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  • 117th Congress in Review

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Torres: Time to Break Up DHS

July 28, 2020
Press Release
Democratic Appropriator Offers Amendment Exploring Options to Dissolve Tainted Department

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (CA-35), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, today offered an amendment to the FY21 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill that calls for the National Academy of Public Administration to carry out an assessment of options for the dissolution of DHS and transfer of its functions to other executive branch Departments or reorganize them as independent agencies.

The Department – which has faced withering criticism for years over harsh tactics towards immigrants, inhumane conditions at Border Patrol facilities, and inappropriate behavior by agents – has come under more scrutiny in recent weeks as the Trump Administration has weaponized its agents against American citizens.

Torres, who worked closely with law enforcement as a 9-1-1 dispatcher for nearly 18 years, and who served on the House Homeland Security Committee from 2014 to 2016, released the following statement: 

“It’s clear that DHS agents harassing, attacking and arresting peaceful protestors in cities like Portland and Washington are not interested in upholding our rule of law – they’re doing their best to undermine it as a rogue force for a corrupt president,” Rep. Torres said. “We have a moral responsibility to protect the American people from this force that is corrupt to its core, and a president with no compunction about harming his own people.”

First created in 2002 as a response to 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security subsumed 22 agencies under the new DHS umbrella charged with preventing another terrorist attack from taking place on U.S. soil. 

“Despite its profound moral failings, there are still numerous legitimate government services and functions run by DHS, and they must continue,” Torres continued. “We delivered those services without DHS before, and we can deliver them without DHS again. Transferring them to departments that don’t have the moral qualms that DHS has will only make them more credible to the American people.”

Rep. Torres, who was born and lived under an authoritarian regime in Guatemala as a child before her parents sent her to safety in the United States, has used her experiences and platform in Congress to shine a light on corruption at DHS under the Trump Administration.

In December, she published an op-ed with CNN warning about the erosion of our rule of law as President Trump illegally installed Chad Wolf, a Trump loyalist with a record of harming immigrants and children, as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. 

“I’ve seen how strongmen oppress their people – they coopt a police force to serve their own needs over the needs of the people, and that’s exactly what we see happening now at DHS,” Torres added. “We are at a crossroads as a nation, and future generations will ask what we did to stop a president from turning an already unfit agency into a paramilitary force to do his bidding.