Durbin To Republican Colleagues: Stop Blaming DHS And Start Working With Democrats To Reform Our Broken Immigration System

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor today, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke about Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee oversight hearing—the Committee’s second oversight hearing of the year and the second oversight hearing of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since Durbin became chair in 2021.  During his speech, Durbin called out his Republican colleagues for criticizing DHS Secretary Mayorkas—and President Biden—for the challenges at the southern border when Congress has failed to reform our broken immigration system for more than 30 years.  Durbin called on his Republican colleagues to work with Democrats in good faith to fix our immigration system.

“When I took the gavel as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of my first goals and objectives was to restore the Committee’s oversight role.  Since the beginning of the 117th Congress, we’ve kept close watch on those agencies in the Executive Branch, which are within our jurisdiction.  We’ve held oversight hearings on the Justice Department, FBI, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, to mention a few,” Durbin said.  “This last Tuesday, we continued that tradition with a second oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security.  It’s worth noting that under the previous administration—the previous President—the Homeland Security Secretary only appeared before our Committee one time in four years.”

Durbin continued, “As I mentioned on Tuesday, I think Secretary Mayorkas has one of the hardest jobs in Washington.  Department of Homeland Security is responsible for defending our nation from a wide range of threats, from domestic terrorism, narcotics trafficking, climate crisis, even cyber-attacks.  But despite this broad mandate, our discussion kept returning to one subject last Tuesday: America’s broken immigration system.  It was interesting to hear the Republican Senators on my Committee critical of the job that Mr. Mayorkas is doing as head of DHS, while at the same time it has been over 30 years since this body, the United States Senate, has enacted legislation to upgrade and modernize our immigration system… It’s easy to criticize Secretary Mayorkas about our border situation, and he faces some amazing challenges.  But let’s face it, we share in the responsibility for this situation and we certainly share in the burden of coming up with solutions that help.”

Durbin concluded, “So here’s the question after this week’s hearing: Are we going to keep pointing our fingers and mugging for the cameras?  Or are we going to come together to fix the immigration system?  I’m ready.  I certainly hope the members of the House are ready.  But we need a bipartisan consensus to get that done.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.

In 2013, Durbin was a member of the “Gang of Eight” – four Democrats and four Republicans – that drafted a comprehensive immigration reform package.  The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it.