Durbin Discusses American Global Leadership with Tony Blinken, Biden Nominee for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Tony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of State.  During their Zoom call, Durbin and Blinken discussed the need to reestablish America’s leading role in the world, including to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the global refugee crisis, access to clean water, and supporting Venezuelan Interim-President Juan Guaido and democracy in Venezuela. Durbin and Blinken also spoke about the threats posed from nations like Russia and China.

“Under President Trump, the State Department took a drastic step backwards as America retreated from the global stage and cowered to our enemies abroad. I look forward to working with Tony Blinken to reestablish America’s leading role in the world, including when it comes to addressing the worst refugee crisis since World War II, supporting democracy in Venezuela, and ensuring we stand up to threats posed by Russia and China,” Durbin said. 

A photo of Durbin’s Zoom call is available here. 

Since the enactment of the Refugee Act of 1980, the United States resettled an average of more than 80,000 refugees per year.  However, the Trump Administration has set the annual refugee admissions target at embarrassingly low numbers for four years in a row.  In Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, the Administration set a target of 45,000 refugees and ultimately allowed just 22,507 refugees into the United States.  In FY 2019, the Administration slashed the target to just 30,000, which was the number of refugees ultimately admitted.  Last fiscal year, the Administration set a target of only 18,000 refugees and just 11,814 refugees were admitted. In FY 2021, the Trump Administration has dropped America’s moral standing to a new low by setting a refugee admissions goal of only 15,000—the lowest target in history. 

Last Congress, Durbin, along with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Venezuela Temporary Protected Status Act of 2019, a bill to immediately grant TPS for eligible Venezuelans fleeing the dire conditions in their home country and to strengthen migration systems in the countries surrounding Venezuela.  

In April 2019, Durbin joined Menendez in introducing the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development Act (VERDAD ACT) of 2019.  The legislation significantly increases U.S. humanitarian assistance, expands current tools to address kleptocracy, formally recognizes and supports the Interim President of Venezuela’s efforts to restore democracy and prosperity in the country, and accelerates planning with international financial institutions to advance the country’s post-Maduro reconstruction.

Durbin traveled to Venezuela in 2018 where he met with then-President Nicolas Maduro, members of the opposition including Juan Guaidó, the President of the National Assembly, the Ministers of Health and Nutrition, business leaders, civil society groups, doctors, and humanitarian organizations.