tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 15, 2015 2:00am-4:01am EDT
host: here is another one of those many extraordinary pictures. we are seeing it on television as well. men, women, and children from syria in afghanistan clinging to a dinghy sunday. -- and afghanistan clinging to a dinghy sunday. they are off the coast of greece. i'm going to talk to david martin now from charlottesville, virginia. he is an international law professor and a former judge deputy -- the former deputy counsel at the department of homeland security. the president has asked that 10,000 syrian refugees be brought to the u.s. as we start to look at that process, can you define for us first how the u.s. looks at a refugee?
what is the definition in u.s. terms? drawn byfinition is international treaty. a refugee is someone out his or her country of her origin and is afraid to return. the keyword is "a well-founded fear of persecution" in their home country. that applies both to our overseas resettlement programs that we are mainly focusing on now, the people we select and bring to this country as part of this program. and it is those who get to this country on their own and apply for political asylum. this we want to learn how process works. the state department has put out information about its process. we have learned about $1 billion will be spent this year for admission and resettlement of refugees here in the u.s. they go to about 190 communities . they get basic housing, furnishings, clothing, and food provided on arrival. expenses are provided for the
first couple of months. is there a process -- there is a process in place. generally speaking, how effective has it been? guest: overall, it has been quite a successful program. we have resettled almost 3 million people through this oversize -- this overseas resettlement program since the law was significantly revised in 1980 with a new piece of legislation. a lot of people have made the transition. it has relieved a lot of suffering around the world. generally, people have made successful transitions to this country. but it is a complicated program and involves a -- additional pieces become more complicated with more emphasis on security screening, for example, these days. of it is a very confident public-private ownership -- partnership that involves key government decisions, but major roles by nongovernmental
resettlement agencies that do the key work on the ground when people arrive in their community of destination within the united states. for: have plenty of time your calls, so we welcome your calls for david martin, a law professor talking about refugees in the u.s. we have been using the same three lines through the show for democrats, republicans, or independent, but we do have a fourth line we will refugees living in the u.s. -- if youe here and live here, we want to hear where you came from and what it has been like for you here and what your situation is like. to -- we continue to chat with david martin. david martin, if you are someplace in the world and realize you have to get out, want to get out, who do you turn to there? how does the process begin their and how does it connect to the
state department over here question mark -- over here? guest: the key institution for most is the u.n. refugee agency. they will be dealing very often with a lot of the logistics, the immediate reception and care for the individuals. the high commissioner makes toeals to other governments support the immediate needs in the refugee camp or settlement where they are. and it doesn't always start out right away. not matter of fact, it is something they look to run away, resettling people far away. persecution has broken out in the war has broken out in the home country. the preferred solution is to resolve the situation at home and enable them to return. but if the situation goes on for several years, then we begin to look toward what we call other durable solutions. resettlement in
distant countries, as well as possible local integration, and still hope for voluntary repatriation at some point. set up. program is not to just allow anybody anywhere in the world to walk into an embassy and say, a refugee, please let me -- and say, i'm a refugee, please let me into the united dates. it is set -- into the united states will stop it is set up your right here. it is in certain parts of the world and it is what they call access priorities to emphasize return to the u.s. in one of those access categories. and there are special arrangements where the high commissioner for refugees at the u.n. agency can refer someone who is in particular danger even if they are not in my those listed priorities. that way, they get access to the program and then work with an
agency, usually a private of organization funded -- a private organization funded by the u.s. government. they will pull together a case file, and ultimately theft an officer of the u.s. to call of -- to decide if they qualify. if there are other disqualifying factors, such a criminal history , and there is now always look out to see if they have terrorist affiliation. if they pass that screening, then they are on their way. there are several other steps that we can talk about if you like, but then they will be on their way to eventually connecting with a resettlement organization in the united dates, and being sent -- in the u.s., and being sent to a connecting organization to help them for the first few months of resettlement. host: the top five countries any refugees in 2014 were as follows. iraq, 20,000 people.
burma, 14.5 thousand. somalia, 9000. bhutan, 8.3 thousand. democratic republic of congo, 4.5 thousand. in the united states, texas, little over 7000. california, a little over 6000. new york and michigan, 4000, and florida, about 3500 folks. before we get to calls and learn more about the questions and people situations, once they get here and are set up in a town, do they have local sponsors question mark are the same -- do they have local sponsors? are their families question mark how do they get their -- on their families? re? do they get the
there are nine different agencies that may have different roles. , an efforte an area to settle people with other people in their area for integration. those agencies decide amongst themselves how to parse them out. they make arrangements with a local affiliate within the community in which that person is likely to be sent. it might be a local church. it might be a branch office, something like the international rescue committee. they will gear up. they will arrange for housing to be ready for a person. some initial supplies. they will meet the people at the local airport and help them move in. the initial funding comes from what is called a reception and placement grant of
they go so that organization to facilitate paying their first month rent, buying initial supplies, furniture. there's other assistance to get people locally registered like a driver's license if that is appropriate and get them on the road tour successful employment is a real emphasis in our program to get them employed locally. that is one of the initial costs and the initial ways in which the response goes forward. there are programs that are available for transitional assistance. these are people who are very different from other immigrants and we expect them to become self-sufficient right away, having fled as a refugee from a very difficult situation. we do not and his they're going --bring the same immediately we do not anticipate they're going to bring the same immediate resources. a lot of times local communities have additional programs and other special programs that can help them.
successfuly make a transition to life united states for them and their families. host: let us get to calls for david martin. tennessee, on the republican line. i have able,. it's crazy that we bring these refugees and when we have housing.who cannot get we are having housing right to these people as soon as they come in and treat them like royalty. i've and try to get my disability for the last five years and i have them through the system. disability, they will get it right off the bat before we will. people are having a hard time getting jobs as it is and they will get first opportunity for the jobs. host: david martin. concern about the veterans? know about that situation. there are programs that provide assistance for veterans and are
not in direct competition with the refugees. i do not want to make it sound like it is a cushy process for the refugees. we expect a lot. united states government resettlement agency expects a lot out of the people who are coming. they are not going to be handed long-term assistance. it is very limited transitional assistance. it's a difficult time in they need to rise to the child's. contribute too the committee. if done right, it can help to expand the demand for goods and services in that community and help to spin off and create other jobs. i do not think it is a one-on-one competition by any means. we certainly expect a lot of the refugees who are coming to work hard and make their own transition and get into being self-sustaining rather quickly. host: on to hampton, virginia now on the democratic line. deborah. caller: i just want to make a
comment. one of the callers alluded to it in the last segment as far as health from the -- help from the eastern countries like saudi arabia, lorraine, qatar. because mybahrain husband was a private contractor in we also lived in kuwait. countries are very restrictive as far as who they let him. -- let in. a lot of that from my observation, especially in bahrain, where the royal family is sitting, they like to keep a balance. if you are not there to work and pay all the fees and the other very restrictive conditions, they do not let a lot of people in. it is unfortunate, just like the last caller said.
we have issues here with americans, but we are to have to unfortunately be prepared to take them in. host: thanks a lot for calling. it makes me think of a tweet. they basically ask, how many refugees can the u.s. ideally take? do you have a sense of what the capacity of this country is? guest: we are they country and we are blessed with a tradition that has been much more welcoming to foreigners than virtually any other country around the world. the previous caller said, there is a limited number of countries actually accepting refugees for resettlement. the arab just in world, but in other places where there is the same kind of resistance because they have certain ideas about their own population balance or whatever it may be. the our countries like the united states, canada, and australia -- they are the leaders in accepting resettlement. just to be clear, there are
other countries in the region that have rolled up their sleeves and maybe not entirely happily, but they have made room for millions of displaced persons in the area, particularly turkey, lebanon, and jordan. it's not for permanent resettlement necessarily, but they have provided a means to meet the immediate needs of people who fled across those borders. it is a mixed picture. resettlement needs to be an important part of the overall picture, but also the role needs to keep a focus on trying to find resolutions at the source because the entire problem of syria displacement is not realistically going to be salt i recently people a long-distance way. i think we are seeing pulling back and pushed back in some of the more generous countries in europe. we need to see if focus on the long-term solutions. host: greg is an independent. hi there.
caller: good morning. this is exactly why am calling. the first two callers on the same page i am with being concerned about tax dollars. in minnesota, we have a lot of refugees from a lot of different countries. his grandparents came when they were 70 years old and were like a senior. are they eligible for social security for the rest of their life once they come here? can you tell me that? i had this conversation with him at work the other night. he said his grandparents can receive social security because they are over 65. texture money. wow, that's kind of amazing. coming here after 70 years old and coming and coming in receiving a check for 20 or 30 years. host: david martin. they: i do not believe
would qualify for the basic social security system that you and i pay into during our working lives. publicre other assistance programs like to possibly help out with people who are elderly. some kind of be assistance like that, but i expect they came as a much rger family and they would be working and contributing taxes. it would be a fairly small percentage in a situation like what you describe. the really strong emphasis in our program -- and that differs from what other countries do -- is to get people into the workforce very quickly and make them taxpaying, productive members of our society. here forf they are 30-40 years and retired, they will have paid into social security system. host: in the short term, can they apply for things like medicaid in the states and welfare type programs and for how long? guest: there are possibilities to do that.
there are changes to those 1996rements back in 9 that restrictive those abilities. someone who is got here from a very traumatic experience and a fling their country of origin. is a wider array of assistance that is available for the first eight months or so, but i think that's just common sense in light of the flow. not everybody claims that. a love of people get into the workforce within a few weeks of arriving. then there are other programs that are available to help them make a transition. andr the first five years for some program some years, they are not eligible until they have worked for something like 10 years in this country or become a naturalized citizen. ask you abouto security and a background check for refugees coming to the u.s., but i wanted to show you a short clip from abc's this week program. it was the head of the house
homeland security committee. let us take a look. [video clip] that i can be assured these people can be vetted properly, i would be supportive. the problem is that the fbi andified for my committee they all say to me that we do not have the systems in place on properlyd in syria to vet these individuals. we do not know who they are. i visited one of these cantons order -- can't and jordan and the minister of security says he does not know who these people are. mr. clapper expressed concerns and the fbi and homeland privately as well, saying we do not have the intelligence on the ground to that these persons properly. that to me -- my first and foremost job is to protect the american people. we are a compassionate nation and we have to deal with this crisis, but this could be a very reckless and dangerous policy. host: so david martin, vetting
and screening, security, background checks of these folks -- how will they work and how do they work in general? guest: there will be full finger printing. there will be name checks against an extensive array of databases maintained by the national counterterrorism center , by the fbi, by homeland security and others. and intensive interviewing. there are ways in which lies of inquiry -- lines of inquiry have been developed to help this alte facilitate that process. the homeland security officer makes the decision on admissibility. but congressman mccall indicates , it is true. positiont as in a good as we have with others to have extensive information with previous involvement or relations with a source country. for example, comparing to iraq, where we had been in iraq for a while, for better or for worse,
and had a much more extensive array of information to draw upon for the that impede i think it is a mistake to say we cannot do the wedding. -- vetting. thesechallenging and cases will probably take some time to pursue. it is also important to keep that in perspective. congressmanwhat mccall is suggesting. it is not that refugees are really dangerous or subversive themselves. most of the population is peaceful, supportive of similar kinds of values to what we support. but it is the nature of the refugee flow from a chaotic war situation and situation where people may not have documents for certain about their identities that makes it very easy for a very tiny number of isistives to be planted by
, by al qaeda, by other intelligence services. and that is what we have to be on the lookout for. certainly, the government is very well aware that. i know from my experience in the government in the mid-1990's and back again in 2009-2010, the capacities that we have our way beyond what we had 20 years ago. the systems are much more sophisticated. to be applying this. we do have tools that are available. this can be done, but it is definitely a challenge in the government is very much aware of that on the need for doing the copper kind -- proper kind of vetting. we will be taking tens of thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands. believescenario where i that the rk levels can be managed. they can be completely eliminated. host: morphy headlines this morning on distorted "the new york times" shows that there's a migrant crisis and rails have
been cut off. journal,"ll street syrians find it harder to flee the country now. those trying to escape must navigate trenches and bullets coul\. another dramatic photo of syrians leaving turkey. roses: from nashville, tennessee on the republican line. good morning. thank you for taking my call. i have a couple of comments. it seems like -- well, last week, for instance, there were figures released from hhs, which is a government organization -- health and human services. sir, you're downplaying the amount of aid that is given to these refugees. 90% they said were on some sort of public assistance and that includes social security
the snapy, tough cards, rent and housing, all caps of federal programs that are given to these people. my second comment is -- the boston bombers'family was on years andr years and years and years. so we do not need any more people coming into this country that are being assisted by the federal government, which is our tax dollars. if we're going to take anybody ends, it should be the christians were being persecuted. host: david martin, what do you think? guest: i'm not sure what those figures cover. there is no doubt that most refugees at some point get some kind of assistance, but you have to think about the situation. we have a refugee program and that is very consistent about the best of our national tradition. we have to provide some kind of transitional assistance for
people coming from difficult in desperate situations. in at of the people come some point received some sort of public assistance, that is through hhs and is not surprising. the key question is how long they are on it and how quick of a chins addition they can make. we ought to think also about how can makefetime they major contributions to this country as well. to me, it is perfectly appropriate for a short period of time. the maximum is eight months after arrival for some assistance. people generally become very productive members of our workforce and our community. it is in the nature of a refugee program that there may be some transitional assistance, but the emphasis still is very much on getting people off of welfare into productive from functioning in our society. host: we have jacking in louisiana. ville?on arnold
caller: one small comment -- we have over 40% of our population that does not work at these people should be working before we get additional refugees. these 40% are on government assistance and have been for years. not months. we have thousands and thousands that have come across illegally and those are not deported. we have some that have come on visas and they are overstaying their visas by years. how can you tell these people are going to be self-sufficient within eight months to a year? how can you possibly tell us that is what happened? host: let us hear from david martin. guest: the statistics bear out
that people who come as refugees do that. in charlottesville, we have a pretty active refugee resettlement program. there are you number of local employers very supportive. people get into the workforce frequently. children get into school. people are working hard on learning english. 40% of americans are not working? i think a lot of those are my generation -- baby boomers retiring and people who are older. they are not working by choice. it is important to have people be productive in our society, but i think overall, those who come as refugees heavily been a success story and have made major contributions to our society. the washington post recently put out a lengthy story about all this. they have a map of the u.s.. getting back to those numbers of which states are receiving what number of people. by the colors here, the pink-red red colors are the bottom 20%. they are the state that take
fewer than six refugees per 1000 residents over the two years. ,hose on the land are montana wyoming, mississippi, alabama, west virginia, south carolina, delaware. then they talk about the top 20% , taking in more than 68 refugees are 100,000 over the is ledveral years to it by michigan, kentucky, north dakota, south dakota. we will continue to look at this map as we go to our next call in your city, democrat. good morning to you. caller: just a registered democrat. i made a comment and i want to repeat it about israel's attitude. interesting the movement that israelis are safe that they don't want anybody else in there? netanyahu said there are enough room. i'm appalled by americans, particularly the man from tennessee.
they haveink acknowledged evolution. they just want to keep people out. so much for tribalism. i do not even like the idea of borders. host: let us go to wayne in el dorado, arkansas. you are on with david martin, who is with the university of virginia as international law professor and former deputy counsel at the department of homeland security. go ahead. caller: thank you, dr. martin. i would like to point out there was an extremely pressing a book written in 1975 called "the camp " which in detail describes the current phenomenon. granted, it was a bit overdrawn because there was a million people who arrive on the shores of france. correct the politically nonsense that we have got going on -- we got to set this and we are all brothers under the skin. our christian ideals require the stuff.
it is brought out how senseless is is when you're trying to absorb a million people of disparate customs, religions, and nationalities. the second thing that it points out is that we have seen only this year the first wave of immigrants. i can guarantee and i will put money on it that next year, it is going to be even worse. my question to you is what are we going to do with the second wave of immigrants? thank you. guest: thank you, wayne. inead the book and i was government also back in 1980 when we had the boat let from 120 5000 people came within a few months and a lot of people set this sounds like that particular book. i agree that it is overdrawn, but it is a problem when there is a massive disorganized flow. ultimately, massive population movements cannot be the main
part of the solution to conflict and human rights abuses around the world. we have to find ways is a world community to address more of what is going on at the source. i do not know that there will be a second way. i think what we are seeing just ,ver the weekend in germany changing some of it signals an thatent plans, indicates at least the way that chancellor merkel's promise of accepting several thousand people was interpreted, tt that has simply created a very unworkable situation. ultimately, i think resettlement will be a part of the solution to refugee problems. i hope that the current situation will be the stimulus for greater assistance provided by countries around the world, especially including those who are not taking very many people , tout a wealthy countries
provide assistance in place in the camps where there have been inetter situation turkey, lebanon, and jordan. and ultimately to activate the world community to find new ways to address the underlying conflict and try to bring a solution there. refugees have often unfortunately played that role in the past. they brought to the attention of the world community conflicts or human rights abuses that have been ignored because some people are showing up in distant countries. sometimes that provides a greater stimulus for adjusting the root cause. i think we will also see european countries tightening up in their arrangements and trying to shift whatever resettlement is occurring from this unfortunate situation right now, where essentially germany's pledge seem to be dependent on people getting to germany on their own, which means they had
to go on foot or across other countries or through smugglers utes. if resettlement countries are going to take more people, they need to emphasize the regions where they are and move them in a more leeway. that will help, reduce the flow and make it more manageable and probably reduce the numbers and i hope turned more attention toward solutions in the region. host: we have lebanon, new jersey on the line. hello, michael. caller: how are you doing today? i have to take a position that we should be taking a 50 million syrians, libyans, iraqi, and citizens because we have been supporting saudi arabia for the last 10-15 years. we invaded afghanistan. we had faded iraq. -- invaded iraq.
we supported the overthrow of the libyan government. we are maintaining a civil war of $1syria because billion of funding who are equipping rebels of isis and al qaeda. hoosiers possible. in total war crime charges are taking against the leaders of the united states, we the americans are going to pay the price of all refugees around the world. --eat federations reparations should be made to the refugees. this did not happen until we invaded iraq, and try to kill the assad regime, which is the groupolerant religious for christians in the world. host: got a lot out there. david martin, anything you want to respond there? guest: the refugees and lots of those regions well before the most recent u.s. actions.
i think it is reducing a very complex and tragic situation. to try to make it look more black and white. i do not think casting blame with that is particularly useful. i think we have to find ways to address quite a number of problems creatively and it will justmix of solutions, not the single set of measures that were mentioned there. host: to the politics, "the lead story --es" syrian refugee crisis a no win for obama. human rights group says that the president's opening bid of accepting 10,000 refugees is far too timid in the face of communitarian catastrophe playing out in the middle east. his colleagues in congress plan to raise him tenfold, but they bite that the republicans in congress one that the u.s. isn't nearly prepared to that the refugees and says that a glass
muslims are certain to use the program to get a foothold in the united states. calling in from maryland on the last couple of calls here. go ahead. caller: hello? host: go right ahead. have a mr. martin, i question -- i have a comment. obama said america is only a strong as its middle class. how can we create a stronger middle class for americans when we allow this assistance to go to the refugees that are coming into this country? saide same time, santorum a lot of people that are coming into these countries that their visas are not being checked and their overstaying and that is creating a job problem. i will let you respond. issues --re are two one is addressing undocumented
migration outside of the law and that includes people overstaying their visas. i would support a stronger package of these measures. we would do more with regard to future undocumented migration combined with some realism about the population that is arty living here. that is one issue. with regard to refugees, again, most refugees come here and find their way into the middle class. if they do not, their children do. they can help support and strengthen this country. i think we have got to lift the refugee program in the longer term cycle. a lot tontributed society and fulfills a key part of our tradition that goes all the way back to the founding of this nation to provide assistance to those who are in need. we do it in a measured way in a sensible way and i think we ought to continue to do it and we will find that it does help support the economy, the
culture, and the richest of this country. host: one last call is gary from asheville, ohio. if you could be brief, we are running short on time. like to know what the ideal population of the united states is. number 2 -- why don't you worry about the people of america, american physicist -- citizens? their ancestors made it to the country before all the free giveaways. what about 46 million people on food stamps and those on welfare? care of to take american citizens before we try to take care of the other people in other countries. host: thanks, gary. final thought from david martin on this whole program in the process of bringing refugees here to the u.s. guest: i think we need to recognize that this is one very small piece of an overall response in a very difficult situation. countries thater would just mentioned -- refugee resettlement has been an
important part of what we've done. s with done pretty effectively in a cost-effective way. most refugees become functioning support of members of our policy. the refugee program has been good for this country and has been designed to keep it manageable and relatively inexpensive. we ought to keep that in perspective and try to find ways to do better and address the situation in the source region. the former martin is deputy counsel from the department of common security from 2009-2010 and is currently a law professor at the university of virginia and just.
>> without objection the committee will come to order and the share is authorized to declare recess at any time. this thtitle of this hearing is violence on the border and keeping the u.s. personal safe. the united states is mexico's largest trading partner and foreign investor. mexico is the united states' third largest trading partner after canada and china and this country's second largest foreign supplier of petroleum. we have people with loved ones there, one of the more beautiful places on the planet, lots of
recreation and good reason do is interact with the good people of mexico and enjoy one of the most amazing countries on the border of the united states of mother. it is one of the busiest border with one million travelers and one billion worth of goods legally crossing the border each day. i would argue mexico is one of the most dangerous places on the planet. we don't have to look further than the state department's warnings about travel to mexico. the state department warns and i quote gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with mexican authorities occurred in broad daylight. criminal organizations created roadblocks to stop the police from responding to criminal activity. carjacking and highway robbery is high and u.s. citizens have been murdered in such incidents.
according to the united states department of states bureau of diplomatic security, the municipal police was suspended among the large scale corruption. the mayor of laredo disappeared on the night of february 27th, 2014 near his house along with businessman miguel ortiz. he was killed and dumped 35 miles south of had state. their bodies were found in the trunk of a car on march 1st 204. in june of 2012, a bomb exploded in his parking spot at city hall. the month before, car tell members left decapitated bodies of 14 people in a van in front of city hall claiming to be from
el chapo. the banner threatened him and accused him of working with the others. the police chief of laredo disappeared and two brothers found dead in the trunk of a car nearby. i happen to be a member of the church of jesus chris of latter day saints and there is an article about someone from the united states, from my district, going to serve on a religious mission who was shot during a robbery in mexico. it is a violent and dangerous place. the lawlessness is the direct result of the drug cartel. these cartels expanded the kidnapping, extortion and murder. this isn't new news. according to the border patrol council, we will hear testimony about the official death tol
from cartel violence is 60,000 but the unofficial death tol is 120,000 killed and another 120,000 missing or presumed dead. mexico is 103 in international corruption index that ranks countries and terrorist based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. it is in the company of china, moldova. peace ranks of countries from least to most violence mexico is 144-162 being similar to lebanon in terms of violence. we have nine embassies and two consultate and two are of
interest in today's hearing. both consulates operate despite the state department warning saying violent activity occurs more frequently along the northern border. in an attempt to improve safety, the compounds of both are safe, and despite the plans construction has been delayed. both of the facilities are being inspected under the department design excellence initiative. they have governor to show they can build them faster and less expensive. the state department under president obama and secretary clinton changed this making them more expensive, slower and more people are kept in danger. given the warnings about the
dangers in mexico poses to u.s. officials, it seems building the facilities should be a priority but it has been a fiasco over the years. construction is not going to be completed until november of 2017 and spring of 2018 in the other location. we had a chance to visit the embassy in mexico city. we entered into a contract to purchase a piece of land to build a new embassy. we have paid roughly half of that. $60 million to colgate and p palmolive but that doesn't take place until they cleanup the location of containments.
they decided to buy the brown field. it was dirty, it was toxic and not ready to be built on. they thought they could clean it up. but it continues to be so dirty today the mexican government will not approve it because it is too toxic. so we have an older facility that is not adequately fortified, we have massive growth in the number of personal they want to go into this embassy and the construction cost jumped to $763 million. if you look at the total cost, including the sight acquisition, design and construction, we are looking at $943 million to build this embassy that is years behind now. part of the reason of the increase happening there is the number of deaths. the number of deaths projected was 891. now it is 1, 335. why the increase number? in large part because of the security problems in mexico.
we increase the amount of trade but need more security personal to do the assessments. this puts the total at $706,000 per desk. now, the original embassy in mexico city was scheduled to be completed in february of 2019, but we are looking at middle of 2020, if not further, it is still to this day not been approved by the mexican government, the money has been paid, but we are not able to move into that facility and it is totally unacceptable. the state department also indicated plans to take away danger pay and allocations of u.s. personal who have been receiving it. danger pay is money provided to employees who are willing to work in a dangerous area defying the logic to warn americans about the high risk and danger of travelling in mexico but end
the danger pay for diplomats here. behind the scenes they say don't worry about it. having travelled to mexico a couple times and talking to statement department personal it is right at the top of their issues. don't take away our danger pay. you have people working in the consulate who have a couple square miles in which they can move. i talked to the state department personal who can not go out and shop or movies or do anything other than stay on that compound because of the extreme violence and danger yet the state department wants to take away the danger pay. we have people who are shaking their heads saying that is silly. but you know what, how ironic that the house republicans are fighting to help keep the danger pay for the state department employees. they want to change that in mexico. and that doesn't make sense to us. we will explore that. crime in northern mexico is impacting the u.s. assets in the
country. on june 7th, a truck leaving the united states consulate was hijacked and they stole more than 1100 border crossing passes that are visas used to entther united states. some were recovered but more than two dozen are still missing. the hijacking of this truck should be of no concern. no highway routes through the state that includes these areas are considered safe. american assets in the sky are at risk. and members of a cartel shot at a custom border patrol helicopter hitting it twice and forcing it to land. i saw the helicopter and talked to the pilot and other gentlemen on the helicopter. they were on the united states side of the border but taking fire from the mexican side of the border. a pretty brazen attack on a u.s.
helicopter doing patrol on the united states side of the border. previous to that there were attacks on mexican helicopters from drug cartel members. they took down a helicopter in another part of mexico. no one was injured but the attack made it clear they have no reservation about expanding violence. danger and violence in mexico is appare apparently not much of a priority for this administration. secretary kerry, i understand he has a busy job but we have one of the most important partners and important relationships we have in the world is with mexico and in 29 months the secretary of state has visited mexico how many times? one time. it is not a priority for this administration. instead they are taking away danger pay and trying make the case everything is good. but i have a mission president
sh shot, agents shot at in the sky, and we as the united states of america need to do better. we have to do better. they are our next door neighbors. there are a hundred million people there. that demands more attention than one quick visit. makes we wonder they want americans to think everything is fine and safe and hard to und understand why so little diplomatic effort has been made there. on july 15th we sent a letter. on friday, before this hearing, going into labor day weekend the state department dumped 110,000 documents no rolling production, no letting the staff pour through this. this is how they act with the oversight and government reform
committee. we will adjust but dumping 110,000 documents on us friday, before labor day, coming into this hearing. you expect that to go unnoticed? unacceptable. my question for the panel today is do we have all of the documents? i want you to certify and tell me i have everything i need. that will be one of my first question. yield to the ranking member, mr. cummings, from maryland for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for holding the hearing today. as i listen today, i am hoping the witnesses listen carefully. i think you raised legitimate concerns and i happen hoping they address them. i think to thank the ranking member of the subcommittee on border and maritime security for being a leader and promoting
aggressionive action to protect the united states and our diplomatic core overseas. drug cartel violence in mexico threatens american and mexican citizens on their families on both sides of the border. it also negatively impacts our important bilateral trade relationship with mexico. combating the violence and stabalizing the region needs to be a top priority of both countries. congressmen villa's position is that the consulate should be open to support american citizens and economic interests on both sides of the border and i agree with him and find his argument persuasive. closing u.s. consulates in mexico will destabilize the region and make our borders less
safe. consulates in mexico play a critical role in implementing the initiative's 2.5 billion investment in disrupting organized groups, institutionalizing the rule of law, and building stronger communities. many of our u.s. consulates house our federal law enforcement efforts to combat the drug trade and strengthen bord security. in addition, many u.s. companies including dupont, tyco, and general lect have significant business interest in mexico. these other businesses provide 65,000 jobs in matt more us and depend on the support provided by the u.s. consulates. they provide crucial services to
u.s. citizens residing in and visiting mexico. our diplomatic relationship with mexico is a critical tool for stabilizing the region. we need to strengthen this diplomatic relationship especially in regions that need it most. not damage it by closing the consulate. i believe mexico should do more to enhance security in the region. but the u.s. also has a role to play such as stemming the flow of guns. congressman villa has suggested to establish economic zones in northern mexico similar to those that have already been implemented in southern mexico. these zones would include joint economic plan that would provide new opportunities for communities on both sides of the border. these ideas deserve serious
consideration. we must insure mexico is doing everything it can to root out the corruption that plagues law enforcement and civil institutions in order to effectively combat drug cartels. greater stability will encourage new economic investments. effer. in march, the bureau of alcohol and firearms and tobacco reported more than 100,000 guns were recovered in mexico and submitted for tracing from 2009-2014. of those 100,000 guns, 70% of them came from the united
states. guns entering mexico are coming in from the united states. this is one reason i am proud to co-sponsor, with my good friend, congress woman maloney, the gun trafficking prevention act which is being reintroduced on a bipartisan bases by our colleague ms. maloney. if we can stem illegal gun trafficking in the united states there is no doubt the positive effects will be seen by our neighbors to the south. finally, let me say this. the united states must take all appropriate steps to insure our diplomats are safe. i agree this must happen. this includes building modern, secure, diplomatic facilities. construction plans are underway in mexico in areas to build new
diplomatic facilities that will house marine barracks and insure greater protection of our personal. i understand that the state department is changing how it pays employees serving in dangerous and difficult environments. i appreciate the department's effort to use resources effectively and consistent with the law. but i believe no employees who serve on the frontlines abroad should face reductions in pay. i look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how to further improve the safety of u.s. personal while promoting our london long standing and mutually beneficial relationship with mexico. i yield back. >> i would like to associate my self with your comments about some of our colleagues, mr. villa as well as mr. claire who
is here and joining us on the stand, even those these two gentlemen are not on the committee we have a traditional of asking uu -- unanimous conset they be allowed to participate. without objection so ordered. we appreciate the perspective of these gentlemen who live in great proximity to what we are talking about and we appreciate their passion on the issue and their care for the loved ones there. appreciate their perspective and glad they are joining us today. we will recognize our first panel of witnesses. i will hold the record open for five legislative days for any
members who would like to submit a written state. gregory starr is here, assistant secretary for the bureau of security at the united states department of state. ambassador moser is the director of overseas building operation at the department of state and has a long history at the state department. we appreciate your service and thank you for joining us. ms. saarnio is the deputy assistant secretary for western hemisphere affairs. and mr. robert harris works at the custom bord protection and brandon judd works for the affairs committee. if you rise and raise your right hand so we can swear you in before the hearing. thank you. do you swear or affirm the
testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect all witnesses have answered in the afffirmative. we will appreciate if you limit your verbal testimony to five minutes. mr. starr you are recognized for five minutes. >> chairman chaffetz, and ranking member cummings, and distinguished committee members, good morning and thank you for the invitation to discuss the security situation of the embassy consulats in mexico. our national interest require us to serve in dangerous places around the world. however, it is clear that the united states embassy and consulate in mexico are
exceptionally important platforms for engagement to advance our national interest. i was in mexico a few weeks ago and can bear witness to the hard work of u.s. personal serving on both sides of the border. i saw the challenging circumstances in which many of our people operate. environments such as mexico involve constantly shifting threats that require planning, agile decision making and diplomacy. most of all they require us to be present, fully engaged and hundred percent committed to the security of our people and facilities. in mexico we engage with and seek support when necessary from host government that recognizes interest is links and bilateral cooperation is required to counter the threats posed by criminals. threats and attacks on mexico underscore the importance of the bilateral relations and security
cooperation. our embassy and consulates play a critical role in providing services to american citizens, issuing visas and entering key foreign objectives. i work as the department builds diplomatic relations in mexico to increase safety. they are vital platforms for diplomacy all of which will neat rigorous oversea board standards for security. during my resent visits, i walked with officers to view the additional security measures taken and augment host countries.
will fit into the fabric of what uniquely defined as the foreign service committee. knowing the challenges ahead they will lead the egregiously step up to fill the positions we have in mexico and throughout the overall. lurk -- working to have a safe platform for a figure as international interest and i want to think congress for the resources and support you have provided a with the years i'll be glad to be an answer any questions that you have. >> good morning german. and the ranking member and members of the committee. thank you very much for the invitation to appear before the committee today security is set top priority for the building operations the secure back in 1989 has more
secure facility is with those other under destruction. these societies provide more than 35,000 people. those index -- mexico strengthen the bilateral relationship to increase the mexican commitments to counter narcotics trade in border secured debt -- border security. and most recently from monterey together these facilities have a safer workplace for over 770 staff our work continues in northern mexico with a
consulate general under construction and expected to be completed in 2017 the new consulate will have space for approximately 150 staff. and expected to be awarded for construction in this fall and completed 2019. the new consulate general is 197 staff. we have an active search under way in mexico to meet our commitments and we are under contract and anticipate because process to evaluate sites and rand additionally in mexico city
includes office space for 1300 staff members and the consulate area with over 75. every step of the way consol of the projects. physical technical lore industrial security with early site selection all u.s. diplomatic facilities meet the department's standards for security and safety. by 2020 we expect to construct a broken ground online diplomatic facilities to have a secure platform to conduct diplomacy to fill the of objectives for years
to come and i am happy to answer your question at anytime. >>. >> chairman and ranking member and distinguished members of the committee stage for the opportunity to testify today progress a deputy to the assistant secretary of state i want to assure you as macaulay's have the safety and security is a top priority. i started my diplomatic career and never be proud to serve in mexico again. the state department is to assist citizens of the border region. with the strong bilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of u.s. personnel
along the u.s.-mexico border. the state department closely examined the locally employed colleagues in facilities and the department assesses daily u.s. person space as they do their job in a constantly shifting landscape. we think a balanced between the critically important work our people to but at every step we work to insure security and safety of all american citizens, but particularly colleagues in mexico. the embassy meets frequently with mexican federal, state, and local counterparts to discuss these concerns settle a program of measures are taken to protect personnel and u.s. citizens. we have systems in place to
allow it to communicate rapidly but our travel warning and security messages provide citizens with the best assessment of the risks they may face when traveling to certain regions in mexico. the state department with key u.s. government agencies with the department of komen security and defense and others through the initiative to protect from a crime and violence that they generate. because of the robusta dialogue that is ongoing mexican federal authorities have taken action to improve security conditions to reduce violence particularly in the state we'll is states government is represented at the border consulate.
the up bilateral economic relationship is huge. 80% of that trade crossed the border our integrated relationships and hundreds of thousands of people illegally crossing the border each day. mexico remains the t destination for travelers and the united states we estimate on any given day 1.5 million american citizens in mexico. the u.s. consulate general support this vibrant relationship as services for tourists and workers and students to provide critical services to over 130,000 citizens living in their district and thousands of visitors and commercial travelers. they include passport issues
and renewals abroad, providing information on voter registration and resources for documents in the united states. also provides emergency services to citizens who are arrested or kidnapped or facing prosecution and. reset keys -- readers than the level of violence in reassess that on a daily basis. we believe u.s. interests are best protected by maintaining a strong presence on the ground in mexico and continuing post law-enforcement security relationship. we review and monitor the situation daily and take all appropriate steps including government personnel i want to assure you this says and will be a top priority for me and readership and the department. thank you for the opportunity.
>> chairman, ranking member and distinguished members of the committee, i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to speak about the department of homeless security campaign joint task force that represents the next evolution border security on our southern border her or assume a position of director of the new pilot taskforce december 15, 2014. prior to this position i was the commander of the south texas campaign ricer february 2012 through december 2014 in laredo tex.. i have held the reds executive leadership positions including serving as chief patrol agent and in spokane washington border virtual specters in chief of intelligence operations and the deputy chief of the
border patrol were i'll lead to the transition into the customs border protection in 2003. i want to speak about of approach campaign in the joint task force west. and directs resources in a collaborative fashion with component validated targets standing range of challenges including illegal immigration and drugs human and arms trafficking in illicit financing of all operations. reworking hand in hand with my counterparts from the west coast guard in spatial -- special agent in charge director of joint task force investigation said although we're in the early stages we're working to courtney forces to leverage the department of defense state
and local and tribal resources to combat the criminal organizations who exploit vulnerabilities in the southern border. this level of integration is unprecedented since the creation of the department in 2003. the joint task force will secure the of the approach by integrating and prioritizing operations the five primary objectives are integrate intelligence capabilities institutionalize counter network operations to identify target criminal organizations and networks, apartheid is investigative efforts to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and that works, strengthen international prosecutorial efforts against criminal organization enterprises and
significant activity impacting the task force area. finally advance the task force mission through unified communication efforts. the structure stretches across the department of strategic objectives across for geographic corridors california, arizona, new mexico, west texas and south texas. focusing on creating and implementing a standardized methodology to identify and prioritize strategic targets based on national security security, public safety importer security threats. we have begun the process by developing a concept of operations in course of action for each corridor with a goal to expedite the counter network operations it is prioritized transnational criminal or gate -- organizations on
october 1st, 2015. this is never been done in a coordinated means across up the entire southwest border these operations will expand our ability beyond the border from the point of for june to a destination point through the interagency cooperation. the joint efforts results to identify targets their investigation and administrative actions. the joint task force framework enables the justin streamline collaboration with the other to government entities. in the south texas corridor we have taken steps to move past collaboration and into the integration of intelligence and introjection resources that have conducted operations against threats. bin new partnership reduces barriers and duplication of
effort to provides for unity of the threat networking and enhances the ability to adjust mantle the networks. i am confident moving forward the campaign will disrupt and dismantle threats in a strategic manner like never before to improve our ability to combat criminal organizations to present a threat to secure the border of four to answering any question. >>. thank you. >> in june a helicopter was shot down in laredo tex. this was a wake-up call to the increasing violence on the border. unfortunately this was far from isolated. iran 2014 less than 100 miles from that shooting border patrol agent was
murdered defending his family from two armed immigrants fall on a fishing trip one had been deported for times the other twice. 20 years ago about the time i joined the border patrol the cartel's did not exist or were not widely known although it was organized by organized crime but not nearly at the level of today there was relatively small time players conducting within a given area but all the violence could erupt the older generation rather risk losing a load to border control then opened fire. that brought unwanted attention of all sides of that was bad for business. this began to unravel in the early 2000's with the emergence of the drug cartel. they are a well-organized, heavily armed and pathologically
violent the official death toll is 60,000 more than united states military lost in vietnam however the official death toll is over 120,000 killed and another 27,000 missing and presumed dead in mexico they kill without hesitation or fear of prosecution. the share they shot down a mexican army helicopter. why would we expect them to behave any differently on the border? the second factor driving the increased violence, when i first started a few verses in the mexico free to tell your information with a single fingerprint and reloaded you on the bus to the border it was a revolving door with cases reagents would often and arrest the same individual twice in the same shift.
but three positive developments changed as we collected information instead of capturing one fingerprint we we take all 10 fingers and running those against all criminal databases with the department of justice. then we could identify with the certainty criminal aliens attempting to re-enter to identify those that were arrested. second was the implementation of the delivery system in the third was immigration and customs enforcement deportation program. i want to be very clear with the recent comments with the assertion is that the border is far safer than it ever has been. in 2014 and supported 177,000 convicted criminals of that number 91,000 was arrested trying to illegally
re-enter. in 2014 they apprehended just under 500,000 illegal immigrants that one out of every fiber rest was a criminal alien. almost a percent deported were convicted of aggravated felony including murder, rape, sexual assault with a child and drug and weapons trafficking. these are not petty criminals and approximately 60 percent of those were already deported at least once before. this is the challenge we're facing today. there are those who paul point to lower apprehension rates to say it is secure but agents will tell you it is not and the southwest border certainly is not saved. we know the problems what can we do to improve? first increase manpower there 29,370 agents in the
country that is where congress mandates but we are 2,000 last we don't even have the floor that congress has mandated we maintain. we are up 5,000 agents short of where we should be. second supervisory staffing levels it is extremely tough -- top-heavy organization with too many layers of management. supporter patrol has a supervisor for every four agents they should mandate the 10 / one ratio and demand attrition that ted return another 1500 agents to the field because at the time i will point out we need to continue with enforcement, improved trading and prosecute assaults against agents and in this manner i believe we can decrease of violence on the border to help maintain
border security. thank you very much. >> the key for your participation in service now i recognize myself or five minutes to the state department witnesses for people on this committee sent a letter dated july 15, george cbp, my question is what percentage of the documents asked for in this letter of this committee has been given? >> i don't know the exact percentage but we provided 150,000 pages. >> it doesn't matter unless we have the right percentage >>. >> i am not aware of that. >> is directed to secretary kerry. mr. starr? >> i do not know.
>> should we issue a subpoena, mr. starr? >> i believe most documents. >> ambassador, mr. moser? >> '01 to assure you that i or members of my staff or more than happy to work with your staff. >> we sent a letter july 15? what do we need to do? do i need to issue a subpoena? bin and we will work with you to produce the documents. >> when? >> i cannot tell you how fast the process will work. >> that's for sure. i agree with the one that i should not have to waste any of my time asking for documents knowing that we were working towards a hearing on this date. mr. harris come on the border the secure fence act of 2006 to find operational control as the prevention of
all of of injuries including those by terrorists or unlawful aliens narcotics and other contraband. the goal was to achieve one of the present operation based on your knowledge and experience what percentage of the border today? >> i would have to differ to give a more detailed response to my current capacity that is not within my area of focus. >> the metric that you all look for on that? >> i am involved with counter network operations basically to work with the components. >> you don't have an answer. what percentage? >> according to the agents better on the front line that see what we arrest and what gets the way we are lucky if we are 40%.
>> mr. starr, one of the front-line people that we rely on for those americans working at the consulate consulate, and you know, what we pay those local guards and a monthly basis? >> i could not give you the dollar figure but we did go over this with the new contract we're putting in place. but it is a competitive salary in terms of any other cards in the country and probably competitive with the police as well but it is based on mexican salaries. >> that is the concern repave the local boards roughly $316 per month i recognize it is mexico and wages will be different but does that sound right?
for all local guard to guard our u.s. facilities? >> edges the prevailing wage in mexico. >> the opportunity for corruption i think is the concern i was going to ask about the ratio of management and the agents but i thank you have addressed that. one of the concerns i have is getting these facilities to secure the personnel we were operating under standard of the c design something secretary powell put in place under the obama administration wrote with secretary clinton they've moved to this. tijuana was built under standard embassy design is there a thing wrong with a tijuana facility? is it too ugly? >> but it was it