The nominee for the Secretary of Homeland Security of the incoming Biden administration pledged on Tuesday to take action for applying US asylum laws for undocumented immigrants.
Alejandro Mayorkas, who did not address his plan of action for the Honduran caravan inbound for the US, told a Senate committee that the administration would not follow Trump's policy for the southern US border.
Mayorkas, a Cuba-born immigrant, said that the migrants will be able to apply for asylum and be provided with the opportunity to have their cases reviewed by the authorities, a practice which was practically non-existent under the Trump administration.
Mayorkas said, "There is a commitment to follow our asylum laws, to enforce our asylum laws. That means to provide humanitarian relief for those individuals who qualify for it". He added, "it will take time to build the infrastructure and capacity."
Mayorkas could face his first challenge if approved with some 4,000 migrants who have been trying to reach the US-Mexico border from Honduras.
A day before the announcement, security forces in Guatemala were forced to break up and disperse the caravan with force, who were occupying essential roads of the town of Vada Hondo.
Pressed on what he would do if they eventually reach the US border, Mayorkas said the asylum law would be applied.
He said, "This is not the first caravan, that has apparently approached the border over the last four years or ... over the last 12 years. 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. If they do not qualify to remain in the United States, then they won't."
Mayorkas affirmed that the Biden administration would terminate the work of erecting a wall along the US-Mexican border. However, no comment was made on bringing down the barriers already installed by the outgoing US President.
Mayorkas, 61, is a former federal prosecutor who ran US immigration services and then was DHS deputy secretary during the Obama-Biden administration.
The 61-year-old was the former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration and also acted as a federal prosecutor who ran US immigration services.
He oversaw the implementation of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, meant to offer a way to citizenship for millions of longtime US residents who entered the country illegally.
While Trump attempted to rule the program illegal, Biden is pledging to resuscitate it and to provide permanent citizenship to those who qualify under it.
If confirmed, Mayorkas said he did not envision radical changes to the sprawling, 240,000-strong DHS bureaucracy, whose mission is focused firstly on protecting the country from terror and cyber attacks and natural disasters.
Under Trump the department was heavily politicized and a number of key posts were left unfilled.
The call for the elimination of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency was ducked by Mayorkas, which were the basis of Trump's decisions of expelling most undocumented immigrants.