Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on President Trump’s disastrous decision to terminate the DACA program and the upcoming Senate votes on Chad Wolf to effectively be Acting DHS Secretary and Steven Menashi to a lifetime judgeship on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case against the president’s decision to cancel DACA, the program which grants legal status to over six-hundred thousand Dreamers who were brought to this country through no fault of their own; who voluntarily came forward and registered with the government in exchange for protected status; who work in our factories and our hospitals, teach and learn in our schools, and serve in our military. Before the highest court in the land, President Trump and his administration cruelly argued that these Dreamers do not belong in America and must be ripped away from their families and sent back to countries that many of them do not even remember.
The president once tweeted, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!” And now he is saying—same president—that some Dreamers are “very tough hardened criminals” and his administration has argued that they should be deported.
President Trump’s hypocrisy, when it comes to Dreamers, knows no bounds. After flip-flopping again and again and again on the issue; after failing to lead an effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform; it’s abjectly shameful that President Trump is trying to get the Supreme Court to do his dirty work and put the Dreamers under threat of mass deportation.
When the DACA program was established in 2012, under a long tradition of administrative discretion, it changed the lives of thousands and thousands of Dreamers for the better. It made our country better. But because of President Trump and his relentless scapegoating of immigrants—to try and tell the American people that the Dreamers are the reason that they’re not doing well, is despicable —these hardworking and patriotic Americans are haunted by the possibility they could be forced to leave this country at any moment—be pulled away from their families, their jobs, their homes. It’s cruel; it’s counterproductive; it undermines American values and all that America stands for.
Thankfully, one of the first things that House Democrats did after winning the majority was to pass a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients and TPS holders. It is legislation I wholeheartedly support.
Now, it’s up to the Supreme Court to defend the program. It’s up to Majority Leader McConnell to bring the Dream and Promise Act to the Senate floor. My good friend Senator Durbin, who has been a champion for Dreamers for as long as I can remember, will ask the Senate’s consent to take up these bills this evening. I thank him for his moral, and continued strong leadership on this issue, and I could not agree more with what he’s trying to do. It is time to do the right thing for the Dreamers and enshrine DACA into law. We’ll see how my Republican friends respond. After all, the House has done its job. Where are the Senate Republicans who claim to stand with the Dreamers? Well, we’ll see this evening.
From my home in Brooklyn, I can see that great lady in the harbor who welcomed my ancestors many years ago. If America is to remain the greatest nation in the world, a beacon of hope and freedom for people everywhere, a light among nations, we must live up to our best values. And that means we must stand totally and wholeheartedly with the Dreamers, and all the 11 million who now live in the shadows.
On nominations. We’re here at the beginning of another week in the Senate. As is the norm under Leader McConnell, we’ll not be debating legislation, like the Dream Act, to improve the lives of average Americans, but instead we’ll vote on another slate of controversial Trump Administration nominees.
First up is the nomination of Chad Wolf to serve as an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Wolf has held leadership roles within DHS through much of Trump’s presidency and has troubling ties to President Trump’s disastrous family separation policy, the Muslim ban, and the national emergency declaration at the southern border. Despite testifying that he was not involved in the family separation policy, Mr. Wolf reportedly suggested the policy in a memo he sent to then-Attorney-General Sessions. He’s ashamed to admit it. He knows it’s wrong. But he did it anyway. That man does not deserve to be an undersecretary at DHS.
And the circumstances of Mr. Wolf’s nomination are also very strange. Wolf is not only already serving as an undersecretary in an acting capacity; President Trump has named him the incoming Secretary of DHS in an acting capacity. President Trump never bothered to nominate a replacement for departing DHS Secretary McAleenan, who left yesterday, so the Senate is being asked to confirm someone to a job they’re not even going to perform. Indeed, if Mr. Wolf is confirmed, we may never vote on who will be the actual Secretary of DHS, a major cabinet-level department. This is completely unacceptable. The administration is having trouble finding people to fill these jobs. They know the cruelty they will be asked to enforce. They know that President Trump will treat them poorly. So he can’t find anybody to take these positions. And hence we have this awkward game of musical chairs.
Rather than work with Congress to find a DHS Secretary that we could support, the Trump Administration is trying a legal end-around that subverts our constitutional duty to advise and consent.
Regardless of your ideology or views on immigration, my fellow Senators should oppose Wolf’s nomination on constitutional grounds.
After the Senate considers Mr. Wolf, we’ll consider the nomination of Mr. Steven Menashi to serve on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. I have rarely met a nominee as low as Mr. Menashi. He has a troubling record on race, women’s equality, LGTBQ rights, and the rights of immigrants. His conduct before the Judiciary Committee was insulting. And recent reports describe how, during his tenure working at the Department of Education, he played a leading role in designing an illegal effort to deny debt relief to thousands of students swindled by the for-profit colleges.
That’s right. The Senate is going to be asked to confirm someone—Mr. Menashi—to be a judge who designed an illegal scheme to deny debt relief to defrauded students. The man has no principles, the man has no conscious, the man has no morals. He should not be on the bench.