President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s pick to lead Homeland Security flatly rejected defunding ICE, telling senators on Tuesday he is committed to enforcing the laws on the books.
But Alejandro Mayorkas, the prospective nominee, would not commit to expanding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying instead that he needs “to study the condition” of the agency and how it’s using its resources.
He said he’s not yet ready to commit to a position on President Trump’s border wall construction, nor whether he would recommend taking down some of the more than 450 miles of new wall erected under Mr. Trump.
“I haven’t looked at that,” he said, adding that he doesn’t see the border as “monolithic” and said solutions may differ across the 1,950-mile boundary with Mexico.
He also sidestepped questions about a new migrant caravan heading north toward the U.S., saying only that the laws will be applied to them and those who qualify for a place in the U.S. will be admitted.
Mr. Mayorkas was testifying to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ahead of his expected nomination when Mr. Biden takes office on Wednesday.
If confirmed, Mr. Mayorkas will be under intense pressure from immigrant-rights groups to reel in the immigration enforcement agencies he would oversee, including ICE.
Some of those groups, who are challenging in court the funding Mr. Trump has used to erect some of his border wall, have said if they prevail in those cases they will ask that wall built with that money be torn down.
That could put Mr. Biden and his team in a tricky position.
The president-elect has said he won’t build any more wall, but suggested he doesn’t want to erase existing barriers.