he were confirmed.
“Well, this is, again, a question of allocation of resources,” the judge replied.
“The department will prevent unlawful crossing,” Garland said. “I don’t know. You know, I have to admit, I just don’t know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done. I think if — I don’t know what the current program even is with respect to this.
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“So I assume the answer would be yes, but I don’t know what the issues surrounding it are.”
President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders after entering office reversing many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including revoking funding for the construction of a border wall.
Congressional Democrats also introduced an expansive immigration bill last week that would create an eight-year citizenship path for millions of illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and a faster track for those who arrived as children.
Don’t let the media distract you from realizing that Joe Biden is planning on granting MASS AMNESTY to over 11 million illegal immigrants. This is a DISGRACE and it will be a huge burden on you as a taxpayer.
— Ronny Jackson (@RonnyJacksonTX) February 22, 2021
During his hearing, Garland criticized what he called the “zero tolerance” immigration policy that was adopted in the early days of the Trump administration, Fox News reported.
He also said his first order of business will be to investigate the incursion of the Capitol last month during a rally in support of Trump.
“If confirmed, I will supervise the prosecution of white supremacists and others who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 — a heinous attack that sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government,” Garland said, according to Bloomberg.
The attorney general nominee compared the current climate with that at the time of the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building, a terrorist attack that killed 168 people. As a federal prosecutor, Garland played a leading role in that investigation.
“We are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City at that time,” he said during the hearing, according to The Washington Post.
At his confirmation hearing, attorney general nominee Merrick Garland vowed to combat domestic terror and said the U.S. was facing a ‘more dangerous period’ than during the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 https://t.co/hrulAkzuQ6 pic.twitter.com/KFY4YccFrw
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 22, 2021
“We begin with the people on the ground and we work our way up to those who are involved and further involved.”
Garland added later, “We also have to have a focus on what is happening all over the country and on where this could spread, and where this came from.”
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