December 04, 2017

Senator Van Hollen Statement on the Nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to DHS

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) release the following statement regarding his vote to oppose the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. While I believe that Ms. Nielsen has a solid understanding of the department that she seeks to lead, I am not yet convinced that she will be a counterweight to the rabid anti-immigration policies coming out of the White House.

I appreciated the opportunity to speak to Ms. Nielsen prior to this vote about my concern over the status of the Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. Dreamers were brought to this country through no fault of their own and are in limbo after the President abruptly canceled DACA and set arbitrary renewal and termination deadlines. TPS recipients, many of whom have been here for almost two decades, would have their lives endangered if forced to return to their home countries.

While I understand that Ms. Nielsen cannot make ironclad commitments on how she would handle these issues, I cannot in good faith support her nomination without clearer guidance and assurances about how she and the Administration intend to resolve these matters. Many of my colleagues who supported her predecessor, General Kelly, have complained bitterly that promises he made to them have not been kept. Moreover, both as General Kelly's Chief of Staff at DHSand later as his Deputy at the White House, I have to assume the Ms. Nielsen has been very involved in the development and implementation of the immigration policies of this Administration. My vote today is not so much a vote against Ms. Nielsen, as it is a vote to protest the anti-immigration policies flowing from the Trump Administration.

I am hopeful that in the coming months, Ms. Nielsen will be able to provide a check on the worst impulses of this White House. I am not yet convinced that will happen and hope to be proven wrong. I do look forward to working with Ms. Nielsen once she is sworn in.