tv Ken Cuccinelli and Others Testify on Migration at the Southern Border CSPAN November 14, 2019 1:19am-3:15am EST
citizenship and immigration services and mark morgan acting commissioner of u.s. customs and border protection. committee members asked about the progress made in adjudicating immigration cases, current levels of migrants in detention centers and ways to assist law enforcement at the border. this is just under two hours. story
>> [inaudible conversations] >> this hearing will come to order. i want to first thank the witnesses for taking the time for your thoughtful testimony. i want to thank the audience members. we appreciate. it must have been paid m staff. i appreciate everybody coming here. this is from my standpoint during title this unprecedented migration of the u.s. southern border the year in review. but i would like to do this start with the decade in review. i would refer everybody to my chart. this is a chart that i've been really updating for probably the last three or four years as long as you've been on the committee. i think it's important to kind of layout for the history has been from my standpoint some key moments, key policy changes that i would certainly argue contributed to what i consider an ongoing crisisn even though we've made some progress. the chart reflects all the
miners and people coming to the country as family units. earlier versions only focused on central american children and family members, so initially the 2009, 2010 and 2011 we had w 3,000, 4,000 unaccompanied children. we were not even keeping track of families. 2012, and i would consider that a pretty similar moment is the issuance of the memorandum which i would argue testimony was used by the coyotes by the human traffickers to help incentivize people. they would argue if the u.s. changes itsld policy, you come into america you get a piece of anpaper called a notice to appe, and again i know others may dispute this, but i think it's pretty obvious that certainly started something. fast forward to 2015, no 2014
was the year when president obama very accurately described the humanitarian crisis on the border when 137,000 unaccompanied children and also people coming as a family unit crossed the border and overwhelmed customs and border protection. remember taking a trip down in early 2015 down into mcallen texas and we were all seeing the praises of the customs and border patrol, the humanity they were showing some of the ingenuity they were showing in setting up a facility to separate children from adults to make sure the children stay safe. now the same facilities are called cages. a very improperly so, because i think if anything we've gotten better at it it's just the problem has grown so much more severely as the chart shows. so, in reaction to the humanitarian crisis of 2014, the
obama administration took -- there had to be a consequence, so they began detaining the families and children together to adjudicate the claims, and it worked. we went from 137,000 down to 80,000 in 2016. then the court intervened ask words continue to intervene in this problem and reinterpreted the settlement i think clearly and correctly. the florida's settlement dealt with unaccompanied minors and now for the first time the court said it also includes accompanied minors, so now the government must face the fact if we want to enforce the law, we are going to have to either detain the adults and children or the families and the obama administration decided to release the family, and that began what was referred to as catch and release and you see
the results of went from 80,000 to 137,180,000 in fiscal year 2018. it was ramping up. it started talking about caravans. people started referring to it as a manufactured crisis. i started producing this chart on a monthly basis and went so far as to put on a cup to distribute this to the news media to start planning out this wasn't a manufactured crisis, this is something real, this is something overwhelming. the courageous men and women of the border control, the compassionate men and women in the border patrol who are just trying to deal with t something that began overwhelming. in may we hit the high watermark of the crisis.
4,651 individuals per day were crossing the border illegally. that's the total number it's not just women and children in families that 4,651 per day. we no longer heard people talking about a manufactured crisis. in may when i started doing with my chart is i started extrapolating. if this continues, we would end up with over 800,000 unaccompanied children and people crossing the border as a family unit. now the final results of this in the year-end review what was the final accounting in the end it was 608,000 people came to this country either an unaccompanied child or family unit compared to 137,000 when president obama declared the humanitarian crisis. so i think we've hopefully laid to rest but this is a manufactured crisis. we have brought down in terms of
the average is. this is kind of my weekly report. i come from a manufacturing background so i like to see my daily, weekly, monthly, annual statistics. we went from 4,651 per month or per day in september we went down to 1,749 on average. it's not shown here because for some unknown reason this is law enforcement sensitive but members on the committee have this in front of them, the last one i have figures on and i can see this figure is averaged about 1372. so, we've gone from 4,651 to less than 1400, but i will never forget an interview that the secretary j. johnson gave to msnbc a few months ago. when he would come to the office and the numbers were more than a thousand, he knew he had a really bad day.
so we are still 372 on average in one week or in one day, over secretary john sims really bad day. so again the purpose of the hearing is to, again, lay out the reality, talk about where we were, where we come. but i would also say describe what happened. why did we go, how did it to this and how do we come down to less than 1400. what else needs to be done and the more important question what threatens the progress we have already made. and i have to say the individuals coming across here, the vast majority just want what weos want. they want safety and security and to take advantage of the opportunity. i'm highly sympathetic of that but it needsds to be a legal
process. we have to get the illegal flow uder control and it is far from under control. my last point and i want to thank the members of the committee and some others that worked with me. there's a program right now hopefully mr. morgan will talk a little bit about that. basically how can we more rapidly and accurately determine those individuals that have come here illegally that clearly don't have an asylum plan and see if you can return them back to their home countries. the bi big contribution senator peters made t it to that conversation is if we are going to do something like that, let's figure out what's happening. and so, what i am hoping to get out of this hearing is some of the data. how many of the claims have been adjudicated.
how many of those individuals actually have a valid science because if we are going to address this problem from my standpoint biggest problem is we have such a low hurdle that the credible fear standard we wave everybody in, the courts are completely backlogged, and a low percentage of those individuals just end up melding into our society. we don't know where they go by and large we don't know where they are. but in the end they don't have a valid asylum claim we should have never waved them in. we have to increase the initial rate, but we need the data in order to actually act on the public policy. as of again, what i am hoping to come out of this is better data but also we move forward on the them of the programs that have shown some success. let's develop the data to inform the public policy and then hopefully when you gather the
information and define the problem and the root cause analysis, yo use it and achievae goal and hopefully we can come together in a bipartisan basis to develop solutions on a bipartisan basis. that is the whole purpose of the hearings on the border security in particular if the purpose and goal of this hearing. with that i will turn over to senator peters. >> thank you mr. tran and thank you to the witnesses here today. i'm proud to say over the past year our committee has been able to come together in a bipartisan basis to examine migration and humanitarian challenges we're facing at the border. we found compromising past commonsense legislation to address staffing shortages at ththe borders and points and fro strengthen security at both the northern and southern borders and ultimately make our country safer. in june, we came together to unanimously advanced a bipartisan bill to strengthen border security and address all enforcement shortages at the ports of entry throughout the country. last month, the full senate approved my bill to hire more
agricultural inspectors and k-9 units to protect the nation's food supply from harmful contraband. last week the committee approved important legislation led by chairman johnson to support the u.s. border patrol by hiring new agents and support staff and improving retention and providing training to agents that could save lives. and just yesterday i had the chance to see the cbp officers at the detroit metropolitan airport and i was stunned to hear the number of seizures that they make to keep our country safe everyday. and women of the men are leading the nation when it comes to the introduction of a harmful biological material coming across the border. it's been the number one intercepting port for the last two fiscal years with more than half of all interceptions at the ports of entry nation. detroit has also pioneered training programs that have been
deployed with positive reports generated in boston, newark and dulles. containing harmful. they pose a significant threat. the cbp they are doing phenomenal work to protect michigan and the rest of the country from harm and i'm proud to support her efforts every day. this past year has posed many challenges for our border security professionals. the situation on our southern order and throughout central boerica is dynamic and border security efforts certainly reflect that fact. often this administration's border security policies have ofbeen shortsighted and if we ae going to successfully address both the conditions on the border and the root causes that are driving this migration, we need to take a comprehensive
approach that looks at the data and finds commonsense solutions to address these very serious challenges. i appreciate the witnesses for joining us here today and for their commitment to serve the country but i also recognize that addressing the border security and humanitarian challenges requires stable and effective leadership. i am deeply concerned. i think that concern is shared by the chair and everyone on the committee as well by the lack of senate confirmed leaders and all of the top leadership positions en the department of homeland security. in fact we have three senate confirmed positions before us and all three of you are acting, not senate confirmed. i will continue to call onn this administration to know nominate positions for broad bipartisan support in the senate. the men and women of dhs and the american people deserve stability, accountability that
comes from nominating and confirming qualified leaders that can ensure the department carry out the national security mission and a senate confirmed position that permanence and stability is absolutely critical so i look forward to hearing your testimony and thank you again for your service. >> you know i agree with you in terms of giving individuals nominated and confirmed. the good news here is i think we do have some very highly qualified individuals in these positions, so that's also good news. it is the tradition of the committee to swear in witnesses if you will stand and raise your right s hand. do you swear the testimony will give before theve committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but t the truth, so help you god? please be seated. our first witness is mr. mark morgan acting commissioner of customs border protection. acting commissioner morgan began serving his country as a u.s.
marine in his community and local law-enforcement after completing a 20 year career in the fbi he began service in the department of homeland security is the acting assistant commissioner for internal affairs. before being appointed by president obama as the chief of u.s. border patrol. he served as chief until 2017. he returned to dhs is the director of immigration customs enforcement in may of this hearing to begin the current role as the acting commissioner of u.s. customs and border protection on july 7. >> good morning. thank you jermaine johnson, ranking member peters and of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to be here today, to be able to inform the american people the truth about the unprecedented crisis we have experienced along the southwest border during fiscal year 2019 as well as the remarkable and noteworthy successes by the current administration and the incredible men and women of the united states customs and border protection. i am honored to speak on behalf of the men and women of cbp who are on the frontlines of the fre
nation's borders defending the rule of law, maintaining the integrity of the immigration system and protecting the safety and security of this great country all while simultaneously playing a critical role in ensuring the economic security as well. if you recall earlier this year, we signed into the alarm and asked congress repeatedly to act to fix the loopholes in the broken immigration system and close the gaps driving the crisis. unfortunately not a single piece of meaningful legislation has been brought forth to address the crisis and as a result, the country watched as the crisis worsened. although we have made great progress, i am here today to respectfully remind the committee and the american people that there continues to be a humanitarian crisis and importantly, a national security crisis. in fy 2019, cbp's enforcement
action succeeded 1.1 million nationwide, an increase of 68% over the previous year. the total number of apprehensions along thee southwest border exceeded 978,000, and 88% increase over the previous year's apprehensi apprehension. united states border patrol apprehended more than 473,000 family unit representing the highest number for any year on record. the number of unaccompanied children totaled more than 76,000, 52% higher than any other year. there is no immigration system in the world designed to handle such a massive migration number, not even the united states. challenging still is the demographics of those illegally entering the southern border as
the chairman discussed. in 2019, 71% .-full-stop with border apprehensions came from theou northern triangle countri. the vast majority of the families and unaccompanied children. they are being pulled into the united states by the loopholes in the currenthe legal framewor. they know if you grab a kid that icavethat is your passport intoe united states. and it was working. all while the human smuggling organizations and the cartelsil exploited them, placed them in life-threatening situations and treated them as nothing more than a moneymaking commodity. a multibillion-dollar scheme. the impact was real. as the chairman stated in may of this year we saw the highest numbers, more than 140,000 apprehensions in a single month. cbp had to divert resources away from the mission-critical duties to care for the children and families at times up to 50% of the border patrol resources were polled off the line to care for
the families and children leaving areas of the border increasingly vulnerable. meanwhile, the cartels and the smuggling organizations were exploitingng those gaps and increasing the threat to national security. last year more than 150,000 migrants who is illegally entered the united states got away. the transnational criminal organizations are not only s exploiting the migrants shemselves but also flooding the united states with a list of narcotics making their way into every town, city and state in this great nation. make no mistake if you have a methamphetamine in your town or city came from the southwest border. the absence of congressional action the administration has taken action to engagement with the government of mexico into the northern triangle countries we have initiated a network of initiatives, policies and regulations to stem the flow of migration. together, we are approaching this as a regional crisis that it is and we have seen incredible success.
the last four months in fiscal year 2019 the fall almost 65% reduction in the apprehensions. september marking the lowest number of enforcement actions during the entire year and just over 52,000. by midyear, cbp was holding almost 20,000 detainees in custody. now we average less than 3500 a day in custody. at the height of the crisis, cbp apprehensions at times exceeded 5,000 in a single day and now we are averaging less than 1400 we have all but ended catch and release. success at addressing the humanitarian crisis should not overshadow the national security crisis. last year's cbp officers and border patrol agents seized more than 750,000 pounds of narcotics in the cbp's operations contributed to an additional 285,000 pounds of cocaine. these are the four hard narcotics fentanyl, cooking,
meant to be co- fentanyl and methamphetamine. there were 68,000 overdose deaths in the united states. the no methamphetamine has seemed vacant resurgence as super labs in mexico are taking over production in the u.s. for cheaper and purerin forms of m s methamphetamine. 3,000 weapons were seized, 1,000 gang members, $75 million of illicit currency and apprehended 16,000 criminal aliens and this is just what we caught a. mr. chairman, i know i'm running overtime, but if i could make a couple more comments? the apprehension numbers are still unacceptable levels. as chairman johnson, you stated that former secretary of dhs stated 1,000 apprehensions was a bad day. he was absolutely correct and that still stands today. i am concerned a good story i'm able to tell regards the
migration crisis that allowed some to take their eye offinrd e ball at the crisis is not over. due in part to the judicial activism, we are one bad court decision away fromm losing hasek and accountability to continue to mitigate the current crisis. additionally, we cannot rely solely on our partner nations to resolve our broken immigration system. to obtain a lasting and durable solution, congress must act. as i sit here today, as a law enforcement professional,en over 30 years of service to the country, i'm absolutely perplexed why congress cannot come together on a bipartisan manner to fix this. we know the cartels and human smuggling organizations were exploiting the migrants as they make their journey here. they arein giving up their life savings, turning themselves over and often their children over to the hands of the smugglers.
often abused and deprived adequate food, water and medical attention during their trip. we know because the average 71 hospital visits per day in 2019 2019for anything that is roughly over 25,000 hospital visits. they'lthey leave them, the smugs in the cartels leave the immigrants in rivers to die. they leave them in opening harsh terrain to die in tractor-trailers to die. that whole last year conducted 4,900 rescues of immigrants who the smugglers abandoned to die. we also encountered a 24 bodies along the southern border including skeletal remains. i've told theto story before ani think i told it in front of this very committee of a paraplegic man who i the smugglers throughn the water to avoid apprehension without giving it a second thought. we know children are being
rented and recycledes and presented. last fiscal year they identified over 6,000 fake family members conducting over 1,834 juveniles. we have a man who bought the child for $80 why did he do that? because the loopholes in the system told him to grab a child, that is your passport into the united states. it's a broken framework that is providing the incentive driving the crisis. weti have been asking -- i feel like i have been begging for congress to act. if congress continues to fail to come together across the aisle, more children and families will be based in harms way by the cartels and criminal networks that domestic and abroad will continue to negatively impact the public safety throughout the nation. as bad people and drugs make their way into the nation every day.
we need your help. we are asking for your help. we've been asking for your help. on the backs of migrants. please, joicome and join us in g everything we can to target these organizations, to target the cartels and put them out of business. we can start by eliminating their ability to advance the multibillion-dollar business on the backs of migrants and that the cost of american lives. i sincerely thank you for this opportunity, and i look forward to addressing any of your questions. thank you. >> thank you for the testimony. it's my intention and hopefully the intention of members of the committee to do everything we can. we need the information so please, help us get this information. you've done a good job laying out the reality which is the
first step. we need to acknowledge the reality and work with information on how we can fix the problems of the can appreciate the testimony. the next witness is the acting director of the u.s. citizenship and immigration services of the department of homeland security. from 2010 to 2014, he served as the virginia attorney general where he lediz the fight against human trafficking. he also previously served in the virginia senate from 2002 to 2010. >> good morning, chairman johnson, ranking member peters and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today regarding incredible important for the men and women of the u.s. citizenship and immigration services have been doing over the last year. cifiscal year 2019 uscis achievd many of the goals to make the goimmigration system work better for america. as an agency w we have tirelessy worked hand-in-hand with our fellow dhs components to answer president trumps call to address the ongoing crisis at the
border. nain the absence of congressionl action to close the loopholes that are being exploited and that have led to the crisis of the southern border, we've taken significant steps to mitigate the loopholes in the asylum system to combat fraudulent and frivolous claim and to strengthen the protections we have in place to preserve humanitarian assistance for those who are truly eligible for it. we ha have a historic year in fiscal year 2019. i'm proud of the agency's work over the fiscal year and want to mention a few ofnc the agencies notable of compassionate. uscis extricated more than 8.2 million requests for immigration benefits, and we have seen a rising level of complexity in those educations as well. this workload represents the full spectrum of benefits that the law provided for those who seekwh to come to the united states, whether temporarily or permanently. as well as those who seek to become citizens of the nation.
it also includes work continuing to process tps and daca after courts have interfered with our attempts to terminate these programs. time and resources that should be spent educating lawful immigration benefits instead. uscis naturalize approximately 833,000 new citizens last year. the most in more than a decade. uscis granted the lawful residents to 582,000 individuals and completed more than 78,000 affirmativee asylum application. the agency also performed more than 40 million verifications of employment eligibility through the verified program. on the southern border coming uscis felt the impact of the ofcrisis receiving more than 105,000 credible fewer referrals. 5,000 more than the previous year and a new t record high.
to put that into some perspective, just five years a ago, still on the front edge of what is considered the crisis, 2014, uscis received approximately 51,000 credible referrals and just ten years ago uscis received approximately 5,000 fewer referrals. so you can see the nonlinear rise in the measure of the crisis of the border. during any given week in fiscal year 2019, 150 to 200 of our officers were assigned a process case arising from the southern border including approximately 40 to 60 assigned to process cases in person at the southern border. uscis took significant action that would result in protecting american taxpayers by publishing a final rule on the admissibility on public charge grounds, the rule that enforces the long-standing law to better ensure that those who come to or
remain in the united states are self-sufficient and not dependent on public benefits. public charge has been a part of ourli immigration statute since 1882. unfortunately, dhs was joined from implementing and enforcing the final rule and the department of justice and dhs are defending the rule in litigation beforruling oflitigat and i am confident that as we continue to do this as these go through court, we will prevail in that. uscis continues to expand the online filing capabilities for over 1.2 million applications filed last year a 10% increase from the previous year. uscis added four of our input and forms for a total of eight now available for online filing with additional forms planned to be added this year. men and women of uscis are working hard to transform a paper-based agency into an
electronic agency that takes advantage of the capabilities of the 21st century all while maintaining records in a secure fashion even as the threats evolve. on the coming year coming uscis will continue to use every tool available to us to fulfill president trumps goals to strengthen the nation's system and alleviate the crisis of the border while continuing to fairly and efficiently adjudicate applications and petitions of those seeking lawful status in the united states. thank you againin for the opportunity to testify, and i look forward to answering any questions that you might have. >> thank you, director. the next witness is the acting deputy director of immigration and customs enforcement at the department of homeland security. he served in a variety of positions within ice since he joined in 1991. before becoming acting deputy director he serves as the associate director of homeland security investigations, a position which he oversaw the
investigative componentnt of combat transnational, organizations. >> chairman johnson, ranking member peters and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to review u.s. immigration and customs enforcement efforts for fiscal year 19. i will echo my colleagues when i say the unprecedented crisis that we saw at the southwest border certainly stressed our immigration system to the breaking point. ead the administration clearly took necessary actions to address it. the face of this breaking point is an example of a tragically eliminates the humanitarian cost of an unsecure border. it involves an adult guatemalan mail that presented at the border with a minor female whom he fraudulently claimed to be his child. since law enforcement could not detain as a result of the settlement agreement, they were
released into the interior of the united states. he then moved the female to the southeastern united states where he repeatedly sexually abused and beat her on a regular basis until she was luckily rescued by lawpe a enforcement. sadly this is just one of many examples of this fraud exploitation and violence associated with this unprecedented crisis. like any crisis measured by the crisis itself but how we respond i appear before you today proud to represent the men and women who responded to the call and whose efforts significantly curb the migrant influx that overwhelms the borders. oursp response to this crisis ws not without consequence. this does take a sustained increase in migration has stretched resources and across the u.s. government. the administration was faced this year with responding to the humanitarian crisis at the border at the expense of other vital law enforcement mission.
while the border dominated the headlines, the achievements over the last year were not defined by the crisis nor were they limited the border. across the country and around the globe, the personnel remain steadfast in the critical mission protecting america from cross-border crimes and illegal immigration that threatens national security and public safety. will highlight the robust operational directors responsible for protecting the people of the great nation. the homeland security investigations investigates and enforces more than 400 federal criminal statutes and we work in close coordination with u.s. customs and border protection and the state, local, tribal and federal partners in a unified effort to target the transnational organized crime. over the past year, hsi special agents arrested over 46,000 individuals with more than 37,500 of them being criminal arrests. exceeding last year's record of
over 3,000 criminal arrests. hsi is a 4,000 arrests of gang leaders, members and associates including over 400 arrests of the ms 13 members. hsi continued to be at the forefront in the fight against the opioid epidemic and prioritized the investigation, disruption and dismantlement of those involved in introducing sensible, heroin, and other dangerous opioid into the united states. in fiscal year 19, hsi and/or cbp partners seized over 11,000 pounds of opioids including over 3,600 pounds of fentanyl. while at the same time making almost 2,000 related arrests which is an increase of nearly 175% from the prior year. hsi also continued to protect our citizens from crimes of explication by arresting over 3,600 child predators in over
1,800 human traffickers. while at the same time identifying and assisting more than 1400 victims of theseam heinous crimes.ts these efforts paid immediate dividends when considering the long-term damage the criminals can inflict upon their vulnerable victims. all of these were achieved despite a the fact hsi sent 400 personnel to the border to assist with combating the migrant influx. agents would otherwise be investigating criminal organizations were deployed to initiate a rapid dna pilot utilizing supplemental appropriations from congress that allowed for over 10,000 dna tests at seven locations along the southwest border. during this deployment agents conducted interviews with members of suspected fraudulent family units to disrupt the disturbing practice of children being used as pawns by ruthless human smuggling and trafficking organizations.
these efforts resulted in the identification of over 1,000 incidents of family unit fraud and false claim which also ledui to over 1,000 criminal prosecutions. as a result of these efforts, they've seen a marked decrease in the number of fraudulent family incidents over the past few months indicating that theff joint efforts have impacted the use of the fraudulent families to circumvent the nation's immigration laws. the enforcement and removal operations ensures the integrity esof our immigration system and enhances our national security and public safety by enforcing the nation's immigration law in a fair and effective manner. while the targeted immigration and personal publications focus on the interior of the t countr, changes in migration flows of the border directly impact nearly every area of the operations including interior enforcement resource and detention capacity. as a result of the activity of
the border, much of the limited ardetention capacity has been dedicated to housing aliens arrested by cbp at the border, many of whom are subject to mandatory detention under u.s. immigration law. certainly the shift in resources and the arrest of aliens innd te interior decreased by almost 15% to include a decrease in the number of criminal aliens arrested. simply put, more criminals who would otherwise be in custody removed from the country are ati large in the communities. many of them violent recidivist as a direct result of the border crisis. o despite the operational environment with extremely limited o resources, we've continued to focus on the public safety mission. in fiscal year 19, er oh officers arrested nearly 140,000 aliens of which 86% were convicted criminals or have pending promote charges. the safety of the courageous and men and women is
paramount to our agency. when local jurisdictions refuse to work with us or obstruct our enforcement of the law that this body has passed, it increases the risk to every community in this country. in just one example from boulder county colorado, officers recently found and arrested a 56-year-old illegal alien who had been released fromwh local custody twice after detai detais were ignored. the alien was arrested on vocal churches and then released. subsequently arrested for felony sexual assault on a child, and again released. he was convicted of sexual july of this year and remained at large until he was apprehended in august. not only do the policies impact those back on the streets to reoffend but also the safety of those of the individuals we are arresting and our own officers
and agents whose goal it is toce effectively enforce the law in a manner that is safest for all parties involved. it's much safer for officers and the public to have been apprehending aliens in a secure environment of the jail or police station rather than in a resident in the presence of family and. i.c.e. is not so fortunate. particularlynel, our attorneys and deportation officers, will be managing this unprecedented increase for years to come. already overburdened
immigration system now must deal with a massive influx of aliens and court proceedings. the i.c.e. tro docket is over 3 million, a population managed by a workforce short thousands of deportation officers and hundreds of attorneys. --trary to public efficient opinions and in the face of those who wish to attack those of us who represent the men and s, we remain vigilant. the extraordinary men and women of i.c.e. will remain committed to protecting the communities we represent from criminal aliens, terrorists, drug dealers, human traffickers, gang members and organizations who attempt to exploit our borders. thank you for the opportunity to appear this morning. banner. you, mr. our final witness is mr. james .chenry he previously served as acting
director from may 2017 to january 2018. he previously served in a variety of incisions throughout the federal government including an administrative law judge for immigration matters. mr. mchenry. chairman,y: mr. ranking member peters and other distinguished members, thank you for the opportunity to speak today. executiveector of office for immigration review at the department of justice, we want to show you the progress we have made, the continuing challenges, and the impact of unprecedented levels of illegal immigration on its operations. the primary mission of the oir byto adjudicate cases expeditiously and uniformly interpreting and administering immigration laws. our employees are firmly committed to the mission and they are performing commendably and improving the functioning of courts and i am honored to lead them. after eight consecutive years of declining or stagnant
--ductivity between fy 2019 2009 and 2016, the second year of increased immigration court place -- case completions. we have an increase of roughly 80,000 case completions from the prior year which is almost double the number of cases it completed just three years ago. even accounting for factors such as hiring recency, 150 of our judges completed at least 700 cases last fiscal year and the average immigration judge completed 708 cases despite losing five weeks to the government shutdown. perhaps most importantly, the increase in productivity did not lead to an increase in allegations of judicial misconduct. although we have solved some of our more intractable problems of the past that kid including hiring, productivity, and
technology, the progress is threatened by challenges emanating from the continued surge of illegal operations from the southern border. immigrationrs, court caseload, which currently is just under one million, byrease due to factors insufficient hiring, a lack of institutional emphasis on the importance of can b -- completing in a timely manner. those factors are being successfully addressed. more recent increases have been driven largely by external factors. more specifically in fy 2019, the department of homeland security filed approximately 443,000 new cases with the immigration courts. that's the highest single your number in the eoir's history. on average, four out of every five removal cases will conclude with the alien required to leave the u.s. with ordered removal or departure.luntary
that means statistically the majority of cases may not involve a viable claim that allows an alien to lawful relief -- lawfully remain in the u.s. however, the presence of the already crowded dockets diverts resources from already addressing those claims that are meritorious. in casesnt increases involving asylum applications, unaccompanied alien children, credible fear claims, and aliens who fail to appear, have taxed our resources. our immigration system faces numerous charges -- challenges. significantrs downstream of surges of illegal immigration at the border and those effects have placed a marked strain on its resources. to combat these effects, the attorney general has brought important clarity to the law through case adjudications and the department of justice is defending against challenges that would otherwise erode the integrity of immigration laws. eoir continues to adjudicate
cases fairly and expeditiously at unprecedented levels, but adjudication alone will not resolve the crisis at the border. to compare it to a congress act as well. the department has proposed numerous changes that would strengthen the immigration system as a whole including consolidating federal appeals and one circuit, clarifying the so-called categorical approach, and revising statutory language the supreme court has found unconstitutionally vague. we stand ready to continue to work with congress to strengthen existing laws and more effectively address many challenges facing. the immigration system today. . . again, thank you for the opportunity to testify and i will be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have. >> thank you, mr. mchenry. i will do some question. normally, i would defer. there are a couple things that popped out at me. talked about der oh --ero docket of
can we start reconciling the numbers and what they mean? i will defer to mr. benner regarding the 3 million caseload, but i think they are already filed final that have to be processed or reviewed. on our side, the caseload has increased almost exponentially over the past decade but it has increased considerably in the past three years. most of that appears to be driven by changes to the border. our judges are adjudicating cases efficiently as they possibly can. as i alluded to, we made significant improvements. >> but again, the pending caseload is just the most recent one, about half of the one million. what is the other half? >> cases filed in a prior fiscal year. or they are cases taking long to adjudicate. >> pending is just this year's cases? >> pending is all cases as of
the end of the fiscal year. filed that year or in a prior year. >> i think we stopped doing this, the administratively closing some of these cases. i think there are hundreds of thousands that have been closed. is that true? >> approximately there are 320,000 case is still administratively closed. they are not included in the one million total. > and the 3 million cases, those have been adjudicated, so those are off the department of justice docket in your lap, so they have been adjudicated and basically ordered fort removal, correct? >> correct. . it's a little confusing on the isket, but the 3 million inclusive of eoir plus the added -- the delta peer the difference already been have through the adjudication process and already in front of the ij.
finalave an order of removal. a lot of them in next -- absent chair recently with expedited dockets of family units. final orders of removal were ordered in absentia, meaning no one shows up. >> which brings me to the next question. to what extent do we know where the 608,000 people are on that chart? again, i'm just talking about the children and family units that came in last year. do we know where those people are? when i was on the border, i realize they give addresses, but they don't necessarily show up. can we comment on the extent we actually keep track of where the people are? >> we don't, largely, as evidenced in the fact that those families were issued a notice to appear. unless they are put on some
alternative to detention or monitoring system, we have a higher rate of knowing where people are -- >> that's a low percentage, correct? >> our capacity is around 160,000 people in fiscal year 2019 going through the atd was anklehether it bracelet, monitoring, phone check ins and other technology. smaller percentage. we have some feel in terms of the successful asylum claims after the adjudication process? i've heard different things as .ow as 9%, 15%, 20% what's the best information in terms of these family units? i'm focusing on that problem for successful asylum claims. >> the overall rate is 20%. historically, it has been below 25% for the last four or five years. the rates for northern triangle
countries are even lower. basically, it is one out of five. people are coming to improve their lot in life. surprised, but not shocked last week where we had the director of fbi and the counterterrorism say not one of those three individuals even mentioned gangs. oral testimony about that. with el of what we saw chapo's son being arrested and mexico having to get him back, the murder of the nine mormons, to what extent is that drug cartel, that kind of violence, how has that spilled over the border? i would think in terms of gangs,
the drug distribution, those people turn themselves in. that allows people to get away. i would think those are gang members, drug kingpins, people, as soon as we put somebody way, we bring somebody else to manage in operation. to what extent is that spilling over the border and are we at risk? mr. morgan? morgan: in fiscal year 2019, we apprehended over 1200 gang members from 20 different gangs. every local law enforcement know the drugtool that organizations use our gang members. >> that is how you apprehended.
>> that is the question we don't talk about. we estimated 150 thousand individuals we did not catch. in one year. 150,000. those are running for the border, trying to avoid apprehension so the conversation we need to have, there is a chunk of those people that are bad people. criminal aliens. gang members. the numbers are staggering. everybody should be alarmed by that. >> i could not get this out of the fbi director. do we have some estimate of how many gang members are in this country? is it a growing number are we battling that? >> i would say i would handed
over. really good have statistical reporting on the number of types of gang members. ms 13 we have been focusing on the last two years, in the range of 8000-10,000 ms 13 members. the eleen working with salvador in national police to get an understanding of the flows out of the united states through dhs and isis removals, and also understanding what the population is in el salvador that may be looking to travel. >> is it your sense this is a growing problem? something that is contained? i want some kind of sense. >> it is not contained. it is growing.
the cartels, specifically the mexican cartels thrive off of gang members. they need those gang members to infiltrate every state to further their drug scheme they do. from our perspective, the numbers are not getting better. we need to talk more about the numbers we don't catch. >> i am overtime. you, mr. chairman. mr. morgan, effective training ensures our border patrol agents execute their mission with the highest degree of professionalism. outning sessions keep them of costly and time-consuming disciplinary investigations. we want them to be able to do that professionally. i don't see the need for training as a criticism for the
men and women who serve in these critical roles. it is a recognition they are in a challenging environment that is highly dynamic. if you look at the department of defense, they put folks out of harm's way way without extensive training. certainly when it comes to private industry, they are trained so there employees understand the best way to increase productivity. is, how many hours of training do new agents receive? border skit about 700 hours of training. that.o's get less than only because some areas required
for the spanish language is not as great. if they are assigned to those boards, they get around 80 hours. you are looking at in excess of 700 hours of basic training. out.at is prior to going is there continuing education? >> yes, sir. two facets, one specific to their job skills, and another where we have all employees. continuing ethics training, integrity training. some new social media training. many agents have faced disciplinary action? >> it has been consistent, 500.nd 3000\ canould you agree programs
reduce the incidence of misconduct that takes them off the line? >> absolutely. organizations obsess over leadership and training. outso think well thought policies and plans and tools, another big area is resiliency to help that. dowhat enhanced training they undertake after the misconduct involving social media use and harassment? >> it's a good question. team.oud of the they got together across the board and developed a first time social media training package that was mandatory for every single employee. that course was launched in july
of this year. had a 99%to say we completion rate of that training. >> the next question is for the whole panel. the administration has implemented a number of operational changes that have individualson attempting to seek asylum in the country. these include the migrant protection protocols which have forced thousands of families to wait in some dangerous areas in mexico while they wait for their claims to be heard. rapid deportation has allowed agents to do asylum screening interviews. i want to say are most important responsibility is to keep our nation safe. i know all of you share that.
we can also secure our borders and make sure families fleeing persecution have a fair process. we can do both. that is something we can do as a country. in light of the reports detailing kidnappings, sexual violence, extortion, disappearance and murder youeted at migrants, are considering revisiting the migrant protection protocols? any thoughts about that given the things we have seen? mr. morgan? morgan: i think we have to, one reason why that started, we had over 20,000. it was overcrowded. unbelievable. and now we have about 3500 people in our facilities.
butcrowding has all evaporated. just recently with the department along with the international office of migration and other advocacy groups and ngos, they went to mexico and visited several shelters. two shelters had persistent law enforcement presence. found them to have adequate food, its header a new what we are hearing -- those are some facts. morether facts, who has a structured approach to the information, because they actually interview the migrants and ask if they want to return. they are saying they stay in the shelter environment. the issue we are receiving, somewhat anecdotal, the issue is when the individuals leave the
shelter environment and go out on their own or they are re-engaging the human smuggling organizations to come back illegally. recidivism rate. that is an area where they are exploited again with respect to that. >> anybody else? data?have or are the stories. these are troubling reports. back to our point, we have spoken about this, what is the data to support what you are saying? mr. morgan: that is tough. you are spot on. we should try to get that data. the data is not there. we are dealing with another country. a lot of the information is anecdotal. we are trying to visit the
shelters. interagency groups, nonprofit organizations, we are dealing this on a daily basis to get that data. the data is not there. those reports are not unsubstantiated by the mexican military. it is hard to get the data. the data we can get is again we were at 20,000 in may. now we are down to 3500 in custody. 140,000 apprehensions. now 1400 today. one large reason is because mexico has stepped up and agreed to meet us as partners and see this as a regional crisis. because of that we are seeing capacity go down, apprehensions go down. that data i have. add, i was handed a note, apparently a group issued a report and said there were 300
43 cases of violence or threats out of 57,000 individuals. everyone is a problem. 57,000 ties into what mr. morgan was talking about. i would like to enter that in the record and we will check the veracity of it. time anybody, any person if they have a concern, all they have to do is come to a port of entry and express that and they will be given due process. you.ank thank you for the work you are doing and standing up for the laws in the united states. let me add a voice i hear of people who are grateful for the work that is happening. we have laws in our country. you and your teams are stepping up and enforcing the law. thank you for doing that. thestened to some of
current debate nationally. there is a move to transition dhs to be more like readers of the border then there is law enforcement. i'm grateful we have law enforcement folks therefore the stories you told about some of the risks. i have a series of questions. , talking to the folks, most of them said we needed ice help. they are doing soft sided facilities, which i want to talk about. there was a push to say the biggest issue is not enough capacity with ice. understand those groups of folks who want to abolish ice and not have it at all. pointo you need at this to be able to manage the surge of people coming out? >> number one, detention beds
and capacity is a big issue that affects the ecosystem of enforcement of immigration laws. the funding levels of 2019, 45000al year and change. for families0 beds at residential centers. we were operating at a high of 58,000, well over our appropriate levels. we do want to live within our means. however the operational reality in responding to the crisis forced us to make some decisions about how to acquire more beds. numbers ifsurge up you had more funding?
quality facilities and what they are managing right now to the border. they are trying to manage, they are not just going to release people on the street. to manage what you get. goyou have the capability to up. >> yes, sir. and we won't bring that online unless it meets our standards. sometimes the challenges making sure they meet the standards we are committed to to putting detainees into. some proactive planning would be the ability to have a certain number of beds likeable and empty, almost emergency preparedness. fema stores supplies and assets that they would need to respond to in a natural disaster. we should have 5000 beds ready
to go to immediately address a spike in numbers of the border. that cost money. they are empty and available. they are ready to go in the case of emergency. guess of what a that might be on cost? i do have estimates. i'm happy to provide those to you. >> let me switchover. do to manage to that capacity, around $200 billion a year. that is a pretty big cost. there was no place to go to ramp up. what is the status on those? how many facilities do we have? some of them are great. they are well managed. they are fully stocked. how many of those do we have. >> we have multiple facilities.
designed for families, designed designed --dults, it is costing a tremendous amount of money. we have talked about this. then't want to look up definition of insanity and have a picture of our facility. we have to change how we do this. acting deputy director said it best. we need a surge capacity. permanent establish facilities, strategic locations that are multi use buildings they give us those capabilities to turn on the lights and give us capacity. we are not in the position this year where we did have to release individuals, tens of thousands on a regular basis. avoiding to have to
ramp-up. year ice hadhis ins into custody. infrastructure and transportation and all of those efforts were doing their best to relieve the pressure at the border. there's one other aspect. on the other end of the equation, attorneys that represent the government in immigration court. helpful tos been capacity,judges and the ice attorney levels have remained flat. with that docket of one million at any given point, we need to look at the ability to surge our
attorney population to service the increase. glovek that is a hand in -- >> they have to go together. mississippi this past year. you mentioned that for ice and the interior picking up 86% of those folks that had a criminal record. know. important to 86% of the folks have a criminal record. when ice carried out that raid, there was questions. there were hundreds of people that were not legally present that had employment in mississippi. help us understand, in states that have done e-verify, how are that many illegal employed? you had multiple companies
claiming to be participants in e-verify. they had registered. when we investigated with our partners at ice how many of the individuals they had utilized, it came to a handful. less than 20. you know the hundreds that were identified working there illegally. consequenceituted for businesses that participate complyrify but do not with the terms of that participation, such as the businesses in mississippi. we will terminate them from the e-verify program. so they cannot shield, as they did. used it once last year on one guy.
they can do that any longer. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service. to the men and women who work for you, it is a tough job. it looks like from the numbers there's been success in reducing the number of people crossing the border. it is still a lot of people relative to the historical numbers. 64% increase -- decrease, that is positive. in terms of the pressure you feel and the infrastructure feels and i saw when i was down there, it is better. i don't think we understand what happened, although commissioner morgan talked about the mexico program and how that is working. can you tell us about what you think the other factors are? can you give me the top three reasons. you said a reduction.
and also how has the makeup changed? we have seen there are fewer central americans, more from mexico. is that accurate? are they family members claiming asylum? can you give us a sense of what is going on and why? >> the changing demographics is key. demographics have changed. from the northern triangle countries. year, weirst time this are seeing mexican nationals taking over a larger percentage than individuals from northern triangle countries. the specific families and unaccompanied minors are drastically being reduced for the first time. kids thatfamilies and
task our system. hands down the government of mexico, their effort is number one. i would call exit code number one and number two. with the national guard. over 25,000 troops. they strengthened their border between mexico and the united states and have targeted operations, human smuggling. 213iscal year 2019 we had groups. last month we had two. their is strengthening enforcement. .hey are supporting mpp that has been a game changer. that isd element impacting what we have done with the northern trying oh countries. they have joined us. they are trying to strengthen and increase their asylum
capacity. they have worked with us to expedite the removal of their individuals through different electronic verification and other techniques to allow us to return those individuals. the last thing, this administration that has continued to work in the legal framework and push, even though the judicial activism has hindered us, we continue to push. there,ylum that is out that's another significant initiative we are able to use to return individuals. as the weather gets warmer, more people tend to cross. i'm not suggesting we don't need the surge capacity. this does give us a breather. concernedi have been about going back to 2015 is the issue of kids and the lack of
communication between hhs and dhs. my sense is we are doing better now. with this law i would hope we can do a better job of providing information about these children to understand what is happening with these kids and where they are. these are children. and get them reunited with their families. it's in everybody's interest, including the administration when we lost kids. can you tell us where we are on that in terms of providing information? you mentioned mpp. the same issue. if the kids are separated, some are in the united states, the parents are in mexico. how are we providing that information? this is in everybody's interest. i will turn to my colleagues
on the question about the o.r. issue. we would not return apparent to mexico and keep the child. if we decide to separate based on a criteria like the parent is a convicted murderer, rapist, etc., for the safety of the child we would separate that child from the parent. the child would be provided to hhs and we would keep the parent in the united states. >> ok. we will follow up on that. we are hearing other things about separation and i want to make sure we understand it well. to the drug issue. said we are all
border states. ohio is hit hard with crystal meth right now. it is coming from mexico. opioidshit hard with and now we see more fentanyl coming. it used to be from china through the mail system. now we see it through mexico. the cartels are very involved with this. a lot of money in it. as the numbers of crossings have gone down, we get a sense the drug flow has not. i asked this question last week. theid a hearing and we had right people there to talk about what was happening in terms of the drug threat. he indicated even though there is a decrease in people coming across, there's not a decrease in the flow of drugs. is that accurate? >> yes. that is accurate. i will tell you what our concern is right now.
the number of seizures of fentanyl from china are way down. coming through the small quantities through the mail facilities. we seethed over 1000 pounds more fentanyl. that increase is mexico. the mexican cartels have jumped into that fentanyl space. my concern is that the trend of the super labs, which we have seen with methamphetamine for three years is that the fentanyl problem translates into the same super lab problem we are facing. >> what do you mean by that? address this issue, we've got to understand it. i hear different things from different individuals. it seems you are right.
fentanyl kills more people from overdoses then all other drugs. not china to mexico, it is produced in mexico. shut down.re it is processed to there. is that accurate? >> yes. what we saw in ohio was the domestic pill press operations, and individual orders relatively pure fentanyl from china and produce pills that are killing people. what we see now is the precursor chemicals to make fentanyl going from china to mexico where it is processed and assembled in mexico in so the number of seizure incidents have gone down, but the amounts and the weights have gone up. shipments,ng bigger better quality, higher purity, and much more productivity.
it is manufacturing 101. kind ofa supply chain economy. we can apply the same lessons and rules -- --i would love to follow you follow-up with you on this. we talked about a trilateral approach here, china, mexico, and the u.s., because of there is flow from china. can you follow-up with me on that and see how we can better target the cartels and the real problem here? mr. benner: absolutely. ohio, wed an office in doubled our footprint in other places. >> thank you. >> i want to point out there is , reportingt article that a council on foreign relations paper says in 2016, americans spent nearly 150 billion dollars on cocaine, heroin, meth, and marijuana.
these drugling cartels, which are operating in over a largeing number of communities inside mexico, central america. they are untouchable. that bleeds over to other parts of society in terms of extortion. this is america's insatiable demand for drugs. mr. cuccinelli. i want to seize on your word impunity. we can't go too deep on it here, but they don't have to. convexity --ur capacity can help make sure that doesn't happen. i think that is a longer discussion for another day. there is a major difference between the gangs we are talking about and the cartels we are talking about.
literally at every level from the street all the way up to the kind of manufacturing that mr. benner is talking about, and the nature of the organizations and what they are willing to do. they do not have to be able to act way they are acting if we take unified action as a nation to counter that. in mexico ornge is central america, we have drug basically controlling the economies of the communities. communityyou have a of 10,000 people completely dependent on the drug trade. it will be difficult to take out that kingpin. there are plenty of people standing behind him. massive grown to such a problem, which is why it is so difficult for governments in mexico and central america to do with it, but the point is this is american demand for drugs. i will refer to senator carper. thank.rper:
. you all. good to see you we begin by saying, my colleagues have heard me say ad nausea, everything i do, i know i can do better. i think it's true of all of us. think one of the keys to making progress is to point to the constitution, starting with these words, we the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union -- it doesn't say perfect, it is a more perfect. the goal is that we will aim high. we recentlying is had testimony before the environment of public works , a top official of the department of commerce from wyoming, he's in charge of national parks and the fish and wildlife service, and he said he has worked for the republican senator from wyoming.
testimony that the most lasting solutions are bipartisan solutions. you have people in this committee that are pretty good at that. we need to have partners in this administration that are pretty good at that as well. forth done some back and between this hearing and the other committee on nuclear safety, which is important. for many years, i have a real appreciation for nuclear safety. i want to come back to some of what i heard. mr. morgan, what i heard you say, one of things i wrote down, not a single piece of legislation i think passed by this congress to fight this battle. thatld just remind us all we could build a wall from sea to shining sea. i support barriers.
i support billions of dollars for barriers. i voted for money, we have voted for millions of dollars. we have voted to raise the authorization. for the number of border patrol, 21,000 borderk patrol officers now. aboutk we are down to 20,000. we provide the money to fully fund those positions. i voted for aircraft, helicopters, improving intelligence, we provided money for boats, boat ramps, money for forces. -- horses. all kinds of force multipliers. congress has not been a good partner i think is just unfair and untrue.
i would just keep that in mind. we want to focus on the c. compromise, communicate. comprehensive community -- immigration reform. we had bipartisan support led by john mccain and others 6, 7, eight years ago. two thirds voted in the senate. that is not a cure all, it's part of the solution. it would nice -- be nice to have a president who is a partner. we have talked about the need for comprehensive immigration reform and then he walks it back. we need him to enforce the idea and engage and not walk it back. the other thing i would say is senator peters and i have been to central america together a number of times. struck by howbeen
folks down there live lives of misery. you've seen it, i have cnet. if i have lived down there with my family, i would want to get out, too. if they want to have a better prosperity, put several billions of dollars now into three buckets. one of those is hope and economic opportunity. that is one of the main drivers to cause people to leave their countries. the second is crime and violence. corruption, which is an endemic in those countries. i will give you a tale of two cities, only it is three countries. on the one hand, el salvador, new president, you've probably met him. impressive former mayor of san salvador. young guy, not even 40 years old. different kind of a generation.
he replaced a 75-year-old former leftist guerrilla leader. the money we are poking -- putting in those three buckets in el salvador, very well used. if you look at the murder rates, it is encouraging. if you look at what's happening juan hernandez ran for president a second time. the constitution in that country says you can only be president for four years. he on the supreme court said there constitution was basically unconstitutional. and uproar in the country has just destroyed a lot of the progress made in the country. what's noteworthy, for the last two or three years, we have not had an ambassador to that country. if we had had an ambassador in that country, some people who are accomplished, that would
never have happened. we would never have allowed that to happen. jimmy mireles was sworn in as a president of guatemala. very encouraging. -- what wastform his motto? neither a thief nor corrupt. and he is so disappointed. his family is disappointed. now they have a new election and new leadership. we need to be fully engaged through ambassadors and usaid. in some cases, the president and , they need to show we have expectations. the money we are putting into prosperity is not money that is just u.s. money. we are leveraging other money. in elery dollar we put in
salvador, we leverage seven. they put in money, private companies put in money, that is the expectation. we have the criteria to measure that they should be getting things done. unfortunately, the president suspended money to all of the. is last thing, secretary did he leaving, at least restore the funding we authorized for the security side for those countries. normally, i don't go through this kind of statement when addressing the witnesses, but i just want to say we need to be on the same page where we can, we need to be principled, and look at the policies. the suit -- suggesting that we have done nothing is just not true. i yield the floor. >> cannot just respond? >> you have had a lot of time to speak already. let's let somebody else talk.
thank you. >> if you want to quickly respond. you don't want to? ok. mr. cuccinelli, i have a number of things here. we will be closing this hearing out here. credible fear, the numbers you talked about referral, you said 5000, 10,000 ago. ago -- 5000 10 years we have over 600,000 families this year. i thought they were all claiming credible fear. compareda low number to family units and unaccompanied children? >> the children typically flow right into hhs when they are unaccompanied. they are not typically -- >> that's a relatively low percentage of the overall numbers. >> that's right. you also don't have the mpp
pieces in that credible fear. >> but that's a pretty small amount, 57,000. can anyone explain the discrepancy? i would have thought you would have had hundreds of thousands of referrals. >> right. you would expect perhaps to see the numbers matching at least the family -- >> why don't they? >> i don't have an answer as to why they don't. >> does anybody? >> the credible fear process is only triggered typically when someone is subject to an expedited removal order. if they don't go through the expedited removal -- >> so the bottom line is we let hundreds of thousands of people in and they did not even have to claim credible fear? >> that's correct. >> that's pretty noteworthy. i want people to understand that. they did not even have to claim the unbelievably low standard, that by and large, 20%, or even
lower, and they don't even have an asylum claim. >> that's one of the parts i was talking about about the legislation that does need to get past. the settlement agreement says we can only detain people for 20 days. that's what's driving us. there is not time to do the proper vetting we need to do. >> mr. cuccinelli, do you know of another nation other than germany for a couple years with the syrian migrant flow that grants legal permanent residency -- millions per year? >> no, not even close. space,the humanitarian america is number one. >> i have people come up and basically lobby me and say it is outrageous we reduced the number of refugees now to 15,000. i point out to them that's the
official total, but you are ignoring the 608,000 people who have common who would basically be refugees as well. that's the problem with the illegal flow. it affects the legal flow. >> absolutely. we had almost 80,000 asylum cases last year, same legal standard as refugees. it's the same type of population, but they are landing at our border and on our soil, so we are shifting resources to contend with it. that backlog continues to grow. we are at over 340,000 cases and growing. >> someone said 87% of the people we are taking enforcement action against have criminal records. define criminal records. is it because they have overstayed visas? is that felonious other than immigration felonious behavior? >> it could include felony immigration charges. typically it is not a visa
overstayed. it is someone with a criminal conviction or pending criminal charge. officers0,000 the ero arrested in the interior. >> but it would be nice to separate -- i'm not understanding the concern of breaking understood -- immigration laws, but it would be nice to have that split in terms of felonious behaviors. is it immigration or is it literally rape, assault, murder? that's good data to have. >> i do have some data and i'm happy to provide this to you after the hearing. >> good. we will take that and enter it in the record. dna testing. beinging done by cbp, done by i.c.e., correct? we are hearing these children being used. time and time again. i can't help but think of a as ae girl who gets used
false family, goes through that dangerous journey, gets sent back to central america, goes through the dangerous journey again, when she gets old enough, she is just put into the sex trade? what are we fighting in terms of data for false families? >> the rapid dna was by far the most criminal -- critical investigative tool for furniture lint family units that went to the border -- fraudulent family units that went to the border. aboutnd with rapid dna 13% to 15% hit rate on fraudulent families. initially when we first got there during the height of the crisis, we were showing percentages about 20%, 25%. the amount of fraud was rampant. word spread, the cartels are the best advertisers of what works and what doesn't. within a short period of time,
it was getting back to the organizations that needed to pay for it operations -- pivot operations. you mentioned operation noble guardian. . this was efforts to look at the back end of the equation were fraudulent families were released into the interior and the children were separated from unrelated adults and taken to an airport and flown to the northern triangle. we have identified over 600 children that have been recycled in this methodology. we interviewed several of the children as they were departing the u.s. some of them had indicated they had made the trip as many as eight times with separate unrelated adults every time. >> and again, i have to point out, the 600 are the people we catch. we don't even know how many people we don't. we don't understand the magnitude of this problem. i just want to make a final point. i want to have mr. morgan comment on this. we have a completely unsecure
border on our side of the border. but the southwest border is 100% secure, basically, or close to 100% on the southern side, right? migrants are not passing, drugs are not passing. it is controlled. it is possible if we actually have the will to do so. bothorgan: i agree on fronts. the mexican border is controlled by the cartels. nothing passes through without the cartels. you are 100% correct. i think it's important when we talk about securing the border, part of the narrative we need to get better at is not just about the immigration issue. it's about the humanitarian issue and national security. drugs are pouring into the country. cbp alone, over 750,000 pounds of drugs, all for the hard narcotics went up last year. 68,000 deaths due to overdose.
70,000 the year before. we need to secure this border. people are dying every day because the border is not secure. >> and as long as we have laws that are so easily exploitable by the human traffickers where they literally can surge, and one time in el paso, 1000 people, it's easy for six or seven or 100 to get through, to replenish the gang members. that's the reality. >> that's right. when we talk about the security of the southern border, we cannot separate the migration flow from the national security side. they are interconnected. smugglers don't care, they are interconnected. sen. peters: i would like to talk a little bit of about -- about abstention yeah cases. that aliens who failed to appear at their andings have taxed the ero
eoir resources to an incredible degree. i am holding a redacted notice to appear that was issued earlier this year. i ask unanimous consent this can be entered into the record. a seven-year-old child, unaccompanied trial, was given an nta without specific hearing dates or locations, thus making it difficult to avoid the and i'm glading, you agree it taxes our resources. how is a seven-year-old supposed to navigate the court system if basic information is not provided in the form you give to a seven-year-old child? >> i'm not specifically familiar without form, so i can't guarantee it was filed, that it wasn't rejected by the court. what i can say is there are regulations that dictate how service must be accomplished on someone who is underage. typically if someone is under the age of 14, it has to be
served on a custodian or parent, someone else other than a seven-year-old. again, i'm not familiar with this specific case. >> i would like to go through what those procedures are that may be beyond the scope of what we can do now, but i think the office would like to talk to what the procedures are that a migrant will need to have to appear. >> the regulations do typically spell out what is required in a notice. there has been litigation in the past year. we also have internal guidance when we reject notices for not having sufficient or correct information. > and we would like data on all that as well, back to the hearing.sed the dhs office of inspector general reported participants in family case management program, which has issued an alternative to detention program, had a 100% attendance at court hearings. what are your agencies doing to
expand on these programs under the recently provided appropriations that were provided to agencies? if we could have some comment? mr. morgan? don'trgan: so we participate in any alternative detentions. that would be i.c.e. or ero. i didn't know it was quite 100%, i thought it was in the high 90%. excellent. the challenge with alternative detention is the limited amount of those resources to keep that monitoring on throughout the dependency of a total hearing process. the fc mp provided for that. we were continually monitoring and providing that level of engagement that certainly
increased the level of participation showing up for hearings and check ins at a higher rate. my understanding is that that was a pilot and we are not currently running fcmp at the moment. i want to go back and double check that so i am providing accurate information. >> we would like that. you say it's a pilot in the high 90's, seems like a pretty successful pilot. why isn't it expanded? that's the whole idea of having pilots. : the challenge i think is the program was capped at 119,000. those assets are recycled as people go off of atd. they have new people coming. i mentioned earlier the number was about 160,000 that had gone
through it. certainly it is just a dedication of a lot more resources in a more intensive way. ouruld be happy to bring folks that manage that program and come and talk about it more specifically. >> we would like that because you have to look at the alternative to have them not show up, also is a tax on the system as mr. mchenry said. we have to take a look at that and i look forward to doing that. mr. mchenry, the current immigration court backlog including asylum backlog has ballooned. you mentioned approximately one million cases now. one of the stated causes is a lack of immigration judges and staff. under the recent supplemental appropriated 135 million dollars for the hiring of 30 teams, 10 million dollars in court space, and more for the program. what is the progress now?
>> i believe we fomented all of it except maybe .1% by the aid -- end of the fiscal year. . >> how>> many immigration judge teams are on board with law clerks? >> currently 439. we brought a class in september. >> that's the hiring of the additional teams? that's all? >> we have another class in two weeks. we are averaging one class per quarter. the former -- formal operation is 534. >> and you have identified new courtroom spaces? >> yes, we have it planned through at least 2021. >> have program sites been highlighted for expansion? >> not to my knowledge, but that is an issue with the contractor and not us. >> thank you. >> a quick follow-up. if we have 500 34 times 708 cases per judge per year, that's
378,000 we could adjudicate per year. is that policy bill -- is that possible? we also need i.c.e. attorneys to adjudicate those cases, correct? >> we believe it's possible. >> absolutely, senator. looking at the current docket, detained, non-detained, we are about 800 attorneys short in the office of legal representatives. as eoir expands into areas where we have no attorneys, you can imagine the challenge of finding space for attorneys and getting folks into that to represent the government in immigration court. needs deportation officers and staff to facilitate the movement of people in and out of courts as well. be ecosystem needs to equally resourced in order to be effective. >> mr. mchenry, would you agree
that this was well-intentioned, we are increasing judges, which from the standpoint of the number of judges, looks like we might be able to start knocking down the backlog? i hate to staff up for that kind of flow, it is putting a band-aid on the problem, but that being the case, do you agree with mr. benner that we really do need the full team? we need to fund the adjudicators from i.c.e. as well. >> i do. historically, it has been one or the other. dhs was getting funded and immigrations weren't. judges aremmigration funded and others are not. >> we need to make that a really important point. a lot of things senator peters was talking about with the adjudication process, i think this is open for a hearing in and of itself. i will ask all of you to be thinking about what information, what kind of data, caseload, the
percentage of people given valid asylum claims. this is data we need if we are going to craft legislation to solve that problem. i want to thank the witnesses for appearing before us for the thoughtful testimony and answers to the questions. i want to thank the men and women who serve with you in your agencies and departments. it's unbelievable to me that law enforcement has come under such attack. it's completely uncalled for. secretary kelly when he was secretary of homeland security, came before us and said, i will not apologize for the men and women of my department for enforcing the law. that's their job. immigration and customs enforcement. it is border protection. nobody should apologize for that. theink the men and women, people i speak to show a great deal of compassion to those
individuals seeking better opportunity. they are trying to deal with an overwhelming problem. as secretary kelly said at that point in time as well, if we don't like the law, it is our responsibility to have the skill and courage to change it. i don't have colleagues appear, but that's the message i have four colleagues on this committee. let's have the skill and courage to admit we have a problem, go through this process, identify the problem, the root causes, establish an achievable goal or goals and craft legislation on a nonpartisan basis. , anybodymagine anybody that is satisfied with the current situation. we can argue about how many ,egal immigrants should come in those are concerns, but nobody should be arguing we should allow this uncontrolled flow with all the human suffering associated with it and the billions of dollars we are
allowing to flow into the pockets of some of the most evil human beings on the planet again, thank you and the men and women you serve. forrecord will remain open 15 days for the submission of statement and questions. this hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]