AG Merrick Garland Says He Does Not Know How Many Illegal Aliens are Being Prosecuted for Crossing Border

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 21: Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on October 21, 2021 in Washington, DC. Garland took questions on the Department of Justice's ongoing investigations including the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capital. (Photo by …
Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland told lawmakers that he does not know how many illegal aliens are being prosecuted for crossing United States borders despite a surge in illegal immigration.

During a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Garland admitted during an exchange with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) that he is unaware of how many illegal aliens are being prosecuted for illegal immigration.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” Garland said when asked for the figure.

Likewise, Garland said he did not know how many employers the Department of Justice (DOJ) is prosecuting for hiring illegal aliens, even though at least eight million illegal aliens are illegally employed in the U.S.

The full exchange went as follows:

MCCLINTOCK: We’ve seen the highest number of arrests of people illegally crossing our border in the history of our country — 1.7 million arrests this year. It is a federal crime to cross the border outside a port of entry, is it not?

GARLAND: Yes it’s a misdemeanor, that’s true.

MCCLINTOCK: Well, your job is to prosecute federal crimes. How many have you actually prosecuted of that 1.7 million?

GARLAND: So the Justice Department doesn’t make those arrests, those are made by Homeland…

MCCLINTOCK: No, no, but the Justice Department is responsible for prosecuting them. How many are you prosecuting?

GARLAND: I don’t know the answer to that. But … referred by the…

MCCLINTOCK: Wait, wait a second. You know exactly how many people you’re prosecuting for the riot on January 6, but you can’t even give me a ballpark guess of how many people you’re prosecuting of the 1.7 million who have illegally crossed our border, committed a federal crime in doing so?

GARLAND: I don’t have that number on the top of my head but I’d be happy to have our staff get back to you.

MCCLINTOCK: Do you think that the failure to prosecute illegal border crossings might have something to do with the fact that our border is now being overwhelmed by illegal immigrants, who tell reporters that they wouldn’t have considered making that trip under the Donald Trump administration?

GARLAND: I think there are a substantial number of issues driving migration towards the United States, to the pandemic…

MCCLINTOCK: Well, if you ask the migrants, they’ll tell you specifically what’s driving it. They can do it now, they can get in … Gallup tells us that there are about 42 million people living just in Latin America and the Caribbean who intend to come to the United States if they can based upon their polling. A lot of people come on temporary visas and then they fail to leave when those visas expire, again, in violation of federal law. Do you believe those who illegally overstay their visas should respect our laws and return to their home countries?

GARLAND: I think that they should respect our laws. It’s up to the Department of Homeland Security to make determinations…

MCCLINTOCK: And yet, the administration is proposing amnesty to most visa overstays … including those who have visas that have yet to expire. So what you’re telling us and what you are doing are two very different things. Let me go on, it’s unlawful for an employer to unknowingly hire an illegal alien. How many prosecutions are you pursuing under this law?

GARLAND: Again, I don’t know the number off the top of my head but I’d be happy to have staff to try to get back to you.

MCCLINTOCK: It shocks me, given the fact that this is now a historic high on illegal border crossings, you’re the chief law enforcement officer for our country, you come here before this committee, you devote not a word in your spoken remarks to this issue, you devote in a 10-page written statement, one paragraph simply saying we need to expedite the immigration proceedings for asylum claims. I find that astonishing. Let me ask you this, do you agree that an alien who has received proper notice of his or her immigration court hearing who fails to appear at that hearing … and is ordered removed in absentia should be removed from this country?

GARLAND: I’m not really familiar with the exact circumstance you’re talking about. There are rules about removal…

MCCLINTOCK: When someone … if someone is ordered deported by a court, should they be removed?

GARLAND: They’re ordered deported by a court, then we have an obligation to follow the court’s order.

MCCLINTOCK: And yet the president’s order opening day in office instructed … Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to conduct such deportations.

GARLAND: I’m not familiar with the specific thing you’re talking about. I’m sorry.

Garland’s admission comes after reports that the number of illegal aliens arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year hit a record-breaking 1.7 million — the highest in the nation’s history. The overwhelming majority occurred after President Joe Biden took office in late January and gutted border controls and interior immigration enforcement.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at Follow him on Twitter here.


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