January 20, 2017

Van Hollen Statement in Opposition to Confirmation of General John Kelly

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted the following statement to the congressional record on the vote to confirm General John Kelly as Homeland Security Secretary:

"Mr. President, President Trump ran a divisive campaign that engaged in fear-mongering against many immigrants and scapegoated Muslim Americans. To the extent that he attempts to act on that irresponsible rhetoric, I will strongly oppose him.

"Thus I appreciated many of General Kelly's comments in his confirmation hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, including his opposition to a registry based on ethnicity or religion and his skepticism of the utility of an expensive massive border wall. I hope that General Kelly will use his voice to advocate for those views in the new administration.

"General Kelly has an admirable record of public service, including leadership of the United States Southern Command, which is responsible for Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. He has a strong relationship with current Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, which will help support a smooth transition of the $40 billion agency with its 240,000 employees.

"I am concerned, however, that at General Kelly's confirmation hearing, Senator Harris repeatedly asked him whether he would honor the commitment made to DACA children and DREAMers not to share their personal information with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect them from deportation. General Kelly repeatedly declined to say that he would. DACA recipients submitted their personal information to the Government on the assurance from the Department of Homeland Security that their information would not be used against them. These families now live in fear that the new administration will tear them apart.

"I hope that these concerns prove to be unwarranted and, should General Kelly be confirmed, I look forward to working with him to both protect our homeland and the values we hold dear. However, his failure to provide assurances that he will meet the commitment we have made to these individuals who came to the United States as children means I cannot support his nomination today."