Durbin Delivers Opening Statement During Senate Judiciary Committee Oversight Hearing With DHS Secretary Mayorkas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security,” featuring testimony from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

During his remarks, Durbin spoke on the horrific mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, that left three children and three adults dead.  Yesterday’s school shooting was the 129th mass shooting in America so far this year, despite being fewer than 90 days into 2023. 

Key Quotes:

“I think you have one of the most difficult jobs in the Administration… The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for safeguarding our nation facing a broad range of challenges.” 

“These include helping communities respond to the horrible—and uniquely American—phenomenon of mass shootings, like the tragedy in Nashville; responding to natural disasters like the tornados that devastated Rolling Fork, Mississippi; combating terrorism and the rising tide of domestic violent extremism; addressing the surge in cyberattacks against our schools, businesses, and critical infrastructure; overseeing our nation’s borders, immigration system, and transportation security; and that’s just the beginning.”

“While the Biden Administration has taken important steps to confront these challenges, Congress must remain vigilant and do its part to provide the tools and resources to address them.”

“It is easy to criticize, but every member of Congress needs to look in the mirror.  Only Congress can actually fix our broken immigration system.  I have tried for many years to pass bipartisan immigration reform.  But many have stood in the way and have said nothing.  They don’t want any part of a solution.”

“There is a serious, deadly problem with fentanyl flowing into the United States from two major Mexican cartels.  It requires urgent action.  But we must be clear-eyed about what we’re doing… The reality is that DHS is working aggressively.  The Department just started a new coordinated surge operation, Operation Blue Lotus, which stopped more than 900 pounds of fentanyl from coming into the United States in its first week.” 

“I also should note the obvious—our legal immigration system needs to be changed, especially at a time when our country has a desperate need for more workers.  We have 11 million unfilled jobs in this country and I hear constantly from employers in my state about the need for more workers—health care workers, agricultural workers, and more.” 

“Whether we are discussing our southern border or the need for workers, the conclusion is the same: Congress needs to hold you accountable, yes, but we also need to stop pointing fingers and act ourselves.  We should start working together on a bipartisan basis to fix our immigration system today... Dreamers cannot wait any longer for a path to citizenship.  Our communities are desperate for new immigrant workers, and DHS needs adequate resources to secure our southern border.”

“All of us on this Committee have a choice: we can blame the Secretary for a broken system that we share the responsibility to fix—or we can come together on a bipartisan basis to do our jobs.”  

The hearing continues Chair Durbin’s work to revitalize the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight of agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including by holding regular oversight hearings.  It marks the second DHS oversight hearing under Durbin, as well as under the Biden administration. In 2021, Durbin and the Committee held the first DHS oversight hearing since January 16, 2018 – the lone occasion that the Committee held a DHS oversight hearing during the four years of the Trump administration.

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.