November 16, 2021

Durbin Delivers Opening Statement in Senate Judiciary Committee DHS Oversight Hearing

Today’s hearing is the first Senate Judiciary Committee DHS oversight hearing since January 16, 2018 - the lone occasion during the four years of the Trump Administration

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  Durbin spoke about the chaos that DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas inherited after four years of the Trump Administration, as well as Congress’ responsibility to fix our nation’s broken immigration system.  He continued to push DHS to do more to thwart domestic terrorism and violent white supremacy and restore America’s longstanding bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees. 

This is the first Senate Judiciary Committee DHS oversight hearing since January 16, 2018 – the lone occasion during the four years of the Trump Administration that the Committee held an agency-wide DHS oversight hearing.  Annual DHS oversight hearings were routine occurrences under the Obama Administration, and Durbin is committed to restoring this tradition as Chair. 

Key quotes:

“Secretary Mayorkas inherited a Department that was really in chaos.  Under President Trump, DHS lurched from one Secretary or Acting Secretary to the next – six in total, only two of whom were Senate-confirmed.”

“Last October – during the previous Administration – a DHS assessment of domestic terrorism… found that violent white supremacy is ‘the most persistent and lethal threat in the homeland.’  I have been sounding the alarm about this threat for many years.  In 2012, I held a hearing following the massacre by a white supremacist of six worshippers at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin…  As the January 6th attack on the Capitol demonstrated, for too long our federal government has failed to address the growing terrorist menace in our backyard.  I look forward to hearing from the Secretary on this and other important issues facing the agency and what Congress can do to safeguard our nation.”

“My Republican colleagues have strongly held views about the Biden Administration and immigration… It almost seems that they would like us to return to the policies of the Trump Administration and perhaps some do.  Let me remind the Committee – not only were President Trump’s policies often inhumane and unlawful, they also failed to secure our border and fix our badly broken immigration system.”

“Let me be clear – I believe we can secure our border while treating people humanely. It is not only possible to do so, it is necessary.  I look forward to hearing from you about the steps you’re taking to enhance security, crack down on international criminal organizations and particularly migrant smuggling, and to expedite asylum processing.”

“I also look forward to hearing what you are doing to restore America’s longstanding bipartisan tradition of welcoming refugees.  In the midst of the largest refugee crisis in the history of the world, the Trump Administration set record lows for refugee admissions four years in a row.”

“It is easy to criticize the executive branch, but every member of this Committee needs to look in the mirror as well.  Only Congress can actually fix our broken immigration system.  Of course I’m concerned about the crisis at the Southern Border, every member of Congress should be.  The question is, not only what happened but what are we going to do about it?”

“I have tried for many years to pass [bipartisan immigration reform] legislation.  Unfortunately, many times some Republicans obstructed.  They filibustered the Dream Act five separate times and the Republican-controlled House blocked the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform [bill] that would have invested tens of billions of dollars in securing our border.”

“This year I convened bipartisan immigration negotiations over several months.  We were unable to make progress… But now we have another chance.  I’m working to pass immigration reform through the reconciliation process… I hope it is achieved.” 

Video of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s opening statement is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s opening statement is available here for TV Stations.

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