Should illegal entry in US remain a crime? Joe Biden's AG pick Merrick Garland says hasn't 'given it a thought'

Merrick Garland was found to be defensive when pressed by GOP Senator Josh Hawley on the question of immigration during his confirmation hearing

                            Should illegal entry in US remain a crime? Joe Biden's AG pick Merrick Garland says hasn't 'given it a thought'
President Joe Biden nominates Merrick Garland as the next attorney-general (Getty Images)

Merrick Garland, President Joe Biden’s pick as the next attorney-general, on Monday, February 22, appeared to be cruising towards a confirmation during his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee with members from both the parties taking a favorable approach towards the veteran judge. 

Yet, Garland could not avoid criticism. Though the Republican members dealt with him cautiously, they asked the 68-year-old former chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a series of questions at the confirmation hearing on the issue of immigration law or border crossings and how the justice department would enforce it under him and he sidestepped them.

Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley asked Garland about the immigration policy on the first day of the hearing and wanted to know if the latter believed “illegal entry” at America’s border should remain a crime. Garland was clearly defensive over the question as he said: “I haven’t thought about that question. I just haven’t thought about that question. I think the president has made clear that we are a country with borders and with a concern about national security. I don’t know if a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to re-enter. I just don’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t thought about it.”


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Hawley, known to be a strong ally to former President Donald Trump, continued to press Garland. He then asked him whether he would “continue to prosecute unlawful border crossings” if confirmed as the next attorney general. Garland was as evasive while responding to this question. “This is, again, a question of allocation of resources,” he said, adding: “The department will prevent unlawful crossing. I don’t know. I have to admit, I just don’t know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done. I don’t know what the current program even is with respect to this. I assume the answer would be yes, but I don’t know what the issues surrounding it are.”

Missouri GOP Senator Josh Hawley asked Garland about the immigration policy on the first day of the hearing (Getty Images)


The immigration issue has become a top-discussed one in the Biden era as the new president has vowed to make the policies related to immigration more humanitarian compared to what it was during his predecessor’s time. The Democrat has also signed a series of executive orders to reverse the immigration policies that were enacted under Trump, including one that revoked funding of the wall along the US’s border with Mexico. Recently, congressional Democrats came up with a Biden-backed immigration bill that speaks about an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants that are undocumented, among other provisions.

Earlier in the hearing, Garland slammed the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy that was adopted under former attorney-general Jeff Sessions — the first to hold that position under Trump. The controversial policy resulted in the separation of several children from their parents and saw the former administration facing flak.

“I think that the policy was shameful. I can't imagine anything worse than tearing parents from their children, and we will provide all the cooperation that we possibly can,” Garland said and added the justice department would cooperate with any probe into the policy. 

Conservative site blasts Garland: 'As inarticulate as Biden'

Conservative sites were not impressed with Garland’s response to Hawley’s questions. said in a report: “Merrick Garland is Joe Biden’s Attorney General nominee and is just about as inarticulate as Biden has been about policy. The video below from Garland’s testimony for confirmation includes evasive answers like “Um,” “I just don’t know.” and “I haven’t thought about it.” It’s difficult to believe the nominee for AG in Biden’s administration hasn’t heard the news about Biden’s plans for open borders.”

“Garland’s evasiveness is a disqualifier and is a slap in the face to legal Americans who want the AG to follow the rule of law,” it said and even mocked former President Barack Obama saying it was the same man who he had picked to be on the Supreme Court. Obama had nominated Garland to replace Supreme Court judge Antonin Scalia after his sudden demise in February 2016 but the GOP-controlled Senate blocked his confirmation saying the next SCOTUS judge should be picked by the new president which happened to be Trump, who picked Neil Gorsuch in January 2017.

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