Attorney General Merrick Garland said his Justice Department does not believe in defunding the police and agreed with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that "the immigration system is broken" during wide-ranging Senate testimony Wednesday.
Customs and Border Protection announced Wednesday that it had encountered 180,034 migrants at the southern border last month – the highest number in the past three months, even as March and April saw their highest totals in years. That brings the year-to-date total for fiscal year 2021 to 930,000, and authorities expect to cross the million mark within days.
"I think this DOJ does not believe in defunding the police, [we] believe in supporting the police," he said, in response to Graham’s questioning about whether police departments had been hamstrung over the past year. "We need trust, also believe in holding police accountable."
Left-wing calls to defund police departments around the country have grown more common over the past year, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day 2020.
Proposals range from rerouting money budgeted for police departments to social services or even abolishing departments entirely.
Garland was answering questions from the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee regarding the DOJ budget.
He also discussed recent ransomware attacks, the DOJ’s new guidance on "Red Flag" laws, which he said "protect gun owners’ due process rights but also protect potential victims," and a string of recent decisions that caused the White House to distance itself from Garland’s DOJ.
In an exchange with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., he defended his decision to double down on some high-profile decisions of his predecessor, former Attorney General Bill Barr.
"The job of the DOJ is not to back an administration, our job is to represent the American people," he said.
Garland has received criticism from the left for agreeing with some of Barr’s decisions, including by defending former President Donald Trump in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case and by fighting the release of a Trump-era memo related to the Mueller probe.
He also mentioned the DOJ’s recent policy change to halt seizing communication records from reporters covering leaked information – a departure from both the Trump and Obama DOJs.
"We have adopted a policy which is the most protective of journalist’s ability to do their jobs in history," he said. "We will not use compulsory process in leak investigations to require reporters to provide information about their sources, when they're doing their job as reporters."
Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Kelly Laco contributed to this report.