On October 19, 2021, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas delivered a keynote address at the Eradicate Hate Global Summit. His remarks are below.
My maternal grandfather, Michael Gabor, was, fortunately, a strong presence in our home throughout my formative years. He lost his parents and eight brothers in the Holocaust. His sister made it to Israel. He was able to flee with his wife and my mother to safety in Havana, Cuba.
In my home, an act spurred by anti-Semitism anywhere in the world brought fear; if it happened somewhere, it could happen anywhere.
My friends had sleepovers, went to sleep-away camps, and enjoyed such away-from-home traditions. I did not. My mother’s fear – having seen children leave home and not return – compelled her to parent differently.
The everlasting memory of the Holocaust, one of the most vicious crimes against humanity ever perpetrated, heightened our awareness and increased our vigilance against any act of hate, what it meant, and where it could lead.
We understood, early on, that a hate crime is different than most other crimes. The circle of victims knows no circumference. Yes, of course, there are those who endure the tragedy more acutely than others; those who have lost loved ones. Yet, the hate crime impacts us all, everywhere. It is spurred not by what one has done or not done, by what one has or does not have. It is spurred by who one is.
In August 1999, I was serving as the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, California when Buford O. Furrow, Jr. went into a Jewish Community Center and shot at fifty children. Three were wounded, as was a camp counselor and a JCC staff member. Miraculously, no lives were lost there.
But, about an hour later, a postal employee was not so fortunate; Furrow shot and killed him while he was on his mail route. Furrow, pledging white supremacy, killed the postal employee because he was Filipino.
The image of children from the Jewish Community Center holding hands as they were guided across the street to safety gripped the world. The funeral for the postal employee was attended by people from near and far.
The endless horror of that hate-fueled act of violence in Granada Hills remains with us today. Just as the limitless tragedy in Pittsburgh still shakes us to this moment. As does the limitless tragedy in the surrounding area of Atlanta, Georgia.
But these tragedies, and sadly the rise in hate crimes everywhere, also drive us to greater action.
This summit is a tribute to that commitment: to translate immeasurable grief into unwavering steps to root out, respond to, and combat hate wherever it persists.
We in the Department of Homeland Security share that commitment and focus.
The actions we take are founded on the pillar of partnership. Partnership with communities and groups everywhere to prevent tragedies from occurring, responding ably when they do, building resilience, and safeguarding our rights and liberties.
Recognizing what violence borne of hate truly is, President Biden issued the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism. We are executing the strategy swiftly:
We have established a dedicated domestic terrorism branch within our Office of Intelligence and Analysis. The team has enhanced our ability to analyze, produce, and disseminate intelligence, to the broadest audience possible, that specifically addresses domestic violent extremism.
For the first time, we designated domestic violent extremism a “national priority area” in FEMA grant programs, resulting in a minimum of 77 million dollars being spent on capabilities to detect and protect against this threat in our communities.
This past year, we awarded 180 million dollars to nonprofit organizations at high risk of a terrorist attack, through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Many of the organizations are houses of worship. The goal is to equip them with security-related capabilities and ensure their members can practice their faith in safety and in peace.
We have brought educators, social service professionals, non-governmental organizations, and community leaders to the table. We work closely with Secure Community Network and other great experts to develop the best programs that most effectively strengthen our neighborhoods, places of worship, and institutions. We are training school safety personnel on how to assess and respond to threats.
We established the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, or CP3, to empower and equip communities to build their capacity to identify behaviors and stop violence from occurring in the first instance. We need to reach family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, clergy, teachers, and others. Those who live in the community can best do so; we will support and provide for you.
There is a rise in hate in our country and around the world. There is a rise in crimes borne of hate. But there is also an increasing drive to action. By our Department, across the federal government, by all of you, by so many across our nation and the world – in partnership with one another.
The actions we take to eradicate hate have important complements: the attribute of resolve and the pride of identity. Resolve to continue Torah study in Squirrel Hill. Resolve to continue the fight against hate for as long as hate exists. Pride in who we are and in what we believe.
We in the Department of Homeland Security are resolved, and we are proud to partner with you. This is how we honor the victims of hate, defeat the forces of fear, and forge a more tolerant, just, fair, and peaceful, tomorrow.