Heitkamp visits UND campus


Heidi Heitkamp speaks to students and faculty in the Memorial Union. Photo submitted.

Last Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D – N.D.,  made a visit to UND, bringing U.S. Department of Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to talk about hurdles the state is facing, and to inform students of opportunities to work for the government.

After being introduced by Heitkamp, Mayorkas stood at the front of the room for most of the presentation and talked about what public service is, why he admires it and how we can benefit by taking jobs in that sector.

“Ask yourself, what would make you feel fulfilled, and to pursue that wherever that leads you,” Mayorkas said.

Mayorkas, former U.S. Attorney, has also worked in the private sector before taking his current position as the number two official at DHS. He said that has helped him compare the two types of jobs and decide public service was the right fit for him.

“What matters to us is how we are engaging with the country and the rest of the world,” he said. “When we come together, when we work together, that’s when we are the most powerful.”

Heitkamp and Mayorkas have toured the unmanned aerial systems research locations at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and have also talked to several officials regarding limitations on the research and a need for more understanding and cooperation from law enforcement on both local and federal levels. The two officials are working to lift some of the restrictions on the research so researchers can push forward at a quicker rate.

After discussing these issues, the two guests opened the room – filled with more than 100 students and professors — for questions on any topic, which led to inquiries about cyberspace security, personal airspace and trackers and phone apps.

Mayorkas took the lead on most of the answers as the overall concern pertained to safety, and he brought the focus back to cooperation in each answer.

“Accomplishments of one are possible because of the contributions of many,” he said near the end of the discussion.

Continuing the efforts of Heitkamp’s Strong & Safe Communities Initiative, Heitkamp — a subcommittee ranking member on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — and Mayorkas toured Port of Entry and Border Patrol facilities in Pembina, N.D., and held a roundtable discussion with officials from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, local sheriffs and tribal law enforcement.

The meeting provided an opportunity for North Dakotans, who address these issues every day on the ground in the state, to discuss with Mayorkas the need for more local and federal law enforcement collaboration so they can better address the pressing challenges they face as they work to keep the northern border secure and North Dakota communities safe.

Marie Monson is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].