WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who set off a national firestorm by shedding light on the child separation policy and other human rights abuses being committed by the Trump administration along the southern border, released the following statement today after Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):
“Of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, being a dad has been most important to me. Every day—especially when my kids were growing up—I’ve felt that heavy responsibility to make sure they were always safe and would have the tools to become whatever they wanted to be. I’ve seen that same concern in the faces of the mothers and fathers who have come to our country in search of safety and a future with opportunities to fulfill their potential. And it’s why I will never forget their pain and fear at having their children snatched away from them, and I’ll never forgive the perpetrators who intentionally hurt those kids to serve their own political ends.
“Today’s confirmation of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is an important step forward in the fight to turn a new page and treat those coming to America in search of a better life with the same dignity and respect we’d wish for our own children. I look forward to working with the Secretary and the entire Biden administration to ensure that we re-light Lady Liberty’s torch, by reuniting families, undoing the horrific damage committed by the Trump administration, and establishing comprehensive and compassionate immigration reform, so that as we enforce our laws, we treat everybody with decency and respect.”
In June 2018, Merkley exposed the Trump administration’s child separation policy when the police were called to prevent him from investigating a huge child detention center in a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas. He has since returned to the border six times; visited Mexico and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America; successfully pushed to close the child prison in Homestead, Florida; led the charge to reunite families and hold the Trump administration accountable for its failure to do so; and released a detailed report outlining how President Trump used federal agencies to turn away thousands of people who have a legal right to ask for refuge within the U.S. from gang violence, murder, rape, and extortion in their home countries.