WASHINGTON – Yesterday, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and Homeland Security Advisor Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall met with community leaders for a discussion in remembrance of the second anniversary of the El Paso massacre. Secretary Mayorkas and Dr. Sherwood-Randall were joined by Rep. Veronica Escobar and El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego.
Secretary Mayorkas emphasized the Department of Homeland Security’s commitment to preventing, detecting, and mitigating targeted violence and domestic terrorism and discussed DHS’s focus on community-based prevention programs. Recognizing the concerning and unacceptable increase in racially or ethnically motivated domestic terrorism attacks including those targeting Latinos, he shared DHS’s commitment to enhancing our partnership with the Latino community.
Participants shared their perspectives on what is fueling these horrific attacks – including access to guns and online mobilization to violence – and voiced concerns about the safety and security of their communities. Participants also spoke about the impact the massacre had on Latino and immigrant communities and shared concerns regarding gun violence and other ongoing threats facing these communities.
Secretary Mayorkas and Dr. Sherwood-Randall discussed the steps the Biden-Harris Administration is taking to counter domestic terrorism, which has posed the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland in recent years. Earlier this year, the Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Domestic Terrorism, which focuses on sharing domestic terrorism-related information; preventing recruitment and mobilization to violence; disrupting and deterring domestic terrorist activity; and confronting the long-term contributors to domestic terrorism. Secretary Mayorkas emphasized that hateful acts and violent extremism will not be tolerated within DHS and noted that earlier this year the Department launched a working group led by its Chief Security Officer to conduct a comprehensive review of how to best prevent, detect, and respond to potential threats related to domestic violent extremism within DHS.
Secretary Mayorkas and Dr. Sherwood-Randall reiterated the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing gun violence in America by stemming the flow of firearms to commit violence, supporting local law enforcement with federal tools and resources, and investing in evidence-based community violence intervention efforts.
Participants in yesterday’s meeting included:
- Eduardo Bocanegra, Heartland Alliance - READI Chicago
- Fernando García, Border Network for Human Rights
- Luis Jonathan Hernandez, Youth Over Guns
- Idalhí Huizar-Mendoza, El Paso United Family Resiliency Center
- Patricia Tototzintle, Esperanza United (formerly Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities)
- Marisa Limón Garza, Hope Border Institute