Editor’s Note: U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the committee’s vote on the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
A strong and effective Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one that safeguards the American people, our homeland, and our values. Under the leadership of this Administration, those values have been threatened, and misplaced priorities have undermined our public safety. After reviewing Kirstjen Nielsen’s testimony and record, I cannot support her nomination to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
As a top official in President Trump’s Administration at both the White House and at DHS, Nielsen has played a role in the development and implementation of the unconstitutional Muslim bans, the termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the feeble response to Hurricanes Irma, María and Harvey. Furthermore, Nielsen’s failure to acknowledge how human behavior contributes to climate change, and recognize its impact on states like California at risk of wildfires, floods, and rising sea levels is deeply troubling. And following recent reports of the White House’s political interference at DHS surrounding the expulsion of thousands of Hondurans, questions remain about Nielsen’s ability to maintain independence from the White House as she makes critical law enforcement and national security decisions for the country.
If confirmed, I will continue to exercise my role in the oversight of this Department. I was initially encouraged by the multiple commitments Nielsen made to me during her confirmation hearing and in our private meeting. Those commitments include ensuring DACA recipients will not be an immigration enforcement priority for the Department while a permanent fix is debated, barring the sharing of Dreamers’ personal information for enforcement purposes, agreeing to prioritize immigration enforcement operations to focus on violent and serious crimes, protecting sensitive locations such as schools and hospitals from enforcement actions and a commitment to share any policy memos they are planning to implement affecting the processing of unaccompanied minors. However, the nominee’s equivocation on protecting Dreamers, effectively setting and implementing enforcement priorities, and disregarding internal reports exposing DHS’ management failures in subsequent written responses on these topics is unacceptable.
As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, my top priority for Californians and the American people remains keeping them safe, and maintaining trust between the government and the people we serve.
Kamala D. Harris is a U.S. Senator representing California, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
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