Durbin Questions President Trump's AG Nominee On Immigration, Criminal Justice Reform

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, on his views regarding immigration and criminal justice during the first day of his confirmation hearings.

Speaking to Mr. Barr about the Trump Administration’s disastrous child separation policy, Durbin said, “Our government is shutdown now over the issues of border security and immigration, and the Attorney General plays a central role – which many people don’t know as they look at the Department of Homeland Security for most of the action on the issue of immigration.  You have alluded in your opening statement to stopping people from crashing through the border, breaking and flouting the laws.  But young children, for the most part, are being brought to this country by their parents to seek asylum.  You can present yourself at America’s border and seek asylum legally, can you not?”

“Yes, Senator, you can,” Mr. Barr responded.

Durbin continued, “So separating those children from their parents in an effort, as Attorney General Sessions explained, to get tough with families presenting themselves at the border was a policy decision on his part.  Do you agree with that policy decision?

Mr. Barr refused to say whether he agrees with the Trump Administration’s child separation policy.

Video of Durbin’s remarks in the Senate Judiciary Committee are available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in the Senate Judiciary Committee is available here.

Durbin also asked Mr. Barr for his assurance that, if confirmed as Attorney General, he will help implement the recently passed bipartisan First Step Act, and help craft the next step in reforming our criminal justice system.  As recently as December 2015, Mr. Barr joined a letter to Congress opposing an earlier version of the bill that became the First Step Act.