Watch: Merrick Garland can’t answer whether illegal border crossings are criminal or should be prosecuted

by Peter Heck · Feb 23rd, 2021 7:13 am

Last Updated Feb 23rd, 2021 at 10:40 pm

Merrick Garland, President Biden's nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States, struggled to provide any identifiable answer to two significant immigration questions that were posed to him during his confirmation hearings Monday.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) first asked Garland if he believed illegal entry at America's borders should remain a crime. The man who has been nominated to serve as America's chief legal officer did not know how he felt about the issue, responding that he "hadn't thought about" it.

"Well I hadn't thought about that question, I just haven't thought about that question," Garland responded amid a series of verbal pauses. "I think, you know, 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," he said again.

After a pregnant pause indicating that he had nothing further to add, Hawley redirected the question from one focusing on Garland's personal opinion about the topic to one of his professional responsibility. "Will you continue to prosecute unlawful border crossings?" Hawley asked the nominee.

"Well, this is again a question of allocation of resources," Garland began. "We will, the department will prevent unlawful crossing. I don't know, I, I have to admit I just don't under, 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. If there are, so I, I assume that the answer would be yes, but I don't know what the, what the issues around, surrounding it are."

Watch the full exchange:


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