tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN May 29, 2014 11:00am-1:01pm EDT
the department that mandatory releases -- because of court decisions -- account for 72% of those homicides. and, obviously, the congress needs to address that. some of those mandatory releases were because of being held for a length of time the courts if felt were inappropriate, and we need to make sure that is addressed so that they are removed from the united states after they have served their sentences for homicide. but that still leaves 28% of the murderers, a substantial number of people, who the dhs simply voluntarily release. so i hope that you will look into what is happening there and try to help us understand how this can be fixed. ..
just to give you some sense of it, in very large jurisdiction of the united states, the rate of recidivism for criminal offenders can be as high as 50% or more. when i.c.e. can come in and remove offenders from a given community so that they can't reoffend, guess what? we take the recidivism rate to zero. so, for example, if you 100 criminal offenders, get them out, that is 50 crimes that will not happen over the next three years as a result of our enforcement efforts. do you agree with former director morton as to the power of security working in the? >> well, i don't believe we should scrap secure communities. i believe given the reality where we all with this program in this country that we need a fresh start.
we have mayors and governors signing executive orders and passing laws that limit our ability to effectively carry out this program. i think the goal of the program is a very worthy one that needs to continue. so as part of the overall effort i'm embarked in right now i want a fresh start to this program and what a fresh conversation with mayors and governors around the country to make this program work more effectively. we've got limitations erected on our ability to set this program. i think it's an important program, but it's gotten off to bed messaging, misunderstanding in state and local communities about exactly what it is. some people think it's a surveillance program, but you're right, it's sharing fingerprints between one federal agency and another. and i think with clear guidance and clear understanding by mayors and governors, what our
priorities are we can go a long way to improving the administration of this program. >> not administering the program is also a missed opportunity to address the problem with the release of criminal aliens back into our society. because when state and local law enforcement go to the trouble of identifying people and sharing that information, and giving dhs more information about who should be removed and then they don't see them removed as is the case in 85% of the aliens identified through secure communities in 2013, not being deported i think that has a little -- a lot of mistrust in the system. we encourage you to improve that system and utilize it to a greater extent. my time has expired, and i know please recognize the job but for michigan, mr. kind is, for minutes. >> thank you, chairman goodlatte. -- mr. conyers.
we appreciate your testimony here today, secretary johnson. my concern is about the large numbers of people who are being deported this year who have committed very little violation except those related to their undocumented status, people have lived here for years, some for decades, many of whom were brought as children, jobs and families, including u.s. citizen sponsors and children or other close family who have legal status. they're only a fence arises from not being here lawfully. they can't get licenses. they can't drive. they can't work. so they use frequently a fake social security card, and so on. let me ask you, as you complete
your review of enforcement practices, will you take a close, hard look at who is being targeted to make sure these people who have only immigration status violations are not made priority? >> yes. the concept of prosecutorial discretion is one that's been around for a long time in the criminal justice context and in this context. i think with the resources we have from congress we have to continually reevaluate how best to prioritize who we enforce the laws against. so that would be part of my objective. >> thank you. now, what factors do you think that the customs and border patrol, and customs and border
protection and i.c.e. should consider before referring some of these cases for prosecution? i think that's an important consideration that comes from your experience and your analysis and position that you hold now. >> i think that the priorities in general should be threats to national security, public safety and border security. and so i want our men and women to focus on those priorities, at the various points in the system. i do believe that after the border, at the border, the priorities have to be a little different for the sake of border security, border integrity. i don't expect our border patrol agents, for example, to try to prioritize as they see people literally crossing the rio
grande and stepping onto the shore. i think we have to maintain order security, and we have to avoid practices and policies that operate as magnets for further illegal migration. but i do believe that our people should be encouraged to focus on, first, border security, public safety, national security. >> thank you. i understand that much of the spike in immigration prosecution is related to customs and border protection's consequence delivery system, which promises to assign some form of law enforcement consequence to nearly every person apprehended at the border. these prosecutions come at significant expense, and by
contrast, the department, your department, could accentuate a voluntary reform or formal removal for many of these people have little or no cost in decided whether this is a good use of federal resources. do you think it's important for cbp data and methodology on recidivism to be made public, making the data and methodology public and ensuring that it be received close scrutiny might help to either increase confidence in our current approach, or lead to other improvements? what is your the? >> let me answer that two ways. first of all i think that we should be careful to disincentivize illegal
migration, as i suggested a moment ago. i also support greater transparency in our policies, whether it's use of force at the border, and we've made some quick progress there, in making those policies more transparent. or other aspects of government policy. and i'd have been an advocate for that in this department and when it comes to our counterterrorism activities by the department of defense when i was general counsel. >> my time has expired. i thank you for your responses. >> thank you. >> the chair thanks the children and recognizes the gentleman from alabama for five minutes. >> thank you. secretary johnson, first i want to thank the department of homeland security for their support for the national computer forensic institute. it has solved many crimes. it was initially designed for
financial crimes but they've actually solve hundreds of pedophile cases, and child predator cases and trained law enforcement agents and judges all over the nation, so i thank you for that. the department of homeland security is in a partnership with drug enforcement agency and i.c.e. to combat, and local agencies to combat what i would call an academic -- epidemic a synthetic drug abuse. a major project synergy, actually seized millions of dollars i think over 200 arrests. there's two things that really alarming about this. one is that the targeted age, most of the users of these synthetic drugs are between the ages of 14-25. at least one survey recently says one in nine high school students is using synthetic
drugs. and then the results which range, and i've a photograph which i'm going to share privately with you, but it's a picture of two young people who were actually, died of an overdose from trenton and the drugs were actually found of their on the scene. we've had those cases all over the united states. the second is it's not on that, it's causing long-term psychotic depression or psychological damage to our young people. but the most alarming thing, and i want you to make a comment on this first, is my understanding from that operation that the great majority of these funds are being made, and we're talking millions and millions of dollars, were being sent to terrorist organizations in yemen and lebanon. so i would ask you first of all, we're talking about hundreds of
millions of dollars of sale of synthetic drugs here in the united states being used to fund terrorism, our enemies. and, of course, do you believe that synthetic drugs proceeds are funding terrorists and is this a national security issue? that would be my first question. >> sir, i agree with you. i recently attended a briefing on transnational criminal organizations that are engaged in billions of illegal narcotic activities, and we're beginning to see a connection between these organizations and terrorist organizations, where one is supporting the other. so i agree very much with that observation. and i agree very much with the national security concern that we should all have in this regard.
within the department of homeland security, hsi, like a good very involved as you pointed out with the dea immediately with the problems of synthetic drugs. hsi in my observation is a terrific aggressive law enforcement organization, and i had a good deal of confidence in their ability to address this issue. i appreciate your interest in this. >> you know, from what i've read and learned from talking to dea and other agencies, the actual majority of this funds derived from the profits are going to the middle east. have you found out to be the case? are you aware of that? >> i share that observation. >> thank you. >> when it was a the oversight subcommittee, we had hearings on, we focused on cocaine from colombia, i think synthetic drugs, which you don't hear a lot of talk about, should be getting the same attention today. and i'm not sure the american
people realize just how serious this type of drug use is. would you like to comment on that? >> it's a growing epidemic, sir, and when i was a prosecutor 25 years ago, it was crack cocaine. now we are seeing other illegal narcotics that are causing a lot of destruction in arctic in our community. i think that he partnered -- the department of homeland to get has a role in addressing this through hsi, cbp, other organizations within the department. i think we have a role and i think we need to make an investment in it so i agree with your assessment and i share your concern. >> thank you. the last thing i've learned is almost all of these synthetic drugs, the material is being produced in china. and then shipped to the united states were actually $1000 worth can be turned into $250,000 on
the streets. the state of alabama, and i'm very proud of our legislature, they recently passed a law which is, it's senate bill 333, which tries to stay one step ahead of the drug producers. but that law does, what happens is the drug producers and the people marketing these will change the content just a little to stay ahead of the law, the universal laws, say it has to be a certain material and it has to be a combination. that's all they do is tweak that drug. and i've actually been told when they do is they all bought a certain combination, they will actually get on the phone and tell the folks china, change that formula. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you. >> respond if you have a response. >> i share the congressman's concern. >> thank you. thathe chair recognizes the
gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> thank the chair, and want to join in welcoming secretary johnson, especially a graduate of columbia law school in my district. mr. secretary, as you know, congress passed a number of years ago the 9/11 commission implementation bill mandated all maritime cargo must be scanned. support -- before it is loaded on ships bound to the united states. when we wrote the law, we recognize 100% scanning would be difficult to achieve overnight which is why we give dhs flexibility. five years to comply that allow for extension of the deadline in certain cases. we assume 100% scanning would be phased in. to depart would make an honest effort to comply with the law. can you tell us what the department is doing to make progress on container scanning? d. commit to work with us in good faith and develop a plan for implementing the law? >> yes. as you and i have discussed, congressman, i am very much
aware of the 2007 law. it was first brought to my attention in the senate confirmation process, and my general view is is to do it enacted law i congress that mandates -- duly enacted -- i got to make a good-faith effort to try to comply. now, as you know, this particular law is a very large unfunded mandate, and so when i got into office i took a careful look at it. i've been to ports. i've looked at the logistics to try to set up a 100% scanning regime at overseas ports, and it's going to be frank, a very, very large project. and i've asked my folks, first of all, what's in our best national security interest? second, as long as the law is on the books, we've got to make a good-faith effort to try to comply with it.
so i've had the conversation with senator markey, you, and others about how i'm exercise my authority under the law to waive application of the law so that the next two years, but in the same letter which i think you've seen i've also talked about some of the steps we will take for a plan to try to get us there. including raising the percentage of cargo that is a scanned to move in the right direction on this. and demonstrate we are making our best efforts to try to comply. it's set forth in the letter which i think you've seen. >> yes, i have. i want to thank you for your willingness to work with us and i know that homeland security ranking member thompson has been a champion in this area. i'm sure we will discuss in greater detail how we can develop a mutually agreeable path forward. i'd like to also say that it is
obviously the policy of the administration that we should close the detention facility -- facility guantánamo. we been told that the presence of the facility under actions there have fueled terrorist sentiments that a been used to recruit terrorists seek to do us harm. can you tell the committee if you believe that keeping guantánamo open is a threat to our national security? isn't fomenting recruitment of terrorists abroad and so forth? >> thank you for bringing me back to my last job. yes, i believe that the existence of guantánamo as a detention facility represents an issue of national security. it has been a recruiting tool by al-qaeda but i also believe that the guard force there is remarkablremarkabl y professional. it's a very well-run facility, but it's also hugely expensive, and there's going to come a
point where we may already be at that point, where it is no longer making sense from a taxpayer point of view to maintain, maintain such a hugely expensive multimillion dollar facility for what are today up with something like less than 160 detainees. and so i know the president is committed to closing the facility, and i think that that for a number of reasons is a worthwhile objective. >> thank you. my last question is back to immigration. in recent months we've heard reports that immigration and customs enforcement officers conducting routine immigration enforcement efforts at courthouses around the country. people have been apprehensive i i.c.e. when they went to the courthouse to the traffic ticket or obtained a protective order but a protective order gault case apers was opting when he appeared in court to get married. these enforcement actions will make immigrants afraid to appear for criminal gangs, to exercise their first amendment rights, to
seek protective orders in connection with incidents of domestic violence, and conduct other important business. i.c.e. has a policy. do you agree or not at courthouses are essential for the protection of constitutional rights only if you have access to the courthouse should be added to the list of sensitive locations for i.c.e. appropriate discretion? >> i received the letter on this, and i was a little surprised to find out that a courthouses are not on the list of what we consider to be sensitive locations, though there is a separate policy dealing with courthouses that i.c.e. has. my view is that as you articulated, courthouses our
special. we ought to have a special policy with regard to courthouses. however, i can see certain circumstances where somebody really dangerous shows up at a courthouse, where i.c.e. or law enforcement in general needs to apprehend that person. just can't afford to let him go. >> that would be the same if a bad person appeared in a hospital. >> i can foresee exigent circumstances where somebody was truly dangerous, who is a fugitive or otherwise should be arrested on the spot, and i would support that. but this is an issue that i intend to look at more closely. >> thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. the chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. forbes, for five minutes. >> mr. secretary, thank you for
being here. we appreciate your appearance today. also i appreciate your friendship, your service and the department of defense and your service in your current position. i was not surprised when i read on your confirmation hearing that you pledge transparency and candor with congress. if that transparency and candor that we appreciate and we ask today. we've had testimony before this committee that violent criminal gangs are major problems in the united states and some of those gangs such as ms-13, one of the most violent, speedy i'm sorry? >> ms-13, one of the most violent criminal gangs, as many as two-thirds of their members were here illegally. last year and i.c.e. begin releasing convicted criminals i asked director morten how many of those released were members of violent criminal gangs? i think the commute was shot that he didn't have a clue. based on your letter that you submitted i think yesterday, to the committee we now know that
36,000, in excess of 36,000 criminals have been released. and the question i would have or you today is of the 36,000 released, do you have any clue how many were members of violent criminal gangs? >> that, if you're referring to the letter i think you're referring to is a letter signed by the deputy secretary yesterday, and i believe that there is an attachment to the letter that has a numerical breakdown by category of the criminal convictions. and it may -- >> it says nothing about whether their members of violent criminal gangs. so my question is, one, do you know of any records that you have of how many of those members release were members of violent criminal gangs? >> if we have it i would be happy -- >> you don't know if any did a? >> sitting here right now i don't know whether it's broken down. >> do you know whether we even ask individuals who are detained if they are members of a gang,
violent criminal gangs? >> i suspect we do in the immigration enforcement process, but -- >> i would suggest you have no record of it, and if you do if you would correct me on that. the second, third question is, isn't it true that individuals can receive asylum or withholding of removal if they simply claim that they've renounced their membership in a gang? >> i'm not sure about that. >> and let me ask you this -- >> i know there is asylum process. >> did you conduct a town hall meeting at dhs office in fairfax, virginia, on april 23, 2014, with i.c.e. agents and officers present? >> yes, sir i did. >> did they voiced strong concerns do that gang members, other public safety threats and criminals are being released due to new administration, dhs policies such as john morton's arrest priorities memorandum?
>> we talked about a lot of things. >> did they express concern about what i just outlined to you? >> i recall discussions about pay -- >> that's not my question. and i will have a certain amount of time to did they or did they not expressed strong concerns do you that gang members and public safety threats and criminals were being released based upon the administration's policy? >> i don't recall that statement in that way, but -- i'm not doubting they did if somebody says -- >> does the following question, these officers and agents tell you that the administration policies have tied their hands preventing them from keeping many dangerous criminals off the streets and that in their opinion as boots on the ground officers in the field, the new policies are a failure? >> i don't recall it that way. i do recall a recognition that we should be going after the worst of the worst in our enforcement priorities. >> so you have no recollection
that these agents expressed these concerns to you? >> that's not what i said. >> do you have a recollection of that? >> i recall a general discussion about our enforcement priorities, and i recall that we all agreed -- >> mr. secretary, i understand what you're talking about. my question is, did you or did you not, or do you or do you not recall them expressing strong concerns about the issues i just raced to you? >> not exactly in the terms you stated it. >> okay. but pretty close to those turns? >> in general terms we had a discussion about our enforcement priorities. that is absolutely correct. >> mr. johnson, things are not answered that question. it certainly is a violation of what you put you going to do in transparency and -- >> i gave you my best recollection. >> i would think that would be a strong thing that you would remember if it was expressed that way, and was expressed that way as understand it. next question and final question i have for you is, we now know
based on a gao report that dhs has purchased 84 million rounds of ammunition, totaling $19 million. can you tell us and give us a report back as to what that ammunition is used for and what caliber of bullets are being used for? >> sitting here right now i can't give you that information but i would be happy to provide that. >> and just for the record the information i gave came from the union who was present at that particular hearing with you. they stated that that's what they express. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. scott. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you, mr. secretary. mr. secretary, in aftermath of the typhoon in the philippines, many members of congress and many people in the filipino community push for temporary protection status. can give me an update on what
the tbs, status of the tbs for those in the philippines is to be? >> it's under review and i believe we are close to the finish line on that review. >> good. keep pushing. i understand under the prism rape elimination act that regulations in homeland security are going into effect at the time. are you full actively trying to renegotiate private contracts to make sure that the new regulation apply to contractors as well as the government facilities? >> i've checked on the status of that and i believe that we are. >> can you say something about the use of solitary confinement in government facilities and private facilities? >> well, an immigration facility is not like a prism. i can imagine circumstances in
any detention facility where somebody needs to be separated and placed in some form of solitary confinement for reasons of safety, force protection or other circumstance. so i wouldn't rule it out necessary but i do recognize that an immigration detention facility is different in nature from a prison where convicted criminals are being housed. >> changing subjects to "fast and furious." it's my understanding that this process started during the bush administration, that the attorney general joined that administration, was aware of it and continued into the obama administration. but when attorney general holder found out about it, he put an end to it. to the best of your knowledge has anybody in your department now facilitating the trafficking of firearms with terrorists and drug dealers a? >> not to my, not to my
knowledge, sir. >> think you. -- thank you. in terms of airport screening, there's a program, spot screening passengers by observation techniques. all of you familiar with this program? >> yes, i believe i am. >> can you explain how this can be done without ethnic profiling or how it can be done effectively? >> i think that behavioral screeners at airports, it's a pretty sophisticated methodolo methodology. i've had one or two briefings on it, and i've had the same questions and concerns. i'm satisfied that, whether it is airport security or other
activities of the department of homeland security, that there are ways to do what we need to do to screen for aviation security threats, other threats, without engaging in sort of any racial profiling. now, immigration enforcement border security is different from law enforcement in general. it's different from stop and frisk in general. we do in various contexts take account of the nationality of people in the administration and enforcement of our immigration laws. and so there's a distinction there. but i do believe that we should not be engaging in racial profiling per se. >> thank you. could you say a word about the process for reviewing incidents of use of deadly force by border patrol officers, and whether or
not that review process is adequate? >> yes. this issue has been one that i focused on in my five months in office. as i suggested earlier, i think that transparency in our policies goes a long way to removing a lot of the controversy that may exist about a policy. and so a couple of months ago i encouraged cbp to make their use of force policy public, and the same with other components of the dhs, and they've done that. i've also -- i also encourage the chief of the border patrol to think about incorporating expressly into the policies issues about rockthrowing, issues about when an agent feels threatened by a vehicle, and he did that. and i believe that we now have a use of force policy that takes
account of those things, which have been controversial in the past, but also preserves the agents ability to defend themselves if his life is truly threatened, or he's in harm's way. i think we're in a better place than we were before. >> and is the review process adequate? when there is a use of deadly force, you review each case, is that right? >> yes. >> and is that review process adequate? i understand in no case has anyone been sanctioned for inappropriate use of deadly force. >> i believe our officers should be held accountable for misconduct. i believe in that generally, yes, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my time has expired. >> the chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the gentleman from iowa for five minutes spent thank you, mr. chairman. i thank you for holding this ring today and i think the secretary for appearing and his testimony. as i'm listening to the
testimony here, i happened to hear in an exchange earlier that you developed a plan to address the otm and the unaccompanied children and pets become a significant album on the southern border, especially the southern tip of texas to have a heard that correctly? >> yes. >> and could you describe this plan to this committee? >> sure. a couple of things, and it's doesn't work in progress. we are building on this because it's a growing problem and we need to take steps to address it. and open to additional steps. in fact, when i go back to my office, when i have a meeting on this very subject to look at all the options on the table, but what we've done so far, i declared what's called a level 4 state of readiness, which means we need to draw upon resources and assets of other departments to help us out, and i've appointed within cbp a federal
coordinator for this effort. number two, i have personally contacted the secretary of hhs to highlight this as a problem that together we need to address. and she recognizes her obligations under the law to take these kids as soon as we identify them as unaccompanied children spent just for the information of this commit is this the plan the president has asked you to withhold until such time as we get through the august break a? >> no. this is something totally different. >> could you describe the plan the president has asked you to withhold until we get to the august break? i think this committee is interested in what it is, the sort of thing hanging overhead we would be interested in knowing what that is spent what i'm doing, what i'm in the middle of redoing right now is our enforcement priorities. that is what the president asked me to review in march. i actually had begun thinking about that before. he made public his request and i'm still in the midst of the
review, but he has asked me to hold on the announcement of that until the end of the summer. >> if i ask you to push out what that might materialize to be as you know it today, your answer to me would be you don't want to answer that question? >> i'm not in a position to answer it right now. my review is not complete. if i did an interview would be a premature answer. >> i take it that this is some type of derivation of the daca plan. that's a we anticipate here. this committee on this site at least understand their specific federal law that the president has ordered i.c.e. not to follow, and there's a lawsuit that's out there now that's working its way through the courts, the case of crane versus napolitano, and that addresses the separation of powers issue and posture toward discretion but i would ask you, does your policy that you're enacting a, the daca policy which are
referred to as deferred action for criminal aliens, does that create groups or classes people as a result of the directive that we refer to as the morten memos, or doctor? >> daca, as i understand, daca was enacted two years ago. something like 600,000 people have enrolled in the program. it is up for renewal later this year. i anticipate that it will be renewed. there will be some -- >> does it create groups or classes of people? >> i'm not sure i understand your question spent by the definition of the directives, is the result of that, that the definitions created groups or classes of people, rather than as i saw sometimes referenced in that document delivered by janet napolitano and she said it seven times or reference to on an individual basis only prosecutorial discretion on an
individual basis only. i'm asserting to the degree to groups or classes of people and asking you whether you agree or disagree. >> i now understand your question. away daca works, there's an individual assessment of whether or not a person can be in the program based on a background check, based on the particulars of that person's situation. >> as the clock has turned yellow, do you agree or disagree that it produces and results in groups or classes of people? >> there is a class of people who are eligible for the daca program, but they've got to go through a background check for criminal history. >> i
applying our enforcement standards that we take a look at the nature of the offenses that are at issue. we know that the most common federal prosecution in the united states today is felony reentry after removal. and in most of those cases, from best we can to, those are individuals who are trying to get back to the families here in the united states. they are doing what former governor bush described as an act of love. they're trying to come back to be a parent to their children. and so i'm hopeful that we can take a look at what we are actually doing here when we take a look at the review. i was looking at former director
morton detained memoranda. i think it's very instructive why so many communities are refusing to cooperate with the department today. in fact, the state of california passed a law saying they will not respond to the department of homeland security. it says a prior felony conviction but it doesn't actually specify, if the conviction is really about immigration, trying to get back to your kids, look at it carefully and if you submit a criminal offense. an individual has illegally reentered the country after a prior removal of return. the individual has an outstanding order of removal. these are really immigration offenses and they deter individuals from cooperating with the police which is what all the police chiefs have come
out against the security reduce program. so i guess my question to you, mr. secretary, is as you take your review of our enforcement, i think we all agree that we want to focus on people who are violent, who harm others, but i'm noticing that the single biggest removal category in 2013, more than half, was for immigration violation. are you going to be able to take a look at those issues as you review this? >> i'm in the midst of taking a look at those issues. one observation i would make, i think that as i looked at this guidance myself, which covers a multiyear period, i see a certain lack of clarity in the privatization and the guidance. and i think we could do a better job there. >> i thank you very much for that. and i wanted to just briefly touch on the unaccompanied alien
minors. i know that you are concerned about the surge and that it is important. we have recognized as the congress, we passed a law that these little children are not going to be treated as criminals. but what efforts can we make to do with central american nations so that they can take some responsibility for these little kids? some three, four year old kids that end up in our custody. >> i've had this conversation with the ambassadors from mexico, guatemala, el salvador and honduras. this exact question. and i think a lot of it is public messaging in english and in spanish, don't send your child or send for your child through south texas, a processing center in south texas is no place for a child. i think that we have to work
with the government of central america on migration from the countries. i plan to go to guatemala myself in the month of july on this issue. and there are a number of other things that we think we can do. i'm sensing a fair amount of receptivity from those governments to work with us on this. i think we all recognize, including them, that we have a problem in this area. we need to more aggressively address. and that's one of my priorities and i personally invested in it. >> take it very much. i see my time has expired. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. recognizes mr. franks for five minutes. >> well, tranone. and thank you, secretary johnson, for being with us here today. mr. secretary, i know -- >> nights to see you again. >> i'm sure you've heard about the case regarding marian ebert
team, the sudanese christian who was since to death. her husband is a u.s. citizen and she has two young children. one of which was just born two days ago in her mother's prison. both of these children are eligible for u.s. citizenship and this case has become so high profile that many of us are deeply concerned about her safety in sudan, especially if she wins her appeal and is released back into the sudanese society at large. so my question to you, mr. secondly, will you assure this committee that you prioritize this case and quickly review the possibility of granting her a safe haven in the traneight? >> congressman, i will personally a long with the appropriate component had stick a look at this case. it sounds troubling. >> is this occasion were aware of at this point? >> i was generally for me with the case i think, but i will
take a look at the case, yes, sir. >> thank you, sir. mr. secretary, the dhs act of 2002 as you may know lays out the rules and responsibility of the assistant secretary of infrastructure protection. first, can you does which federal agency has the primary responsibility of protecting the electric grid? and secondly, as your assistant secretary made a recommendation to protect the electric grid from all know significant hazards to include as is mandated for her role and if not, why would dhs hesitate to do everything possible to protect the electric grid from potentially catastrophic events? >> within dhs, sir, nppd, our national programs protect their credit, i think i've got that right, is responsible for critical infrastructure, including power grids and the
like. in conjunction with other federal agencies, we have that responsibility but it's not ours alone. it's a shared responsibility of the federal agencies within dhs. that's the place where it belongs, and i agree with the sentiment of your questions about the importance of protecting power grids and substations and the like. well, we have a letter that expresses that the primary responsibility of protecting the power grid assigned to the department of homeland security with assistance from the energy and federal regulatory commission, and i guess i'm just wondering why, this isn't even insinuated right now in your emergency protocols, electromagnetic pulse or geomagnetic disturbance. and i'm hoping that if nothing
else comes from this, that that's on your radar because additional information that seems to indicate that the threat is more significant than you have been aware of. >> i'd be happy to take a look at that. >> with that, mr. chairman, i'm going to yield back. >> the chair thanks the children and recognizes the gentleman from texas, ms. jackson lee, for five minutes. >> we thank the chairman and the ranking member. mr. secretary, welcome. let me on the record thank the many men and women of the department of homeland security that i've approach of working with for more than a decade, certainly since the heinous act of 9/11 to all of us are committed to the security of this nation, and we know that everyday members of your staff of this department are on the frontline, unsigned, not unappreciated. i'm sure my members on the panel
would say they are appreciated but they go by everyday without thanks. everyday we face securing this nation, we owe them a debt of gratitude and want to publicly make that point. we work together to improve their work performance, how we can add resources that are effectively used not just throwing money out there at issue, and we are eating. and i think that is the approach that i hope that you perceive. these questions are certainly mine, and recognize that we have to do this together. i have a series of questions, and let me quickly proceed with them. i can work with my colleague for a number of years, and members of the committee on the -- i know that you're at the border, ma the number should be stated for the record, some 60,000 increase of over 800% since 2011. my subcommittee on border security and maritime security and homeland security at a hearing and the markup which we added language to the poor security authorization bill on
the determination of resources used in a slightly different perspective on issue of human trafficking, unaccompanied children. but erased these conditions, these issues, i would partly like them to come in writing because i've a series of questions. i'm concerned about the detention conditions of these children. we know that this committee some years ago referred to hhs jurisdiction in particular on these children, particularly these families and youth commission. i understand that detained immigrants are the cleanup persons and some detention centers. i don't know if you're cooking for better cleaning up her i want to know what is your understanding of that situation and whether children are used to clean up and do work as well. what kind of legal representation does dhs provide or are they seeking to have providing legal representation for the unaccompanied children? if you could answer that -- let me give my questions because
some of them you'll have to give in writing. i apologize to you. i have a sheriff you've had the opportunity meet with who mentioned the effectiveness of 287 g. let me say he's done enormous job with respect to including or writing m.o.u. that would include having i.c.e. at the table but the real point is that under 287(g) we are finding out that 85-90% of the people are not terrorists or drug cartel members but simply trespasses, marijuana possession, most of these people work in the committee not dangerous. and, therefore, the funny were using as not asking people -- i like to know what you're assessing the effectiveness of 287(g) and the money we spend for it? many of us have worked for the people who are now residing in camp ashraf, camp liberty, excuse me. mek has been declared a non-terrorist group in the united states.
my understanding of these individuals at camp liberty are trying to assimilate and receive status in the united states that dhs and fbi officers are asking them to deny their affiliation, mek, which is no longer a terrorist group. that poses a great difficulty for any of these individuals trying to get it to the united states of america. so i would like you to begin on the children and then work on the issue of 287(g), but i would like you to get each case but he can't get to everything, then just enter mek a double take the others in writing. >> first of all thank you for those questions. we are concerned about the plight of the mek, and we are taking a special look at the interviewing them, screening them for the purposes that you have referred to.
i'm not on the ground there. i'm not versed and familiar with how that process is going, but it's something that i know our government is focused on, and and we have made commitments that we seek to fulfill with regard to the mek. i'm very focused on the issue of children in south texas, as you know, congresswoman. i visited there personally. i'm concerned about detention conditions, as it was in the department of defense, our detention facilities in dod. i took a special interest in conditions of confinement and advocated for and saw a number of improvements to our conditions of detention. detention. and so that's a special interest of mine that i'm continuing at dhs. my understanding of the work program is its voluntary in nature at our facilities. nobody is required to work if
they don't want to. it is a form of activity for people who want to work and get paid for the work. now, is it a lot of money? i don't think it is that it's a voluntary program. >> well, let me just conclude by saying if i can explore it further with you as we can engage in meeting on this as well as a further understanding of the actual questioners or people on the ground in iran regarding camp liberty. you are not there. the question has to be if they've been removed off the list, why would that be at or seen as a bar? meaning they have to denounce it. i do think we need to be there in the process i look forward, i think the chairman, i look forward to secretary pursuing these more definitively both in terms of a detention center and children, 287(g), which i mentioned to you, and the mek.
thank you. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me just say i agree with my colleague from texas about camp ashraf and the injustices that of gun on. appreciate you looking into the. secretary johnson, back in 2011 and 2012, i had conversations here in a hearing with secretary napolitano about one of the top advisers at homeland security named mohammed. i had asked her if she knew about his downloading of two documents from utilizing a classified secret clearance that she'd given him. she said no. however, the night before the director of the department of public safety in texas had been ushered she was briefed that evening about the situation. so either secretary napolitano lied to me or we have people at homeland security that are lying
to state officials. neither of those is a good situation. so i've got a letter here dated may 28 asking you to look into this. she said later in 2012, she looked into the situation and said that he did not shop these documents he downloaded, and the fact is there is a report that did this tour and i know from talking to the reporter even yesterday that nobody contacted the reporter to get the information. it's kind of like asking tsarnaev, are you radicalized, asking his mother, are you radicalized? and then being satisfied that a boston bombing will occur. it's not adequate and we hope you will look into that. i had a letter dated may 28 asking you to do that. would look into the matter further? it is a serious matter if someone with a homeland security advisory council has shopped
information downloaded. wouldn't you agree? >> i read the exchange that you had with secretary napolitano a couple years ago. i am not -- >> but my question is, do you agree that if someone on the advisory council have shopped documents to a national media outlet that he downloaded, that would be a serious matter and wouldn't? >> i agree that unauthorized disclosures of government information -- >> right. so would you agree to look further into the matter since nobody bothered to contact even the reporter that put it in print that that had happened? also, i found the taxes resources very reliable and i provided information from october 2008 to april 2014, texas identified a total of 177,588 unique criminal alien defendants booked into texas
county jails. these individuals have been identified through the secure communities initiative in which texas has dissipated since august 2008 -- participated. a review of these 177,588 defendants show that responsible for at least 611,234,000 individual criminal charges over their criminal careers, including 2993 homicides, 7695 sexual assaults, and i know that these numbers are staggering. ..
>> i know you're new to the situation, but are you going to formulate a plan to reduce these massive numbers of aliens in this country illegally that are, have been ordered removed from the united states? >> i may be new to the job, but i'm responsible for the department. >> sure. >> from the day i started. look, i, in general, i believe that we need to do a better job of working more effectively with state and local law enforcement -- >> well, my time's running out, and i just need to know whether or not you're going to formulate a plan to reduce those numbers in the backlog waiting
deportation, been ordered deported. >> i think we need to reduce the backlog, but i need help from congress to do that. you give me the resources to do the job. i have a finite -- >> so that's the amazing thing. the you do the job and we see you doing the job, then you get the resources you need. i have other questions, and i would ask that the letter dated may 28th and may 29th be provided to the secretary in seeking written answers to the questions. if you would be amenable to having those answered if more me. >> thank you, sir. i look forward to your letter. >> okay, thank you. let the record reflect those are being provided at this time. thank you. >> chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the e gentleman from -- the gentleman from puerto rico for five minutes. >> you did it very well, mr. chairman. it's a hard one to pronounce. thank you. secretary johnson, welcome to the committee.
in your short time in office, you have already proven yourself a worthy successor to secretary napolitano. she traveled to puerto rico in 2012, and i hope you will visit the island as well. i would like to outline a narrative for you and then ask you to comment. i took office in 2009. that year there were about 900 merchandises in puerto rico -- homicides in puerto rico, home to less than four million american citizens. in 2010 there were nearly 1,000 homicides. and in 2011 there were over 1100 homicides, an average of over three a day, the most violent year in the territory's history. in each year our homicide rate was four to six times the national average. and twice as high as any state. of every ten murders in puerto rico, seven to eight are linked to drug trade.
puerto rico is within the u.s. customs zone and is used by organizations transporting narcotics from south america to the u.s. mainland. given this crisis, i examined the level of resources that the dhs and doj were designated to combat drug-related violence in puerto rico, and it was clear that the federal law enforcement footprint on the island was inadequate. let me give two examples on the dhs side. first, in 2011 patrol aircraft for the coast guard -- the lead agency for maritime drug interdiction -- conducted -- [inaudible] hours in puerto rico. if puerto rico were a state, that would have never been allowed to occur. second and also in 2011, cbp closed a boat unit in san juan that had seized over 7,000 pounds of drugs the previous
year. clearly, there was a disconnect between the problem in puerto rico and the federal response. along with colleagues like congressman michael mccall who's now the chairman of the homeland security committee, i did everything within my power to highlight the need for additional federal resources in puerto rico. my colleagues here can attest to this, having heard me raise this issue every time a dhs or doj official appears before this committee. i have no alternative, because the stakes are too high. starting in 2012, our message finally began to sink in, particularly at dhs. much of the credit owes to secretary napolitano who, as thosed, traveled to puerto rico and upon her return created a dhs task force charged with taking steps to reduce puerto rico's murder rate. as a result of this initiative,
i searched 30 agents to -- i.c.e. surged 30 agents to puerto rico last year. between 2009 and 2013, the coast guard tripled the number of days its ships spend conducting counterdrug operations in the waters of puerto rico. the number of coast guard flight hours increased from 150 to approximately 1,000 this 2013. and -- in 2013. and cbp, having assumed of the counterdrug program earlier this year, moved quickly to improve the radar in southern puerto rico that had been destroyed because of bad weather in 2011. the result of this dhs effort combined with enhanced effort by dea and doj and other component agencies has been remarkable. puerto rico still has the highest murder rate in the country, but the number of homicides this year is on pace
to be 40% lower than 2011. the lesson, mr. secretary, is clear: when the federal government is committed to combating drug-related violence this puerto rico, hundreds of my constituents' lives are saved each year. i'd like to give you the chance to comment on the narrative i just laid out, and i hope you can assure me that puerto rico will continue to be a top priority for the agency you now lead. >> well, first of all, thank you for the comments. i'm pleased to know that we've been able to make progress since 2012. and what is, obviously, a very, very important issue and a very big problem. i will, hopefully, i'd like to be able to continue the progress that secretary napolitano taliban in 2012 -- began in 2012. this is an issue that i intend to focus on and, hopefully,
together we'll be able to continue to headache that progress, make good progress. >> thank you. >> chair thanks the gentleman, recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. smith, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have a brief statement, then i have some questions after that. the department of homeland security last year released 36,000 criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods. this would be considered the worst prison break in american history, except it was approved by the president and carried out by immigration officials. by the administration's own admission, 90% of those who were voluntarily released had committed thousands of crimes such as murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, drug trafficking and hit and run. should someone be charged with crimes against humanity? here are some of the other ways the president has ignored or undermined current immigration laws. the secure offense act of 2006 requires the dhs to prevent all
unlawful entries into the u.s., yet the government accountability office reported in 2011 that only 6.5% of the southwest border is under full control. the dhs' widespread abuse of prosecutorial discretion ignores the statutory requirement to apprehend and remove illegal immigrants. immigration and customs enforcement weakened the rules that required illegal immigrants to be detained. the administration has undercut the ability of local law enforcement officials to apprehend illegal immigrants. and currently, the dhs is reviewing deportation policies and no doubt will weaken them even more. if the president cannot be trusted to enforce current immigration laws, how can he be trusted to enforce future immigration laws? mr. secretary, a couple of questions. first of all, in regard to the homicides that have been committed by those who were voluntarily released, will you be able to provide this committee with the details of
those homicides; who was involved, the nature of the crime, the date and so forth? >> it is something that i'm interested in understanding further, and i will provide that information to you also. >> okay. you have that information, do you not, in hand? >> i'm sorry, what's that? >> you have that information available to you, do do do you ? >> i will share that information once i have it. i wrote you a letter, we wrote you a letter that was signed out yesterday that more generally talks about this issue, but i'm interested in understanding further some of these more serious questions, and i will -- >> you had that information, or you wouldn't have been able to give us the details that you did in the letter that you wrote. when can we expect to get the details of those homicides -- >> not long after i get it. >> do you expect that to be within the next week or two? >> i'm not sure. but not long after i get it, sir. i will make that commitment -- >> are you saying under oath right now you do not have that information? >> what's that?
>> you saying under oath right now you don't have that information? >> i personally don't have the information about the specific details -- >> okay, not you personally, but the dhs does not have that information? are you saying that? >> somewhere in the department, hopefully, that information exists. >> okay. it should. >> i have asked for a greater understanding of these particular cases, and i'm waiting for the answers to that information. >> and you will get that to us, we hope, at a timely fashion, is that right? >> i don't have a problem with sharing further details about these particular cases with the committee. >> okay. thank you. my second question is this, in your prepared testimony for today you said comprehensive immigration reform is not amnesty. let me read you the definitions of amnesty. the first is from black's law dictionary. quote: a pardon extended by the government to a group or a class of persons. the 1986 immigration reform and control act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already present in the country.
and from merriam-webster dictionary, quote, the act of an authority as a government by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals. whether individuals pay fines or back taxes or receive citizenship is irrelevant to the definition of amnesty. therefore, would you agree that the administration has given amnesty to thousands of individuals and that the senate immigration would have provided amnesty to millions of individuals at least under the definitions that i just read you from black's law dictionary and from the merriam-webster diction diction -- dictionary? >> through prosecutorial discretion we prioritize our use of resources. and through the -- >> mr. secretary, that's not an answer. >> [inaudible] >> do you agree that the administration's policies have resulted in amnesty to thousands of people, and do you agree that the senate bill would have provided am he'sty to millions of people -- amnesty to millions of people under the definition i just read you?
>> that's not what i consider amnesty. >> so you disagree with the black's law dictionary definition of am he'sty? >> i don't believe any act of prosecutorial discretion in the administration of our immigration laws constitutes amnesty. as i understand the concept of amnesty. and i think i do. >> why wouldn't your concept of amnesty include the definition of amnesty in black's law dictionary? >> i'm not sure of the answer to your question. >> well, it seems to me it's kind of amazing that you would disagree with the longstanding definition of amnesty as given in various dictionaries. now, it's not the first time the administration wants to change the definition or change the term, but i'm absolutely amazed that you don't recognize the legal definition of amnesty. thank you, mr. chairman. i'll yield back. >> mr. chairman? could i ask unanimous consent to put into the record two statements? >> sure. would the gentlewoman describe those statements? >> one from the national
immigration forum and one from the human rights first organization. >> without objection, those will be made part of the -- >> mr. chairman? >> for what purpose does the gentlewoman from texas? >> i'd like to enter into the record the course of action why children can't wait for immigration reform. >> without objection, the document will be made part of the record. the chair recognizes ms. dell vain think for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. secretary johnson, thank you for being here today. i want to take a moment and thank you and fema administrator fugate for traveling to washington, the site of a massive mud slide in my district. i think you'll agree it's impossible to describe the scale of what happened without being able to see it, and i appreciate you coming out. the support of the department through fema assistance has been very critical to everyone there, and as we continue with the recovery efforts, i look forward to continuing to work with you
and fema to make sure that we have all the federal resources available to support the communities of oso and derrington and and arlington as they continue in this long rebuilding process. so thank you again. i want to turn to the issue of immigration policy which is particularly relevant in my district because we have the border with canada, the northwestern border with canada. under federal law right now cbp officers have the right to stop and conduct warrantless searches on vessels, trains, aircraft or other vehicles anywhere within a reasonable distance from an external boundary of the united states. , currently, central agents from cbp operate in a 100-mile zone drawn from any land or seaboarder, and this distance was established by a regulation over 60 years ago. while this may be sensible in some areas, especially on the southern border, in washington state we've seen the border patrol set up checkpoints that
disrupt commerce and hassle residents. i'm particularly concerned about racial profiling complaints we've received during vehicle september in washington state the border patrol reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit alleging that the agency was engaging in discriminatory conduct in its stops. as the review of the department's immigration policies moves forward, i'd ask you to take a close look at this. we need to provide our federal officers with theâuz tools they need to keep our boarders safe and also -- borders safe and also keep our customs and border patrol agents focused on their mission near the border. so i wanted to ask for your commitment to review the 100-mile zone, whether this is the particular distance for the northern border. >> yes, i will take a look at that. i will also take a look at our enforcement activities generally at sea and elsewhere. it's a topic that i'm interested in. as the head of this agency, as a
lawyer, as a former prosecutor, i also want to comment on what i saw when i was in oso. i think all the members of the committee should appreciate the remarkable community effort that we saw the day we visited there. private citizens, local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, state law enforcement and just neighbors who had been at the site of the mudslide for, like, two weeks with no sleep trying to help their neighbors, trying to find evidence of their loss. it was a really remarkable effort, and so i just wanted to note that as well. >> thank you. >> and i hope that your constituents are in a better place as a result and, please, send them my regards. >> thank you, i will. also on sunday "the new york times" reported that even as the federal government cracks down
on undocumented immigrants and forbids businesses to hire them, it's relying on tens of thousands of immigrants each year to provide essential labor, usually for dollar-per-day or less at detention facilities. and in washington state at the northwest detention center, a privately-run detention facility, detainees led a hunger strike recently to protest their conditions which included concerns about their severe undercompensation for the labor they provide to keep these facilities running. and without protections afforded to other workers. the vast majority of i.c.e. detention facilities are operated under contracts with private prison companies and county governments. given that, is there any statutory or regulatory impediment that would preclude dhs from requiring these contractors to pay wages to detainee workers that are higher than a dollar per day? >> as i mentioned a moment ago, this -- my understanding of the program is that it's on a
voluntary basis, but i am concerned about conditions of confinement at our facilities. this is something that i've spoken to you and ad ap smith about -- adam smith about, in particular that's one in washington state. i sent a group from my front office out a couple of weeks ago to visit this facility when the hunger strikes had started there, and i intend to visit it personally, myself, along with other detention facilities. in terms of the law and the legal requirements, that's something i'd want to look into. >> thank you. i appreciate that because i have met with individuals who were released from the detention center in tacoma, and they said that, you know, folks were put in solitary confinement for work stoppages, failing to show up to cover shifts and so, clearly, that does not describe a voluntary scenario. but compensation has been important when they aren't -- they feel like they haven't had adequate food, and they need to work to get enough money to buy
things from the common share, and a dollar per -- come my share, and a dollar per day does not help them. i'd appreciate your feedback going forward, and i yield back. thank you, mr. chair. >> chair recognizes mr. poe for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. a few questions about several things. one, my friend from texas, ms. lee, has head some comments and questions -- made some comments and's and's and about k and their status overseas. i will tender to to those and ask for a written response to myself and the chairman. >> that's fine. >> the 36,000 that have been released, walk me through this. as a former judge, i'd like to kind of figure out what their status is. what is their legal status in the united states now that they are released? >> well, your honor -- >> hey, i've been called worse, so -- [laughter] what is their legal status this the united states now that they've been released? >> well, it depends. my understanding is that some of
those 36,000 were lawfully in the united states. others were not. others were undocumented. >> the undocumented, what's their status? >> they're undocumented immigrants that are subject to removal. >> excuse me for interrupting. got five minutes. so there's technically illegally in the united states. >> those who are undocumented, who were convicted of a crime -- now, there are all sorts of variations on this. we're talking about a class of 36,000 people. >> i understand. >> but if you're undocumented and you're here and you're not -- there's no special status, there's no special -- >> so your illegally -- >> you're not daca, you're here illegally. >> okay. the ones that were released that are undocumented that are now illegally in the united states again, did they get work permits? >> did they have what? i'm sorry? >> did they get work permits when they're released there custody, being released from custody and are now illegally in
the united states again -- >> i couldn't say categorically one way or another. i'd have to know each individual case. >> of the 36,000, kid any of them -- did any of them get work permits? >> i don't know the answer to that question. >> just roughly. percentage wise, i'd like to know that. so let's take the ones that were illegally -- undocumented, they were released. if they are rearrested for something, some other crime, then they are back in the same status, they're back in jail again, and they go through the process again, is that correct? in other words, they're not given some kind of stay out of jail free card that they, now that they've been released? i'm talking about the undocumented ones. >> i agree generally with that, yes, sir. that should not be the case. >> correct. >> if you're released under some conditions and you commit a crime, then that, obviously, changes the circumstances, and,
you know, somebody needs to reevaluate whether you should be running around on the streets. correct. >> my understanding is your department has the authority, obligation to report to the state department those countries that do not comply with repatriation. in other words, a person commits a crime in the united states, they're a foreign national -- forget whether it's legally or illegally -- but they're a foreign national, they go to prison, they're ordered back to where they came from and country don't take them back. why would they? they've got enough criminals of their own. the law says under some circumstances after you make a recommendation to the state department that those countries can lose visas. do you know of any time that that has happened in recent years, where that has actually been made, that somebody won't take them back? china's a good example of those that don't take them back. there are other countries,
vietnam, where they refuse to take them back, and that condition lost diplomatic visas or any kind of visas because of their failure to take it back? >> i'm -- i know that there was a case several years ago. i've forgotten the country -- >> granada, i believe it was. >> i'm sorry? >> granada or gray -- gras nay da, one of those two. >> i've forgotten, but i know that occurred several years ago. >> would you check with your -- would you get an accurate report on that, the last time that actually occurred, when the recommendation was made? >> yes. >> it seems to me, this problem is going to continue when countries don't have any sanction, punishment, the you will, for failure to take back their lawfully-deported criminals. and myself and others on the other side have legislation to try to fix this problem. i have other questions besides the mek, but i'm going to yield back my time to the chairman. thank you. >> thank you. >> chair thanks the gentleman,
recognizes the gentleman there illinois, mr. gutierrez, for five minutes. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. and welcome, secretary johnson. i guess i'd like to, first of all, start out by saying that i am disappointed, saddened that you are not going to announce in the coming weeks the. the president said that he had instructed you to do a review and to humanize our deportation processes in the next 90 days. so i was waiting for a couple of weeks to give you time to finish that review. i want to make that clear. i was in richmond, virginia, yesterday. i wish my colleagues on the other side of the aisle had been in richmond, virginia, with me. they would have met a woman who has a gps ankle bracelet, two american citizen children, and i assure you while she may have --
because of the ankle bracelet you might have thought of her as a criminal -- i saw a mom. i saw a mother of two american citizen children. and she said, please, help me. and i'm going to help her. and i hope you do too, mr. secretary, continue to help people like her from this broken immigration center. i met three other women there, and they were reporters that had come from washington d.c. and one of after another they told me about their broken families. we met a young woman, beautiful young woman, 18 years old. been here since she was 6, spoke in two languages. clearly, the united states is their home. and so i simply say to my colleagues on the oh side of the -- other side of the aisle, i hear you. you want to talk about law and order, law and order and law and order, and i'm for law and order, but i'm also for compassion and justice. and we can find a way where you can have your law and order, and i think we can find a way where we can have justice and compassion too. people make mistakes.
there's a broken immigration system. we should find a way. i get -- the day before that i was, last friday, last saturday i was in riverside, and the day before that i was at loretta sanchez on friday, that's how i spent my memorial weekend, going and visiting. and everywhere there was the cry, mr. secretary, from people being deported, from families being devastated, from a community saying get the work done. so i wanted to simply say to my colleagues, look, we don't have to do it the way the senate says. but i think we have to do it. and let me just say this to you, mr. secretary, while i'm disillusioned, i'm conflicted, too, because i think it's a pretty grand gesture on the part of the president of the united states -- i think, in my opinion -- it's a pretty grand gesture on his part to say no to me, to say no to those mothers this richmond and that i met over the weekend in riverside, to say no to millions of people
who support him, voted for him, cherish him, love him and have protected him. for him to say no to us because he wants to say yes to you. because he wants to reach an agreement with you. i think that's a pretty grand gesture. especially when i have seen the kind of disdain that some members of the other side of the aisle have showed for him. i think it's a pretty grand gesture. and my point is i, like the president of the united states, want to work with you. i respect that you are the majority party in the house of representatives. and, therefore, get to dictate how it is things proceed. but i beseech you that there has got to be a way that we can find some commonality. and i want you, mr. secretary, to understand that i want to be supportive. when you guys talk about criminals, criminals, criminals, do you think we like criminals? i want to find a seamless process in which you commit a violation of the law, and if you're an immigrant in this country, you pay the price here, and you're seamlessly deported
from the united states of america. i don't want them here either. but the only way we're going to reach that is if we fix the system completely. because unfortunately, when you talk about felonies, that they're felons, it is a felony to reenter the united states of america once you've within been deported -- once you've been deported. who on the other side would not reenter this country to regain your relationship and your love with your wife and your children? which one of you would not reenter illegally this country? every one of us would. we love -- i've had dinner, i've sat down with members of the other side. i know how much you love your wife and your children. i know how much you cherish your families. i know what you would do. and i think you know what i would do. so let's simply find a way where we can find law and order and some compassion. and lastly, i just want to say this. mr. secretary, i'm so happy this is the first hearing. i hope to have many, many more in which i actually ask you questions.
particularly their union. >> i just committed to do that on tv. >> i appreciate it. i do appreciate it. operational control of the border, i don't think that's unreasonable to ask. what personal of the bored deer we have operational control of and -- >> we don't exactly compute it that way. we have a fairly sophisticated analysis that demonstrates on he southwest border, that we have enough asset wes feel we have pretty good situational awareness in the more remote areas we have other assets, surveillance assets but not as much boots -- >> time is short here. owout a her saying i do not believe that deportation quotas or numeric goals are a goodded
idea. can you explain to me why you don't think numeric goals are a good idea? >> i think the analysis into what constitutes a secure border requires a more sophisticated approach not just the number of attempted contractings but who is crossing, where are they front drug deals, criminals? i think there's a more sophisticated analysis into border security. >> so where they're from and if -- >> border control agrees withme. >> you they agree with you? >> yes. >> we all try to look at the same set of metrics. you're saying that metrics are not a good idea and it depends their reason for crossing the border. i don't understand. if you're saying it's one -- we have to look at the intent, where they're from, if they're
criminals. is that really -- >> no. >> so it's okay if they don't have status but is a d. >> i believe metrics are very important but not just one metric. don't believe that it is as simple as one statistic like effectiveness rate. there is more that should go into what constitutes a secure border and we have that analysis -- >> something you can share -- >> needs further refinement. >> i'd love to see you're version of that but i haven't seen that. >> i've hat that conversation with other members of congress and am happy to have that with you. >> if there were some sort of document i would appreciate it. byow metrics -- biome -- you said it's a gold standard player, we ought to get to end quote. how do we get there? i want to add another part of
this because i think they go hand in glove. you said that it is your goal that -- i believe in response to mr. king, if you had enough resources you would be able to detain and deport more people. correct? but you haven't asked for more resources, have you? in fact your request is going down. >> in response to the question about biometric exit, i do believe that it is definitely worthwhile goal and requires resources from congress. we're operating and living in fiscally constrained times with huge national debt, and a huge deficit. so, we ask the congress for resources. it's your per prerogative to give -- >> do you have a plan -- the entry-exit program. do you have plan to do that? >> i believe we do. i believe we have a plan to get to biometric exit but it requires resources from
congress, resources from you. >> and the resources you talk about, if you're going to get tougher, is a situation, people here illegally, you said if we gave you the resources you would make that happen, but you're not asking for more resources, are you? >> i have to prioritize where i think it's important. i believe it's important that we add resources to the southwest border, which is why we asked for -- >> why didn't -- did you ask for less -- >> surveillance resources. >> you asked for less beds. why less beds? >> because my budget realities, we must prioritize. >> mr. chairman, with all due respect, a nonsensical answer. it's circular. you're asking for less resources but saving you had more resources you would do your job better and you're asking for less. that doesn't add.
mr. chairman. >> may i be allowed to answer? >> the secretary definitely can answer the question. >> thank you. we make a budget submission every year. we're given a top line to work with. we're given a budget reality to work with. and we have to make hard choices, and in my view, in my judgment, the priorities must be border security, without a doubt, particularly southwest border and some of the challenges we face there we asked for additional surveillance technology there we have to deal with cyber security and counterterrorism threat. we have to provide grants for urban areas that face terrorist threats. we have priorities. i would love to fund every thing i believe is a priority but congress is only going to give us so much money so i have to make hard choices.
i'd like to have biometric exit. it would add to our homeland security. but over the years we have had to make some hard choices about prioritization, and so it's a goal, unfortunately we haven't beenible to fund it as quickly as we would like. >> mr. chairman, would we have to release criminal aliens because there aren't enough beds they made a conscious decision to have less beds and that's what have a problem with. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. and biometric entry exit is not the goal, it's the law, and we would like to see efforts made and we actually think the cost of that is coming down with the development over new technology. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson, for five minutes, his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director johnson, what you're saying basically is you have to
prioritize and -- from the standpoint of your priorities, you believe that border security trumps the number of beds that the congress would want versus what you have asked for in your budget. is that correct? >> not necessarily, sir. the detention of those who are dangerous is part of border security, part of homeland security, part of national security, part of border security. every year we make an estimate of what we think we will need in terms of detention space. it's the congress' prerogative to agree or disagree with that. but homeland security, border security, is -- >> let me ask the question -- >> -- detention of those who are dang rouse is -- dangerous is part of that. >> i understand we spend
$2 billion per year on immigration detention alone. the house appropriations committee is currently considering an appropriations bill to dhs that requires the department to maintain 34,000 beds, while the president's budget only requested roughly 30,000 beds. do you really need these extra beds that the house appropriations committee says that they want to give to your department? >> well, our request, as i recall, was for bed space for about 31,000 or so. obviously that number could change based on current circumstances. so, we're seeing a rise in illegal migration in south texas, for example, which may require additional bed space. but -- >> but -- >> it's a number that can
fluctuate, not necessarily -- >> asked for roughly 31,000 and they want to give you now more than that, three plus thousand more beds. how much does that cost? >> i don't have the exact number. >> let me ask you this. the 2011 i.c.e. performance-based detention standards update existing i.c.e. standards to address gaps in very standards with regards to health and safety conditions. i.c.e. facilities include prisons as well as i.c.e.-owned facilities, and they operate under widely varying detention standards. according to reports from i.c.e., almost half of the average detainee population is not covered by the most recent pbnts standards. what is dhs' timeline that ensuring all facilities that hold detainees operate under the
most recent standards and why do we continue to hold detainees in facilities that cannot commit to complying with the most recent standards? >> i'd like to take that for the record and get back to you in writing. i don't know the answer to your question. >> all right. detaining an immigrant costs over $150 a day. of course immigration detention is purely civil. that is, we're not detaining individuals to -- we're only detaining individuals in a civil proceeding to make sure they show up for the court date. that's the reason we're detaining them. not at criminal punishment. i understand that there are alternatives to detension such as ankle monitors or checking in by phone. which costs anywhere from 70-cents to $17 a day. what plan does your department
have for expanding the use of these alternatives to detention? >> the alternatives to detention program that we have -- i know that it's part of our budget submission this year -- is, in my judgment, an important program and a reasonably effective program. i'm sure we could always do better but i think we become pretty sophisticated in terms of alternatives to detention and the conditions under which we release people to ensure their return. so, i think alternatives to detention in general is an important program. could we do better? i suspect we can and we have to continue to try to make improvements in that area. >> thank you. with that, i yield the balance of my time back. >> chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy, for five minutes. >> thank you marx chairman. mr. secretary, you had a very distinguished career as an
attorney so i'll ask you some legal questions. what is the difference between prosecutorial discretion and the wholesale failure too enforce a category of law? >> prosecutorial disaggression is a prioritization, now, something who is a low priority is not necessarily, therefore, beyond the reach of the law. they arlo priority. but they don't have any sort of status that says, you have amnesty. >> on the doctrine of prosecutorial -- >> i'm sorry. >> are there limits on the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion? >> daka -- >> no. are there limits -- >> or on individual -- >> -- are there any categories of law that the chief executive really actually has to enforce and this time we really mean it? >> as a lawyer i will tell you i believe there are.
there comes a point where something looks like a wholesale abandonment of the enforcement of the law versus prosecutorial discretion. so i -- >> there are at least three different categories of law. law can forbid conduct, can require conduct, and law can tell one branch, you have to do something, like sentence within the parameters. does the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion apply to all three categories. >> daka is an visit assessment of people who are eligible for daca and they -- >> i'm not just asking about -- >> eligible for -- >> -- you were attorney general has concluded his doesn't like mandatory minimums so they're no longer going to inform the grand jury or the sentencing court what the drug amounts are.
i'm not talking about daca specifically. i'm trying to determine whether there are any limits to this theory called prosecutorial discretion. >> i believe there are. >> give me a for instance. give me a category of law where you can't rationalize, due to a lack of resources, your failure to enforce a law? >> like i said, sitting here i'm not sure i can answer specifically your question in hypothetical terms but i believe there comes a point when something amounts to a wholesale ammann -- abandonment to enforce a constitutional law that is beyond simple prosecutorial discretion. >> well, if you -- >> -- in principle. >> you mentioned in response to one question, lack of resources and a need to prioritize. >> right. >> can the legislative branch prioritize for you what we think your enforcement mechanisms ought to be or the priorities of your department?
does it only come from the executive branch or can the legislative branch say we want you to detain this category of alien and we really mean it? >> i think that is a good question. i think that there is a role for the legislative branch in making national priorities and how we enforce and prioritize the law. for example, if i may, congress can ratchet up criminal penalties for certain things. that's an act of prioritization, that's an act of telling the executive branch where we want your priorities be -- >> that enhancement is meaningless if there's no prosecution. you would agree with me there. we can raise the statutory maximum on all crimes. if you say the administrative branch has the unfettered
discretion to not follow the law, knock will ever be prosecuted. >> that's not what i said. >> you cited something the legislative branch can do, which is raise the statutory maximum. >> right. >> what i'm trike to get -- trying to get at is what can the legislative branch do -- i'm not talking about innings right now. i'm talking about any category of law. you really want the law enforced. this time we really mean it, mr. president. we want you to enforce the law. what are our remedies? >> i think that the legislative branch in general, whether it's the enforcement of immigration laws, the enforcement of criminal laws, or how we conduct counterterrorism operations, needs to be careful not to intrude into the discretion at the executive branch should normally have. you cannot, will awe respect, micromanage certain functions
that the executive is charged with carrying out. and i know whether it's the aosa or the department of defense responsible for signing off on the legality of certain military operations, that the legislative branch can and should and has the prerogative to set the broad parameters for national policy, and the executive should be given a certain amount of discretion based on existing circumstances, to implement and enforce those laws, and there's a line between those two that i think is probably a little difficult to articulate, but i believe both branches have a role -- >> i'm out of time. but, mr. secretary, will say this in conclusion, our politics may differ. i don't know you well enough to know. but you're a former prosecutor and there are a former prosecutors on this committee, and the beauty of this country, even if our politics differ, we still respect the rule of law and we are playing with the
foundation of this republic when we decide selectively which lieus we're going enforce due to political expediency. that transsents -- begins to impact the foundation of this republic and i would urge you to help me find where that line is between prosecutorial discretion and just decide you don't like to enforce the law. >> chair thanks the gentleman, and recognizes gentle woman from california for five minutes. >> yes. congressman -- >> few for yielding. i just want to point out that congress has identified the priority in the appropriations language for 2013. we prioritized the removal of criminal aliens and i thank the gentle lady for yielding and yield back. >> thank you. thank you, secretary johnson, for meeting with the
congressional -- we had a fruitful dialogue on at the deportation policies and i appreciate that. i would like to have questions about removals without due process, and i know that those on the other side of the aisle saying there's too much prosecutorial discretion. i believe actually the opposite is true and that is immigration agents now deport most people without ever bringing them before an immigration judge inch 2013, more than 70% of all people that i.c.e. deported were subject to removal procedures which bypassed immigration courts entirely and lacked fundamental due process. so, hundreds of thousands of individuals, immigration agents are the jury and the judge, and in fact deportation decisions are made so quickly that there's no time to see if a person merits discretion or needs protection. take the case of gerardo
contreras from san diego who entered the u.s. when he was 15 and later married a u.s. citizen and had two children. he was pulled over by the san diego police department for talking to his wife on his cell phone while driving. so the immigration officials are called to the scene and just one day later he was deported to mexico, a country he had not lived in for a decade. he appears to be a prime candidate for prosecutorial discretion. he has no criminal history. had lived in the country for over a decade, had u.s. citizen family. instead he never had the opportunity to present this case to a judge. he was pressured by innings to sign a voluntary return form and was not informed of the consequences of doing. so by signing the form he with ad a right to a hearing and consented to removal from the u.s. and now faces a ten-year ban before re-entering.
-- he slipped through the cracks. so, mr. secretary, it's of great concern to me that those like mr. hernandez contrary roar who lives near the border and apprehended are subjected to less due process than those detained by i.c.e. and ice is required to use prosecutorial discretion. do you believe that they department's enforcement priorities should require the border patrol to at least screen individuals for prosecutorial discretion? >> well, i can't comment on the specific case, but in general i believe that in the process of prioritization, border officials should evaluate whether a case
is a priority one, two, or three. all along the way. as i commented earlier, however, i think there are special considerations at the border that you can't ask a border patrol agent, when he is watching somebody crossing the rio grand, to engage in that sort of balancing and discretion. so, it's knockally something that -- normally something that is done once somebody has crossed into the country illegally. i do think that we should -- this is one of the things i'm seeking to do. i think we should do a better job of providing our people with clearer guidance about what our priorities should be, and spending the time to educate and train the work force on the guidelines so they understand
them, they understand what is expected of them and they are truly making the effort to prioritize. i don't think we have spent -- when i say "we" i mean the leadership of my adapt has spent enough time talking to the work force. what i've tried to do is spoken to ero leadership as well as a number of people in the work force, and congressman forbes cited an example earlier at fairfax, virginia, i had a session with a number of people on the front lines in the work force, enforcing immigration laws. so i think an important element of the answer to your question is, better communication between leadership and the front lines, and more effective and clearer guidance. >> thank you. i yield back. >> recognize the gentleman practice texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman,
secretary johnson. i serve on the transportation committee, so i also want to talk to you for a second about the tsa before i get into more pressing issue. currently the passenger fee for scranning is a maximum of $5 each way. the bipartisan budget act of 2013 increased that from 250 to 560 per one way regardless of the number of emplanements. die understand that from 2001 the agency implementing the law so with the 2.50 you maximum out at $10 each way. so, it's 2.50 per, with a maximum of $5, and $10 for a round trip. >> i think that's right. >> my office is hearing rumors there may be a different way you
interpret what we're doing. given this precedent it seems the correct thing to is to look at will macout at 7.20 per round trip so we can put the rumors to rest? >> i know i've looked at this issue. i would need to refresh my rex on how we -- refresh my recollection how we propose the fee be calculated because i want to get this right, and i'm happy to get back to you on that. i do know that one way or another we need to fund our activities. >> absolutely. this is a -- a billion dollar expense to the flying public but falls, i think, under the category of a user fee rather than a tax. you don't fly, you don't pay it. >> one way or another we need to pay for the activities. >> just let me know to make sure there's no intent to go what --
to goon what think beyond kennedyed what beyond what congress -- >> you testified earlier on a couple questions before the inof increasing number of minor children that are crossing the border. in fact, there are two facilities in the district that i represent that house those children. one in bishop, texas, and -- i'm sorry, driscoll, texas, and one literally four blocks from my residence, and i've toured one of those facilities and spoken to the people, and they say they can't deal with the children fast enough. there's so many coming in. you mention you went to a facility in mcallen that was overcrowded with children, and your suggestion and answer to one of the questions of how we fix this is an ad campaign
saying it's dangerous to cross the border illegally, and i'm concern that isn't enough. i think well intentioned manner we have created an incentive for parents who are in this country, lawfully or unlawfully, to hire a coyote day to bring their children across, let them get captured, and we deliver them to the parents at over a billion dollars. i think the numbers are -- i don't want to get the number wrong, either. do you think an advertising campaign really is going to be enough? or some policy changes we need to make to solve this? >> clearly not by itself, sir, and i didn't get a chance to finish my answer to the question. messaging directly to the parents of these kids is an important aspect but not the only answer, clearly.
i think that we ought to -- we have to do a better job of attacking the network, and reviewing statistics recently -- >> my fear is that as drug cart els who run these operations, are losing money, whether it's increased enforcement or legalization of marijuana, they're losing revenue. my fear is they turn into traffickers, the coyotes, and hold out for more more once the child is across the border or worth yes, take the children into sex slavery in human trafficking. i want you to have an opportunity to outline what you propose. i am concerned, we are unintentionally incentivizing actionses that will cost the
lives of children. >> going after the network is important, and we are increasing prosecutions of smugglers. i think smuggling organizations, as you pointed out, are the key to this. nobody free lances across the southwest border that i've seen. they're all the -- they're all paying smuggling organizations to get them up the east coast of mexico, into south texas, and then the interior of our country, 3,000 or $4,000 a head simple think the important part of this is increased prosecutions of smuggling organizations, those engaged in this activity, many of whom can be found in the united states. and so i think that is part of it and i think there are other things we need to consider. this afternoon, when i go back to meet with my team, because this is a problem that we have to address for a number of