tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN February 4, 2016 1:30pm-3:31pm EST
greater certainty about what degree you're going to take in your freshman year. to wait and say i guess i don't like this never really got an opportunity to be in the classroom. this is not designed around customizing the basic needs of the education system. >> i like what you said about trying to force the hand of the universities. where i went they only offered certain classes certain semesters. so essentially i would say vast majority education majors are the same. >> it makes no sense. i went to the university of texas i literally got out in two years. i started as a sophomore. there were always the availability of courses. i could take courses online. i went 8:00 to 12:00 or 9:00 to 12:00 on mondays through friday. so i had the whole afternoon to
work or i played on the tennis team one year. you know, paid for my it was low tuition. back then it was the lowest in the country. so it wasn't as big a challenge. it should be made easier. this is important. you don't have a degree or certificate that shows you have skill, you can't make it. >> and i think there needs to be more truthful education about the term of investment. i received none of that. i was 18 years -- not even 18, 17 years old. >> our plan if you read it off the internet you'll see that it includes the requirement of a total focus on counselling. so you don't -- it doesn't come as a surprise. >> thank you.
♪ >> -- realize there was a lot of solar lately there's something wrong with the system -- >> no, i haven't seen that. >> all the chaotic weather pattern. climate change is a problem. we may be a very small part of global warming, but the real catalyst is what's going on out in space with the solar and the solar activity on the sun. you know, the earth's not on track. it's going around the sun. this whole solar system is moving through space. >> yeah, i know that.
>> no one's ever talking about solar activity around the sun. let's face it, everything we all there is comes from the sun. no doubt. and there's thousands of times more electric energy coming from the sun than there is light. when the earth gets overcharged we have the kind of problems we have with the systems right now. >> do you have information about this so i can read? >> i've read a lot of books great scientist from florida. >> if you have information you can send me, i can't read a book about it but i can read articles or information that's my e-mail address. >> so you're open minded. >> yeah. >> you're open minded to everything. >> yeah, i love to learn. >> we're not just human beings having a unique experience. things are not like we think here on this planet. everybody wants to transform the planet for the future, how about people the truth to everybody on our planet so we know what's really going on here. >> send me the info. >> i will. my name is damian -- colorado.
[ inaudible ] >> that was in the private sector we built a business 260 employees. it wasn't done -- thank you. yeah. when is that? >> every bush that runs for president -- >> thanks guys for the help. >> and we'll have jeb bush again live later today at a campaign stop in derry, new hampshire, where he'll be joined by his mother barbara bush. you can watch that live on our companion network c-span. the citizens of the granite state are not easily won. the country meeting places are hotbeds of political discussion. in village, town and city, voters brave bitter cold to
vote. >> thanks to the people of new hampshire. >> good to be back here in new hampshire. >> first in the nation primary. >> new hampshire. >> new hampshire. >> new hampshire. >> hey, he's from new hampshire. >> it's great to be back in new hampshire. >> one reporter has called new hampshire's primary the most cherished of american political tribal rights. ♪ [ cheers and applause ] >> governor, thank you so much for coming to new hampshire. >> this is a place where you can observe a candidate in the heat of a dialogue, in the heat of getting tough questions about their positions on the issues. it's not just a place where there's a scripted speech. >> new hampshire takes its first in the nation primary status really seriously. >> this is wup of a whole series of town hall meetings we're going to be having. >> this is my 20th town hall
meeting. >> welcome to our 115th town hall meeting here in new hampshire. [ laughter ] >> every weekend on american history tv on c-span3, we feature programs that tell the american story. some of the highlights for this weekend includes saturday night at 8:00 eastern historian matthew andrews of the university of north carolina chapel hill talks about how racial tensions of the 1980s were reflected in sports. >> rocky is a heavy underdog in the first film. he loses in the first film. he loses in a split decision to apollo creed, no one thinks he's going to do well. he does remarkably well but he does not win. in rocky ii he knocks out apollo creed in the most implausible boxing scene ever filmed.
it's impossible what happens but rocky wins. these were both very popular movies in 1976 and 1979, but they're much more than just sports movies. these are movies about race. these are movies about american history. >> at 10:45 brooklyn law school professor christopher beechham talks about his book, invented by law, arguing alexander graham bell remembered for the telephone because he secured a patent ma patent monopoly. with the upcoming new hampshire primary, we look back at the 1992 presidential campaign and arkansas governor democrat bill clinton's second-place finish in new hampshire and his positioning as the comeback kid. >> while the evening is young and we don't know yet what the final tally will be, i think we know enough to say with some certainty that new hampshire tonight has made bill clinton
the comeback kid. >> we'll also feature both democratic and republican ads that aired in the granite state including those of bill clinton and george h.w. bush. and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency university of washington history professor margaret o'mara talks about her book pivotal tuesdays. and argues that the 20th century was shaped by four elections that occurred during economic and cultural change starting with the election of 1912. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to cspan.org. the house homeland security committee held a hearing yesterday examining the visa process for refugees seeking to resettle in the u.s. witnesses included administration officials from immigration, the state department and homeland security.
committee on homeland security will come to order. committees are meeting today to receive testimony regarding the threat posed from the exploitation of our nation's refugee and visa programs but violent islamist extremist groups such as isis. i now recognize myself for an opening statement. today we're in the highest threat environment since nec9/1 there's a crisis in washington's ability to do what it takes to protect our country. over the past few weeks i've traveled around the country to discuss the terror threats we face and how to thwart them. the american people are concerned, and rightfully so. the president believes terrorist groups like isis are on the run, but the truth is that they are on the march. and gaining ground across the world. make no mistake, they want to
send their foot soldiers to our shores. and that is why we are here today. we must be clear-eyed about our enemy's goals and do what it takes to prevent them from exporting their violence to america. this morning our focus is ob our nation's refugee and visa programs. terrorists have used these routes to get into our country, exposing security vulnerabilities into our systems. just last month the fbi arrested two iraqis in the united states on terror related charges. both were inspired by isis. one had traveled to syria, and both had entered our country as refugees. in december two isis fanatics in san bernardino launched a heinous attack that left 14 dead and 22 wounded. one of these terrorists came into the united states article radicalized on a fiancee visa. jihadists see these programs as a back door into america and will continue to exploit them until we take action.
isis is vowed to send its operatives into the west posing as refugees. and it has done so to brutally murder civilians on the streets of paris. our intelligence community has also told me that individuals with terrorism ties in syria have already tried to gain access to our country through the refugee program. what's even more concerning is that top officials have testified before this committee that intelligence gaps prevent us from being able to confidently weed out terrorists from these groups. that is why i drafted the safe act, which pass the house with a bipartisan veto proof majority last year. it would add additional layers of security to the process overadmitting refugees from the conflict zone. sadly the white house has chosen to let partisan politics get in the way of national security and push for this bill to be blocked in the senate.
without these enhanced protections in place, more violent extremists will be able to slip through the cracks undetected. our visa programs are an even bigger concern. on the chart behind me you can see that terrorists have used sunt visas, tourist visas and more to infiltrate our country and plot significant acts of terror. but time and again we have failed to close the vulnerabilities in the system quickly enough. indeed every one of the 9/11 hijackers came into america on a visa. and we failed to connect the dots to stop them. several overstayed their visas and nothing was done. we saw this again in 2012 when the fbi arrested a moroccan national plotting a suicide bombing right here on capitol hill. the suspect entered our country on a tourist visa in 1999, and he never left. and a report to congress issued
last month dhs admitted that there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of aliens in this country. these individuals came in legally but did not leave when they were supposed to. that is why we must fulfill one of the last remaining recommendations of the 9/11 commission by moving forward with a biometric entry/exit system to track those who overstay their welcome. and we are currently working on legislation to close other glaring gaps in the system and to bring visa security screening into the 21st century by incorporating social media data into screening. more broadly speaking, this committee has led the effort in congress to shut down terrorist pathways into our country. our bipartisan task force on combatting terrorist and foreign fighter travel led by the gentleman from new york made more than 50 actionable recommendations to improve o
our -- security overhaul, the visa waiver program through an effort spearheaded by this committee's vice chair, ms. miller. however, we are deeply concerned that despite signing this law the president does not plan to implement it faithfully. this failure of implementation is not the topic of today's hearing. the committee will convene one week from today to question witnesses from dhs and the state department on their inaction. let us not forget that we are engaged in a war against islamist terror. americans expect us to act like it. and to do what it takes to respond to the evolving threat and secure our homeland. with that now the chair recognizes the ranking member the gentleman from mississippi mr. thompson. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding today's
hearing. i would also like to thank the department of homeland security and department of state for being witnesses here today. given the evolving threat environment it's proper that this committee examine both the visa security and refugee vetting process. last month in separate incidents two iraqi refugees accused of having ties to the islamic state were arrested in sacramento and houston. in december of last year the united states was stunned when a mass shooting and attempted bombing were perpetrated by two attackers in san bernardino, california. the perpetrators were husband and wife, and the wife entered the united states on a fiancee visa. also in november it was reported that a fake syrian passport was found with one of the terrorists who carried out the deadly paris
attacks directed by isil. consequently i understand the concern that is presented here today. however, as i've stated in previous hearings, it's important that we as federal policymakers embrace facts, not fear. our refugee screening process includes the most thorough vetting any visitor immigrant to the united states undergoes. with dhs conducting an enhanced review of syrian refugee cases. throughout the refugee application process applications continue to be checked against terrorist databases to ensure no new information has come to light. if there's any doubt about whether an applicant poses a risk, that person will not be admitted. with proper vetting we should continue to welcome vulnerable populations to this country
including syrian refugees in keeping with our history and values as americans providing safe harbor to individuals who no longer have a home because of war and violence is the humane and american thing to do. today, i hope to hear from the department of homeland security about information that the agency can publicly share about its improvement to the refugee vetting process, advancements in technology and evolving threat environment require continual evaluation of how the agencies use technology in a vetting and screening processes. it has been reported that united states citizenship and immigration services is -- the use of social media in vetting refugee applications. while we understand social media can play a role in refugee
vetting, we should remember it is only one part of an extensive process. frankly, the more explicit we are about our refugee vetting process in public, particularly with respect to social media, the more valuable information we stand to lose. users have the ability to control their social media, so we do not want to tip them off. additionally, while the overwhelmingly majority of visa holders are legitimate visitors who comply with the terms of their visas and depart in a timely fashion, some have exploited the system. in the wake of september 11th, attempted christmas day 2009 attack and other incidents we've strengthened our visa security by pushing out our borders, conducting screening early in the process and enhancing how we vet visa applicants. i want to hear from dhs and the
state department about what needs to be done and what resources are necessary to address security vetting challenges. i'm particularly interested in knowing whether there's a way wo improve the vetting process to identify people that seek to do us harm, but on whom we have no derogatory information. what i understand was the case with one of the san bernardino perpetrators. as we consider reviews of the refugee and visa security processes, we need to make sure that if there are improvements that need to be made congress will commit the funding for them we can not substantial changes to these programs if they are not properly funded. finally, mr. chair, in december, the house came together and passed legislation to strengthen the visa waiver program.
next week the committee will hold a hearing on the visa waiver program. in the rekren enacted omnibus appropriation bill to inhibit individuals from citizenship in or recent travel to iraq, iran, sudan or syria from coming to the u.s. under the visa waiver program. instead, such travelers would have to obtain a visa. i strongly support giving the secretary discretion to waive the visa requirement when doing so is in the interest of our national security as provided by for under the law. and, in fact, supported some discretion for certain individuals on a case-by-case basis who travel to one of the four countries for verifiable legitimate purposes.
however, i'm concerned about recent statements indicating that the department of state and homeland security may attempt to exempt broad categories of travelers from the requirements of the law and i look forward to hearing some comment at some point on that. mr. chairman, with that i yield back the balance of my time. >> i thank the ranking member. other members are reminding opening statements may be submitted for the record. we're pleased to have the distinguished panel here before us today. first, mr. francis taylor assumed his post as undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the department of homeland security in april, 2014. in this role he provides secretary johnson, dhs senior leadership, dhs components and state local tribal private sector partners with the homeland security intelligence and information they need to keep the country safe, secure, and resilient. thank you for being here and thank you for your service. previously, he served as
assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and director of the office of foreign missions. mr. leon rodriguez was confirmed by the united states senate in june, 2014, as the director of the united states citizenship and immigration services. he previously served as the director for the office of civil rights at the department of health and human services, a position he held from 2011 to 2014. part of that time he served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the department of justice. mr. kubiak assumed the role -- our next witness of assistant director for international operations at u.s. immigration and customs enforcement on june 30, 2014, and in this position he is responsible for a budget of more than $130 million and operational oversight at 63 offices and 46 countries and eight department of defense liaison offices.
and finally ms. michelle bond was sworn in as assistant secretary of state for consular affairs on august 10, 2015. she leads a team of 13,000 consular professionals and almost 300 locations across the united states and around the world who protect the lives and interests of u.s. citizens abroad. i want to thank all of you for being here today and i now recognize mr. taylor for his testimony. >> chairman mckohccoll, ranking member thompson, thank you for allowing us to be here to discuss dhs's refugee visa and other admission screening and vetting efforts. i prepared a statement for the record, sir, but i will just highlight in my oral comes a few other items. dhs, together with our law enforcement intelligence colleagues leverage a range of
information and processes to carry out screening and vetting supporting our operational missions including preventing terrorism. screening and getting are key to refugee visa and other administrative admissions processes. everyday dhs with our interagency partners vet millions of individuals traveling to, from, or within the united states applying -- those applying for citizenship and immigration benefits and those applying for credentials and special accesses. as screening and vetting efforts include biometric and buy graphic information collection, in-person interviews, detailed research and analysis, database vetting and bulk data screening, publicly available information vetting including social media and identity verification. because of the technological
advances and evolving nature of the threat environment we face, we have efforts continuously under way to enhance our screening and vetting processes. additionally, since in december secretary johnson asked me to lead a review of the department's current use of social media in our vetting and identity processes to develop a future state that optimizes the use of social media vetting across our department. a review found while social media efforts are under way across departments. social media use as a vetting tool by components is varied and, could benefit from a unified approach that leverages the strength of the entire department and state yard technological capabilities. the next step for us to to address these issues which we are aggressively working to do. while i cannot get into the
specifics of many aspects of our screening and vetting efforts in an open hearing, these are the broad steps dhs is taking to further improve our screening and vetting of refugees and visa applicants. one, developing policies in a framework to systematically leverage all information and intelligence available to the u.s. government to inform our vetting programs and adjudication decisions. second, screening applicants at every stage of the vetting process to ensure new information regarding applicants informs our admission decisions. third, continuously refining and enhancing our policies, processes, capabilities and system systems as we have since 9/11 to ensure we leverage emerging technologies and capabilities and adapt to a constantly evolving threat environment while we are protecting privacy
and civil liberties. and fourth determining the appropriate investment strategy needed to automate a process that enables bulk data screening and analysis in a manner that protects both individual liberties but produces information of value. these are just a few of the steps dhs is taking to meet this challenge and we will continue to seek new ways to solve our most pressing national security issues and fulfill our border security, immigration and travel security and other homeland security missions. chairman, ranking member thompson and members of the committee, thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you, i look forward to answering your question. >> the chair now recognizes director rodriguez. >> good morning chairman, ranking member, members of the committee. thank you all for convening this very important hearing. chairman and ranking member as both of you observed, there are very active and dangerous
individuals in organizations who were sworn to the destruction of our country. every morning when i quake up to do my work i think about exactly that. i want to talk about where the refugee program sits in the context of those threats. we have heard the refugee program described as a purely humanitarian and optional undertaking. i am here this morning, among other things, to suggest to you that the refugee program is, in fact, a vital part of both our foreign policy and national security. let's talk about the specific syrian case. the four million refugees now dispersed throughout the middle east and europe are on the whole the victims of the very individuals sworn to destroy us here in the united states. they are now scattered throughout both the middle east and europe, 400,000 syrian refugee children are not in school and i do not need to dwell too long on what the
consequences of that could be in terms of human trafficking, potential for radicalization, a long list of other risks and harms which should be intuitive to this body. and so therefore refugee admissions are a critical element of regional stability, stabilizing the regions where these individuals are located which, in turn, has important consequences to the united states in tonighting together with our european allies are facing this problem imminently. while we are talking about taking 10,000 roughly here in the united states, many of my european colleagues are dealing with many, many times that already in their borders and, in fact, in many cases without any patrol at all. the 10,000 we're talking about is merely a quarter percent of the four million who are currently refugees and an even smaller fraction of the number of syrians who are displaced
either within syria or elsewhere in the world. they also represent about one three hundredth of one percent of the overall population of the united states so i would suggest to fail to admit refugees who were, in fact, the most immediate and most severe victims of that sort of terrorism of those sorts of threats would cede a vital part of the battlefield to the people seeking to destroy us. now, in order to admit those refugees, we need to do it safely. that's the critical topic of this hearing today and i'm here to talk about refugees and more generally about our immigration system and what we do and have been doing for a very long time to ensure that those who seek the benefit of coming to the united states and staying there the united states are not those who mean us harm, either as threats to national security or otherwise threats to our society. in fact, refugees go through a very lengthy process involving
multiple interviews, is multiple screenings. they are checked against databases of the united states law enforcement, the intelligence community customs and border protection, state department advisory services man of these are tools that, for example, when we talk about september 11 did not exist at that time. were not in utilization at that time. everybody when we talk about individuals who came in 200 2009/2010, some of the most powerful tools we use now are not tools that were in existence at that time. let me talk about one particular example, it's a tool that we call the interagency check that is now used in the case of virtually every syrian who is admitted as a refugee, in the case of every iraqi admitted as a refugee. that sort of check goes against the entire universe of intelligence holdings and law enforcement holdings of the
united states. as evidence of the effectiveness of the use of those tools alongside the 2,000 or so syrians who have now been admitted there are also 30 individuals who were denied outright because they failed either the check or the interview process and there are several hundred who are on hold as our fraud detection national security directive conducts a more thorough investigation of those cases before we make a final decision, in fact, many of those may end up being denies because we are unable to resolve the concerns that we have about those individuals. i look forward to talking in more detail. these are, indeed, vital issues and i do want to provide both this committee and the american people the reassurance they require so we can engage in this strategically important effort of refugee admission. thank you. >> thank you, director rodriguez. chair now recognizes assistant director kubiak. >> good morning, chairman
mccaul, ranking member thompson and distinguished members. thank you for the opportunity to discuss ice's international engagement and security efforts to confront dangerous challenges on a global stage. today i am honored to provide a review of our international operations and to highlight a program i believed based on my 20 years as law enforcement officer is one of the most critical and important u.s. security programs that we have at this point in our history. it will provide a little more granularity to director r oor rodriguez's comments about the vetting process we have overseas. currently ice is focused on detecting and deterring threats before they reach our nation's borders. to that end, we deploy approximately 250 special agents and 170 support and investigative staff to 26 offices in 46 countries. our international staff works in conjunction with their foreign law enforcement counterparts to
detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations and individuals that intend harm. as you know, the homeland security act of 2002 authorizes the deployment of dhs officers to diplomatic posts to perform visa security activities and provided a vice and training to our state department consular affairs colleagues. this critical mission is accomplished by the visa security program which we refer to as haa vsp. the primary purpose is to identify terrorists and criminals or other aliens ineligible for visa prior to travel or application to admission for the united states. vsp places investigators on the front line of defense so they can exploit terrorist and criminal organizations through the visa adjudication process which is one of our first opportunities to assess whether a potential visitor or immigrant poses a potential threat. the u.s. government continuously vets applicants from the time they submit their application through the time they make their
travel around. s to the time they appear at our border and beyond. as new information becomes available through our screening processes, it is provided by to the appropriate decision makers which can be state, cis, cbp or ice to ensure we use all of our tools and authorities to protect the united states from individuals who may present a security concern. recently in 2014 we instituted the pre-adjudicated threat recognition intelligence operations team, which we call patriot, initiative as an important part of this screening process. ice personnel, in coordination with state and cbp use the results of the aud mated screening process to identify individuals of concern. those individuals are then referred specifically to specially trained ice special agencies currently deployed to 26 high-risk locations in 20 countries, one of the most effective aspects of this program is its use of automated screening tool which is identify
individuals of concern early in the visa application process which then allows to to utilize law enforcement tools in country to participate in interviews and engage international law enforcement partners to identify additional information that would not otherwise be available to the united states government. at the vsp locations, ice conducts targeted in-depth reviews of high-risk applicants prior to visa issuance and makes recommendations to consular officers to refuse visas when warranted. ice actions complement the consular officers' screening, applicant interviews and reviews of applications and supporting documentation, at the same time, vsp also facilitates the travel of individuals who, as a result of the enhanced screening, are determined not to be our tart gets of interest. in fiscal year 2015 alone, vsp screened approximately two million visa applicants from these designated high-risk locations and made recommendations contributing to the refusal of over 8,000 visas by state.
of those refusals, 2, 200 applicants have some suspected connection to terrorism. last year alone, we were able to create or enhance 760 records in the united states terrorist database as a result of vsp operations globally. with the $18 million enhancement to vsp that congress provided by ice in fy 15, the operation has expanded to six additional posts last year. this is the single-largest expansion of the vsp program in its 13 year history. further more, using the fy-15 money, ice will expand which will result in a 50% increase in expansion of the program globally in two years. this expansion is made possible by the additional congressional funding by csee cbp and ice's j initiative and collaboration with the department of state on site selection, post selection and expansion. together ice and state are
jointly training overseas personnel in integrated staff at embassies to enhance regular and timely information sharing ice, cbp and state department personnel are collectively identifying ways to further improve screening and vetting constantly and to identify the most critical embassies for future expansion. thank you very much for inviting me to testify today and for your continued support of the ice mission and its law enforcement mission overseas. hsi remains committed to working with this committee to help prevent and combat threats to our nation. i look forward to your question. >> thank you, director kubiak. chair recognizes assistant secretary ms. bond to testify. >> thank you, good morning, chairman mccaul, ranking member thompson and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for this opportunity to testify today on the topic of security vetting for visa applicants. the department of state and our partner agencies throughout the federal government take our commitment to protect america's borders and citizens seriously.
and we staconstantly analyze an update our procedures. my written statement, which i request be put into the record, describes the rigorous screening regimen that applies to all visa categories. the vast majority of these applicants and all immigrant and fiance visa applicants are interviewed by a consular officer. every consular officer completes an extensive training course with a strong emphasis on border security, fraud prevention, interagency coordination and interviewing techniques. all visa applicant data are vetted against databases including terrorist identity databases that contain millions of records of individuals found ineligible for visas or regarding whom potentially derogatory information exists. we fingerprint nearly all visa applicants and screen them against the dhs and fbi databases of known and suspected
terrorists, wanted persons, immigration law violators and criminals. all visa applicants are screened against photos of known or suspected terrorists and prior visa applicants. when the interagency screening process shows potentially disqualifying derogatory information, the consular officer suspended visa processing and submits a request for a washington-based interagency security advisory opinion resue conducted by federal law enforcement, intelligence agencies and the department of state. the department of homeland security's patriot system and visa security program as described provide additional protections at certain overseas posts. dhs, immigration, and customs enforcement special agents assigned to more than 20 embassies in consulates in high-threat location prose ride is on-site vetting of visa applications and other law enforcement support to our
consular officers security reviews do not stop when the visa is issued. the department and partner agencies continuously match new threat information with our records of existing visas now, we refuse more than a million visa applications a year. and since 2001 the department has revoked more than 122,000 visas based on information that surfaced after issuance of the visa. this includes nearly 10,000 visas revoked for suspected links to terrorism, again, based on information that surfaced after issuance. mr. chairman, ranking member thompson and distinguished members of the committee, the department of state has no hire priority than the safety of our fellow citizens at home andover seas and the security of the traveling public. every visa decision we make is a national security decision. we appreciate the support of
congress as we work to strengthen our defenses. i encourage each of you to visit our consular sections when you are abroad to see how we do this on a daily basis. i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> thank you, secretary bond. i now recognize myself for questioning. i think the most important mission as i look at the department's mission it involves travel and it involves identifying threats and keeping bad people and bad things outside the united states. keeping them from coming into this country. we are here today primarily as a result of the san bernardino shootsing and the fact that malik, a pakistani foreign national came into the united states and then it was divulged that her social media had not been reviewed prior to coming into the united states or as
part of the visa application process. something as fundamental that really any employer before they hire someone that i'm aware of check yet we have this antiquated system that we want to bring into the 21st century when it comes to something so vitally important as the nation's security. i understand there's nothing derogatory on her facebook account, that's worth mentioning. but mr. taylor, your predecessor mr. cohen raised this as an issue as well that the department was not looking at social media, it's my understanding that since that time that there have been three pilot programs launched looking specifically at the syrian refugee program. it's important to note that since may more than 4 suspected jihadists have been caught entering europe through the syrian refugee process.
many, if not all, had links to isis. so i guess my first question is -- and i think mainly to our homeland security witnesses -- and i understand there are 10.5 million visa applicants per year. that's an enormous number and there are hundreds of thousands of refugees. but when we look at the 10,000 syrian refugees, i think the american people are most concerned with, and the congress can you tell us now in light of the san bernardino shooting what are we doing with respect to the admittance of those 10,000 syrian refugees into the united states. are we checking that you are soci -- their social media accounts mr. taylor? >> thank you for the question, sir, i think director rodriguez can address that specific question but i'd like for the
record to be clear that mr. cohen's suggest that there was a prohibition on the use of social media in the department of homeland security is false. we have had policy in place since 2012 and to date there are 33 instances within the department where our components are using social media, the challenge the secretary recognized was that the -- it's not -- we were not doing it comprehensively as a department and as you know one of his big pushes has been to organize departmental information in a way that complements the various missions of our components and that's what our task force is focused on. how can we organize ourselves to use this in a most effective way across all of the missions that the department performs? and i want to give you the opportunity to respond because it's been a made a big deal in
the media. when was the task force formed? >> my task was formed on the 15th of december and the policy in the department was written in 2012 that authorized use of social media. >> so at this point with respect to the syrian refugee stream, we are reviewing social media in those cases where there are existing flags of concern. we are building as quickly as we can to build to a point where we would, in fact, be screening the entire body of syrian refugee applicants, we are prioritizing as we bring new resources online, we are prioritizing those areas where we detect the greatest risk. i think we've discussed some of that yesterday in the classified briefing. i think it's important as we talk about social media to place in the the right context of the
overall screening that we do. it's one tool among a battery of tools that we use in order to screen individuals so it's used in conjunction with the information that we derive from intelligence databases. it's used in conjunction with the multiple interviews that are conducted of these individuals before they are granted admission and particularly important to recognize that those individuals are done with the benefit of intense briefing two our officers based on both classified and non-classified sources on the country conditions to a great degree of granularity that exists in the countries from which they are coming, whether we're talking about syria or iraq. the other thing i want to emphasize is we're not only going to be talking about syria as we bring this capability on but also iraq. if we look at the history of the individuals who have been arrested for terrorist plots, that's really -- there is more of a history certainly of individuals being -- having
terrorist plots -- >> my time is expiring. in those cases where we did have intelligence we brought in terrorists. >> in -- den, that's the importance and i'd like an opportunity to answer that at some other point. that's why the importance of the interagency check which was not used in the same manner at the time of the -- i. >> i understand all that. this is about social media. when the director of the fbi testified here and secretary of homeland they raised concerns about the lack of databases to query, to properly vet so my question again is are we checking the social media for the 10,000 syrian refugees that we're bringing into the united states? >> yeah, no, and that's what i was meaning to address at the beginning. we are doing that in cases of flags of concern. we are adding resources quickly so that we use that in fact -- the entire body -- >> just the high risk 10,000? >> right now and then we'll be moving to covering the entire population. >> which leads me to my next question. so these visa security units
where ice is located. >> these are high risk countries. it seems you don't have the capability yet with the algorithms to check social media. but my recommendation is this be expanded. not to just the syrians but across the globe. >> sir, that's our intent to be as comprehensive as we can in capabili capability. that particular data set for the purposes of our department's mission, so it's not limited. we've started with the k-1s and the refugees because that's a starting set. >> well, you certainly have my strong support for that
expansion and anything we do to help you let us know. with that i recognize the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. taking off where you -- on your line of question iing mr. kubia relative to the visa security programs we historically have had six -- there were six new high-risk visa issuing ports authorized bringing it to 26. it's my understanding in the 2016 omnibus appropriation it did not provide adequate funding to operate the expanded number of visa security programs.
if we are mandated as congress for you to do more and don't provide the money, how are you going to expand that visa security program? >> thank you for the question. the funding we were providing fy-15 was accompany bid an ability to carry that money into fy-16. so we have been judiciously using the money and reapportioning the money around the globe to cover off on the larger threats as we see them developing. do we're able to use some of the money congress gaye us in '15 in '16 to continue the expansion of vsp and enhancement of the patriot screening and vetting process as we move forward. obviously we are always able to do more with more and so if -- for future appropriations we're always looking for a way to
expand the vsp program. but for now we are fine for 15 and 16 as we move forward. >> because you're able to use prior years' funding to support present year's mission. >> yes, sir. that was an important enhancement congress gave us last year was to carry over that funding. >> general taylor, following that line of questioning, with respect to the platforms for social media and other things that there's an interest on this committee, have we identified the resources to complete the -- those projects related to establishing the new platforms on social media? >> sir, that's part of our charter to develop an investment
strategy around that capability. this committee has been very supportive of ina's efforts to -- at using data within dhs. those -- that funding have been very useful for us in moving that forward but we don't know yet is what is exact amount will be and once we have that completed we'll get it through the process and get it back up to the hill. >> can you kind of talk to us a little bit about whether or not you've identified the personnel necessary to carry out that mission or are we going to have to depend on outside contractors to complete that mission? >> you know, sir, my experience is n this is that that at the beginning we won't have enough capability to do this robustly and that we will have to do some contracting, particularly for
linguists when one is talking about social media, all social media is not in english so we need language skills and those sorts of things which are readily available initially in our -- in the private sector. but long term i think we will build a capability that mirrors our department's responsibility to review this type of data and do so with government employees that are trained and able to do it. but my sense is the initial investment will be heavily contracted. >> ms. bond, for the record, there's been some discussion about the san bernardino individual malik's facebook page. in a public setting, can you kind of clarify whether or not the presence or lack of
derogatory information was on her social media? >> sir, to my knowledge, there was nothing that was publicly accessible that indicated jihadist or other threatening believes. i don't believe there was anything on a facebook page or something else that one would have been able to find. >> thank you, i yield back, mr. chairman. >> chair recognizes mr. smith from texas. >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary bond, let me return to the subject of syrian refugees. what percentage of syrian refugees are males overall? >> actually, i think i should take that question. >> okay. director rodriguez, then. >> i believe that it is a minority of the -- >> the u.n. high commissioner for refugees says 62% are male.
>> well, are we talking about ones that we've actually admitted to the united states or are we talking about the overall refugee stream? because normally what's referred to the united states most typically are family units. >> let's go by admitted syrian refugees. what percentage are males and what percentage are males of military age, whether they're connected to families or not? >> i don't have that specific data in front of me but i can make it available to this committee. >> okay. let me tell you what i think the answer is. according to the u.n. hi commissioner on refugees, that is a source for 62% are male and your own data says about 25% are males of military age, whether they're connected to families or not. do you have any reason to believe that's not the case? >> i have no reason to believe that that's not the case. i'd like to get you the exact figures based on our experience but i have no reason to think that that's wrong. >> the state department, i think, tries to skew the data a little bit and they say 2% are males connected to families but
if you leave off males connected to families it expands to about a quarter of males of military age. if you don't find any problem with that, that's good. let me go to secretary taylor for a second. secretary taylor, what percentage of syrian refugees are you unable to conduct any background check involving third party or independent data? in other words, what percentage of syrian refugees in veskt a clean slate except for what they themselves tell you? and, by the way, i don't mean by "clean slate" that they're innocent of any wrongdoing, i'm just saying what percentage are you unable to conduct any kind of background check involving independent data? >> we are able to conduct a background check on 100% -- >> that wasn't my question. i know you conduct background checks. i'm saying what percentage are you able to vet that have independent third-party data
that you have access to. >> sir, i'm not sure i understand. perhaps director rodriguez you would -- >> i think the essence of your question, congressman is when we query the various databases that both general taylor and i have described what percentage of those individuals don't show up on those databases at all? >> again, blank slate, you have no information on them whatsoever. >> and i've described to you the cases where individuals are in those databases because there is derogatory information about them on the databases and you're asking what portion. happily, actually, a large portion don't have derogatory information about them. i think your question is -- >> no, my question -- any information -- when you have in no information about somebody, what percentage of syrian refugees fall into that category? >> well, we generally do have information that is beyond what that individual provides. in other words, we are checking against country conditions. >> i know, again, let me go to
my question and hope you'll answer it. what percentage of syrian refugees do you have in independent data on? >> a large percentage do not have derogatory information in those databases. there is other documentation that they present in just about every case. >> i know they don't have any derogatory. but i'm saying you're finding nothing. a large percentage you have no information about one way or the other and you assume because you have no information there's nothing derogatory, is that right? >> we have other sources of information in order to check the veracity of the information they're giving us in the interview context. >> and by "information" i'm not talking about general country conditions. i'm talking about on that specific individual are you saying that in most cases you have no third party independent data? part of what -- it depends on what you're calling -- in other words, it is true most of them will not appear in the databases
because they've done wrong in those cases. >> but you don't know whether they've done something wrong or not, is that correct? there's no way to guarantee they don't have something in their background that would be auspicious suspicious. >> we can never 100% eliminate risk in anything we do in this life. that is a truth. the fact is that we have a very intensive process to mitigate risk in this particular case. >> but i think the answer to my question is you said great majority are individuals about whom you have no specific independent data about. >> we have other documentation with which to check the information they're giving us in their interviews. that's the point i'm trying to make, sir. >> and i guess i'm saying, again, and i don't hear you contradicting it, you don't have negative but i'm saying you don't have information whatsoever. >> no, we do. the individuals bring extensive government -- often bring extensive government documentation. is we interview multiple family
members, we interview multiple members of communities so there is a benchmark with which to test the information that they're giving us in interview. i think that's -- >> but, again, that's general information, not necessarily about that specific individual. >> it is both general individual and specific individual about that individual, but about individual's community, about that individual's family unit. >> but, again, you said most you had no specific information about that is negative, that we say. >> that is correct. >> but, again, you don't know whether there could be something else out there that is negative that you don't have access to. >> certainly if they're not in the -- if the derogatory information about them is not in the databases we wouldn't know it. >> that's what i'm looking for, thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. smith. mr. keating is recognizing. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to thank all of you for your service to our country in helping us keep us safe. i did have a question and it's
really important, i think the ranking member was going down this line of concern by the committee and that's the resource concern. and one of the things i wanted to ask, i guess this is for secretary bond or anyone else who could answer is this is the fact that we're reviewing social media now, but do we have enough linguists available to do the job right now? i have a concern that resource wise we're not there yet. could you address that? is that a problem of resources for you? >> in terms of our ability to vet documents, social media, other information that's in the local language or in another language, for the most part our consular officers are trained in the language of the country where they're working and we also have local employees who are fluent in the language and
often assist with interpretation and other things. if need be, we would be able to hire additional people. in the case of the state department's consular work we are fee funded and we would be able to find the resources if we needed to afternoon them up. >> i thought we are expanding in those areas beyond the pilots. so if we are is there enough in the pipeline? >> let me ask the collegues in dhs to talk about their programs. >> from the perspective of uscis and social media screening, as we increase capabilities in that area, we do have access to language assistance contracts and whatever the relevant languages might be. i think you understand that our funding model is fundamentally different than everybody else at this table.
the work we do with respect to refugees and acai lees that the resource for that are drawn from the fees that we collect from fee-paying immigrants, be they naturalizing citizens, green card holders. >> let me rephrase it. do you have enough linguists. >> we have access to enough linguists in the near term. >> what about if we're planning an expansion, which is what i'm hearing, do you have enough that you're getting there the pipeline now for this expansion? >> or is it going to be a clogging of that? >> what we are building right now, yes, we do have access to enough resources, we are assessing what our long-term needs are going to be, congressman, to directly answer the question i know you're trying to ask. >> thank you. i had a question, too, there's a difference with the refugees that are coming in, they don't have the same constitutional rights an american has so along the lines assistant secretary bond with the interview process
i'm injuries you, have you tried to incorporate technology into that process in terms of lie detection and other issues for this? are those things implemented at all until the interview status, in the interview process? because we use those in our country, you know, if there's a waiver of someone and i was a district attorney before doing investigations and we incorporate those things here. are they being incorporated as part of your process? >> sir, if you're asking specifically about the interviews of the reef geez, that is a program that is -- that, again, we all keep going back to our friend mr. rodriguez but it is his agency that does those interviews, i can answer questions with respect to visa. >> okay, mr. rodriguez? >> i think your question is do we have enough resources?
>> no, it's are you incorporating technological devices and equipment that are pretty advanced now in terms of lie detection as part of that process? >> i would not talk about the specifics of how we use technology in an open hearing, sir. i would be happy in a closed setting to describe what we're doing, what we're thinking about doing but i would not venture into that area in this setting. >> okay, i understand the classified side. however the person that -- i understand it but i think you're being a little broad in not answering the question because people going through it are going to know it there's so it won't catch people by surprise but i'll do that in classified. >> do we use polygraphs in the refugee set, the answer is no more directly. there are other things i think you would want to know about that i would not try to discuss here but if your direct question is are we using polygraphs, the answer is no. >> okay, thank you.
i wanted to quickly in a few seconds -- the time frame for moving these pilots for social media review in these critical areas, can you give us an idea time frame when you'll expand and how much in the future? >> right now we are conducting manual vetting, in other words, we're literally going into facebook and google and other sources to identify the social media information, that's very slow going. so in the short term we're going to be focusing adding as quickly as we can just for the syrians as soon as possible so we cover as much as that 10,000 we're seeking to admit as we can. longer term we're looking for technological solutions that will permit us to look at that more broadly and i don't know what the timeline will be for identifying and deploying those technological solution mrs. broadly. >> well, thank you, my time is up. thank you again for your
service. >> if i could just add to that. in our visa waiver bill we put that the department needs to look at these new technologies for truth detection, if you will. mr. rogers from alabama. >> thank you, mr. taylor, back in october we had director comey from the fbi here and he was asked if he could tell with us a high degree of certainty that he through the vetting process could assure us that isil would not be able to move some of their terrorist members in through these refugees movements and he basically said no, that the problem was we didn't know what we don't know. and here we are four months later and to my knowledge we're still in that aim situation. so why are you insisting that we continue to visit this topic of this 10,000 refugees? >> well, sir, i believe there are two questions, i'll ask director rodriguez to answer the question on the refugee screening which is more in his
line but i believe what director comey was referring to was the data that he had available within the fbi and within the intelligence community about this particular population. we know a lot more today about this population than we did when he testified back in october and we continued to learn everyday. that's our system, i wouldn't want to go specifically into how that knowledge base grows but it grows. everyday. it has grown since 9/11 i welcome the opportunity to, in a closed session or another session to speak to that capaci capacity. >> well, it grows because we had a lot of room for improvement. the problem with s we can't say with a high degree of certainty that they won't be able to sneak isil members in through those groups and i have to tell you, mr. rodriguez, this is my 14th year to be honored to serve in congress. i haven't heard an opening statement from a witness i disagree with more than yours. i don't know why in the world
you think that we should have a sense of urgency to accept these refugees. moral or otherwise. the fact is the refugees who have left syria are no longer in danger. our moral obligation is to make sure they have a place to stay, health care, food until we can get them safely back into their country. we have millions of them in lebanon, jordan, turkey. i can understand why you think we would want to be good americans, like we always are, very generous americans and help them in those areas but why should we move them into our country? i can't say why y i can't understand why you think that's necessary. one of the things that came up in the hearing while director comey was here was we had a group of refugees that came through mexico to our southern border and turned themselves in, wanted asylum. now, those people weren't in danger, they were looking for economic opportunity and that's what i think is happening with a lot of these people.
and is happening in western europe as this instead of removing bashar al assad from power so these people can go back home. why are we not working on helping refugees stay in their neighborhood in encampments or cities and bringing them to our country where we know isil intends to use them to kill us. >> so i think an important starting point for this discussion is the fact that since september 11 we have admitted 785,000 refugees.
128,000 of those have come from iraq. a number of them have come from other places where there is, in fact, an active terrorist threat, somalia, other parts of north africa. not a single one of them has actually ever engaged in an active attack on the homeland. there have been plots that have been disrupted by u.s. law enforcement. >> and what percentage of that number has happened in the last few months since paris and since we've had the problem -- the attempted attack in berlin or the attack in san bernardino. you're conflating this into a completely different picture. the world has changed dramatically over the last several months and you know that. we have to be focused on where isil is and the efforts they're using to get people in this country now. i agree we're a country of immigrants, we've had a great rich history with immigrants but we have a new dynamic right now and that is not relevant. what you're describing is not relevant to this dynamic.
>> i guess congressman where you and i disagree and appreciate your highlighting the disagreement is i do not believe that refugee admission is purely a moral and humanitarian undertaking. it is that but it is much, much more. it has a critical strategic national security and foreign policy role. if we are not seen as offering opportunity to the very victims of isil and al nusra, then we will have given away a vital part of the battlefield. >> why do we owe them opportunity? >> i'm sorry? >> why do we owe them opportunity? >> because right now those individuals are displaced. they may be safe over the short term, there are 400,000 children who are not -- >> and we can provide them opportunity for safety in their neighborhood. in turkey, in jordan, in those areas. we don't have to have them in our country to make sure they stay safe, well fed, and cared for. >> and that is certainly one reason why the numbers that we are taking are relatively small compared to the overall number
who are in refugee status and it is something we are doing alongside the other english-speaking countries that have made commitment to accept refugees, the other european countries that have made commitments. that's also critical. we need to work with our allies to deal with this problem together. we can not place ourselves in a posture where we're saying it's their problem and not ours. that in my mind actually does have a national security implication if we do not look at it that way. but i understand that is a point on which you and i disagree, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> chair recognizes mr. langevin. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general taylor, secretary bond. you both highlighted some processes that the federal government is implemented or has already implemented to tighten screening of these applicants
and refugees and i think we can all agree that this is a -- is vital to ensure that security reviews are as thorough as possible and thorough enough to flag any applicant with derogatory information in government databases however i remain concerned about applicants for whom there is no u.s. source of intelligence but for whom there may be intelligence from our partners. do you share these concerns of what barriers remain to free flow of information between counterterrorism agencies here and those abroad, particularly in europe which i know has stricter or different privacy laws that we have that may restrict that information sharing and we've had testimony both in classified and open sessions expressing that concern. but what can we do to remove them? >> congressman, thank you very much for that very pertinent
question and i think i would start out with the legislation that recently passed in december which has strengthened the visa waiver program to include the hspd 6 requirements for information sharing which not all countries in visa waiver were -- had an hspd 6 agreement with the united states: by the end of this year all countries will have that agreement and i think that?0-ñ strengthens the intelligence and lau enforcement exchange that is so vital to this global problem. the one thing that has been crystal clear to me is that terrorists do not honor borders. they do not honor law enforcement. they move anywhere they can move with impunity and the way in which information sharing allows
our governments and allies to be more effective in spotting those movements so that exchange is rich. it's continuing and i sense a new sense of urgency and our partners, particularly in europe to collect the data that is necessary to protect their country and in collecting that data to make that data available to u.s. authorities on a reciprocal basis. >> so under the agreements that will be in place by the end of the year that -- you're confident that takes care of all the problem? there would be no barriers to information sharing on the european side that they need to change their laws in any way to accommodate more robust intelligence sharing? >> all i can say is we've made it very clear to our partners in the visa waiver program that a necessary ingredient in that
agreement for visa waiver is that we have an information sharing agreement and that we're insisting on it. that begins a process. it's not an end game but these relationships grow over time but the framework for those relationships will be in place with all of the countries that we currently have visa waiver agreements with. >> thank you. secretary taylor, in your testimony you state that the department recognizes the technological advances and the evolving nature of the threat environment required to continuously re-evaluate and improve our screening and vetting process. can you further elaborate on how you're evaluating and how you can enhance the way the department elicits information from applicants, identifying new kinds of data that might be valuable and developing new methods to efficiently incorporate this data into the department systems?
>> well, i would answer that in two ways. first, this committee has been very supportive of the initiative of the secretary to create a dhs framework and for that framework to be to be effective in sharing data across all of our components as opposed to just individual components, which is a big step towards how we organize ourselves to use information that may be available in one component that's not available in another. so, that's the first step. the second step is these issues are becoming much more complicated. and in many cases components will solve their initial issue that they want to do with social media, but not solve a more broader issue. so, our task force is designed to create really a center of excellence for vetting in the department where we are continually striving to look for new techniques, tools, processes
that help us get better at this. not at a suboptimal level in our components but as a department. and that's our goal going forward. >> yeah, i think it's essential to be nimble and to recognize as technology especially changes so rapidly that we're doing everything we can to incorporate those new capabilities into our vetting system to -- >> that's the secretary's direction, and we're moving with all deliberate speed. >> very good. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> mr. duncan from south carolina. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to refute one thing that mr. rodriguez said, there hasn't been an act of terror -- i don't want to refute it. january 7th, texas and california, prime examples of iraqi refugees granted refugee status in this country, 2006, 2009, whatever the year was, law
enforcement got it right. they actually stopped it. i applaud them for that. i thank your men for their service, but the glaring example that i just mentioned shows that if you don't vet refugees coming in this country, the potential, the possibility of an act of terror happening on u.s. soil from someone that comes from iraq or syria is real. the -- last week back in the district, i had an opportunity to testify before the south carolina state senate. possibly the first time a united states congressman has ever testified in the general assembly of south carolina. myself and congressman mick mull availableny on the syrian refugee issue. south carolina has not unvetted refugees to locate in their state but yet the obama administration continues to try to make that happen.
since the syrian civil war broke out, the numbers i have are 2,693 syrian refugees have been admitted into this country. for the record, 53 of those were christian. 33 were not non-muslim. the remaining of those were muslim. mr. chairman, i'd like to submit for the record my testimony in south carolina senate last week. >> without objection so ordered. >> thank you. in 2011 or '12, mr. chairman, you and i traveled to afghanistan. and there at a forward operating base we met a gentleman that was assisting the united states military as a translator. his name was hollywood. after we left, we were contacted by a former member of congress, charles deju from hawaii who served with that unit at that
forward operating base, knew hollywood well. saw him want to pick up a gun and fight the taliban, who was threatened by the taliban for being an interpreter for this country. he asked us, he asked us to assist hollywood with coming into this country under the asylum program for interpreters that helped our country. it took over two years for this gentleman who was verified by the general of the 3rd army, 10th mountain division, who was verified by the unit that he assisted, who had member of congress writing letters for him, who had general petraeus for goodness sakes had met the gentleman and vouched for him. took two years to get the gentleman here under that program. we scrutinized his background. but we're going to allow unvetted syrian refugees from an
area that isis who has declared war on the united states, whether we've declared war on them or not, has said they will infiltrate that refugee program and also exploit the migration program in europe. and that's a whole nother topic of foreign fighter flow, of the visa waiver program, for the ability of someone with a long-term vision to get into europe and eventually come into this country under those programs. but we're going to allow unvetted syrian refugees into this country. the policies of the obama administration put americans at risk because we don't know who's coming into this country by allowing unvetted syrian refugees. you are saying we are doing the best job we can, we are vetting, but director comey refutes that. we're trying to do better. got it on testimony. but we're not very good at it. we can't tell you that we vetted these folks because the information isn't available. the records have been destroyed. they've been stolen. someone from syria can travel
into turkey and for $600 buy a new identity and a new passport. so, mr. chairman, i appreciate us continuing to raise awareness of this issue with syrian refugees. i'm amazed that an administration that wants to expand background checks for law-abiding american citizens exercising their second amendment constitutional rights will refuse to do the background checks necessary on possibly syrian refugees and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. the chair recognizes ms. torres from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to begin by asking, i would like to ask unanimously -- unanimous consent for statements from a coalition of faith-based and advocacy groups to be entered into the record. >> without objection, so ordered. >> thank you. so, mr. rodriguez, mr. taylor,
thank you so much for the briefing that we received yesterday. making yourselves available to us, to brief us in a classified vetting. i want to make sure that i understand this process. as you know i have been very involved in the refugees that were placed in my home city. i had meetings with them and about the interview process and asked them directly from their perspective as to what was their experience. two families, very young children, and one has a male that was i think 15 or 16 years old when they started the process. he's 19 now. now, social media for a
3-year-old obviously a 3 -year-old and this is an american 3-year-old, like my 1-year-old grandson, may not have a social media account, may not have a social media presence, represenc presence, right? so when we ask you to check all 10,000 through a social media process, that could be impossible. is that -- can you explain that process to me? >> i don't think it would be impossible. there may not be a social media presence -- >> right. >> -- for all 10,000 of those individuals but the capacity to determine that is something that's certainly within -- where we're trying to drive towards for the future. >> so, the male, the young male, explained to me that for every one appointment, interview appointment, that the family had, he had two or three
additional appointments. cell phone records, phone books, any information that he could provide to the department was asked at -- in very different meetings to ensure that he was telling the truth or to verify that he wasn't giving different types of statements. mr. rodriguez, that interagency check that you were beginning to explain earlier, can you provide a little bit more detail? >> sure. >> information on that. >> sure. and i think the example you're citing, and i'm assuming that that was a refugee interview overseas but it may have been subsequent activity in the united states. >> no, it was overseas. >> illustrates the point i was trying to make to congressman smith, we don't just hear what the person has to say, where
there are reasons to we go beyond and look for documentation that either helps us explore issues that may exist or help us corroborate information that is presented in the testimony. speaking specifically about the interagency check, not at liberty in an open setting to talk about everything that sort of sits behind that check, everything that is queried as part of that check. but the point of the interagency check is it gives us a one-stop place to access all intelligence holdings, all law enforcement holdings that could carry and, in fact, in some cases have carried derogatory information about an individual. that's -- >> i don't have a whole lot of time. i do want to ask you, is it in the best interests of the u.s. to have a robust process there overseas rather than closing that process that would possibly
encourage more syrian refugees to take on a path to come through our southern border and present themselves knowing that once they're here, they're here and we have to deal with them at our border? >> i think that's another critical point, which is we can either have an orderly internationally based system of migration where we're working together with our allies and create an actual opportunity for permanent resettlement or we can have hundreds of thousands and millions of people who are displaced, without any prospect of immediate settlement, meaning their kids don't go to school, they don't have any kind of economic security, that will have consequences for the entire world if we allow that to happen. >> thank you. my time has expired and i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director rodriguez, my constituents in pennsylvania are
worried about their safety when they hear that the refugees coming into the commonwealth because they simply don't trust the vetting process. and to be honest with you, i have a lot of concerns, too. and here's why. here in this committee according to former fbi assistant director tom fuentes, our human and this is his quote, our human resources in syria are minimal and we don't have a government we can partner with and that's a key thing. two, national counterterrorism center director nicholas rasmussen explained that the intelligence picture that we've had of this syrian conflict zone isn't what we'd like it to be. you can only review data which you have. three, fbi assistant director michael steinbach said that the concern in syria is that we don't have the systems in place on the ground to collect the information. all of the data sets, the police, the intel services that normally you would go and seek
that information from don't exist. and, four, fbi director james comey said, we can query our databases until the cows come home. but nothing will show up because we have no record of that person. we can only query what you have collected. my question to you is -- can you confirm to us today that not one single refugee who doesn't show up on our databases is admitted into the united states? >> i think that's a point that i was -- if you don't show up on the databases, it means there isn't derogatory information. it means we don't have -- >> that's not true. i don't think anybody here believes that. i don't think any -- we have no database to check doesn't mean that there is no history. we have no records or we cannot count on the syrian government to give us that database. so, that doesn't mean that nothing exists. >> we -- >> it just means we don't have any database to collect that
information. i don't think anybody here believes that. >> i think one of the key parts that i've been trying to -- >> this is why the american people don't trust us allowing people in here because they don't think we're getting a straight story. >> i think -- if i had a couple moments to describe the entire process, which is a lengthy process the current one -- >> i'd like you to answer my question first. can you confirm today that not one single refugee from syria will be admitted into the united states if they don't show up on a database? can you confirm today that not one person will be allowed in? >> if they don't -- there are people who have been admitted who haven't shown up on databases. >> okay. >> that doesn't meanwhile we continue take other steps -- >> that doesn't mean -- that doesn't mean -- >> that there aren't other things we do to satisfy ourselves that the person we are admitting does not pose a threat. so, i think you need to hear how the whole process works before focusing on one element of the process as -- >> see, it only takes one person.
doesn't take an army. your family, my family, every single person here family, that is the most important person in the world to you. it only takes one person. i don't think we should allow one single refugee into the united states if we cannot confirm factually that we have checked the database and we can confirm that that person does not possess an intent or a threat to the american people. i want to go on. because i -- i got the answer i wanted there. and i've been saying since i've been in congress that -- and i know sometimes i sound like a broken record. at a 9/11 commission report taught us many times that the best weapon terrorists have is a travel document. because terrorists want two things. they want to get into the country and they want to stay here just long enough to carry out their mission.
and more than 40% of illegal immigrants that are present in this country came here legally and have their visa expire and they never left and we can't found them. of approximately 4 00 individuals whoc convicted in the united states from september 2001 through march 2010, approximately 36 were visa overstays. i don't believe there's a strong enough deterrent to -- for anyone who wants to overstay their visa and that's one reason i introduced a bill, a visa overstay, which brings the visa overstay laws in line with current law for crossing a border unlawfully. makes them parallel. making it a crime to overstay your visa, and it's more of a deterrent. undersecretary taylor, would you agree that tougher penalties and clarity in the law will help
agents perform their jobs? and do you think we need to have a tougher deterrent than exists right now for those who are thinking of overstaying their visa? >> sir, at this point what i would say is that the department for the first time in history produced a visa overstay report that had been asked for from this congress for many years. this is an area of great concern to our secretary and he's directed cvp and i.c.e. to work on potential solutions that would deter individuals from wanting to overstay their invitation to our country. i'm not in a position today to tell you what that's going to look like, but i know that that direction has been given, and i'm sure the secretary will be happy to address that issue once he's had a chance to have his team consult on it. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. perry from pennsylvania. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
gentlemen, lady, thank you very much for your time here today. mr. rodriguez, can you tell us the last time you read the national security strategy? >> not sure i have read the national security strategy. i'll acknowledge that. >> okay, so i'm looking at your resume here of what's provided to us and i'm assuming it's correct. it goes back to 1997. i see that you spent some time in pennsylvania. but i don't see any foreign -- any service in foreign countries or with the state department or whatever. and the reason i bring this up, as i listen to your opening statement, i found it breathtaking that you lecture and suggest to the united states congress, the representative of the people, that this refugee program is a vital part of foreign policy and national security. and while i appreciate your opinion in that, that is wholly out of your purview.
work that -- when we are querying social media, we are querying without the active consent of the individual. we are extensively querying the social media accounts. >> so, is this policy going to change? >> well, this is -- this is the -- sort of the ordinary baseline that you're looking at. in fact, we are -- >> but shouldn't the ordinary baseline, even considering mr. barletta's questioning regarding databases and information that we don't have where we're relying on many systems but arguably on the fidelity of the individual themselves, shouldn't the policy -- shouldn't the default setting be that we're going to check everything and we'll make exceptions when we don't need to check everything? because it seems to me the default setting is we give all these people the benefit of the doubt unless we find something derogatory. >> i think there's more significant practical issue here, which is all we can access, all we have the technological tool to access is the public facing statements
that individuals make. we do not have a way to reach private communications. >> and we understand that. but the policy says, as a matter of fact if i go further into this policy which is policy privacy memorandum january 19th, 2007, i'm assuming you're familiar, right? it says here that it is -- under this policy dhs components will handle non-u.s. person's information held in mixed systems in accordance with the fair information practices as set forth in the privacy act, thereby giving people that wish to come to this country that we know little about the same rights as every american citizen. >> that's one document among a series of policies that govern what we're doing -- >> which policy countervails this? >> we can certainly back you through this. it's a set of policies and practices that we have that have been issued in particular in the
last year which give us proactive authorization to look at social media accounts as part of our security vetting for people we're admitting. >> but is that the default setting or is that the exception? based on this policy from your agency. >> i guess what i'm telling you is what we're doing which i think is the most important thing. we can parse what the policies say, what we are doing is we are looking -- when we are looking at social media we're looking at it -- >> hold on a second. you said when we're looking at social media. i picture myself not as you, you're the director, i'm one of the folks looking at policy statements and this is my job and it says i have to treat all these people that i don't know anything about, don't know the culture, don't know the language, could be a terrorist, like every american citizen. do i call you and say, hey, i'm not sure about this one? >> but that's not what we're doing. we're looking with appropriate lynn 5 linguistic support we are looking at these accounts
without necessariss seek -- >> this policy was written in 2012? >> correct. >> was promulgated by our privacy office. was not prom mull gated as a broader dhs strategy for the use of social media in our operations across department. one of the responsibilities the secretary has given to my task force is to re-write our policy to bring it up to current standards, to make it -- >> when can we expect that? and what is the interim guidance, if you don't mind, mr. chairman? what is the interim guidance? what do agents in the field at this time what is their guida e guidance -- >> the inspectors in the field have 33 clear policy pronouncements and i can get those for you that outline their day-to-day use of social media. my intent is to have a policy
before the secretary within the next month. it's on my shopping list of things that i got to get done. but this policy was written in 2012 as a baseline for how the department would use social media. certainly the environment and the technology has changed significantly since that policy was written. and that's why the secretary wants a comprehensive -- >> i look forward to that information. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we've had a robust discussion about things you are doing to enhance the vetting process for refugees and for people coming into this country in general. i want to flip it on its head a bit and talk about what we should be doing. because i think in this instance especially when it's a matter of national security we need to strive for perfection.
i was heartened by your comments rechecking the process how we can get better. and i have one pointed question for you and i have a secondary question that's more general. the question for you is, in enhancing the vetting process for mining the public access to the internet, how much input are you getting from the private sector? i ask that because in my role as chairman of the subcommittee on transportation and security, it's become apparent to me that homeland security in general and tsa in particular do not do a good enough job of looking at what's going on in the private sector. necessity's the mother of invention. there's a lot of good ideas out there and i think sometimes homeland security's process is somewhat insular and it's preventing you getting the ideas out there and i'll give you one example. there are public companies that do a terrific job with creating algorithms that they use in the
private sector to mine the public sources over the internet to vet people and we're not doing that on the homeland security level and i think we need to. with that, i'll just ask a question. >> thank you very much for the question, sir. it's really part of the charter i've been given by the secretary in our task force not only to look at best in class within our department and within the government but best in class in the private sector. to that end we've announced an industry day at the end of february where we're going to invite folks from across the private sector to come in and tell us what's -- what they're doing, how they're doing and how that might help us with the mission that we've set forth, so we recognize, as you know, i came back to government from the private sector where there's a lot of innovation. we should exploit that innovation as we move forward in this effort and that will be a big part of what we do. >> well, i applaud that and i would like to hear -- have you report back to us what you're doing in that regard because
that is somewhat a sea change to how they viewed it in the past. stick with the same old venders and ideas you're comfortable with is not going to solve this problem. >> it's not innovation. we'll be happy to come back as the task force develops. >> i take it all four of you agree mining the public sources of the internet is wholly appropriate when trying to keep our country safe, is that correct? i think you all agree with that. >> absolutely. >> for the record, everyone is nodding their head and i'm glad to hear that. with respect to -- switching gears a bit, we've talked a lot about the kentucky incident where an iraqi incident slipped through the cracks and then plotted some terrorism activity here in the united states before they were caught and arrested and convicted. and obviously that's of huge concern. then we also heard about not so much in refugee process but a more recent case where we just didn't find out how radicalized she was before she got here. so, obviously there's gaps.
there's problems. so, instead of telling us what you've done, tell me what you learned from those two cases. i'll throw it out to anybody. what you learned from the two cases what you can do better. in both cases we missed them and one was a refugee process in the kentucky case. the san bernardino was a visa case and in both cases we missed it. i'm not criticizing, tell me what we can do to make it better. >> sir, i think it's been clear from the members of the committee everyone that sits at this table understands personally and professionally the challenge that we face in terms of protecting this country from folks that would do her harm. and our process is very clear. every failure becomes an opportunity to learn. every failure becomes an opportunity to develop new tactics, techniques and procedures and to go back and
examine it just as we did in the private sector when we had failures, we go back and we take a look and improve. and every day the system is evolving. every day. because everyone in this business today understands that the american standard is -- it only takes one. and we don't want that one to happen. unfortunately, a couple have. but our process is not to say we got it. the process is to critically examine what we do, why we did it, why the failure occurred and adjust our processes and procedures to address that. >> so, when these two particular cases, if someone can answer me in particular, what did you learn from those two cases? >> we learned that potentially we should have -- in the malik case, which is why we're looking at the k-1s and social media, that perhaps we didn't explore as many sources as we could have explored. although her private social media would not have been available. and so we've begun the process
of developing a system to do that. and in the kentucky case, we've gone back to look at the vetting and the sources that we use for vetting and they were not as extensive as they needed to be. and since the -- that case came to light, we have significantly enhanced the screening processes that are used in our intelligence and law enforcement partners for that purpose. so, in each case we do a deep dive in terms of the -- what the failure was, figure it out and adjust processes appropriately. >> i'd just like to also point out that we aren't just learning from the incidents in the united states but we're constantly evaluating those instances as they occur around the world and partnering with our foreign counterparts. in the incidents in paris we were involved in our offices in
scrubbing the information that was being shared from law enforcement about the attackers and were able to make significant contributions back to that while also tightening our own defenses. and be happy to give some much greater detail in a classified setting so that we don't divulge methods and tactics in an open forum. but it's not just waiting for an event to occur in the united states but it's proactively through law enforcement and through our law enforcement capabilities adjusting our tactics as the world evolves. >> sir, i'd add one more thing, and every week i chair or co-chair with the secretary our counterterrorism advisory board. every morning i meet with the secretary on new intelligence that has come in. and through the c-tab we challenge our components, based upon intelligence, based upon what's changing, what have we
done differently. it's the first time in the history of our department that we've had -- and every component head sits at the table for accountability from our secretary. so, we've developed a counterterrorism posture that says intelligence is changing, we need to change, and we need to understand how that intelligence changes our defenses. and we do that on a weekly basis. it's why we change aviation security, lots of other things going forward. and that's been at the direction of the secretary. >> thank you. and thank you for your indulgence, mr. chairman. >> mr. donovan from new york. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i thank each of you for what you're doing to protect our country. all the testimony we heard today was about re-evaluating and improving our screening process with the visa applicants. i'm concerned with another significant gap in our security, and maybe we can talk about that a little bit. it's been publicly reported that there's probably hundreds of thousands of stolen syrian
passports. some of which are actually blank. and it's suspected that these documents are in the hands now of the islamic state. we've heard about our counterparts in the european country saying that there's a real industry in selling these false documents or stolen documents. and at least two of the attackers in paris apparently had full syrian passports and they entered the -- excuse me. eu through greece with them. this proliferation of genuine documents used maliciously by groups like isis present a real challenge for our screening process. i was just wondering, is the information that's being reported confirmed, is that the information that you're dealing with as well? because we're getting reports from the press about it. and if it is, what are each of your agencies doing to deal or combat or address that issue? >> sir, i'd ask mr. kubiak to address that.
i think the specifics are probably handled in a closed setting as opposed to this venue. we are concerned about any false documents that could be used to move anywhere in the world, but we have systems to -- that we're working were from an international perspective to address that particular issue you outline more fully. but i'd like to do that in closed session. >> yeah, if i may just jump in before mr. kubiak. we are aware of the issue that you're describing. i wouldn't say much more in this setting. but what i do want to say is that is a critical and well-developed component of our screening. and that as situations arise, we take specific steps with respect to those situations like the one you just described. and that's all, again, i would say in an open setting. but i essentially want to
communicate we're on it and we can talk about it in greater depth in a different environment. >> thank you for your question. fraudulent documents are a critical part of the i.c.e. investigative mandate as we look at all illicit travel and illicit finance that funds illicit travel as it occurs around the globe. i.c.e. has and has had for a number of years one of the world's most renowned forensic laboratories which specializes specifically and is located not far from here if anyone would like to take a tour or get a view of it, it has immense capabilities that are supplied to the united states government to cvp, to our state department colleagues and to cis and others on evaluating false documents, recording lost and stolen documents like the ones that you're referencing, and promulgates that and shares that information, legitimate travel documents, with other countries
so that we're able to up our defenses and know what the current entry documents are and how the fraudulent documents ei, ether fake or stolen real are used in this network. happy to give you -- because it's such a big part of what we do, happy to give you a much more significant briefing in a classified setting if we can. >> secretary kubiak, you just mentioned how we share that information with our allies. are our allies, the european union, are they sharing their information with us as well? >> yes, so it's a broad question because types of information and, again, we can get into that in a different setting. but, yes, on passport requirements we're getting information from foreign governments saying this bank of passports is stolen or this is a compromise or this is a false document that we've identified and utilized and here's information that we have about others that may be similar and we're sharing that back and
forth around the globe. some countries more so than others obviously and some more robustly than others. but, yes, and, again, we can include that in a briefing for you as well. >> i didn't want to leave you out if there was anything you needed to add. >> no. only to add that we do work very closely on this, and also participate in reporting any lost or stolen u.s. passport, for example, once that's reported to us. we make sure that it's immediately registered with interpol so it's available to other nations and, of course, across the interagency. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the panel, and i want to start off by saying the men and women that make up your organizations are recognized the difficult task they are charged with. i recognize the environment in which they operate, and they should be commended for their hard work. sometimes we get askew on policy, but the men and women in
your organizations are trying to do everything to keep us safe. mr. -- director kubiak, what is a special interest alien? can you explain that in a very da -- as short a period as you can? >> we use -- we talk about individuals from other countries, so typically now what i refer to is an individual not from western -- the western hemisphere who is coming in through when we talk about smuggling networks into the united states. >> when you talk about refugees, are you including asylum seekers in that category? >> i would defer to mr. rodriguez on that specifically. >> it's not a trick question, mr. rodriguez. i just want to be clear on the terms that we're using. >> yeah. no, a refugee is an individual who is abroad who is making a claim for protection. an asylum seeker is doing it
here. >> that's where i'd like to focus my 3 1/2 minutes on. can you describe the difference between the vetting that goes on between asylum seekers and refugees? because my understanding is a refugee overseas is going to a number of refugee camps sponsored by unhcr and they go through years of vetting and then state department does vetting and dhs does vetting. those asylum seekers that are showing up, who is doing the vetting of that asylum seeker if they are coming from one of the countries where they're designated as a special interest alien? >> and that's a key point. it depends on what country, the answer to your question depends on what country they're from. when they are from the countries of particular concern, virtually all of the process ends up being the equivalent of the process that occurs overseas. in terms of the kinds of interviews, the preparation for the interviews, the kinds of checks that are done.
however, in that situation it's often a joint undertaking between us and our partners at i.c.e. and also our partners at customs and boarder protection. a lot of that depending on how it is we encounter the individual. do we encounter them at the port of entry or is it a situation in the interior. >> the person seeking asylum, where are they when you are going through that process? >> where are they, i think your question is are they in the community. that is the -- >> are they in a detention facility? are they released on their own recognizance to a family member or someone in the community while you are doing your vetting? >> depending on the facts and circumstances, it can be any of the above. if they're at a port of entry, that's something that immigration and customs enforcement makes the determination as to whether that individual will be released or not. my understanding is they don't do it if there is any concern in that case about doing it. >> and how long does that