Washington, D.C. – At a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing today titled, “Domestic Violent Extremism in America,” U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Committee, questioned U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland about the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) response to the violent riots in Minneapolis and Oregon last summer. She also asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to provide an update on the crisis at the southern border.
“I commend you and the Department of Justice for seeking to identify and prosecute those responsible for the terrible riots and attack on our Capitol on January 6th,” Senator Collins told Attorney General Garland. “Starting last summer, our country also experienced attacks threatening other significant government institutions, such as a courthouse [and] police stations, that occurred in Minneapolis and in what we in Maine call the ‘other Portland.’”
“You have made very clear that the ideological outlook of the individual committing these alleged crimes is not important to the Department of Justice,” Senator Collins continued. “But what resources has the Department dedicated to identifying and prosecuting the individuals responsible for the violent acts last summer that were aimed at institutions like courthouses and police stations?”
Attorney General Garland responded, “The U.S. Attorney’s offices in the ‘other’ Portland and in Minneapolis are continuing to work those cases, as is the FBI field offices, in both of those cases.” He assured Senator Collins that he “has not heard any suggestion that insufficient resources are available for those continuing prosecutions,” but he pledged to follow up with additional information.
Transitioning to the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, Senator Collins asked Secretary Mayorkas to describe what steps should be taken to stem the influx of immigrants crossing the border illegally.
Reflecting on her visit to the southern border in March with 17 of her colleagues, Senator Collins said, “I personally learned a lot from a recent trip, my second to the border of Texas, where I went with Border Patrol agents on a midnight tour of the Rio Grande. What I saw were children in pens, on floors, with no spaces between them, with just Mylar blankets. And those conditions were truly dire. One woman, a very young woman with a young child, told me that she was here to escape the violence and because President Biden told her to come.”
Senator Collins asked Secretary Mayorkas, “How can we now reform or amend our practices and our laws to end the various incentives that spurred this flood of illegal migration, which has led to very vulnerable people being exploited by smugglers, human traffickers, [and] the cartels?”
Secretary Mayorkas posited that solving the immigration crisis requires three elements: 1) investing in the countries of origin, including Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and tackling the root causes, 2) constructing lawful pathways so that immigrants arrive through a safe and orderly process when they qualify under U.S. law, and 3) passing immigration reform.