“It’s a huge challenge and we basically have an invasion taking place on the southern border,” said Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.). “I know we have to deal with this in a humanitarian way, and I’m all for it. And we are also a law enforcement nation and without it we create chaos. “
Garland told a House supply subcommittee the administration is proposing a 21% increase in immigration court funding to help clear a backlog of 1.3 million cases the Trump administration has started to be reduced before inflating due to closures and slowdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am very concerned about the backlog. I think that obviously doesn’t work for the people who are part of the system and who don’t work for the government, ”the attorney general said.
Garland pointed out that frontline border enforcement is handled by the Department of Homeland Security. “They have primary responsibility at the border… We have a large number of American lawyers at the border who pursue cases brought to them.”
A Democrat, Rep. Ed Case of Hawaii, also lobbied Garland on immigration issues. Case said delays in the immigration court process are encouraging human traffickers to send more foreigners to the United States illegally.
“It seems pretty obvious that the delay in arbitration, especially on the asylum side, is directly handled by those who engage in human trafficking,” Case said.
Garland said Biden’s budget proposal to add 100 immigration judges as well as support staff should help reduce the backlog.
“It’s very difficult to predict what the reduction will be, but with this kind of multi-pronged attack on the problem, the impact is expected to be very substantial,” the attorney general said. However, he ignored a question from Case on whether the asylum laws needed to be revised – something the predecessors of Garland’s Trump administration insisted strongly.
Garland also gave a puzzling answer on gun buybacks, referring to the program as a way to take guns from ineligible people for possession due to felony convictions. The Biden administration has touted the effort as a larger, willful effort to try to reduce the number of assault weapons on the streets.
Republicans have also questioned changes made by the Biden administration to civil rights programs, including budget increases for community relations service ombudsmen and the return to broad inquiries into policing practices and models. involved in shootings of black Americans.
Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) Called the recent moves back to the Obama administration’s “tough and constitutionally troubling” policies. He also expressed doubts about new funding for what he called “sensitivity training programs” for the police and said the changes in funding “would likely come at the expense of higher national priorities.”
“It is important to know or assess the compromises that are made. Your budget summary only tells one side of the story, ”he told Garland.
The only mention of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol came during the opening remarks of the subcommittee chair, Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), But no one pressed Garland on the status of the sprawling investigation.
Aderholt lobbied Garland over another violent episode: the 2017 shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. asked the attorney general to explore and overturn an FBI decision to classify the shooting as suicide by a police officer rather than domestic terrorism.
Aderholt criticized the response he received last week on the question from senior FBI official Jill Sanborn. Testifying before the same House panel, she appeared to defend the description of the effort, but also said it would likely qualify as domestic terrorism under current practices.
“Unfortunately, I think the response I received was totally unsatisfactory. As Attorney General, are you in a position to correct this obvious mistake? Aderholt asked. “Many members of Congress could have lost their lives in this situation.”
Garland said he was aware of the controversy but had yet to find out why the FBI had changed its mind about the incident.
“I’m not sure enough about what classification means at this point, but I promise I will raise this issue with the FBI,” the attorney general said.