Biden homeland security nominee Mayorkas calls Capitol attack ‘horrifying’

He said a similar act would not occur again in the US

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President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security spoke of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol at the start of his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Alejandro Mayorkas said in his opening remarks to the hearing that the January 6 pro-Trump riot was "horrifying" and authorities still had much to learn about what happened that day and what led to the insurrection.

Mr Mayorkas said that as secretary of homeland security, he would do everything he could to ensure that “the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff and everyone present will not happen again”.

He said the incoming administration had yet to decide what it would do with the already completed sections of Mexican border wall built under President Donald Trump.

Previous administrations, both Democrat and Republican, have built barriers and walls along the southwest border, but Mr Trump made it a signature project to expand the wall and built about 450 miles of new sections.

Mr Mayorkas said that Mr Biden had committed to halting Mr Trump's wall project but that he would have to study the costs and benefits of tearing down sections of it.

He noted that when he served as deputy secretary for homeland security, he was told by Border Patrol officials that a combination of barriers, additional agents, technology and equipment was needed.

“What I heard is we need a diverse approach to border security,” he said.

If confirmed, the former federal prosecutor and senior homeland security official under former president Barack Obama would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the department. He would lead one of the largest agencies in the government that enforces the nation’s immigration laws and runs the immigration services agency as well as components such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and civilian cybersecurity.