At DHS Hearing, Senator Murray Discusses Importance of Investments to Keep Communities Safe and Strengthen Economy

ICYMI: Senator Murray Statement on the President’s Budget Request – MORE HERE


***WATCH: Senator Murray’s full remarks and questioning***


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a Senate Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee hearing with Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the President’s FY24 budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, emphasized the importance of—and her commitment to—working together to pass bipartisan funding bills in a timely way to maintain and build on key DHS programs that help keep our communities safe and strengthen our economy. Senator Murray also underscored the importance of maintaining America’s role as a nation that welcomes immigrants.


Our economy depends on our ability to ensure countless goods—as well as people—can move through our ports and borders in a safe, orderly, and timely way—and our security really depends on our ability to do all of this while effectively stopping threats like drug smugglers, sex and labor traffickers, and a lot more,” said Senator Murray. “This is especially important as we continue fighting the fentanyl epidemic. And we also have to stay vigilant against the growing threat of white supremacy and domestic terrorism, and the rapidly evolving threat landscape when it comes to cybersecurity and our critical infrastructure.”


Last but not least: we have to maintain our reputation as the leader of the free world, as a land of opportunity, which requires us to continue our long tradition of welcoming people from across the world who are seeking safety from persecution and seeking opportunities for a better life,” continued Senator Murray.So make no mistake, it’s not just our reputation as the home of the free that is made stronger by this. Throughout our history, immigrants have strengthened our nation. They have cared for our kids, our sick, our elderly. They’ve put food on our families’ tables. They’ve built cities, thriving businesses, and vibrant communities that make America, America.”


Senator Murray, who has always made the humane care of unaccompanied youth a top priority, discussed the issue with Secretary Mayorkas and pressed him on specific actions DHS is taking to safeguard the wellbeing of unaccompanied children entering the U.S.— specifically, to protect them from exploitive labor practices.  


“As we continue to see high numbers of refugees and asylum seekers fleeing persecution, targeted violence, and the natural disasters around the world, we need to ensure we treat unaccompanied children that arrive in the U.S. with the highest level of care. What is the Department doing to prioritize forced labor investigations or labor exploitation investigations, particularly involving children?” Senator Murray asked Secretary Mayorkas, later continuing: “Can you also speak to what safeguards are in place to ensure that unaccompanied children who are processed by CBP are quickly and safely transferred to ORR custody?”


Senator Murray, who has also consistently advocated for asylum seekers and a more humane and efficient immigration system, also asked Secretary Mayorkas how DHS was engaging with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that help provide services for asylum seekers.


“Across the country, we’ve seen communities step up and fill the gap in providing services to asylum seekers and others navigating the immigration system,” said Senator Murray. “I am glad to see the Department working quickly to stand up the new Shelter and Services grant program to support states, localities, and NGOs. Secretary Mayorkas, how is the Department communicating and coordinating with these NGOs as they support asylum seekers?”


At Wednesday’s hearing, Senator Murray also touched on the importance of key investments to prevent domestic terrorism, and cited a recent GAO study outlining the uptick in domestic terrorism—and she underscored the need to address the major processing backlogs at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.