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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  October 1, 2015 1:00pm-3:01pm EDT

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together. secondly, the positioning of different military equipment, am snigs, et cetera. certainly we must work more closely together and propose what we can do with informational warfare because it's a problem not only for baltic region, it's problem for europe and here it's quite open, quite open market to ideas how we can deal with this problem because it's -- the strategic communication issue becomes more and more important in our life. >> there's close banking ties, ties in the banking sector between latvia and russia.
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does this prompt any concern to have those close banking ties between the two countries. >> maybe on the last question, one more thing where we need to strengthen is better common chain within nato. that it means that what weaker decision preparation and decision taking in nato. it means some more responsibilities to nato commander to make decisions in a case of any aggression. but speaking about banks, yes, some banks belong to russian investors but these banks are working accordingly to european
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regulations and we don't see any problems because our bank market is divided between -- we can say between two parts. it's swedish and post-soviet. it's russia and ukraine and we have also u.s. investors in one bank. it means that three key investors in the bank sector but all is working accordingly to e.u. regulations so maybe time for time we have some problems with some suspicious transfers of monies through our banks but
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our appropriate institutions follow that and all the time it's controlling such cases and also a lot of penalties are used to stop such activities. >> if questioner in our audience wonders: is latvia interested in normalizing relations with russia? >> good question. [ laughter ] i think each country would like to have normal relations with all countries and also with russia but the situation at the present moment is that we can't make good relations with russia for fulfilling minsk agreement
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or an s.e.c. sags of crimea, of situations escalations time to time in eastern ukraine. it means that like in all relations, like in families, both sides must having a willingness to have good relations but we see in this case that it's not yet time [ laughter ] >> i have a question about the refugee crisis. do you think the refugee crisis shows weaknesses in the e.u. governance system? >> no. the immigration prices is a problem for all europe and i can say that, yes, it shows
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weaknesses of previous european migration policy because the number of migrants was very low in the e.u. countries was very open for migrants, but when the huge streams of migrants are coming to europe, it becomes a little bit like a disaster because the countries who are the first in europe they can not deal very quickly with migrants streams. and, of course we started discussions how we can manage the situation and here we must divide into parts firstly what we will do within w already
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arrived migrants in europe and we've helped hundreds and hundreds, thousands of them in different countries, in greece, italy, hungary and other countries and, of course, it is very hot discussions in europe how we can be involved in solving this problem. these migrants, how we will divide responsibility between all e.u. countries and we received last week good results on that. but anyway a sect very importantish shue what we will do with the southern border because we see this border is
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very open for my grants and we really need to strengthen border control we need to establish good return back policy of migrants to the countries where they start ed. certainly we need strengthen countries where migrant streams start started. it means we need to invest in peaceful countries to stabilize the economy of these countries. we need to invest in some
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security measures in these countries and finally we must deal with military conflicts in different regions in africa more to syria we must find solutions how to deal with this military conflict. and we are still waiting for the u.n. security council decision to allow e.u. to start military mission in the mediterranean sea to avoid illegal trafficking of migrants to europe. we'll see how it will be. >> i mentioned in the introduction there were some protests in your country about plans to take in some refugees, how would you assess latvia's
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ability to accommodate the refugees that you've said you've already planned to take and what about in the future? do you think you'll be able to take on any more? >> it's a question of solidarity and we -- latvia as a member of e.u. and nato we must be very solid with other countries. of course, time to time we are involving different very challenging issues we had greece problems, we need to strengthen eastern border, suffer from economic sanctions from russia and so on. it means that only when we are solid and can make united
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decisions we will be strong. and in latvia we also had very hot discussions two weeks ago on migration. but we decided that we will participate in solving this problem in europe and we are ready to take 476 persons to our country. in the same time why we held some negative opinion. first of all we haven't real experience with refugees. because during more than 20 years we had only about 45 i
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think refugees. it means we haven't real experience how to deal with high number of refugees in one time. ing secondly due to our inexperience we can't answer to many important questions how we will deal, what we will propose for refugees, jobs, residential facilities, what kind of social guarantees and so on because our system is not established for receiving my zbrants it means that we need to introduce many
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new things and if society don't receive answers they start speculations what they will do with migrants, that we will pay more than for native populations. it means it's a little bit -- very negative sense to society. but it's -- it's a failure of government and particlement that wekçíoç ñóz didn't yet do all t things. >> you mentioned addressing the cause of the refugee crisis and about syria president putin stepped up activity in syria a day two ago. what do you think of russia's move in syria and is the united states and nato making the right
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response? what do you think the response should be to putin and syria? >> i think all leaders respond to this situation that started add few days ago but here i can say is that i think russia started this activity in syria because they want to turn away from ukraine issue. because nobody if you open newspaper, magazines or just watch tv, what is the top or what is the news? syria, russia and syria, russia and syria. nobody speaks about ukraine. i think it's quite a clever step
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from russia's side but i hope that all nato and also e.u. countries, u.s., will not forget about ukraine and we will keep ukraine issues still as a hot topic on our agenda despite russian activities in syria: but anyway, russia involvement in syria conflict it of course is additional forces for fighting with isil is good but in the same time any involvement must be really coordinated with already existing coalition against isil and here i see a problem that this coordination
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doesn't happen. it means it will probably cause a lot of problems in the near future on communication, on planning military activities, bombings and so on and can arise, really, very un -- difficult situation in syria and, of course, a question about the role of assad and all countries said that we will not work together two assad regime and they must go away from his position. and here we see, again, this conflict between opinion of russia and coalition.
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>> a question back closer to your home. a questioner the audience asks, is pollution a major problem if the baltic sea and is it a detriment to your famous fisheries? >> not anymore. [ laughter ] because all the baltic countries during the last 20 years did a lot to improve the environmental situation in their own countries and also in the baltic sea the walt of baltic sea's -- is good. sometimes we just have the influence of historical pollution, what we have in the baltic sea. but it's another question that we need solve. some think it's impossible to
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solve like pollution from sweden and finland from pulp and paper factories during '50s, '60s, '70s without any treatment and we just now from time to time feel the impact of this pollution and also historical military pollution. we have few disposal places of chemical weapons in the baltic sea and they are very deep and we need future solutions, how to manage this place because it's originally -- all wednesday are stored in metal barrels and it's
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more than -- already more than 70 years. you can imagine what can happen. but, of course, here we really need to not regional baltic solution but we need real global solution for this problem. and also this place is some nesting places of our fish in the baltic sea. >> a questioner the audience wonder what is you think of the nationalist parties that have been gabing more support in latvia and eastern europe in general. >> which one? russian or --
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[ laughter ] >> doesn't specify. but wonders why that's happening seemingly more so than maybe in the past or what's your view of the nationalist parties that are creeping up? >> always the opposition to coalition is a better situation because you can say everything, you can be very populistic, you also know how it happens in u.s. in different elections the same in europe and also in our region. but here when we speak about nationalism parties okay it e's real -- they are more or less presented in the parliament and
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support of society is quite high and the party they are presented also in coalition and work and in the government and we speak about russian oriented parties they -- these parties also have support in society and during elections they are -- received high number of votes and for example the parties which are presented in parliament had about 20 person support during the last elections. it means they are presented but they are always in pop sigs more than 24 years. it means they will continue and
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be more latvian oriented. >> mr. president, you're on your first visit to the united states as president of latvia and we've talking about military defense with nato. what about economic ties between the united states and latvia and are there any major investments from u.s. companies that you expect from lad via in the near future? of course, the u.s. is our main strategic military and economic partner and we try our best to develop a cooperation on military issues but during the last year we tried to increase also our economic cooperation
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but here not so easy. not so easy because first of all a market is market and we must follow market rules and for new players it's not so easy to get in a new market and we need some support not only from embassy of latvia but also from our partner s secondly we must fulfill all requirements of u.s. legislation and not so easy. it's also quite bureaucratic like in europe and it needs a very long months and years to get in the market it means we are doing to improve the
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situation but it's going smooth but slow forward but in reality we have really seen that here we can strengthen this cooperation because for us the presence of the u.s. market is also like u.s. presence in latvian market is very good sign for other partners that we are good friends and we work together. especially when you speak about u.s. investments in latvia or in the baltic region because sometimes investors are a little bit afraid about investments in the baltic regions that it's firstover all quite far, border with russia, it would make the
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unstable situation but in reality we are very stable and safe market and we really need some good input from some companies which will -- with international reputation and it gives a string signal to others that october this market is good -- like we had problems many, many years ago with tourists that nobody wants to visit our region because crimes were different violations and so on and just afraid but then you at least once you see why your own eyes that it's nice, beautiful, nice, beautiful country, safe country and, of course, now we can say is that we have a lot of tourists for
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our two million country, five million tourists per year. it's a really high number. >> do you see that growing? >> yes, yes. but in the same time we really need these bilateral agreements between lat v. ya and the u.s. on different levels. like i was with the minister of defense, we started the process on reciprocal agreement between latvia and u.s. on military procureme procurement. it means it's the same. we start negotiations on agriculture, production. okay, it's quite difficult to compete with u.s. agriculture production, farming production but anyway we can propose
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biological production, for example, we are really ecologically clean country and our production is technologically and biologically very clean. it means that we can find some niche product which is we can -- to sell in u.s. market or any other market. >> before i ask the final question i have some housekeeping so mr. president you can catch your breath for just a moment. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists and we fight for a free press worldwide. to learn more about the national press club, visit our web site or to donate to our nonprofit journalism institute visit i also want to remind you about
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some upcoming events. tomorrow, october 2, utah governor gary herbert the chairman of the national governor's association, will address a national press club luncheon. next wednesday, october 7, baltimore mayor stephanie rawlings-blake will address a club luncheon and on october 15, the national press club will hold its annual fourth estate award gala. this year we will honor gwen ifill, moderator and managing editor of washington week and co-anchor and managing editor of the pbs hour in. i would now like to present our speak we are the honorary national press club mug. [ laughter and applause ] >> thank you. >> a warm beverage will taste very good in that back in latvia.
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and you can enjoy that through your presidency and beyond. final question for you is here in the united states we're very immersed already in our presidential election. donald trump, hillary clinton along with some others. what is the view from latvia -- [ laughter ] when you look at this election process in the united states. what do you make of it? >> honestly, you want to influence the election process here in the u.s.? as i mentioned, in all countries we must really follow all candidates and to choose the best ones and for us as i said, i don't like populistic
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representatives. parties or different -- like in our country. but i can say that the market is open. the pre-election market is open. [ laughter ] and parties will choose the best representative from republicans and also from the democrats you have a very long election period and you have very deep traditions on that. we haven't such traditions. we start only -- not exactly a few days before elections but a few months, a few weeks before elections. you can follow all candidates and really find the best
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candida candidate from different parties. anyway, all candidates are good and they are representatives of parties and you, like society, you will vote for your representatives and -- >> mr. president, thank you. can we give a round of applause for our speaker? [ applause ] i would like to thank members of the national press club journalism institute and the national press club for their work in preparing today's event. for a copy of today's program or to learn more about the national press club, visit our web site and that's i want to remind people in the
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audience to stay seated until the president has left the room. thank you very much. we are adjourned. [ applause ] is. >> if you missed any of the national press club today it will be available online in our video library. just go to the "new york times" reported recently that president obama has told his administration to take in at least 10,000 displaced syrian
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refugees over the next year. later today senate judiciary immigration subcommittee will hold a hearing on the number and impact of refugees entering the u.s. watch the hearing here on c-span 3 live at 2:00 p.m. eastern time. join us later tonight for remarks by massachusetts senator elizabeth warren and house republican conference chair -- kathy mcmorris rodgers on c-span. a signature feature of book tv is our all day coverage of book fairs and festivals from across the country with top non-fiction authors. here's our schedule. in early october it's the southern festival of books in nashville. the weekend after that, we're live from austin for the next next book festival. near the end of the month we'll cover two book festivals on the same weekend. from our nation's heartland, it's the wisconsin book festival in madison and on the east coast
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the boston book festival. at the start of november we'll be in portland, oregon for word stock followed by the national book awards from new york city and at the end of november we're live for the 18th year in a row from florida for the miami book fair international. that's a few of the fairs and festival this is fall on c-span 2's book tv. now as part of c-span's road to the white house coverage, we interview harvard professor and 2016 democratic candidate lawrence lessig who discusses his life, work, and why he's running for the presidential nomination. this is just over 30 minutes. joining us from cambridge, massachusetts, is harvard professor and now democratic presidential candidate lawrence lessig. when you announced your candidate you said our country is not a democracy anymore. how so? >> well, what we've allowed to
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happen is congress has become captured by an incredibly small number of americans and maybe not americans who exercise extraordinary influence over what congress does because primarily of the way we fund campaigns: and what that means is that when congress looks at the issues that affect all of americans, congress is thinking about the interest of the tiny, tiny fraction of america that funds their campaign so they're not free to lead. they have to follow their funders which produces a congress which has -- and political scientists have demonstrated, which has no connection to what the average voter cares about but instead is focused on what the economic elite and special interest groups care about. >> yet in this race there is at least one self-funder, donald trump. is that a good thing or a bad thing? >> when he will i love when donald trump says when he describes the basic corruption of the system, when he looks at
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every republican on that stage and says "i own all of you and hillary clinton came to my wedding because she needed my money." what that does is make this issue salient for republicans as well as democrats and that's the critical insight necessary for us to win on this. but i don't want a world where the only people who are independent of special interests are billionaires self-funding their campaigns. i think we fought a revolution about that idea and we sent the aristocrats back home to britain. what america was supposed to be was a representative democracy where representatives would not be constantly beholden to this tiny fraction of america but instead would be representative responsive to all of america who elected them to congress. >> professor, among the topics that you teach at harvard, constitutional law and earlier this month we commemorate it had 220th anniversary of the adoption of our u.s. constitution on september 17,
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1787. if our founding fathers were here today watching this process unfold what would they think? >> i think they would be astonished and disgusted by what we've allowed to happen. look, the framers of our constitution were oblivious to a whole bunch of issues that we find central and critical. so they had no clue about race equality. they had no clue about sex equality even though someone like abigail adams was among them. they didn't understand women should be granted equal status in that democracy. they didn't even know what sexual orientation and equality would have been. so all of the equalities which we focus on to such attention these days, they would have had no sense of. but the one thing they understood was the inequality of wealth. so madison, the architect of our constitution, in describing the constitution in federalist 52 said it would have a branch,
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congress, that would be dependent on the people alone. an exclusive dependence on the people and to be clear in federalist 57 he said by the people i mean "not the rich more than the poor." but that's exactly the kind of dependence that we have allowed to evolve in our democracy today. the framers of our constitution would look at a system where members spend 30% to 70% of their time raising money from this tiny, tiny fraction of americans and say this is not a representative democracy. this is exactly the violation of the core idea of our constitution and i think we should take some insight from that constitution to understand exactly why we've gone so far off the rails in our democracy today. >> and i realize citizens united is a big factor in all of this. but much of the corruption we saw leading to the watergate scandal led to changes. the creation of the fec and the federal matching funds. that began to change in the last
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eight to ten years. what happened? >> well, i actually think the change begins about 20 years ago. when congress became really competitive between republicans and democrats, newt gingrich becomes speaker of the house, it's the first time the republicans have taken control of the house in 40 years and from that point on there's a ferocious competition between the republicans and democrats in each election psych toll try to win back control of congress and the way to fund that ferocious competition has been to change congressmen from representatives into fund-raisers. so the that congressmen feel like their number one job now is the job of raising money. not necessarily just for themselves but also for their party and that transformation over the last 20 years has produced a rat cal change in the norms of how the that institution functions so that its constant focus is not on
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what policies will benefit the constituents of either party but what policies will make it easier to raise money. krugman had a piece in the "new york times" about a month ago where he was describing how the republican candidates for president were talking about a social security program, a reform for social security, privatizing social security which the republican base, for get democrats, the republican base did not support and the question he asked is why would republican candidates be talking about a reform that the base republican voters don't support? and the answer is the funders of the republican campaigns love the idea of privatizing social security so the republicans bend their policy to answer the funders rather than answering the voters. that's a complete corruption of the way our democracy was intended to be established and that's the insight that should drive us to reform this
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corrupted representative democracy. >> let's talk about the citizens united case. i read that you said had justice sandra day o'connor been on the court, the supreme court may not have taken up that case, can you explain? >> well, i think one problem with this supreme court is that there's no politician on the court. now that's not something that usually people would say because people don't think highly of politicians but sandra day o'connor was a former politician. she had run for office, she had a very strong sense of how politics works and i think if she had been on the court she would have had a very realistic appreciation of the extraordinary affect that that decision and follow on decisions that created the super pac would have had and she would have brought an era of realism to the process that the court went through when it decided that case and rather than deciding it
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in abdel i can abstract terms which is how the case is written they would have had a practical sense of how this explosion of big money has removed even further representatives from representing the people and the fundamental purpose of a representative democracy is to keep the representatives close to the people but we have destroyed that with the way we've allowed big money to evolve and we have to fix it as quickly as possible. >> so how transformational was citizens united? >> well, you know, directly what that court -- that opinion says is that individuals, corporates and unions now have unlimited power to spend whatever money they happen to have as long as they spend it independently of a political campaign. but what that decision did was to inspire another decision in the d.c. circuit court of appeals, a case called speech
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now, where that lower court said well if you can spend unlimited amounts of money you should be allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to an independent political action committee and it's that decision that created super pac. if you look at the actual spending, the real change isn't so much corporations directly spending their money in the political marketplace. they've discover there had's a high cost to free speech because they get criticized by their customers when they do that. what happened is all this money has been channelled into the super pac and there's been an explosion of super pac spending. in this election cycle so far, 400 families have given half the money that's been contributed to candidates and super pacs in this cycle so far. now that's an extraordinarily small number. that's kind of banana republic level of democracy and it isolate s and highlights the way in which we've allowed this
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concentration of influence to develop in the united states completely against the traditions that go back to the very beginning of this republic. >> i want to come back to these issues and your own candidacy but a quick sidebar because you've been quoted as saying that you don't think cameras should be allowed inside the u.s. supreme court. in interest of full disclosure, c-span has continued to advocate cameras inside the chamber. i'm curious why you think it would be counterproductive. >> well, i originally was all for the idea but if you look at the way cameras have affected what happens in congress, in creasingly you see members of congress going to the floor of congress or the senate to speak to the camera not their colleagues. and when they speak to the camera their interest is in speaking in a way that will appeal to typically an extreme part of their own political base so rather than facilitating dialogue and deliberation in
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that institution it's encouraged, i fear, the very worst of that institution. now i'm not against cameras in the united states congress because i don't think the institution right now would be doing a lot of valuable deliberation but having spent a year clerking in the court and watching the way that institution funss i peer that if we put cameras in there, some justices might be tempted to play to the camera rather than play to their colleagues and that would weaken the deliberation and work of the court. so i don't think there's any secrets that are being hidden by the fact that we don't have cameras there and we can hear the audio recordings, we can read the transcripts and see what the court decides but i think what we should ask is do we believe it would help the institution do its work in a non-partisan judicial way ar hurt it? my view is if we look at other examples we would see it would weaken the institution and its ability to do its work in an
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appropriate way. >> let's go back to your candida candidacy, a crowd source raising a million dollars. how much have you raised since labor day when you reached the million mark and what led to your decision to run? >> so we've set a goal of a million dollars in pledge which is we met a day early, then we set a stretch goal of getting to $1.1 million which we've met. our objective is to get enough to get the campaign going so that we could have a qualified team in the field when we get into the debates. and i think everything will turn on whether in those debates we can make this issue central enough to light a different kind of fire inside of the democratic primary. so i'm not interested in building a huge war chest, i don't have a future campaign that i'm going to be waging so right now we're building slowly towards this target of debates
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and depending on how debates go we'll take off. why did i get into this race? well, look if you come to believe -- and it's not an easy belief to have so i'm not encouraging people to have this belief, but if you come to this belief as i do that this corruption in the way our democracy does not work blocks the ability of our government to do anything, anything important, if you believe this is the core problem, we've got to find a way to solve it. and i saw candidates come to the field as presidential candidates and it was candidates talking about fantastic ideas, ideas that i strongly support, every one of the democratic candidates i saw them speak in new hampshire last weekend, bernie sanders, hillary clinton, martin o'malley, these candidates are pushing really powerful progressive ideas that i think are important ideas but what i believe is none of these ideas are credible until we solve this
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democracy problem first. and what's hard in a political campaign is for a politician to sell the idea that we have to fix the system first before we get on to the things he or she can promise the public, that the public actually wants and the public wants to hear we're going to get a pay equity act, raise the minimum wage, deal with the problem of wall street in an effective way. ber bernie sanders was talking about single payer health care system. these are amazing ideas but we will get none of them, nub of them, until we fix this corrupted system first. so when i saw these candidates, we're not helping us recognize this really fundamental point and helping american democracy to the place that we would solve this problem on day one of the next administration i thugt i needed to step in and do something about it because i thought this issue needs to be
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rised in this political contest so america can rally around it. it's a long shot, obviously. and it's a personally very difficult step to take. i don't have $10 billion like they say donald trump has so it's not easy to make this step. and obviously what i've promised is that if i were elected or my campaign people say i have to say when i am elected then i would serve only as long as it would take to pass the reform legislation that would get us our democracy back and then i would step aside because this, i believe, is the only way to have a mandate focused extremelyive on this reform. i'm obviously knot picturing a future career as a politician or the next eight years as a president of the united states. i'm in this because i want to be
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an advocate for a fundamental principle that is at the core of our democracy but that we've lost and because we've lost it we can't govern ourselves anymore. this is not a philosophical exercise. this is a practical fight to get us a democracy that could work because we don't have that now and we need one desperately if we're going to pass on to our children anything like the republic we inherited from our parents. >> let me follow up on three points that you made. first of all, if you were to step down, if you were elected, you would have a vice president. who would your running mate be? who would be your top choices? >> i've said that i don't think a referendum president which is what we're calling this kind of presidency, should have the same freedom that a normal president has to pick the vice president. when a normal candidate picks a vice president, we hope the vice president is never president. but when i pick my vice
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president that i want vice president to become president as soon as possible. so i think my power over that should be less than the typical nominee for office and what i've said is that we would select the vice president on the basis of select the vice president on the base of his judgment by any number of polls at the time of what the democratic party believes the vice president should be. who that nominee should be. and based in large part on which nominee makes it most likely that we could win in a powerful enough way in november to create the mandate necessary to pass this reform as quickly as we can. now, personally, the kind of candidates that excite me are the kinds that are exciting the democratic basis. it was so powerful to watch the candidates in new hampshire rally that democratic base and get them so excited with the dreams, the hope of what it would be like to have a government that could actually chief something again. that was inspirational. so candidates who do that are
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the kind of candidate i think the ticket needs. and whether that's hillary or bernie or elizabeth warren, that's a question we'll have to decide. >> you also talked about the first debate taking place on october 13 in las vegas. will you be in that cnn debate? >> that's a great question. you know, when we got into this, the rules said that you had to be at 1% in three national polls six weeks before the debate. and we had data to suggest that in fact i would be at 1%. and the beginning of september, ppp released the first national poll that included my name and i was at 1%. but the struggle we've been having since then is that the media organizations have not included my name on the polls. and one reason they're giving is that the democratic party when i
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announced my candidacy did not do what they have done for every other candidate, which is to issue a press release that says we welcome larry lessig into the race. they have been silent about that. and so their silence induces pollsters not to include my name and if my name is not included, then obviously i can't get 1%. and if i can't get 1%, they will say you haven't lived up to the rules and can't be in the debate. there is a certain catch 22 to this and i'm surprised that the party has allowed this catch 22 to develop because i'm happy to live by the rules, but the rules should be applied fairly. and to exclude me by not including me in the polls is not fair. and certainly there are a large number of people who have rallied obviously to my campaign in a very quick time who believe this issue needs to be presented in a powerful way on that debate stage. and if lincoln chafey is being
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polled, a man i respect, a great governor, he did not raise as much money as i've raised in a month, i've raised more than he raised in the full-time he's been a candidate, and had more supporters behind what we're doing, it we'f we're going to br about this, at least we should be treated in a similar way and right now we're not. >> have you talked to cnn officials? >> you know, the people from the campaign have been reaching out. and we're not yet -- i'm certainly not giving up yet. obviously there is a significant amount of time and polls come out in the beginning of october and can qualify me and then i'll be in the debates. but it's an interesting struggle. certainly nothing that we expected. and there are all sorts of conspiracy theorists, and i will not credit what they say, but a lot of people who believe that there could be push from the party to keep me out.
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what i've found especially with the other candidates that i had a chance to interact with is many of them are deeply interested in having many debates that are as inclusive as possible. because look, the republicans can have, what, 17 people that are debating? they had three nonpoliticians that are debating. and the three leading candidates in the republican primary are the nonpoliticians. i'm the only nonpolitician in the democratic race. and i think the nonpolitician vote, the outsiders, ought to have a shot in that debate, too, because the core problem we've had is that the insiders have not been able to solve this problem. not because they don't want to, but because i think they can't have the resolve, the resolve and map dandate to actually get solved. which is why i've stepped this. and i think i ought to at least have a shot at making that case and convincing the american people even though i've never
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run for the congress or senate. >> and my third follow-up when you talked about citizens united is that proponents of the current system would say that it works because it allows free speech and money is free speech. how do you counter that argument? >> well, you know, i think it's missing the point. i'm actually not interested in restricting anybody's free speech. what i'm interested in is creating a representative democracy where citizens are equal. and the easiest way to see the difference is to actually think back to what happened exactly a year ago tonight, which is the explosion of the protests in hong kong. now, just position abog think a was about. in hong kong, the chinese government had said that the governor of hong kong would be selected in a two step process. in the first step, there would be a primary which would be selected -- which would be a committee that would select the
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candidates that then would be allowed to run in the general election. and that primary would be comprised of 1200 chinese hong kong citizens who would have the right to pick the candidates that the rest of hong kong got to select. now, when that was announced, the protesters in hong kong said that's not democracy. because those 1200 will be responsive to china. they're picked by china, they will be responsive to china. it won't be a democracy responsive to hong kong, it will be a democracy responsive to china. now, that system actually has pretty strong american roots. boss tweed the famous head of the political organization in new york famously said i don't care who does the electing as long as i get to do the nominating and what he was saying is obvious to everybody. if you get to nominate the candidates, then the candidates will be really responsive to you regardless of who does the
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electing. well, the point to see here is the american system for electing candidates to congress is almost precisely like the hong kong system for selecting their governor. because in america, we have of course a political primary, democratic/republican primary, but before that primary, there is a money primary. a primary where people vote for who they're going to support by giving that person money. and the money that they get makes the difference between a credible candidate and a noncredible candidate. so when i ran, i said i need to raise a million dollars. why? because we needed to be credible. the determination of credibility is turning on the money. but who dominates that money primary? it's not the average voter. it's not the ordinary american. the people who dominate that money primary are tiny, tiny
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fraction of american. the percentage is probably the same as the percentage in hong kong who get to choose the candidates to be the governor. so the point is we have given -- the system gives these people enormous power relative to the rest of america. so citizens in the system are not equal. citizens are radically unequal because of the way we've set up the funding of campaigns to elect them to congress. in the old days in the south there, used to be a white primary where only whites could vote in the democratic primary in states like texas, we all get why that was a violation of the spirit of representative democracy. well, so, too, is the greek primary or this money primary a violation of the spirit of representative democracy. and so when i say we should reform the system, i'm not saying we should silence the "new york times" or fox news or we should say that donald trump or george soros or t. boone
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pickens shouldn't be allowed to spend their money. i don't think that's the rob. wh problem. what i'm saying is we can't have a system where members of congress are bending over backwards to please this tiny, tiny number of funders, the people nominating them to be able to run for congress. because if we do, we'll produce a congress like the congress we've got, which is really responsive to the funders, really responsive to those interests that fund them, but not responsive to the people. >> let's spend a couple minutes talking about you. born in south dakota, but raised in williamsport, pennsylvania. when did your family move there and talk for a moment about your mom and dad. >> so my dad was building silos for minutemen missiles in south dakota. and then we moved to minot. and then he started a steel fabricating company this williamsport, built bridges and
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large steel districts for buildings. and so we moved there i think in 1967 or so. so i was about six years old. and i grew up there all the way through college. and so my dad was a republican, an entrepreneur. i grew up a republican. i was the youngest member of a delegation in the 1980 convention that nominated ronald reagan. and i was chairman of the teenage republicans. so i was a proud republican as a kid. and my dad was, too. but the republicanism i had was kind p libertarianism where i thought that the important thing, my dad certainly thought the important thing, was to keep government out. and to protect the liberty of individuals as much as possible. and in a really important way, i still think of myself as a libertarian, but as a libertarian that recognizes the critical importance of a society
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where people are equal in critical ways, for example, their equal citizens. so i want a society where we give people the opportunity to exercise their liberty, but that opportunity is an opportunity we give to everyone. so education is incredibly important. i think health care is incredibly important. ic the opportunity to participate equally in your democracy is incredibly important. and those values for equality bring me to the democratic party which i've been a member of since i think i first voted for bill clinton in 1992. >> you went to the what arton school, spent time in came bridge in enengland. what did you learn about their system and what can we learn about their system, if anything? >> i've spent an enormous chunk of my life living in a bunch of countries around the world. and tsz's iit's incredibly fasc and humbling and extremely
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important the way in which i think about america in the world. i mean, i'm incredibly proud of the traditions and the values of america. and of course when i was a kid, america was loved around the world. i mean, i spent a significant chunk of time traveling through eastern europe and soviet republic when i get i was just 20. and even if these, quote, countries where we were the enemy, we were loved. america was loved. and that was because we had enormous -- we had inherited an enormous valuable reputation from my grandparents and the war that they fought to protect the world from fascism and many people in the world thought of us as people who were defending freedom and were defending the opportunity for people to participate in free democracies. and over the last 30, 40 years,
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what i think everybody recognizes is this reputation of the united states has changed. you now, it's understandle wably it's changed and the behavior that changed it is understandable, too. attacks on 9/11 were horrendous, really soul-shaking events that would affect any nation and affected us quite dramatically. but what it did was change the perception of the world to the extent to which we were actually in the world to promote peace or promote something other than peace. and i think that the critical way to bridge that i think misunderstanding of the purpose of america in the world is to have an understanding of their perspective, the way they look at the problem, the way they see the united states and its history. and you only get that i think by spending a significant amount of time in those places where you can hear and begin to feel and
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breathe the attitudes of people around the world. and that experience for me has been incredibly important in learning how to bridge an understanding gap that exists i think in many of these contexts and to continue to believe and push what i think of are true american values in a world that is increasingly skeptical of the goodness of america and its role in the world. >> how you did you meet your wife and what does she and your three children think of your candidacy? >> so i met my wife in chicago. we started dating when i was here at harvard and she was a lawyer in florida. so it was a wonderful beginning because i would fly down and spend the weekend with her on the beach every week because she was working in west palm beach. and then she moved up here to boston and that's when we got engaged and got married. and then we've had -- we have
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three young children. wilhelm is 12, tao is 8, and tess is 6. wilhelm and tess share a birthday. they are the really only purpose that there is to life. enormous joy and happiness and love that kids bring. and i know people make choices and i'm not criticizing the choice. i'm just saying that that is a complete surprise to me how deeply important and connected i feel to these children. and so this was an important question for them. and my oldest and youngest were okay with it right away. the middle one was a little skeptical. but then he said to me, well, you know, dad, i realize if you were president, i'd be like the coolest kid in class and the kids would say, yeah, your dad's
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not president. i'd i say, oh, yeah, he is, google it. so he was persuaded that this was a thing i should do. now, you know, i obviously have to prepare them that this is a hard thing to do and they're not happy when i'm away. and i've been away a lot. and it's going to be a difficult time if this campaign takes off because it's a long time until november 8, 2016. but you know, one thing my kids recognize is the deep motivation i have to be in this race. the only reason i got into shall will this issue of addressing this be problem of corruption is a dear friend of mine who was also a friend of my children, erin schwartz. erin schwartz about eight years ago woke me up that what i was
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doing made no sense if we didn't have a democracy that worked and doctor washy was i wasting my te doing that. and that conversation with him is what led me to pick up this project. you can watch the rest of this on our website, we leave this rprogram now to take you live to capitol hill and the hearing on the number and impact of refugees entering the u.s. this is live coverage. >>-of blo -- block the views of behind him is not fair and officers will remove those individuals from the room. before we begin with opening statementses i want to explain how we will proceed. we have one panel of witnesses today. i'll make an opening statement followed by opening statements
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from senator schumer, grassley, durbin. each witness will have five minutes for an opening state. following their statement, we will begin the first round of questions and if store senators want to continue, we will have a second round of questions. if there are no objections, i'll start with my opening statement. the hearing today will focus on the administration's proposed refugee settlement program for fiscal year 2016. in particular, we will examine the economic and security implications of the administration's plan to boost significantly the admission of refugees to nearly 200,000 over two years, including a large increase in syrian resettlement. too often discussions of any one particular immigration program lack broad or numerical context.
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admissions are in addition to huge annual intake of one million green card holders each year. and the 700,000 foreign workers and the 500,000 students that we have. so before addressing the policy question of whether or not to admit additional groups of refugees, we should first consider a broader immigration circumstances that we have in our country. this week marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 immigration nationality act, about pew research has done an exhaustive study on the act and here are some of their findings as well as findings from the census and dhs, department of homeland security. in the last five decades, 59 million immigrants have entered the united states. immigration including the children of post-1965 immigrants have added 72 million to our population of 330 million. one-fifth of the world's
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immigrants live in the united states. no other country has taken in more than one in 20. we have taken in six times more immigrants than all of latin america and 10 million more than the european union who has more than 50% greater population. so we've permanently resettled 1.5 million immigrants from muslim countries in the united states since 9/11. in 1970, fewer than one in 21 million americans were foreign-born. today it is approaching one in seven. and it will soon eclipse the highest levels ever recorded in the country. y pew projects new immigrants and tear children will add 103 million individuals. six in ten decades of the 20th century witnessed immigration declines. every decade of the 21st century will see rapidly rising immigration with each decade setting new all-time records. after four decades of large
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scale immigration, pew polls show that by a more than 3:1 margin, the public would like to see immigration reduced rather than increased. according to rasmussen, only 7% of americans support resettling 100,000 middle eastern refugees annually in the united states. and more recent studies from the two professors, both knowledgeable experts, have linked this huge increase in the foreign labor supply to the crippling wage stagnation and joblessness that is expecting many of our worker hes. so with that context in mind, we must consider what our economic, social and security infrastructure can responsibly handle. let's not also forget that we're presently dealing with our own immigration crisis. the situation in syria and
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throughout the middle east is a serious one. but it cannot be solved with immigrating large numbers of people from that region. while the united states may have a roll to play and does have a roll to play such as establishing safe zones in syria as recommended by general petraeus, it would be more appropriate to effectively support the refugees in locations closer to their homes with the long term goal of being able to return them safely to their homes. that is why the middle eastern nations clearly must take a larger role and a lead actually in recessioning their region's refugees. it is not sound policy to respond to the myriad robs in the region by encouraging millions to abandon their home. recessioning the region's refugees within the region is of course likeliest to produce good long term reforms and
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stabilization. it's also been reported that as many as three in four of those seeking entry into europe are not refugees from syria but economic migrants many from many different countries. in a september 23 "washington post" article, this is what they reported. quote, there are well dressed iranian speaking farsis who insist they are members of the persecuted of iraq. there are indians who don't speak arabic but say they're from damascus. there are pakistanis, albanian, egyptians, somalis and tunisians from countries with plenty of poverty and violence, but no war. it would come as no surprise that many migrants seem to be pretending they're someone else. the prize after all is the possibility of benefits, residency and work in europe. close quote. so we'll have that same problem here and we do have that problem here. we must be cautious.
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the administration originally proposed a ceiling of 75,000 refugee admissions in the next fiscal year. last week the administration announced that it plans to accept at least a floor of 85,000 rev gees next year and at least 100,000 the next year. once here are refugee status, those individuals can claim any job and collect any federal welfare benefit. recent statistics from the department of health and human services, office of refugee resettlement, indicate that 75% of refugees receive food stamps. and more than half receive free health care and cash benefits. for refugees from the middle east, the numbers are even higher, more than 90% of recent middle eastern refugees draw food stamps and about 70% receive free health care and cash welfare. refugee settlement also comes
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with security risks as we have witnessed with the surge of isis recruitment among for example somali refugee communities in minnesota. anyone claiming to have a serious and honest discussion of refugee resettlement must ask the difficult questions about integration, how can we accomplish that, assimilation and community safety. this is certainly true with respect to countries like syria where we have little or no information about who the people are, no background information, no ability to determine whether they are radicalized now or might become radicalized after their arrival in the united states. indeed fbi assistant director for counterterrorism has testified that the united states did not have, quote, the systems this places on the ground, close quote, in syria to collect enough information to properly screen rev gee screen rev gees.
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that's previous obvious. the economic and fiscal security of the american people must never be a secondary consideration. with workers ' pay stagnant, la enforcement struggling to combat radicalization and increasing crimes and schools and communities struggling to keep up, voters are rightly and justifiably wondering about their government's priorities and how we should conduct our business. so that's what we'll explore today. senator durbin, i'm glad you can be with us. i know you are knowledgeable on these issues and once again i'd like to thank our witnesses who are involved or lead the agencies that handle these difficult issues every day and we look forward to their testimony. senator durbin. >> thank you very much, chairman
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sessions. my mother was an immigrant. from lithuania. she was brought to america at the age of 2 with her brother and sister. my grandmother carried them off a boat in baltimore and put them on a train to what they considered to be the promised land. east st. louis, illinois. high grandmother didn't speak english very well. but she was determined to have a better life to her children and her family. she worked hard. our whole family worked hard. and as her son, i ended up with a full-time job. when you reflect on my background, my family's story, it isn't just mine. it's america's story. it's who we are. we are a nation of immigrants. on the issue of refugees, there are two members of the united states senate who are the sons of refugees. one is running for president of the united states. so i want to put this in context
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when we talk about issues. we're talking about real lives and real people. and today we're talking about the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. this refugee crisis has almost 60 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes around the world. syria is the epicenter. when they ask me what i think of when you say the two words vietnam war, instantly my first impression is a photo image of a little girl, a victim of that i bomb, naked, running down a road toward the camera crying with her arms extended.i bomb, naked, running down a road toward the camera crying with her arms extended. what is my image of syrian refugees? a 3-year-old syrian boy who drowned in the mediterranean. i looked at that little corpse that washed up on the shore and
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out that's my grandson. that's the image i take from the syrian refugee crisis. more than half of syria's 23 million people have been forced from their homes. more than 4 million syrians are registered as refugees including almost 2 million children. more than 10,000 syrian children have been killed, thousands are unaccompanied and separated from their parents. they're not economic migrants. they are refugees fleeing for their lives. t from somalia, she wrote no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark. no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land. the syrian refugee crisis has placed great strain on many countries. the tiny country of lebanon, population 4.2 million, now hosts 1.2 million registered syrian refugees. more refugees per capita than
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any country in the world. that's almost 30% of their population. and jordan of course going through the same type of strain. do we have any obligation in the united states to face this? i think we do. history tells us we should. we've taken some positive steps to address this crisis. the united states is the most generous donor to the refugees of any nation in the world. we're providing safe haven to hundreds of syrian visitors in this country who were allowed to stay on a temporary basis when the war developed. after last year's hearing, i held a hearing on syria refugee crisis, the administration issued exemptions so they could stay and not return to the danger. but so are far the united states of america has accepted about 1600 syrian refugees. 1600. a small number. in may i joined with 14 other
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senators asking the administration to admit at least 65,000 by the end of 2016. the administration is now looking at 10,000. why does it take so long some because our vetting process is very careful. it takes from 14 to 24 months after the initial interview for the refugee to be accepted. this campaign to throw our doors open and say come on board is not true at all. the background checks that we m impose on these people are sver thorough and take a long time. ours average time, 18 to 24 months. we're careful. if we are going to show that we have a heart, we'll also be thoughtful about it, too. and do everything humanly
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possible to avoid any dangerous person from ever coming to our country. so what is the lesson of refugees in the united states? there a lesson from world war ii, isn't there. remember a ship called the st. louis? came to our shores with jews from europe. they said if you don't take us, we'll go back to europe and die. we didn't take them. they returned to the holocaust. after the war, we accepted many refugees hundreds of thousands. in vietnam, we think maybe some 400,000 ended upcoming to the united states. soviet jews who were allowed to come to this country to avoid persecution, over 200,000. and let me add when it came cuban refugees, the numbers now are about 650,000 including as i mentioned earlier the fathers of two of our colleagues in the united states senate, one of whom is running for president.
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we recessioned more than 150,000 from former yugoslavia. and there is something that must be said. we're talking about many muslims who have come to the united states and become an important part of our country. in my condo building in chicago, there are two boz these an muslims who are the hardest working people i know, so proud of their families and proud to be part of this country. and as we'll find here from groups that sent us statements, including in particular a letter signed by 400 faith leaders expressing strong opposition to any effort to limit the settlement of refugees, let's me close by saying on an economic basis it's true. some come here dirt poor and need a helping hand. i met four of thoese families to weeks ago. but that changes very quickly. as soon as they can command enough of the english language,
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they're off and work hard. some turn out to be pretty successful. the late general, the co-founder of google, a former intel cceo, and i didn't mention steve job, son of a syrian immigrant. so i would hope today that as we reflect on this issue, we reflect on history.last thing i'll say is i'd like to introduce the members of the subcommittee to hasam are you here? he fled his home in 2013 after his house was shelled. he moved in to another house that was also shelled. he moved to another neighborhood, but barrel bombs were being dropped. he then fled syria with his wife and two children after a long and difficult journey through the desert, he ended up in jordan where he a p applied for
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refugee status. after a long process, he and his family came to the united states on june 16 this year. he now works two jobs, he moves furniture during the day and he's a baker at night in order to support his family. he's not a terrorist. and he's not a fiscal drain on america. we should be proud that our country has welcomed he and his family. that is what our country's refugee settlement program is all about. i hope high colleagues in congress will come to understand that as a result of this hearing. thank you, sir. >> thank you, senator durbin and for your des that you you introduced. we're looking to establish a good sound policy that fulfills the united states' responsibility in this regard. and that does so in a smart and effective way. senator grassley, did you have an opening statement? >> i do have a statement i'll put in the record and it may be if time flies i --
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>> mr. chairman -- >> yes. >> are you done, senator grassley? okay. i'll have to leave a little early for something i committed to, but i skrus wanted to put my statement in the record, as well. and i know that senator durbin mentioned the work that we've done to try to get more syrian refugees in to our country. we've been moving at a very slow pace. and coming from a state that is the home of so many refugees, we're so proud of our mung population who fought on our side in the war in vietnam and now they are integrated in our community and thriving. we have very strong liberian and somali populations and it's a major part of our state's fabric of life and i think people have to remember that when we talk about this issue because as senator durbin said, 90 of our fortune informati fortune 500 companies were
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formed by sim graimmigrants. so i hope we think about that. thank you, mr. chair. >> all right. if the panel would ght hand and oath. do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? please be seated. i'll briefly introduce our witnesses for reference their full pieing on griefs are available on the committee's website. first we have lathave larry bar bureau of admission at the department of state. mr. bartlett is the director of the refugee admissions office of the u.s. department of state's bureau of population refugees and migration. he previously served various state department leadership positions and served in a variety of capacities with the peace corps.
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next we have ms. barbara strack, refugees division at the u.s. citizenship and immigration service. she joined the u.s. cis as chief of refugee affairs division in 2005. ms. strack previously held positions with the national immigration forum, former immigration and naturalization service, counsel to u.s. senate subcommittee and in pliin priva law in washington, d.c. and with the department of homeland security. next is mr. matthew emrick, acting associate director of the fraud detection and national security directorate at the u.s. immigration service also with homeland security. before selected as acting associate director, he served as deputy associate director of fdns and has over 21 years of
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immigration law enforcement and intelligence experience. before his civilian government employment, mr. emrick served for eight years on active duty in the u.s. marine corps and counter intelligence and infantry fields and also worked in baghdad. finally we have mr. bob kerry, refugee resettlement. he most recently served as vice president of resettlement and migration policy at the international rescue committee leading the agency'sed a vow cass on refugee iemgragimmigrat trafficking issues. also served as chair of refugee council usa. so this is a good panel with much experience in it and lead key agencies that are critical to how we handle the refugee
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program. so mr. bartlett, if you would, give us your opening statement. >> mr. chair, distinguished senator, thank you for bringing the attention to the importance of u.s. refugee admissions program. thank you also for the opportunity to appear before you with my colleagues from the department of homeland security and health and human services and to update you on the measure we've taken to protect refer gees around the world and produce new homes to some of the most vulnerable. according to the latest statistics, there are nearly 20 million refugees in the world. the vast majority will receive support in the country to which they fled until they can voluntarily and safely return home. the united states contributes to the programs of unhcr, international committee of the red cross, international organization for migration, and other international and thon governmental organizations that produce protection and assistance to refugees until
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they can return home. in 2014, some 126,000 refugees voluntarily repatriated on their country of origin. that's the lowest recorded number since 1983. a small number of refugees may be allowed to become citizens in the country to which they fled. and an even smaller number primarily those who are the most vulnerable will be resettled in a third country. less than one percent are eventual lie detectly resettled countries. the united states refugee admissions program reflects the united states' highest values and aspirations of compassion, generosity and leadership. resettlement opportunities are focused on refugees who have immediate needs to durable and lasting solutions. while maintaining our leadership role and humanitarian
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protection, an integral part of will mission is to ensure refugee resettlement opportunities go only to those eligible for such protection and who are not known to present a risk to the safety and security of our country. accordingly our program is committed to deterring and defectsing fraud among those seeking it to resettle in the united states and application capitals to our program are subject to more intensive security than any other type of traveler to the u.s. the department collaborates with the department of homeland security and also with the centers for disease control and prevention to protect the health of u.s.-bound refugees and the u.s. public. for the past three physical kalt years, the program has met its target for refugee arrivals. an unprecedented achievement in the program's history. in 2016, the program will grow to serve 85,000 refugees, at least 10,000 of whom will be syrians. in order to respond to the
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increased needs of the middle east. the program enjoys substantial support from state and local governments as well as the community members. the program resettled refugees to 48 states, 173 cities, and 304 sites. as a public/private partnership, it requires the support of american nongovernmental organizations, charities, faith-based groups andsupporter the country in hundreds of communities. recently the department of state has received an outpouring of interest from churches and organizations wishing to help. with the continued support of congress and the american people, refugee resettlement will remain a proud tradition for many years to come. thank you. chairman sessions, ranking member durbin and distinguished
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members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. next month will mark the tenth an verse rich tniversary of the corps. i've been honored to serve as the chief of the refugee affairs division over these ten years and to work with this talented staff who are equally committed to the humanitarian mission of offering resettlement opportunities to refugees while safe guarding the integrity of our program and national security. this this program is consistently been fitted from the support of colleagues throughout uscis and dhs as a whole including asylum corps, international staff, and fraud detection and national security directorate. as reflected by this panel today, we also work closely across departments. the refugee resettlement program has forged strong and deep relationships with colleagues in the law enforcement national security and intelligence communities, and we continue to
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benefit enormously from their sxefrpt tease, an analysis and collaboration. it simply would not be possible to support a resettlement program of the size and scope that the u.s. maintained today without this critical interagency infrastructure. as you know, the united states has a proud and long tradition of offering protection, freedom and opportunity to refugees there around the world who live in fear of persecution and are often left to language distinguish in difficult conditions of temporary acai lull. we're dedicateded ed tto fulfi this mission and ensure refugee resettlement opportunities go to those eligible and who do not present a risk to the safety and security of our country. accordingly, we're committed to deterring and detecting fraud among those seeking to resettle and we continue to employ the highest security measures to protect against risks to our national security. my written testimony describes in detail the screening measures and safe guards that have been developed by the program and enhanced over time. while many of these enhancements
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were first deployed will connection with the iraqi refugee resettlement program, they're now being applied more broadly to applicants of all nationalities including syrians. this entails bio graphic and biometric security checks and a refugee applicant is not approved for travel until the results of all required security checks have been obtained and cleared. in addition to security checks, we conduct individual in-person interviews to determine their eligibility for refugee status. recognizing well trained officers play a critical role in protecting the integrity of the refugee process, we place great emphasis on providing the highest quality training to our adjudicato adjudicators. will this involves detailed training you including special training on the iraqi and syrian caseloads in which outside experts from the intelligence, policy and academic communities participate. in every instance, offices assess the credibility of applicants and evaluate whether
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the application kapts's testimo testimony is consistent with known conditions. given the scope of the program including remote and sometimes difficult locations, we card nature closely where prm to schedule refugee interviews every quarter of the fiscal year. in a typical quarter, we deploy over 100 staff and up to 16 or 17 different locations. and as a result of these carefully coordinated operations, as you've heard from mr. bartlett, we've succeeded in meeting the seceiling of 70,000 for the third year in a row. looking forward, we're prepared to work closely with the state department and other interagency partners to support a program of 85,000 including at least 10,000 syrian rev geefugees. we will continue to look for ways to improve while maintaining the program and national security. when i meet with new officer, i
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talk with them about the long standing tradition of offering protection to those flees persecution. i look at our work as being stewards of this tradition for this time and this generation. we're committed to meeting this responsibility and preserving this american hallmark. in closing i had like to thank the subcommittee for this opportunity to testify and i'd be happy to answer your questions. >> thank you. mr. emrick. >> thank you, chairman sessions, ranking member durbin, and other distinguished senators for the opportunity to update you on the measures we're taking to ensure the security of the u.s. refugee admissions program. in addition to the security checks that my colleagues have described and that is in our written testimony that apply to all refugees regardless of nationality, uscis has begun an additional layer of enhancesed regee of syrian rev fee applicants. this is performed by headquarters based staff from the uscis fraud detection and national security directorate or
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fdns. i'd like to it take a moment describe the role of fdns, also within the dc based element of the fraud tee text and national security directorate as the intelligence division, which is in close and regular contact with our dhs intelligence community partner, the dhs office of intelligence and analysis, other dhs components and intelligence community member agencies. fdns also has full-time liaison officers stationed at the fbi headquarters, national joint terrorism task force, interpol and fbi terrorist screening center. we rely on these every day connections to share information with our law enforcement and intelligence partners at the headquarters level both row being proactively and when asked and these connections also reinforce the established information sharing agreements that exist within the security check rubric. before scheduled for interview
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in the field, syrian cases are reviewed at headquarters by a division officer. all cases that meet certain criteria are referred to the fdns headquarters based staff that i mentioned earlier for additional research and review. fdns intelligence analysts conduct open source and classified research on referred cases and synthesize assessment for use of the interview officer. this information provides case specific context relating to country conditions and used to inform lines of inquiry related to the applicant's eligibility and credibility. throughout this review process of syrian refugee applicants, fdms engages with law enforcement and intelligence community members to obtain additional clarifying information, to assist in identity verification, or to deconflict to ensure activities will not adversely affect ongoing law enforcement investigations. when fdns identifies
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terrorism-related information, it nom or provides additional information to providing records. additionally f it dns intelligence analysts draft reports that alert law enforcement agencies and intelligence community of information that meets standing intelligence requirements. we work very closely with the dhs office of intelligence analysis and our many law enforcement and intelligence community partners to identify options for new potential screening opportunities to enhance the existing process we're doing this constantly. in addition to the checks that i've described, refugee applicants who travel to the united states are screened at the port of entry as is the case with all individuals who travel to the united states. the screening is conducted by customs and border protection and transportation security administration.
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hugh man te humanitarian crisis is asksever and we're reminded every day of the atrocities is occurring. we're committed to maintaining and always seeking to enhance a thorough screening effort in close coordination with our partners so that we may maintain the integrity of the program and our national security. i look forward to your questions. >> mr. kerry. >> chairman sessions and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify. in my testimony today, i will describe the role that hhs plays in the refugee resettlement program. the refugee act of 1980 established the office of wretch gee resettlement within hhs and outlined the united states' commitment to humanitarian relief through the resettlement of persons fleeing persecution on the basis of their race, religion, nationality,
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membership in a social group or political opinion. since the passage of the act,off 3 million refugees there more than 70 countries have been provided safe haven in the united states along with the possibility of a new beginning and freedom from persecution and displacement. the departments of homeland security, state, and hhs work together to advance america's humanitarian response to refugees through the u.s. refugee admissions program. in fiscal year 2014, literally 140,000 individuals were eligible for resettlement services through our programs. these programs assist refugees, acai leasts, could you ban and haitian engrants, victims of torture, foreign-born victims of human trafficking and special immigrant visa holders to become employed as soon as possible after their arrival. we carry out its mission through grants and services administered by state governments and
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nonprofit organizations and extensive public/private partnership network. our grants are designed to facilitate refugees' successful transition and integration into life in the united states. refugees arrive with distinct skills and experiences and we drive to provide the benefits necessary to leverage those assets and talents. o.r. funds support and transitional time limited support for medical services for individuals not eligible for other public benefits. through programs administered by states and nonprofit organizations, o.r. providing cash and medical assistance to eligible populations for up to eight months after their arrival in the u.s. in addition, o.r. funds foster care programs for unaccompanied refugee minors, certain minors granted special immigrant juvenile status and victims of a severe form of human trafficking. o.r. provides funds to assume
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social services including english language instruction, employment services, case management, social adjustment services and interpreter services. these funds are allocated to states based on a formula two years prior to arrival which accounts for rev geese and other entrants movements to other states after initial resettlement, as well. o.r. programs also support economic development activities, these focus on financial literacy, establishing savings educational goals, car purchases exception to employment and business startups that in turn employ thousands of individuals. a portion of new entrants participate in the voluntary agency matching grant program rather than the refugee cash assistance program. through this program, voluntary resettlement agencies provide services to help refugees become employed and self-sufficient within their first four months in the u.s. in fiscal year 2014, the program served 30,000 individuals and
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reported economic self sufficiency rates of 76% for refugees at 180 days after arrival. given the proven success of the program, the president's budget proposed a $22 million increase to the 2016 matching grant program to serve an additional 10,000 individuals. finally, i would like to share with you the story of one refugee. he and his family were forced to flee their home land in northern iraq when the u.s. military began its withdrawal. due to employment with american forces and related threats to their lives. starting over was a challenge. he applied for more than 100 jobs during his first seven months in st. louis while attending english language classes. his first job in the u.s. was working at a local grocery store. three years later, he has opened a car dealership, his mission is to provide fellow immigrants with affordable and reliable used cars.
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the ps has been open to two years and he employs a number of other individuals and he now is helping other refugees and individuals from communities to buy their first cars. his determination to succeed is representative of the determination i see in so many of the refugees who arrive in our country despite unimaginable hardships, violence and oppression, they arrive seeking opportunity, not handouts, and opportunity to give back to their communities, achieve the american dream. hhs' program assists refugees and other vulnerable populations to do just that. i welcome your interest in the recessionme resettlement program. thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work and ild be happy to answer any question. >> thank you. you mentioned the refugees, acai leasts, could yuban haitian spe programs and akin to refugees. and that totals 140,000 that you have responsibility for?
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>> yes, sir. >> and that yu includes 85,000 refugees? >> these numbers are from 2014 and the current year, they include responsibility for 70,000 refugees. >> and so about an equal number more than that. you also mentioned self-sufficiency, but you define that to include government assistance, do you not? >> the matching grant self-sufficiency rates include individuals who were employed in full-time employment at 180 days after arrival. >> but they still may be eligible for food stamps, medicaid and other assistance programs, isn't that correct? >> refugees are admitted as legal permanent residents and they are eligible for any benefits that -- legal permanent status after one year, but they are eligible as other
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individuals would be during their first eight months in united states. >> i'm just trying to clarify this because i think we all need to fully understand it. as i understand it from 2008 through 2013, rev gfugees from middle east, for example, 91 are eligible and receive food stamp benefits and high percentages receive cash benefits, housing benefits, and medicaid. is that correct? do you deny those statistics? they're government statistics. >> those figures include refugees receiving benefits during the initial resettlement period as provided through o.r.r. and states and local governments. >> my understanding is that through that five year period, which is a long period, you had a very high subsidy rate and i think we should know that because when they come in, you provide assistance to help them
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get established, but they're immediately eligible for the same aid programs that we provide american citizens and that most of them will be starting at lower incomes and become eligible for health care and other benefits. mr. bartley, in general, you know, it's important for us to try to ask my staff to make sure, how does this thing really work. maybe you would be the one to ask. refugees typically go on i understand about 90% to the u.n. who then send -- give them some sort of number or -- and send them, at least some of them, to the united states nine resettlement offices around the globe, is that right? >> mr. chair, let me explain. first of all, unhcr, these are our largest partner overseas. we provide substantial funding to that agency, and i think as
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you and others have mentioned it's important that we assist refugees overseas. it's not just about bringing them here, it's about helping them and helping them to have an opportunity to go home should that occasion present itself. so we do work heavily through unhcr. they have offices in all refugee hosting countries around the world, and so they are our primary partner -- >> and -- >> and so if i could just one of the things i'd like to say in response to helping people overseas the u.s. government has provided $4.5 billion since the beginning of the syrian crisis to do just that to help refugees, number one, survive. >> does that some of that go to u.n. money -- >> absolutely. >> -- or in addition to the u.n. money? >> no, it goes primarily to the u.n., the international red cross and theent national organization for migration and a host of ngos that are operational. we work through those partners because they are the ones that actually know how to do the job.
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>> and we are the largest contributor. >> that's correct. and it is with the intent that people, number one, want to go home, which they do, and they will be able to do so. but there does come a point in time that the strains on hosting countries and jordan and turkey and lebanon are obviously the become three, becomes immense and we want to do our part through resettlement. so at that point in time because they have field-level people working in camps or in urban areas where they have ngos doing that identify specific people, specific families, who they consider most vulnerable. so, we're looking -- >> well, i was just trying to get an overview of it. >> okay. >> so, the u.n. would send it to your people. you would then evaluate them or at least take information from them. then it goes to homeland security, who does back ground checks and interview, personal interviews, is that correct? my time is getting -- >> yes, sir, that's correct. >> i don't want to keep my
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colleagues waiting. but that's basically right. and they are checked there which are virtually nonexistent, mr. emerick, i know you've got a good plan there but there's no place to check. there's not anybody as we'll establish later. and then if they are approve, airfare is provided to the united states. >> sir, if i could just say not only to they have to go through security checks but also through medical exams and we do that in part for the health of the refugee but also the health of the united states to make sure not importing contagious diseases and the airfare frankly is provided as a loan to the refugee and the refugee once they arrive signs a promissory note to pay back the loan and over the course of about ten years we have an 80% repayment rate and that money goes back into future refugee programs. >> so, thank you, colleagues. we'll go to the next questions. and, mr. kerry, we don't want
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to -- we just need to be aware that when we talk about the cost of the program and we have a billion dollar cost, colleagues, we're not talking about the new stress on medicaid, food stamps, schools, hospitals, the housing allowances that they may be entitled to and other cost of that kind. that has not been provided. isn't that correct? you're not estimating that, mr. kerry? >> or orr's budget assistance to refugees is $585 million after one year refugees adjust to permanent resident status and they are then eligible for services on a means-tested basis in the communities in which they are resettled. >> actually, they're eligible for those immediately, are they not? or do they have to wait a year
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before they become eligible for food stamps or medicaid? >> they are eligible for services for eight months under the orr program and then if they -- then they are eligible as any other resident, legal resident, would be. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chair, for calling this important meeting. thank you all for being here, and thank you for your service past and present. i want to go back to trying to understand whether or not we have resources and the coordination that's necessary to do this safely. but before i do, i can't help but point out that a lot of this crisis is created, if we talk about the syrian situation, but we're talking far beyond that, this is 10,000 or so syrian refugees. but in the case of syria it's because we have a despotic regime in the way of bashar al assad and i think a policy there that has finally led the syrian people to believe they simply cannot live within a sense of
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comfort and safety in this country. it's a humanitarian disaster that's already playing out in the hundreds of thousands if you go to jordan and see the second largest city there now is a refugee camp with a number of syrians in it. if you take a look at what the eu is doing, this is a crisis and i think in some part it's a crisis because of failed policies that the united states have in the region trying to stabilize it. now, president kerry said that we were going to increase the number of refugees from 70,000 in fiscal year 2015 to 75,000. and then a couple of weeks later he said that that number may be 85,000. it could go high as 100,000. and that he was more or less setting a floor of 10,000 for the syrians in particular. but we know that this discussion is about a larger number, somewhere between, let's say, 85,000 and 100,000. i'm trying to get the math to
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work. i don't think any of you have been told that your resources are being increased proportionate to the number of refugees that you're going to have to work on whether it's the department of state, the department of homeland security or the department of health and human services. so, at the most fundamental level i'm trying to figure out how you absorb this within the current rate of funding that you have without something giving. and one of those things that may give could be the very important thing that we all have an obligation to ensure and that's the safety and security of the homeland. there's a lot of vetting that has to occur. there is going to be handoff between the various agencies. how do we make sure with this increased workload and increased pressure to help the refugees that we don't make a mistake that could potentially put our homeland at risk? and i'll start with anyone in the agency.
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maybe homeland security. >> i was going to start with the numbers because that's programs the easier part of the question and then we'll go to the security vetting. just to be clear, yes, our goal, our target, our ceiling, whichever you want to call it for this fiscal year, the one we just started, is 85,000. within that 85,000 we are striving to admit 10,000 syrians. that is not a cap. >> mr. bartlett, the only clarification i have is that secretary kerry said that it's a ceiling. it's not a ceiling, it's a floor. so, that suggests to me language that could anticipate more over time. >> i -- the president signed a determination earlier this week for 85,000. i think if that were to be raised that would, again, need to be re-signed at a higher number. and then the 100,000 refers to the aspiration, the goal, to 100,000 refugees in fy-'17. in terms of resources we know it
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will take more to bring in 85,000 refugees. we are looking across our programs to see where we can gain efficiencies. i can assure you on our side there will be no shortcuts on security. there will be no shortcuts on medical screening. there will be no shortcuts on processing, so we will be having discussions about budgetary needs in the future but at the moment in time there will be no shortcuts in terms of our responsibilities to the american people. >> thank you. at a planning level we had anticipated that these refugee ceiling for fy-'16 was likely going to rise to 75,000 so as an operational person and for planning purposes i had anticipated an increase from 70,000 to 75,000. you're probably aware we are in an unusual situation in that we are a fee-funded agency. so, the money that supports my program, the resources that
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support my program, are paid by applicants for other immigration benefits. so, everyone who applies for a green card or applies for a naturalization, a piece of that fee supports the refugee and asylum programs. having spoken to our office of chief financial officer, he has informed us that there is sufficient funding in what's called our examination fee account to cover the $85,000 anticipated a missions in fy-'16 by reprioritizing between programs. but i'd like to reiterate as mr. bartlett said, there's in no way are we cutting any corners, are we changing the security checks or cutting back on the elements that we think are integral to the integrity of the program. >> i would just like to echo what


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