tv President Obamas Immigration Plan CSPAN December 2, 2014 9:00am-10:01am EST
again, c-span3 live this morning here on capitol hill waiting for homeland security secretary jeh johnson who will be testifying this morning about border security and the president's executive order on immigration. under the president's order, if a person had been in the u.s. for more than five years and has children who are citizens or legal residents, passes a criminal background collection and is willing to pay taxes, they can apply to stay in the u.s. temporarily. the executive order also calls for additional resources for law
enforcement. to try to prevent illegal border crossings. secretary johnson was also mentioned pass a possible replace many for defense secretary chuck hagel. he withdrew his name from consideration to replace the defense secretary. also happening today on capitol hill, the house judiciary committee will be meeting to look at the president's immigration order. we'll stream that live. catch it on c-span.org starting at 1:00 p.m. eastern time.
chair, now seated. just want to remind you from today's hearing, we'll hit from jeh johnson. we're asking for your thoughts on whether you agree with the president's immigration policy changes. that's the topic of today's committee hearing. you can weigh in on facebook, go to facebook.com/c-span, or use twitter using the #cspanchat. just waiting for the committee hearing to start here momentarily.
committee on homeland security will come to order. committee's meeting today to hear testimony from secretary jeh johnson on the administration's recent executive actions to grant temporary relief to millions of unlawful immigrants and the effect such actions will have on the security of our nation's borders. i now recognize myself for an
opening statement. today we are here to talk about illegal immigration and the grave consequences of the administration's recent actions to bypass congress. immigration reform is an emotional and divisive issue. there's no doubt about that. but the president's unilateral actions to bypass congress undermine the constitution and threaten our democracy. let me be clear -- our immigration system is broken and we need to fix it. america has always stood proudly as a beacon for hope for millions who are seeking a better life. and we should work hard to keep it that way. but regardless of where you stand on this issue, there's a right way to do this, and there's a wrong way. and, unfortunately, the president has taken the wrong way. in addition, the president has risked breaking something much more fundamental, and that is our democratic process.
we are a nation of laws, yet this unprecedented executive power grab undermines the principle that the people, not just one man, should be the ultimate decision makers in our country's most important political matters. this action also has poisoned the well here in washington at a time when americans desperately want their government to work together. we are facing crucial challenges that require congress and the white house to cooperate, from combating overseas threats to driving economic growth. but making an end around congress, the president has deliberately and willfully broken the trust that is needed between our branches of government. the president knows the damage of these actions. in fact, he has said over 20 times in his presidency that he did not have the authority to take executive action on immigration, and that this is
"not how democracy works." he also said doing so would lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. he was right. and it will. history has proven that amnesty perpetuates a cycle of illegal entry into this country. this was true in the 1980s, and it has proven true under this administration's abuse of prosecutorial discretion. a power to decide when to prosecute law breakers and when not to. a power which should be used narrowly and carefully. this administration has done the opposite. they've taken a sweeping approach to prosecutorial discretion that makes a mockery of the law. the consequences are very real. this summer the administration's refusal to enforce our immigration laws enticed at least 60,000 unaccompanied children to make the perilous
journey to our borders. many traveled to the united states under misinformation regarding the administration's granting of permissions. we can expect many, many more to do the same because of the president's recent actions. the lax interior enforcement policies adopted by this administration, coupled with even the perception of amnesty, become a powerful magnet that encourages more illegal immigration. we essentially tell citizens of other kuntscountries, if you co here you can stay. don't worry, we won't deport you. the reality on the ground is that unless you commit multiple crimes, the chances of you being removed from this country are close to zero. this year the u.s. border patrol apprehended almost 500,000 individuals along our southern border, but less than half were deported. those who remained were given notices to appear before an
immigration judge with a court date years away and released into the country. we know that the majority will never check back in with the authorities. if we don't think that message is making its way back to mexico and central america, we are simply fooling ourselves. we will see a wave of illegal immigration because of the president's actions. at its core, the president's u.n. lat rl am nnilateral amnes deeply unfair to the millions waiting in line to become a part of our great nation and it demonstrates reckless regard for america's security. we have a formal immigration process for a reason -- to promote fairness in allowing people to enter the united states and to keep those who will seek to do us harm outside of our borders. sadly, the department of homeland security is unprepared to handle the coming surge that
the president's policies will incite. . border patrol's resources are restrained as immigrants pour across the border making it difficult to identify smugglers, terroris terrorists. we need to reform our immigration laws but we need to do it the right way. that means starting the process in the law making branch of our government. congress will address immigration reform. but we need to do so in an intelligent way and in keeping with the wishes of the american people. the majority of americans do not agree with the president's executive actions. they want congress to find a solution, one that begins with securing our borders. i look forward to hearing from the secretary and i hope that he will address the serious concerns congress and the american people have about the president's decision. we cannot turn a blind eye to
the real threats which these actions will bring to our country's doorstep. with that, the chair now recognizes the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding today's hearing. i'd like to thank secretary johnson for making the time to be here to discuss recently announced executive actions on immigration and border security, as well as your fifth appearance before this committee in your short 12-month period shows that you are accessible and i appreciate it. since 1956, presidents have granted temporary immigration relief to impacted individuals on 39 separate occasions. therefore, it would seem changes outlined by president obama on november 20th are not outside the bounds of presidential authority as provided under our constitution.
approximately 11 million undocumented individuals are forced to hide in the shadows even as they live and work in plain sight in communities big and small across our nation. time and again the house republican leadership has been unwilling to act to fix our broken immigration system. in the face of this crisis and absence of congressional action, the president acted in a measured way that is likely to improve both our nation's security and economy, specifically the president announced an establishment of the deferred action for parental accountability program which delays deportation for immigrants who have lived illegally in the united states for more than five years but have children who are citizens or have green cards. contrary to messaging from those who disagree with the president and many of his policies unrelated to immigration, this
deferred action does not provide relief to recent border crossers. if the applicant can pass a criminal background check and pay a fee, he or she could qualify for work permit and avoid deportation for three years at a time. approximately 4 million immigrants are expected to qualify for this temporary relief. this provides are deferred enforcement in order to keep families intact in light of congressional failure to provide such relief is not novel. the family fairness program implemented by president reagan and expanded by president george h.w. bush provided the enforcement for close family members of individuals legalized by the immigration reform and control act. president obama directive rightly prioritizes the removal of undocumented individuals who have committed serious crimes, thus enhancing the safety of our
communities. i'm troubled by the extreme criticism and disdain that this temporary limited set of action has received by some in congress. the concept of families with working parents and children who attend school is consistent with the values we all hold. now with the president's announcement, this value or fabric of america is now being called renegade and a basis for more illegal action. a fair criticism may be that vulnerable people in violence-ridden communities in central america will be misled by enterprising coyotes and smugglers about the scope of individuals covered by the president's action. i look forward to hearing from secretary johnson about planning efforts that will be rolled out in anticipation of such misinformation. we all know that recent border crossers would not have -- not be covered, even if there is an upsurge based on information,
congress has made significant investment in personnel and equipment at the southern border that should ensure that dhs is able to effectively respond to any continue creases in attempted border crossings. let me be clear. the president's executive actions are a good start. however, there are still many people whom i believe deserve such consideration but are left out. specifically, i would point to our agricultural workers. the president's executive action does not provide specific relief to an estimated quarter million of those workers that might be eligible for some type of deferred action. more remains to be done to address these labor needs for america's farmers. where executive action remains solid, there is an opportunity for congress to legislate. let me close with two thoughts. to those who have said the president's actions do not represent the will of the american people, i say you need to listen better.
americans by wide margins believe our immigration system can be fixed in a fair and humane way that does not jeopardize our security. second to those in congress who have embraced the idea of putting the department of homeland security in budgetary limbo while every other fell lowell agency is funded for fiscal year 2015, i say you should really think about the message that sends about congress' commitment to homeland security. in closing, it's my hope that congress will use this action as a starting point to legislate permanent fixes to our nation's immigration system and further improve our border security. mr. chairman, i am willing to work with you throughout the remainder of this congress and the next congress to make these legislative changes happen. and i yield back. >> i thank the ranking member. we are pleased here to today
secretary jeh johnson back to the committee. as always, we may not agree on all the issues but we do so with civility. and mr. johnson, as many of you know, has a distinguished record, both at the department of defense and at the department of justice. and we appreciate your service for the department of homeland security. and with that, you are recognized for an opening statement. >> thank you, chairman mccall, ma ranking member thompson, committee members here. let me begin by saying in the same vein as the chairman's remarks, we won't always agree, we have not always agreed, but i do appreciate the friendship and the collegiality that we enjoy between individual members of this committee and their staffs and me and my staff. this is the 12th time i've testified before congress in 11
months. fifth time before this committee. i feel like i know a number of you well. on november 20th, the president announced a series of executive actions to begin to fix our immigration system. the president views these actions as a first step toward reform of the system and continues to count on congress for the more comprehensive reform that only ledgislative changes can provide. the actions we took will begin to fix the system in a number of respects. to promote border security for the future, and to send a strong message that our borders are not open to illegal migration, we prioritize the removal of those apprehended at the border and those who came here illegally after january 1, 2014, regardless of where they are apprehended. we also announced the next steps to strengthen our border security efforts as part of our southern border campaign
strategy which i first announced earlier this year. to promote public safety, we made clear that those convicted of crimes, criminal street gang members and national security threats, are also priorities for removal. to promote accountability, we encourage those undocumented immigrants who have been here for at least five years, have sons or daughters who are citizens or lawful permanent residents, and do not fall in to one of our enforcement priorities to come out of the shadows, get on the books, and pass national security and criminal background checks. after clearing all their background checks, these individuals are eligible for work authorization will be able to pay taxes and contribute more fully to our economy. the reality is that given our limited resources, these people are not, and have not been for years, priorities for removal. it's time reaction knowledge
that and encourage them to be held accountable. this is simple common sense. to rebuild trust with state and local law enforcement, which are no longer honoring i.c.e. detainers, we are ending the controversial secure communities program as we know it and making a fresh start with a new program that fixes existing problems. to promote u.s. citizen slp we will enable application to pay the 680 naturalization application fee by credit card around expand citizenship public awareness. to promote the u.s. economy, we will take administrative actions to better enable u.s. businesses to hire and retain qualified, highly skilled foreign-born workers. the reality is that for decades, presidents have used executive authority to enhance immigration policy. president obama views these actions as a first step toward the reform of the system and
continues to count on congress for the more comprehensive reform that only changes in law can provide. i'd like to add to that, i, too, would welcome the opportunity to work with members of this committee on comprehensive immigration reform legislation. i recommended to the president each of the homeland security reforms to the immigration system that he has decided to pursue. these recommendations were the result of extended and candid consultations i had with the leadership of immigration and customs enforcement, customs and border protection, and u.s. citizenship and immigration services. along the way i also spoke with members of the workforce who implement and enforce the law to hear their views. in my own view, any significant change in policy requires close consultation with throws who administer the system. we also consulted a wide range of stakeholders, including business and labor leaders, law
enforcement officers, religious leaders, and members of congress from both sides of the aisle. we also consulted with the department of justice and we received a formal written opinion from the justice department's office of legal counsel concerning can enforcement prioritization and deferred action. and that opinion has been made public. thank you for your attention to these remarks. i look forward to your questions. >> i thank the secretary. chairman recognizes himself for five minutes for questions. i have to echo again in my opening statement, there's a right way to do this and a wrong way. obviously i disagree with the president's approach in this case. presidents reagan and bush worked with the congress. congress passed legislation that the presidents were implementing, a very strong distinction from the case that we have today. my question -- i have several questions. one first is, the president said
over 20 times that he did not have the legal authority to do this, to take this executive action, and that this is not how democracy works. do you agree with that prior statement? >> chairman, i know from 30 years as a lawyer that when someone paraphrases remarks from somebody, i want to see the full q&a. i want to see the full context to know exactly what the person said. i've looked at various excerpts of remarks by the president concerning his legal authority to act. i do not believe that what we have done is inconsistent with that. in fact, we spent a lot of time with lawyers and we spent a lot of time with doj's office of legal counsel. they wrote what is, in my judgment, a very thoughtful 30-page public opinion on the
available legal authority to act to fix -- >> there is no -- i have no doubt about your actions after the election on this issue. but i will say, i will be happy to provide you with the written statements that i have personally read to your office. it is confusing and it poses a bit of hypocrisy i think to the american people, because tlen after t then after the election he reversed his course. after the election now he says that he does have the legal authority to move forward. who should we believe -- the president before the election who said he didn't have legal authority to take this action, or the president after the election who says that he does have the authority to take this executive action. >> congressman, what i know is we spent months developing these reforms and we spent a lot of time with lawyers, very close consultation with lawyers. there were some things that they told us they thought we did not have the legal authority to do
and are reflected in the olc opinion, and this were things they told us very clearly that we did have the legal authority to do. the analysis was very thoughtful, very time consuming, and very extensive. and i'm satisfied as a lawyer myself and the person who lass to come here and defend these actions that what we have done is well within our existing legal authority. >> i have no doubt with respect to your integrity. but i think the timing of these statements makes it look more political to me, that this is a political decision rather than a policy decision. i know you've run this through all the legal traps. but i think that is what we're concerned about are these prior statements that he didn't have legal authority, and now he does. so perhaps he wasn't following the correct legal advice at one juncture or the other. did he get the right political -- or legal advice before the election or -- because he has changed his tune on this.
and i think that's what's so confusing to members of congress and the american people about the authenticity of this president's decision. >> well, you refer to timing. i originally received an assignment to look at our authority to take executive action in the spring. we began to develop reforms in the spring. we were urged by many in congress to wait, so we waited until the summer. we got to the summer. we were urged then to wait until late summer, which we did. once we knew the speaker was not going to be able to marshal the votes in the house of representatives for reform, we decided we were going to act in late summer. then we were urged to wait until after the mid-terms which we've done. so we've waited a considerable amount of time, more than -- >> my time is limited. i flknow you have, but it has
und undermined our principles in dempsey. he also stated earlier this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. do you agree with that statement by the president? >> flno. in fact, we prioritize recent illegal migrants. we prioritize those who came here illegally afternoon january 1, 2014. and i intend to highlight that fact wherever i go. in fact, i'm going to our new detention facility in texas week after next to highlight the fact that we've expanded our detention capability and recent arrivals illegally are priorities for removal. and i intend to go to the country of mexico to work with them on their own interdiction efforts. so wherever i go, i intend to highlight the fact that these new reforms prioritize recent illegal entrance. >> again, i just look at history. in 1986 the amnesty law was
passed. and it led to a wave of illegal immigration. i look at toddaka. i had 60,000 children unaccompanied crossing my border in texas through the rio grande valley sector. sass a result of daka, you can't deny that the traffickers are going to message this, now this executive action and sproexploi. i've had high level people in the state department tell me this, they're worried about this being taken down to the central america countries and exploited and we're going to see a surge and a wave of illegal immigrations. i'm telling you, it is going to happen and this department needs to be ready for that to protect the nation from it, because it's coming in my judgment. there is no question about it. the last question is on fraud. 20% of daca applications denied at fraudulent.
we saw after 1996 with being the 1993 world trade center bomber, one of them, had fraudulent documentations exploiting the 1986 amnesty law. what are you going to do to veri verify that these people are not fraudulently entering the country without posing security threat to the country? >> that is something i, too, am concerned about. fraudulent applications have the potential to undermine the whole process. so in the implementation, in the planning for the implementation, i want to be sure that we take a hard look at best practices to avoid fraudulent applications, fraudulent misuse of the program. that's a priority of mine. >> well, we look forward to working with you on that. with that, i know that the chair recognizes the ranking member for questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
mr. secretary, there are striking similarities between president obama's executive action and those similar actions taken by president reagan and president george h.w. bush on addressing this problem. your statements to this committee is that the department of justice has provided authority by which the president is acting. are you comfortable with that or did you participate after the issuance of that authority in the development of a recommendation to the president? >> yes, sir. let me add this. whenever i assess a legal question, both as a lawyer for the department of defense, and
now as a cabinet secretary, and the viability of a legal issue, i welcome a thorough opinion like the one we have from olc. but i also ask myself, could i defend that action before a committee of congress if called upon to do so. and i'm fully comfortable that we have the legal authority to push forward these reforms in particular, specifically with regard to deferred action, that is an authority that presidents have used for decades, as you have pointed out, in various different forms. that's noted in the olc opinion. so i'm fully comfortable that deferred action is an inherent executive branch tloauthority t can and should be used from time to time. and we've done so here. >> what i'd like to add to that, from those other actions, congress had not moved forward and that was why president
reagan and george h.w. bush did pursue the executive order route, because of the inaction of congress. and so while there are differences of opinion, i want that has a question that we have not done our job as members of congress and the problem gets worse. those 11 million people who are here, we have to address. another issue that i'm concerned about, mr. secretary, the department's unity of effort. how will the southern border campaign address challenges around that. >> the southern border campaign strategy that we've developing is an initiative to bring to bare all of the department's resources in a particular region of the country on border security. we are, in my judgment, too stovepiped in that approach.
cbp, foema, coast guard, we are too stovepiped. we need to bring a more strategy approach to it so what we are doing is creating two task forces. west task force, joint task force east to focus on border security in the southeast and in the southwest. i expect to announce the new leaders of those task forces very soon. and we're developing a timeline for getting this done. i issued as part of these various directives here a directive devoted toward the southern border campaign strategy and set forth here what the goals and lines of effort are to be. as you know, i think we've received a lot of bipartisan support from this effort and i intend to move forward with it.
>> the comment has been made about number of undocumented children coming in recent years. your department requested supplemental funding to address the needs to work with that. congress did not give you the mon money. can you continue to maintain the level of support to address that issue if congress continues to refuse to give you the money necessary to do that job? >> it will be very difficult. we have as part of our fy-15 budget request a request for an additional $750 million. most of that will go to expanded
detention capability and resources. we set that up in response to the spike in illegal migration last summer and we want to maintain that and we want to add to it. and so i refer to the new detention facility in dilly, texas a moment ago. that is a capacity for up to 2,400 spaces. we need to pay for that. but, it is a vital aspect of our southern border security, in my view. and, frankly, i'm disappointed that congress has not supported us in that vital border security effort. i hope that congress will act to fund that and to fund the expanded flights, the repatriation that we've developed since last summer. we need to pay for these things and i know every member of this committee wants to support enhanced border security so i'm urging congress to act so we can
pay for it. >> mr. secretary, what do you project to be the number of people coming across the border illegally this year? >> the number of people crossing the border illegally this year? fy-14, i believe that total and lengthse -- apprehensions which are an indication of attempts to cross the border illegally, 477,000, $479,00 479,000. there is a calculation that is something in excess of that number. you add, as i'm sure you know, apprehensions plus turn-backs, plus what we call got-aways and you get an estimate for total
illegal migration, i believe. but i'd be happy to provide this number to you, what our border patrol's best estimate is but i believe it is some percentage in excess of the 477,000, 479,000. >> that's what i feared, more than half a million people will succeed coming into the united states illegally this year. if you were to succeed in achieving your goal of operational control of the border, what would you like to get that number down to? from half a million to what? >> well, very clearly, sir, i'd like to see that number come down. in fy-2000, we had 1.6 million -- >> right. if i may interrupt you for a minute, what are were your metrics in determining whether the border is secure or not? >> well, the border patrol has metrics. i've asked that they improve upon that. i recently issued a directive to better define our bothered metrics how we should define border security. so that is a work in progress,
sir. >> so you don't have the metrics today to determine whether the border is secure. >> the border patrol does have metrics which i believe i've shared are various members of this committee. i've asked that they refine that and they're in the process of doing that. >> okay. so again, i don't think that we have the metrics we need to determine whether the border is secure or not. let me read a sentence from your -- page 3 of your statement today. our executive actions emphasize that our border is not open to future illegal immigration, that those who come here illegally will be sent back unless they qualify for some form of humanitarian relief under our laws. is it true, though, that the department of of homeland security is already releasing illegal immigrants from i.c.e. custody? >> i'm sorry, what was the last part of that question? >> is the department releasing illegal immigrants now from i.c.e. custody instead of sending them home? >> i believe that we have a
number of those who are released on bond, if i understand your question, throu. through a directive, i recently asked i.c.e. to have a higher level approval authority for when that happens. >> again, to put that in simple language, i.c.e. is releasing individuals who are in the country illegally which is contrary to your statement that they would be sent home. and it also seems to me contradicting your statement is the fact that very few individuals who have entered the country illegally who have not, in your terms, committed other serious crimes are going to be sent home. it is going to be a very, very small fraction. it may be 1% or 2%. so i don't think your statement here is true to say that those who come here illegally will be sent back. it is a very small subset of those who come into the country illegally. >> well, let me say two things, sir. during the summer we dramatically reduced the
repatriation time for adults from 33 down to four days. and we have built added detention space for family units which i'm hoping this congress will support. >> that's nice but that's not answering my question. once again, you are not going to be sending people back home just because they're in the country illegally and in fact i think you've just admitted i.c.e. is already releasing individuals who could be returned home but are not being returned home. furthermore, i think you're also releasing individuals who have been convicted of crimes in the united states and putting them back out on our streets and in our communities. do you want to estimate how many thousands of people are being released who are criminal aliens? the last several years i think it totals 30,000 people. do you have any idea what it might be this year? >> the issue of release of throws convicted of crimes is one that i focused on for the last several months. so what i directed to i.c.e. is that there be a higher level approval authority for a
circumstance when somebody with a criminal record is released from immigration detention on bond. i also directed that a release of somebody with a criminal record should not occur because of fiscal constraints. we will find a way to pay for that. >> i hope you can. because as i say, right now you are releasing criminal aliens, you are releasing individuals hop should be sent home and i don't think that's the way our laws slud be enforhould be view. >> mr. chairman, to the ranking member again, let me thank you for this hearing. this is the important work of the united states congress. it is unbiased fact finding. secretary, again, thank you for your service and the importance of your related service in the department of defense, and as well your knowledge and work with u.s. department of justice. i, frankly, believe that we can clarify the president's comments ab and he was in fact extremely
consistent. and i have a series of questions. as i understand the executive order, it does not confer immigration status, nor does it confer a pathway to citizenship. is that correct? >> correct. >> and my interpretation of the president's remarks over the years has been his lack of authority to confer immigration status or citizenship. my interpretation, but i think it would be documented by his words, and you're telling us today that in the executive order, you nor the president has done that. >> deferred action does not grant legal status in this country. >> or pathway to citizenship. >> or a green card or a pathway to citizenship. >> let me move on, mr. secretary, to put into the record these words. "a comprehensive approach to immigration reform is long overdue and i'm confident that the president, myself and others can find common ground to take care of this issue once and for all."
those were the words of speaker boehner, which i took literally in 2012. to date, this congress has not placed -- this house has not placed on the floor of the house one single immigration bill that responds to what i thought were welcoming words by the speaker. we have not had an up or down vote. and in this committee, which i want to congratulate, the cla chairman and ranking member have worked in a bipartisan matter. my subcommittee chairwoman and myself have passed hr-1417, a border security legislative initiative and it has never seen a day on the floor of the house to provide an up or down vote. my questions and concerns would be our interpretation. president reagan signed into law in 1986 a bill that many people tried to muffle their words but they used the word "amnesty." i'd make the argument that president reagan saw a humanitarian crisis and decided to act. in the phoenix case in 2012,
justice roberts said that presidents, in addition to the executive order, have a right to humanitarian relief. so let me pursue. questioning regarding the daca and the issue that this may work to cause border crossers as a result of this announcement. could you just quickly point out the daca relief deals with existing persons here in the united states, and one other aspect is to expand the time frame from two to three years. could you quickly answer that? why don't i just give you this other question so that we won't be delayed with respect to the other question. i've us a thought secure communities have had a legal and political issue. and you have streamlined secure communities. let me say that my law enforcement officers locally have said that it is problematic. so in your prioritization of
terrorists and others, you have ve streamlined that. i would also like to indicate in your new facility that i'm very interested in this dilly, texas, that it will be accommodating and with the right kinds of resources for family and children. if you would answer those questions, mr. secretary. >> yes, ma'am. the current daca program is for those who have been here since july -- or june 2007 which is almost seven years -- over seven years. you have to have been here over seven years, come here under age 16 and have to have been born after 1981. we advised the criteria that by rolling back the cut-off from 2007 to 2010 we removed the birthday limitation from post-1981 to any time. we've made the eligibility for the temporary period three years instead of two years. with regard to the dilly
facility that we're opening up, i've sent my own staff -- my own lawyers down there to ensure that the conditions are adequate for family units and it is something that i'm committed to ensuring. >> and secure communities that you streamlined, which have really rounded up mothers and fathers and people who are no threat to the united states of america. >> i support the goal of secure communities. the goal of secure communities is to get at criminals so they can be put in removal facilities. >> absolutely. >> the program, as you know, was becoming legally and politically controversial. mayors and governors signing laws and executive orders prohibiting their law enforcement from working with ours on this. and so i want a fresh start so that we can better enforce public safety and removing criminals. >> i thank you. mr. chairman, as i yield back, i just want to say that in an
article in our local newspaper, a mother who had used a nanny for a number of years, who had been in this country for 13 years, dependent as many mothers across america are, on child care in the house, she was celebrating, not politically, democrats, republicans, the opportunity for her nanny to become, in some way, status to stay in this country, and to do good work, and to protect her children. i yield back. >> chair recognizes mr. rogers from alabama. >> thank you, chairman. thank you mr. johnson for your service and for being here. earlier this year you testified before this committee, and when we had a bunch of younger people coming across the border illegally. and during that hearing i asked you when we were talking about the reason why they wouldn't be removed within 24 hours like we do adult illegal aliens coming across the border and you made the point of saying statutorily the government's required to allow these children to go through -- or the younger
people, to go through a hearing process, and that that had to be complied with. my request, my inquiry to you was, aren't these exigent circumstances? and you said yes. i said, well under those circumstances, can't the president write an executive order that would allow you to go ahead and remove those younger people like we do adults. and you said, the president doesn't have that authority to ignore a statute by executive order. isn't it true that our current statutory law requires that these people that are covered under executive order be removed from the country? >> i recall that exchange, and i recall that the particular words, extraordinary circumstances, or exigent circumstances, whatever was in the law, could not be read as broadly as to permit voluntary departure and basically obviate
the entire statute. that was the reading of the statute that i had at the time. i do not believe, to the extent this is your question, that that is inconsistent with anything we've done and announced week before last. >> i disagree with you. the statute is very clear at present. that these illegals who are in this country are to be removed once they're located. my next question, you talked about how the people are going to be defined under this executive order by being here a certain number of years, or the age or whatever. how do you determine that -- how they're presenting themselves is accurate? for example, if they say i've been here seven years. how do you get them to prove it? and how do you know that the way they prove it is valid? for example they say well i've been living at this address for the last seven years, and here's the power bill over that period of time. and the power bill is in another person's name.
and they say but i rent from that person. and that person says oh, yeah, and it's a complete fabrication. how do you prove the residency is accurate when they present themselves to you? >> good question. and the onus will be on the applicant to demonstrate that they've lived in this country continuously for the five-year period. so the onus is on the applicant to come forward with something that satisfies the immigration officer, the examining officer, that they have, in fact, lived in this country. i do not believe that that will be as simple as, you know, take my word for it. there will have to be some sort of documented proof that will be developed in the implementation process by cis. >> i think you acknowledged from an earlier question, this is an area that is going to be wrought with fraud. all sorts of lies and exploitation are going to be driven to this point, and i think it's going to be impossible for y'all to be able
to determine who, in fact, qualifies under this very broad and illegal executive order. may i ask this question. do you think that the people that are going to fall into this category are going to be able to draw medicare and social security? and other public benefits? >> people who qualify for deferred action are lawfully present, but they do not have a lawful status, like lawful permanent resident or citizen. one of the virtues, i think, of accountability is you get people a work authorization, and then they pay taxes on the books. part of the taxes they will pay, as i understand it, would be a deduction for social security. >> so the answer is yes, they will be able to qualify -- >> not be eligible for public benefits of the type that most people would -- would receive. >> but medicare and social security, they would? >> you would generally, as i understand it, be eligible if you're around long enough to get
back what you put in. what you invested originally. >> so the answer is yes. >> -- normal public benefits we would think of. >> well, participating in medicare and social security, both of which are struggling financially through solvency, to have this added burden, i think, is irresponsible. now, you made point about being given documentation for a work permit. is that accurate? this program will issue affirmatively document to an illegal saying they have a legal status of some sort? >> as a separate matter, those who apply for deferred action can also applied for a work authorization, which is not a green card. it's a separate form of work authorization that the secretary of homeland security has the authority to provide. >> but it will be a legal status of some sort? >> they will be considered lawfully present in the country, just like the dhaka kids. >> do you know -- the department of homeland security to establish and carry out that program and for writing that documentation? how expensive will it be for
you? >> well, the program will be fee driven. an applicant has to pay a fee. i believe that we're contemplating that the fee be $460 per applicant, which is what it is for daca. uscis is a fee-based organization. it pays for itself. >> great. thank you very much. i yield back. mr. keating from massachusetts. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having the hearing. thank you mr. secretary. the title of today's hearing is open borders, the impact of presidential amnesty on border security. before this hearing gets too far let me be very direct, secretary, is this amnesty? >> no. no in my judgment. >> not legally -- is it even functionally amnesty? >> the current -- the current situation amounts to amnesty. we want people to be accountable, to come out of the shadows, get on the books, and pay taxes for the three-year
period of deferred action. >> thank you mr. secretary. i have another question. does this represent a permanent solution this executive order, in your opinion? >> no. and let me say again, i would welcome the opportunity to work with the members of this committee who i know are interested in immigration reform on both sides of the aisle. unfortunately, since i've been in office, we have not had a willing partner in the house of representatives. but i continue to want to work with members of this committee and members of the house, members of the congress, on a comprehensive immigration reform piece of legislation. because you're correct, this is not a permanent solution. but it is in our existing legal authority to issue, to fix the broken system, and we feel that we had no choice. >> secretary, general barry mccaffrey served as a witness during a border security hearing
before this committee in the last congress and he unequivocally said that the lack of comprehensive immigration reform is a direct threat to our national security. would you comment on that? >> part of comprehensive immigration reform that was passed by the senate enhanced border security. more resources, more technology, more surveillance. i support that. and i agree with that. and i'm hoping that the congress will act on our pending request for added border security on the southwest border in response to last summer's spike. border security is integral to national security. so i agree with that, sir. >> i know that there's some limitations on what you can say, and most of the members of this committee have been briefed in classified manner on this issue, but can you enlighten us, and the members of the public, too, as to some of the means that have been implemented in terms of border security, particularly
use of satellites, to a greater extent, and use of military assets that we have that we no longer need that can be surplused and used in the border. >> when i go down on the border, the southern border, and i talk to our border patrol about what they need, they almost always tell me, more vehicles, more surveillance, more technology. we're moving in the direction of a risk-based strategy to border security, homeland security, aviation security, because we now have the capability to surveil high-risk areas of the border. and so we need to continue in that direction. we need more technology. that includes aerial surveillance, as well as mobile surveillance on the ground and a number of other things. we've made considerable investments, congressman, over the last 15 years. which has shown some good
results. but i believe that we can do better and we should continue to do better in this regard. >> i'm disappointed we do not have a vote in the house at this stage on the senate bill or a bill like that. but let me ask you another question, my last question. and that is, there's some discussion by members, that have asked you questions in terms of your ability to send people back. can you be clear about your fiscal resources to do that right now. what you're capable of. are you capable of sending everyone back? how much do you need? if we're really serious about this, how much do we need to fund your agency so that we can do what the members of this committee are asking you to do? >> well, the answer to that question is reflected in our current budget request. and let me say this, i know that there are some contemplating