The Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003 with one critical mission: to ensure that our homeland is safe, secure and resilient against terrorism and other threats. From countering terrorism, to securing our borders and airports, to responding to natural disasters, few federal agencies touch the lives of Americans on a daily basis more than the Department of Homeland Security.
As a former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and now the top Democrat on the committee, I continue to work closely with my colleagues on key legislation to bolster the Department of Homeland Security and to strengthen the security of our nation's transportation systems, borders and cyber defenses.
Countering violent extremism
From Orlando to Las Vegas, tragic terror attacks that happen on our home soil underscore that one of the greatest threats we continue to face is homegrown terrorism. Since September 11, every person who has been killed by jihadi terrorists in this country has been killed by an American citizen or legal resident. Countering the influence of ISIS’ abhorrent and twisted message are just as critical as degrading these extremists overseas on the battlefield. I’m committed to ensuring that our government is ready to identify threats to our country, counter them before they bring harm to our shores and anticipate how these threats will evolve in the coming months and years.
Strengthening cybersecurity and protecting critical infrastructure
Over the past decade, the Internet has become more central to the lives of all Americans. It's where we communicate, work, shop and bank. That's why it is critical that we update our laws to create a safe and secure online environment. Cybersecurity is one of our nation’s biggest security challenges and remains one of my top priorities. When it comes to cyber, the federal government must be equipped with the authorities and resources to address this evolving 21stCentury threat. As a former chairman of the committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I co-authored four major cyber security bills that were signed into law to take important steps to modernize our nation’s cybersecurity programs and help the public and private sectors work together to tackle cyber threats more effectively in the future.
Securing the border and addressing root causes of migration from Central America
As a senior Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’m fully committed to finding the best ways to address our nation's immigration policies. I believe that our country’s immigration system has been broken for far too long, and there are three key issues we must address through comprehensive immigration reform: first, how we can secure our borders even more effectively; second, what we should do about those who are in our country illegally; and third, how we can make sure we're not in the position of debating yet another fix to a still-broken immigration system within a few decades.
Promoting U.S. leadership and values abroad
President Trump’s executive order to block Syrian refugees and ban entry of immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries is not just unconstitutional—it’s fundamentally un-American. This unsafe and uninformed policy endangers our national security and it jeopardizes our nation’s ability to lead the world with moral clarity. This policy wrongly vilifies a group of people based on their religion and nationality, and jeopardizes our nation’s ability to lead the world with moral clarity. Our nation is one built and made better by the contributions of immigrants, and I strongly believe that our nation has a moral duty to care for the “least of these” among us.
Protecting American institutions from foreign adversaries
Our free, fair and independent election system is the cornerstone of American democracy. Any interference in our elections, whether through targeted hacking of political groups and individuals or through dissemination of false news stories, is absolutely unacceptable and cannot be a partisan issue. I believe that, now more than ever, the American people deserve an independent, transparent investigation into the full extent of Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The stakes of this effort are immensely high – both the stability of our legal institutions and the integrity of our democracy depend on it.
Supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
During my time in public service, particularly as a congressman and senator, I have had the opportunity to travel to the Middle East region and meet both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to discuss the prospects for peace. I continue to believe that both sides are capable of ending the decades old conflict and achieving a two-state solution. Achieving that goal, requires the strong, consistent, and engaged leadership of the United States.
I believe that the only way to resolve the conflict between these two sides is through direct negotiations that lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that can exist peacefully and securely with Israel. Not only would this outcome give the Palestinian people a place to govern and call home, but it would also provide Israel with greater security and strengthen regional stability. I remain optimistic that, under the right circumstances, Israelis and Palestinians can successfully resume productive negotiations toward this goal.
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