(CNN) –– Domestic terrorism is “one of the greatest threats” to the United States, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, told CNN on Wednesday. The official stressed that the threat persists.
“Seeing the insurrection, the gruesome events of January 6, was not only personally devastating. It also created a commitment in me to redouble our efforts, to fight hatred. And to combat one of the greatest threats that we currently face in our homeland, which is the threat of internal terrorism, “Mayorkas said in an interview with Ana Cabrera of CNN, which was broadcast on the program” The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer. ” .
Mayorkas took the oath of office on Tuesday. He is the first Secretary of Homeland Security confirmed by the Senate in nearly two years. He will now need to oversee the department’s extensive mission, which includes cybersecurity, immigration, and COVID-19 response, among many others. Mayorkas is also the first Latino and immigrant to head the department.
The secretary stressed that the threat of internal terrorism “is persistent.” In that regard, he said the department will continue to work with its state and local partners to combat it. Mayorkas admitted that one of the challenges is identifying “where the line lies between hateful rhetoric and hateful action.”
A central concern
The concern was reiterated by the department’s acting undersecretary, David Pekoske. The official noted Wednesday that domestic violent extremism is a “special area of concern” with respect to Super Bowl weekend. Pekoske made his comments during a news conference with the NFL and other security officials.
The Department of Homeland Security is also at the forefront in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and helping to enforce the use of masks.
On Sunday, the department said that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers have the authority to enforce President Joe Biden’s mandatory mask order at TSA checkpoints and in the entire public and commercial transport system.
“Compliance with these directives is frankly a challenge. We rely, at least in part, on the voluntary compliance of the American public. Let the death toll itself be a mandate for people to wear masks, to distance themselves appropriately, and to take the necessary precautions to protect the health and well-being of others, “Mayorkas told CNN.
The priority of immigration for Mayorkas
Mandatory mask use is one of the ways the Biden administration has distanced itself from the previous administration. Another point that differentiates the two terms is in how they have approached immigration.
Mayorkas, who has set an empathetic tone, said in conversation with CNN: “The cruelty of the previous administration has come to an end.”
In fact, the secretary will chair the working group focused on reunifying separated families on the border between the United States and Mexico. Mayorkas appeared to choke when asked what she had thought when she heard the screams of children who were separated from their parents under the Trump administration.
I am a father. I am a husband. I am a son. I am a brother. I had never heard pain as sharp and heartbreaking as that before. And it is our commitment to ensure that the pain is not felt again, “he said.
During his presidential campaign, Biden vowed to establish a task force focused on identifying and reuniting separated families on the southern border under the Trump administration’s controversial “zero tolerance” policy. The current administration team, announced Tuesday, stems from that promise.
The task force will be in charge of identifying all children separated from their parents or legal guardians at the border. Also, facilitate and allow the reunification of children with their families. As well as providing periodic reports to the president, including one with recommendations.
“Our responsibility is to bring families together and support and facilitate their healing,” Mayorkas said. In this regard, he added that this could include medical care and use authorities in the immigration system.
Other immigration measures
The establishment of the task force was one of the immigration decrees that Biden signed on Tuesday. The measures are largely aimed at reviewing policies and have no immediate impact. A concern for immigration activists and lawyers struggling to find answers about the future of migrants subject to Trump-era policies.
Mayorkas said he has been involved in discussions about ending the Trump-era policy that requires migrants, some seeking asylum in the United States, wait in Mexico until your court dates. Thousands continue to wait in squalor and often dangerous conditions.
“The urgency of that cannot be overstated either,” Mayorkas added.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism