As the Senate starts to hold confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden‘s Cabinet nominees, thousands of Honduran migrants are heading toward the southern border.
On Tuesday, the Senate held a hearing for Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas.
During the hearing, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) asked Mayorkas, who would be in charge of the agency that oversees U.S. Customs and Border Protection, how he would handle the migrants when they reach the border.
Romney asked, “What is your intention with regards to that caravan that is coming to our border? Is your intention to allow them to come into the country? Will they be stopped? What’s the plan?”
Mayorkas responded, “We are a nation of immigrants. And we are also a nation of laws. And I intend to apply the law in the execution of my responsibilities as the secretary of Homeland Security should I have that privilege.”
Romney proceeded to ask Mayorkas whether the migrants would be prevented from entering the country en masse or whether their cases would be evaluated on an individual basis.
“Senator, when people present themselves at our border, we apply the laws of our nation to determine whether they qualify for relief under our humanitarian laws or whether they don’t,” Mayorkas said.
Watch the video below:
Sen. Mitt Romney: "What is your intention with regards to that caravan that is coming to our border — is your intention to allow them to come into the country will they be stopped?"— The Hill (@thehill) January 19, 2021
Alejandro Mayorkas: "Senator, We are a nation of immigrants. And we are also a nation of laws." pic.twitter.com/Hz7xZmpFYd
His answer did not appear to satisfy the Utah senator who claimed it was “uncertain” what he was saying.
Romney asked, “I presume that means that they will not be allowed just to come into the country, that these people will be stopped at the border and processed one by one, is that correct?”
“Senator, I apologize if I was uncertain. If people qualify under the law to remain in the United States then we will apply the law accordingly. If they do not qualify to remain in the United States, then they won’t,” Mayorkas said.
During the presidential campaign, Biden vowed to rollback strict immigration policies enacted by the Trump administration.
However, as thousands of migrants are headed toward the border, the Biden transition team is warning that the “situation at the border isn’t going to be transformed overnight.” It is unlikely that the new administration would be able to quickly set up systems to process the surge of migrants.
Still, a reported 9,000 Honduran migrants are headed to the U.S. as they flee a region devastated by natural disasters and food scarcity. They are expected to arrive at the border within weeks.