03.19.08

Judiciary Committee Chairman Schedules Homeland Security Oversight Hearing

DHS Secretary To Testify

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 19, 2008) – The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold the next in a series of oversight hearings this year when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testifies before the Committee on Wednesday, April 2, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced today.

Chertoff is expected to field questions about backlogs in naturalization applications at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Iraqi refugee resettlement, and immigration detention practices.  Leahy has signaled he will also seek to discuss the impending expiration of the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program

“The Judiciary Committee will continue the important oversight work of Congress when we hearing from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” said Leahy.  “I look forward to hearing from Secretary Chertoff about how the Department is making progress in alleviating the severe backlogs in naturalization applications in advance of the upcoming November elections, as well as what the Department is doing to ready itself for further implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and REAL ID Act, and about many other issues.”

Leahy led a successful effort last week to attach an amendment to the Budget Resolution that creates a reserve fund for legislation to provide for the timely adjudication of naturalization applications and FBI name checks.  The backlog, Leahy says, threatens to prevent hundreds of thousands of people who filed their applications in a timely manner from voting in the upcoming national elections.  The USCIS last year announced an 80 percent fee increase for naturalization applications, causing an influx of applications.  The USCIS has recently stated that applications filed after June 2007 could take 14 to 16 months to process, thwarting the expectations of many who wish to vote in the November elections. 

Also last week, Leahy and Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced legislation to make permanent the EB-5 Regional Center pilot program, which also included measures intended to improve the program.  Regional Centers, including one located in Vermont, bring jobs and investment capital to state economies, while providing eligible foreign investors with a legal path to citizenship.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already held two oversight hearings this year for the Department of Justice and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The Department of Homeland Security oversight hearing will be held April 2 at 10:00 a.m. in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

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Witness List 
Hearing before the

Senate Judiciary Committee
on

 

“Oversight of the Department of Homeland Security

 

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hart Senate Office Building Room 216

10:00 a.m.

 

The Honorable Michael Chertoff 
Secretary 
United States Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC

 

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Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693