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  • As the head of DHS,

  • Secretary Mayorkas has a lot on his plate.

  • He has to deal with immigration and the border,

  • but also his agency is  responsible for helping businesses

  • protect themselves from being hacked.

  • We just had a major hack that shutdown a pipeline, for example.

  • He also is in charge of protecting airports,

  • being part of the counter-terrorism mission,

  • keeping bombs off planes.

  • And he also has to think about the emerging threat

  • of domestic violence extremism

  • in the wake of the insurrection  at the Capitol building.

  • So there's a lot of hot issues that  are coming to his desk right now.

  • We asked him about the border

  • and how he is handling the situation there.

  • He went to the Rio Grande Valley and talked

  • about how the number of children that

  • had been in Border Patrol facilities

  • had decreased drastically from April.

  • First of all, the Border Patrol  station is no place for a child.

  • So our immediate responsibility is get them out

  • of the Border Patrol station  as quickly as possible

  • and into the shelter and care of

  • the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • We have dedicated more than  300 Asylum and Refugee officers

  • to assist in case management to contract the time

  • that a child is in HHS custody before

  • unification with the parent or legal guardian

  • here in the U.S.

  • We refuse to say that we will not reunite

  • all the families.

  • And we are committed to reuniting the families

  • as fast as we can.

  • We recognize, number one, that we're dealing

  • with records that we are only now bringing

  • some level of completeness and order to.

  • They were in complete shambles.

  • We're dealing with such intangibles such as

  • individuals' reluctance to  come forward to be reunited.

  • We have trust deficits to overcome by reason

  • of the cruelty of the past.

  • And quite frankly, some people are hard to find.

  • [Bennett]: What do you say to parents considering sending

  • their children across the border right now?

  • [Mayorkas]: Don't do it.

  • [Bennett]: Why not?

  • [Mayorkas]: The border is not open.

  • The danger of the journey  is so extraordinarily acute,

  • and we are building alternatives,

  • legal pathways to assess the  eligibility of individuals

  • to actually receive relief under U.S. law.

  • And don't risk your children's lives, which

  • and they are at risk in the hands of smugglers.

  • Don't do it.

  • [Bennett]: Secretary Mayorkas is the first immigrant,

  • who was born overseas, came  to the U.S. as a child,

  • to take on the role of leading this department.

  • He was born in Cuba, came with his family

  • after the rise of Fidel  Castro's communism government

  • and he brings a different perspective to the job,

  • a different perspective to the department

  • because of that family background that he has.

  • My first interview asgovernment--federal government

  • employee in the Obama administration,

  • the reporter, the first question I got was,

  • 'so you used to be Cuban,'

  • and then she asked me a questionwhich I didn't even hear

  • because I was stuck on the preamble.

  • Am I no longer Cuban? Do we lose our past

  • based on where we are now?

  • [Abramson]: What did you say?

  • [Mayorkas]: I said, I said that's just a no.

  • I haven't lost that. I'm a Cuban-American.

  • I'm a United States citizen,

  • I'm not a citizen of Cuba but  I haven't lost my heritage.

  • I think my family's experience and my own

  • influences my judgement, influences my perspective

  • on the world, on life, and on addressing the needs

  • of the American public, and  the needs of the migrants,

  • and the decisions we make.

  • It's who I am.

  • [Bennett]: Some are calling

  • for you to ignore criminal histories

  • in making deportation decisions, you know,

  • given the pattern of racially biased policing

  • in some cities in the country.

  • Will you consider ignoring criminal convictions

  • in deportation decisions?

  • [Mayorkas]: Brian, when you ask that question do you mean

  • ignoring them entirely?

  • Or factoring them into the decision in the

  • exercise of discretion? I would, you can see

  • by my response, which I put in question mark,

  • in question form, my answer, which is no

  • we will not ignore criminal history but we will

  • evaluate criminal history in determining whether

  • an individual poses a public safety threat.

  • I don't expect there to be unanimity of view

  • with respect to the guidelines  that I ultimately promulgate.

  • [Abrams]: Do you believe that Russia was involved at all

  • in the attack on the pipeline?

  • [Mayorkas]: There's no evidence

  • to suggest that it was at this point.

  • The evidence suggests that  it was criminal conduct.

  • [Bennett]: Do you feel like you have a handle

  • on internal threats

  • inside the department when it  comes to violent extremists?

  • [Mayorkas]: So that

  • presupposes the existence of violent extremists

  • within the department as  distinguished from ideologies

  • that I might find offensive  but that individuals are

  • of course free to hold.

  • Our obligation and my obligation  as the leader of this department

  • is to ensure that we do not  have violent extremists within

  • our ranks because that speaks  of a connection between

  • an ideology and the violence that it might breed.

  • That's our responsibility  and that's why I directed

  • the internal review that I did.

  • [Bennett]: DHS deployed federal agents  to quell protests during civic

  • unrest last summer. Do you  think that was an appropriate

  • use of agency resources?

  • [Mayorkas]: I think that agency resources

  • can be deployed according to authorities

  • of delegation to assist the  federal protective service

  • in protecting federal property  and people on federal property.

  • I think that is appropriate.

  • Whether they have the appropriate  training, the appropriate equipment,

  • whether they employ the  appropriate tactics in addressing

  • that responsibility is a separate question.

  • And quite frankly, we are reviewing  and revising substantially

  • the training protocols, the  equipment protocols, and the tactics.

  • [Bennett]: Do you think

  • the way that DHS officials  acted in the Portland protests

  • last summer hurt the reputation of the department?

  • [Mayorkas]: Yes.

  • [Abrams]: What are you doing to restore

  • trust in the department,

  • as a result of that specific incident?

  • [Mayorkas]: Yeah, because I

  • was about to say the work that I am doing

  • every gosh darn single, single day.

  • I work really, really hard.

  • Really, really. Well--

  • How does one not work incredible hard

  • in this job?

  • Or as an Assistant U.S. Attorney?

  • How does one not work this hard?

  • I mean, just from the point  of view of responsibility

  • as well as opportunity,

  • to execute responsibility really, really well.

  • Justice is a very individualized determination.

  • And ultimately

  • it rests

  • or depends upon the hands in whom it rests.

As the head of DHS,

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TIME Interviews Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas

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    joey joey posted on 2021/05/27
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