Durbin Questions AG Garland & DHS Secretary Mayorkas On Domestic Terrorism & Border Security

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today asked questions during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on domestic violent extremism with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Durbin asked Attorney General Garland how the Department of Justice (DOJ) is addressing the possibility that members of law enforcement were involved in the January 6 insurrection.

“[After] the January 6 insurrection, New York Police Department Officer Thomas Webster has been charged with assaulting a D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer during the attack. Body camera footage shows Webster attacking the Metropolitan Police Department Officer with a metal flagpole, tackling him, and trying to rip off his face shield and gas mask. This raises a question, which is painful to consider, but we have to consider it. And that is whether or not in the ranks of law enforcement, either at the federal level or state and local level, there are those who would use their political beliefs in a manner which are inconsistent with your earlier statement. What are your thoughts about how we can deal with this?” Durbin said.

Garland answered by stating that one of the most difficult problems he has in combatting domestic terrorism is balancing the First Amendment’s free association and free speech rights with the protection of our communities against criminal acts. Garland said that DOJ is currently determining how to vet its own employees while being mindful of First Amendment rights, but being careful to prevent including people in its ranks who would commit criminal acts. He concluded by saying DOJ can also use its grant funding to increase training and awareness programs to recognize domestic violent extremism, especially at the state and local level.

Durbin then asked Secretary Mayorkas about Republican attacks on DHS procedures related to immigration enforcement and unaccompanied migrant children in DHS custody, and whether or not DHS has stopped the cruel family separation policy started during the Trump Administration.

Mayorkas said it is DHS’s priority to secure the border and that the Administration is dedicated to a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system. He said families are placed into immigration proceedings pursuant to the law. Mayorkas also stated unequivocally that DHS no longer separates children from their parents, and unaccompanied minors are moved as quickly as possible from DHS custody to the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. From there, the Administration works to reunite that minor with a parent, legal guardian, or qualified sponsor in the United States.

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.