tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 22, 2016 7:00pm-12:00am EDT
hopefully not too confusing overview of the situation, i close. >> thank you, cathy. in the interest of time, i want to go to the themes that have been raised. i want plenty of time for audience questions. one of the things miriam talked about, you have all talked about the internet, the online space. i want to get your thoughts on that. in 2014, the douma passed the bloggers law that gave them permission to shut down sites of opposition leaders. the online space in russia today, as we are discussing is perhaps one of the last spaces for open discussion. what we are seeing is that is closing. some of the things that miriam d d disscribed as the new law and information to provide
encryption keys. many say these are too expensive to enforce and it's just not going to be possible for the firms that provide those services to do that because they require a great deal of server capacity. do you think that the kremlin is actually likely to use the information that seeks access to and, if so, for what purpose? >> so, you know, it's an interesting question. several years back, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not russia is interested in following the same path the chinese have taken in building this great internet firewall. most of the consensus was that russian internet was already too free and too open and had not been controlled from the beginning like chinese internet had been. so, building that kind of chinese system would be impossible. i think we have now seen the russians are attempting to build their own version of a
controlled internet. russians have gotten used to having the ability to go on websites from around the world, talk to their friends on facebook, russian twitter is reasonably active. they are quite used to these things. the idea that that could be taken away is rather worrisome. that's another thing that people might worry or people of the kremlin worry this could be a trigger for protest. they have taken the opposite attack, which is to, you know, create, implement and enforce these laws that would have all the data that's being sent out by russian citizens come back to the russian government for analysis forcing these telecommunication companies to keep data three years, forcing them to keep text messages and pictures people send for at least six months. that's the kind of thing you can see might be useful to them if
they are attempting to say prosecute people that have been involved in major protest actions. we saw this after the protest in 2012 when the kremlin essentially went to the then owner of, essentially the russian version of facebook and they said we want all this information. we want to be able to access what these users have written. to his great credit, the creator and owner said absolutely not. within the space of a couple months, he had the entire company taken away from him. it was put into the hands of prokremlin businessmen. he is now finding himself in that same situation. he has a new company, telegraph, which you know is a very popular encrypted app that you can use for messaging with your friends. again, with these orders about having to give up encryption
keys he said absolutely not. what happens to the companies that refuse? what happens to companies, there have been attempts in the past like google, g-mail, keep the information of russian users physically on russian soil rather than having them in servers in california, in europe somewhere? will the russian government have their hand forced? will they have to actually ban the apps? will they block them? that is an open question. will they try to actually take away some of these mechanisms like telegraph, like g-mail? will there hand be forced? if so, what exactly will that mean for the way that russians choose to interact with the world? i think that's an extremely interesting question. >> thank you, hannah. one thing you point out is given where we are in technology globalized in this case, is
specifically if one company is forced to shut down, others come to replace it. is it is con assistance chase the government has to be involved in. this is an incredible amount of meta data they seek access to. it's not clear to me the russian government that has capacity and capability to use it and analyze it in the way it seekses. i think we have to ask ourselves, is this about giving the population a sense they are constantly being surveilled? is this more about social control than it is about access to specific information? i my miriam you want to jump in here. >> yeah, if i could jump in for a moment. another piece is to look at the behavior of large, western companies in this sphere. we saw chinese companies buckle. it's very important. you can see a man taking a
courageous stand, a russian at the mercy of the state. it's the jury's out how western companies will behave. facebook, facebook moderation practices where accounts of different critics, regime critics have been shut down arbitrarily, clearly trolls or government agents complain in a very targeted way against famous commentators, opposition figures and they accounts get taken down. there's been a whole petition with a couple hundred prominent russian oppositionists asking facebook to revise the way they handle moderation and the way they handle these questions, complaints about accounts because it's clear the russian government is manipulating it. when you have the likes of these people, these major figures
signing a petition to facebook to say, please take a look at how you're handling russian accounts, that's something. also for us, the way companies behave in one space can translate into the way they behave in other spaces so we need to be careful of this issue as well. >> i also wanted to add about one very prominent and important russian orthodox, he actually belongs to an alternative russian orthodox church who runs a website. he e has faced all kinds of difficulties, basically no longer lives in russia. those, the alternative russian orthodox church, with which he is affiliated has had all kinds, including earlier this month of call ins, shall we say by the
security services. they have won the relic of theirs was forcibly removed, but video of that action by court bailiffs has also been declared extremist material. he was very much involved in publicizing that. these kinds of restriction affects go across the board. >> the question i want to ask you, cathy, the ramificationses of this, not just for russia, but other regimes and also for the u.s. we are in washington, d.c. this is not been an issue at the top of the policy agenda here, unfortunately. why should the united states, specifically and western countries as well, really care about this? >> well, lots of american evangelical protestants do care.
there's been quite a few, one, particular lengthy, good letter signed by i believe around 100 representatives of religious organizations from all over the united states. i should also mention that the church of scientology has been particularly helpful in providing space and lodgist cal support for these kind of efforts as have many other churches. i should say that it's interesting, however, that franklin graham, who was planning to hold a huge world summit in support of persecuted christians has decided not to hold this summit next may in moscow, but will hold it, instead, in washington. 100 religious leaders from all over the -- religious leaders from 100 countries are scheduled to take part in this meeting.
franklin graham said he is doing this specifically or rather not doing this in moscow specifically because of the bylaws. it affects, you know, a lot of american people, a lot of -- especially the evangelical protestant movement. in general, religious freedom, i think, does not get the attention in this town as a foreign policy question as many other issues do. and environmental issues. sorry. you pointed out this awful incident. >> hannah, same question to you. >> immateri wanted to add to why was saying about the way some of these laws and a closing space for different religious groups has a tendency to trickle down
to other post soviet companies. you tend to see that. it's quite clear paths. you see russia implements one law and foreign agents and several months later, they do something similar. there's certainly a trend in which country who is are interested in clamping down on their populations, whether it's -- they tend to take their page from what the russians do. you see these many, many instances. if russia can get away with it. if no one cares what russia does, all these other countries tend to feel as though we can get away with it, too. they don't want to be the first ones, but they are certainly happy to be the second. >> i should add to the list.
it's considering laws. i don't know if they are as stern, but they are significantly reorganizing their government structure that is deal with religion, for example. >> the mimicking of the laws is true. i think it all hits closer to home than that. there's an editorial today in the "washington post" about the need to take seriously russian hacking and russian manipulation of u.s. elections. attempts to manipulate and undermine public trust and confidence in the u.s. elections. russian hacking of the dnc. that material lead to wikileaks compromising a u.s. presidential candidate, trying to influence u.s. elections. so the whole question of russian abuses in cyber space are a
major u.s. domestic issue at this point. you don't need to go very far to see the relevance of these issues. >> absolutely. i'd like to open it up to audience questions. so, we should have the mike going around. please, introduce yourself, give us your name and please state your comment in the form of a question so gentleman in the back in the blue. yes. yes. yes. yes. >> thank you so much for mentioning "the washington post" article, ma'am. it kind of leads into what i'm talking about. we are all aware of the allegation of russian involvement in the dnc hacks and the one involving colin powell e-mails. to what degree do you think it has to do with a tit for tat with covert and overt u.s. government support for russian opposition groups and the overt support for the ukraine?
>> no, i don't think this is in any way a tit for tat. i think that russia has clearly chosen sides in the u.s. election. and they are trying to manipulate -- we have seen similar operations in other places where germany, for instance, with the scandals around. there was a -- there were allegations of a rape last year that were completely false, manufactured by russian media, meant to destroy germany's consensus in favor of refugees, of accepting refugees from syria. there are instances where russia manipulates in turn politics of other states and that is what they are doing here. it is not a tit for tat for any
specific u.s. policy. >> i suppose -- i'm certainly -- [ inaudible ] >> the united states does not support -- united states does not hack and then release documents of united russia, for instance. there's no parallel between the governments. they do not support russian opposition. they do not hack putin's servers but, you know, maybe you could, you know. it doesn't. it hasn't on that. >> the argument that we are
engaging in, now the discussion goes to the heart of what russian disinformation campaigns have become over the last ten years of accelerating and intensifies since 2012, which is to undermine trust in democratic institutions exactly making argument that is the u.s. and western european countries are doing the exact same thing. that is absolutely not true. however, that is the kremlin line that is consistently put out there. i think we are experiencing here in the united states right now countries across russia's ukraine, georgia have been experiencing for many elections. i's just that right now it's incredibly brazen, i think, of the russian federation and russian affiliated hackers to reach out and actually have and use their cyber capabilities in a western country and we are experiencing that now. it's not new. it's part of a broader trend in
how russia tends to manipulate and seeks to influence politics across the globe to achieve its own geo political agenda. i'll do the next question now. yes. yes. >> hi, my name is ali. i have a master's degree in securities in london. miriam and cathy, you expressed concern about the regulation to make it legal not to report certain types of crimes. we have had several instances of terrorist attacks in the united states that intelligence services would have never picked up, but people close to the perpetrators knew about. so, i'm wondering, is mandatory reporting something that we see as a legitimate counter terror tactic or is it something that is morally unacceptable for a government to force their citizens to do? >> well, i think part of the
problem is how you define terrorism and, you know, we define terrorism very differently than the way the russian legal practice does. for example, in the extremism law, there's not even the necessity to use or advocate violence. so, this is opening the window very wide to allowing citizens to report on, you know, neighbors they don't like, you know because they sing too loudly in a semireligious tone or something. you know? it's given the vagueness of the russian judicial system and legal tradition, unfortunately, you know, i think it's written and conceived of in a much -- too wide and vague a way. >> perfect. thanks. >> i agree with cathy. context is everything here.
i understand where you are coming from but the way these laws are applied and the completely different context is what's at steak and cathy said that well. >> sir? >> the events of the past week in what i have learned here today have stimulated thinking about some of what's going on in russia and, i guess two words come to mind. one is meta data as has been mentioned here and the other is irony. during last week for those who read a hard copy of the newspaper or "washington post," for example, they have seen an ad which has been a sponsored at least in part by the aclu requesting that snowden be
pardoned for his activities. it seems ironic now that what's going on in russia has been the revelation that meta data has been used to find out what's going on on the internet and what i'm wondering is -- is any portion of the russian public and i don't think the word horrified is too strong a word, which took place in the united states when a lot of people learned that their meta data was being checked. is any portion of the russian public been horrified by what they have learned about the use of the meta data? >> do you want to -- >> i'll jump in on this. i think there's a couple interesting things here.
one, edward snowden has come out strongly against the law. he said he is quite horrified at the way these provisions could be implemented against the russian people. there was, in the initial stages of the drafting of this law, also a stipulation that, ladies correct me if i'm incorrect, people convicted under this law could have their russian citizenship stripped from them. that raised the hack ls of the russian public. it was very, very quickly when it became clear it was not going to fly. it was very quickly removed from the law. there's still the kind of feeling in the air that could potentially be added back in later on once people have gotten themselves ak la mated to the current law. there are protests. there's certainly been protests. certainly been groups of people extremely upset about this reality. the difference here is that
essentially the russian press is controlled by the government. you are not going to see the same kind of aclu ads in large papers in moscow. the newspapers aren't reporting it in such a way that, really, some of the u.s. media has reported what happened a couple years ago here. so, i think it's a little bit of a different picture. unfortunately, while there have been protests, they are not going to be on the same sort of scale of just people being horrified. they have gotten used to because the way these laws have been implemented slowly over time, they have gotten used to the government sort of being in their business. frankly, if you have lived through the era, it's not that strange. >> why do they want to shut down the internet space? because that's the interesting space where people can speak out and actually among young people, there was a poll recently,
22-40-year-olds urban 22-40-year-olds use search engines more often than they use the television, which is cig nif kan cant. online petitions signed. each have 500,000 signatures. numerous protests. again, you can go to jail for a protest. 5,000 people showing up in moscow to protest. it's a big deal. again, individual pickets, smaller protests in other parts of the country. i wouldn't say that, you know, again, is it massive? no. there are certainly russians who are opposed. and the companies themselves, the russian internet providers who would be bankrupt by this are, themselves. their unions and kind of advocacy organizations of
business interest connected to the internet are also in opposition to this law. so, actually, i would take it as kind of a -- they have slowed it down. the success, at this point, is that there's been an acknowledgement that you can't implement this anytime soon. if it's possible to slow it down, it might be possible to make more changes to it. >> one thing -- did you want to check in here? >> there's been many, many protests from religious leaders, mainly evangelical protestants, but a major muslim, deputy council before the law was passed. they protested. i also should say that inside the douma, there are oddities to the way this law was put together. it was the defense committee that had total control over the wording. the religious affairs people in the douma were not consulted at
all. the anti-missionary provisions were introduced by a deputy which was the first russian region that introduced an anti-missionary law that had been overturned. one of the odd things is on the national level, russian officials have been quite consistent in being critical of antimissionary shutdown or restrictions. >> one question i wanted to pose to the panel before we take more questions is the timing of these lawses. will we see the kremlin do is prior to major elections, something that is supposed to happen. there's another clamp down. another repression and law passed. these laws were passed in july. the elections are this weekend. is this timing connected? the last massive protest we are talking about that started in 2011 were around the elections at that time as a protest.
this really sort of an ang sity attempt by the kremlin to try to prevent a similar outbirs of protest or not connected at all and part of the parliamentary process in russia. >> they like to say in russia, it is not accidental. it was passed on the last day of the session before the elections. agreed? >> yeah, i think i agree. it's also, i think, key here to note the parliamentary elections were moved up from when they were originally schedules, which was december of this year. they were moved up to september by the kremlin, in part because there was concern on the part of the kremlin they might see something similar happen again. moving them up, they are hoping they can stall some of those incidents. >> i'll take one more question on this side. yes, sir.
>> hi, my name is jack. i'm unaffiliated. so, all the crackdowns that are occurring in russia and elsewhere in civil society, what is the united states' response to that other than to just complain about it? is there a specific thing we can do or incentives we can offer or continue complaining? >> who wants to take that? >> the state department did issue a statement which i have checked very recently, but it has only appeared on the u.s. delegation to the osce. it has, as far as i know, not appeared on the u.s. embassy in moscow website. i must say the statement, well, was in the finest tradition of diplomatic wording. >> hannah, did you want to take this? >> i think there's certainly
more that could be done but it's not happening now. one thing that concerns me is because the laws are put out there because of the name anti-terror, anti-terrorism and we do, this current administration does see russia as an ally in fighting isis and fighting in syria and terrorism and russia does have a history of some terrorism, that we are perhaps not paying as much attention to it as we should. i think the russians have learned that sometimes the labeling is 50% of the battle. i think on this particular case, they are right. >> i think that's a great point, hannah. these laws are focused on russian society by large. they are part of a national security package. >> absolutely. >> russia says passing these kind of repressive laws, under the label of anti-terrorism and security, right? which, of course, the u.s. has
no right. i will not intervene on imposing various views of russia's national security laws. so, i think that's very clever as we learn how to use the language of human rights as well as anti-terrorism to increasingly pass down what are the opposite of those kinds of values. did you have a comment on that? >> yeah. i mean, i guess i would say there are all sorts of international standards and laws and norms that we could refer to more frequently when we should call a spade a spade when we see these things. russia's behavior internationally, behavior at home, contributing all kinds of international standards and we could be saying this a little bit more clearly on some occasions. i don't know, besides complain,
what else can we do? we can be clear in our approaches. >> these particular laws are not tied to the sanctions regime that the u.s. and europe imposed on russia and actions in ukraine and crimea. i think this should actually make policymakers feel more, i guess confident that the sanctions regime is something that should be maintained. russia, do mesically isn't moving in the right direction and of course not moving in the right direction in foreign policy, either. i saw a question, the gentleman in the back on the side. >> thank you very much. patrick tucker with defense one. i appreciate this panel. so the fsb, the russian intelligence service has been getting a lot of press recently in the united states. they are one of the group that is are suspected of, through --
breaking into the dnc, stealing a lot of data and operationalizing the data to influence the election through wikileaks and proxy publication servicings. i wonder if you could talk about the fsb. is that method of data theft and discrediting something you see in play in terms of dealing with d d disdense? thanks. >> who wants to take that one? >> um, sure. there have been instances of, you know, you have different tactics and different situations but the obvious outrageous case was putting sex tapes on television in the spring of
discrediting the leaders of russia's opposition party by, you know, it's clearly hidden video of two people who are -- why was it done? because he was, at that point, a clear leader of a united opposition of several parties. so, his private life was taped. this was put on tv. it's proported to be these people. it's not completely clear. and, their conversations are, again, private conversations, insulting to other members of that coalition. this tape was used to make sure that russian opposition parties would not enter into the election period together.
complete, you know -- the sort of thing that is just so dirty, yet becomes a basic element of controlling the political context in russia. >> i can give a much more simple example. about ten years ago, i was told that a russian opposition politician whose son was studying music in london was told that his son would have his fingers broken unless the politician, you know, mended his ways. >> i mean, all kinds of propaganda campaigns. it's a propaganda campaign. everybody who's an ngo, sinister forces, manipulated from abroad. it's meant to sew fear and
discredit whole categories of people. occasionally, individuals are plucked out and become the subject of some kind of force, you know, very intense denunciation. this is done periodically. there are different scapegoats and a light is shined on them. the important point is that the random selective nature of how the laws are used, i think is incredibly effective among the population. i's not systematic. it's not actually clear. these laws are at the disposal of various government agencies to use as they please when they feel like targeting an individual or organization. you never know when you are the target and is part of the process. the other thing, you know, to go back to the question of how russian citizens think of the fsb, i don't think we are ever
going to actually know that, to be honest with you. with the closing of -- for example, we have lost access to the only independent polling in russia today. so, i think the information we are going to get from russia going forward is going to be increasingly tainted by the government perspective. hannah? >> can i just add something? the kgb, which turned into the fsb. they have a history of compromising material. it's the same kind of thing cathy and miriam mentioned. it's the setting up of situations whether they are honey traps, video cameras, whether they are hacks. it's all about gathering information that can be use zed maybe not today, but next year that can be used in the future to make political gains and earn political points. the hacking, it's important to
mention, hacking of political parties and political systems is not new. there was the famous hacking they did in estonia. took most of the country offline in 2007. >> 2009. >> 2008. i was in ukraine as an election observer. two days before it was supposed to happen, the entire electoral system was taken offline, most likely by the russians. they are quite tech savvy and were able, they had a back up in a safe location and were able to back everything up. it's not something that is outside of the norm of what the fsb would do. to me, it fits very much into the same kind of patterns. unfortunately, you have seen them go further, taking part of the ukrainon electrical grid offline. >> yep. >> last year or earlier this year. they are capabilities the russians have and are happy to
use when they see an opening. >> other questions? yes, the gentleman here. >> hi, i'm the editorial for the independent russian outlet. my question would be, don't you think that institutionalized persecution of political opponents in russia when it started not yesterday but much earlier in yelt sin's time. the social religious, ethnic ha
hatrid and liberalses like -- the party and another party. thank you. >> somebody want to take that? >> well, i think it's without question that the russians are masters at issuing many restrictive laws. also one of the things i have only recently come to sort of understand is the russian court system is organized in such or disorganized, depending on your point of view in such a way there's no precedent. a court in one place can rule one way and a court in another region rules a totally different way and because the other court ruled another way doesn't influence at all how that other court rules. obviously, some of you who may be lawyers can give a better explanation to what i just said. so, in short, there are many restrictive laws and
unfortunately, what we are pointing to here is yet another to the arsenal. >> miriam? >> i just wanted -- do we want to get a comment? >> yes, please. >> my name is karen. i have a lot of history in this area. i do have a question, but just to get to the point about lack of precedent. all civil law systems do not have a system of formal precedent like a common law system. having said that, it's not supposed to be completely random. there is supposed to be a consistent interpretation of the code, even though it's not presidential. anyway, i guess my question is really more about how technology is a game changer or not? everyone has made reference to the fact, you know, that this -- everything new is old -- everything old is new again. all of this sort of restrictive
legislation, selective prosecution, using it as a tool of social control. it is not an invention of the putin regime. it happened, it's been going on hundreds of years and it swung, you know, depending on where you pick in russian history from really total repressive control to sort of incompetent attempts to control. i'm old enough to remember the spools of tapes in the '80s that nobody had time to listen to. the question is, really, how this new technology, the internet, the collection of meta data and everything else tech that i don't understand, militates on either side, both the russian government's attempt to control, social organizations and society and how it actually works on behalf of the other side, which is society seeking to maintain openness contact and maybe activism movement.
>> i'm happy to start on this question. i think it's a very important one. you know, when the internet first became a thing, there was a lot of expectation that the internet is going to change the way that people are able to connect with each other. the internet is going to be able to be a great tool that civil society activists can use and this might, you know, change things to the better. i think, unfortunately, it's been proven to be incorrect. we have seen that with every step and every progress that is made in the technological sphere, you create it. these governments have, in their best interest, as they see it, to begin to push back on those. so, while they may not be able to gain control of the proprietary information, that is the software that runs
telegraph. that is a fear, gaining encryption codes, they will be able to gain access to this information as well as back doors into other tech know logical systems. they are moving just about the same speed as is the creation of new technologies. i think where you have seen some innovation on the side of democratic activists or civil society folks is when there was that law passed last year, i believe it was in russia, that bloggers who had over i think it was 3,000 hits a day had to register as a news site and were then put under the control of the same kind of sensor that is were -- that the russian media. a lot of bloggers affected by that decided to do something different. they would have a sign up list on their website and then you would get an e-mail, only to one
person, that would have the blog contained inside. so, they have been able to, in some ways circumknave gait the restrictions of the law and send information. it is getting a lot harder and the -- i think what mer yiriam saying earlier, facebook and twitter being appealed to by the governments. when we don't stand-up and take notice of this happening. when we, the ordinary citizens don't stand-up and say, hey, you know, let's calm down on this. let's actually try and get people to investigate this and make sure that governments and large corporations like facebook and twitter aren't just cooperating with governments. you may end up in a situation where sort of our worst fears about government control or of the internet can come true. >> i thought that was a great
question because it gets at kind of the theme of what is it that we expect of the internet. there used to be a phrase, liberation technology. social media because it remains -- i would say in russia, the main factor of free speech. that is where content can be shared. it's where people can meet and discuss still. and, it has, for a long time been open. but, what i would say is it reflects our moods about the internet reflect larger forces in the world so, as things were liberalizing globally, the internet was flourishing as there's a kind of global clampdown in greater th-- it ist
something inherent in a technology. it's a -- it's part of a broader kind of global trend. but, i think that's an important question. i'm not sure how exactly to get at that because it is both things. it is simultaneously the best avenue for free speech in many places that are repressive and at the same time a place that is closing and contains within it potential for greater and greater forms of surveillance. >> i think we should not ever underestimate the creativity and innovation of the russian people specifically to get around some of these more restrictive measures. in the years, i don't think we are there yet, it seems like we are moving closer and closer in that direction, again.
unfortunately, we had something that is a publication of literature, music, critical of the regime. it was passed from person-to-person informally. we can use these encrypted networks to pass around information. perhaps that is being done. i'm certain it is. new technology as an enabler as they were saying. i think that the russian people specifically and people use it more broadly have been savvy at using the tools to undermine the regime. please? >> just a quick note, i'm not competent to respond on technology, but i did want to point to national ideology. you said we are not quite at the point. i would say we have gone further back. we, meaning the russian state, had gone further back than the
soviet period. i think it's back to the 19th century. it's back to tarrism ideology where there's a famous trinity of high in which is a russian orthodox church. the russian orthodox church is specifically, of course, the moscow patriarch of the russian orthodox church. sorry, i can't do without long titles. this plays an important role not only inside russian society increasingly, but also in its foreign policy. that's another discussion. >> absolutely. yes, please. >> my name is alan. i'm from the muslim affairs council. it seems to me the issues you spoke about exist in many, many countries where you have athor tear yan regimes where they try to mask the violations of human rights under terrorism or
security or those kind of things. it's interesting when you talk about the russian orthodox church. in muslim countries, it's the mosque or the religious community or the official understanding of islam. so, if you violate that, you are speaking against the profit or whatever. they use these laws to squash forms of defense that are not democratic. how much do you think the united states brought this about or maybe opened a pandora's box when we created this idea of going after terrorists and did things like arrest tens of thousands of people and put them in or brought people into guantanamo and some of them didn't belong there or use black sites? and how much do you think we lost the moral high ground in saying, look, these are -- you can't use terrorism in these broad brush strokes?
i feel like some of them may be using our playbook, not now, but in the near past of using terrorism to do a lot of things they probably were not appropriate. >> i'll quickly respond first and i'm sure others will want to. international law does not allow restrictions of legitimate practice of religion in the name of public security or the name of anti-terrorism. so, that's, i think, a partial answer. that's the high international standard, which many countries violate. i think when we think about russia, we should remember what russia has done in its various wars. so, i don't think russia had to look to us to learn a lot of techniques. >> miriam, did you want to say anything? >> the same thing cathy said. when it comes to using the idea of security as an excuse, russia
really learned that in the 1990s, the early 1990s, fighting the wars and dealing with some states. and not only in chechnya, the early 1990s there was a kind of movement for some of these more religiously or ethnically different regions in russia to perhaps break away from the larger country as a whole. at the time, that was one of the tools that was certainly utilized. >> so we have time for one more question. the lady in the magenta. >> hi. i'm with the lithuanian american community. i know you expect an anti-russian question here. but since it's the last question, i want to see if any of you will venture an answer, and that is, how many more cycles of westernizing and
repression do we have to live through in russia to get them to be a western democracy? because as a european, you know, as a trans-atlanticist, i think of russians as europeans, and i feel terrible for russian democrats with a small "d." it's a lonely place to be right now. so how many more cycles of this are we going to see a western liberal democracy china before we see one in russia? >> anybody want to take a stab at that one? >> i'll say russia, eurasia. so it will always perhaps be, you know, in a kind of -- >> thank you. >> it is a little bit split between the two. i don't think any of us have a crystal ball to say when what is
going to happen, but it's, i think, a hope that a lot of people have when you go to russia, you go to particularly some of the larger cities, it does feel much more open than it would have in, say, 1989. there has been a change, and the everyday lives of people have been much freer now for 25-some years. and it's perhaps the putin regime will succeed in closing that space again, but i have a hard time believing it will ever completely go away unless that generation of people who came of age during -- until they move off and die, i have a hard time thinking that the country will ever completely go all the way back to the 1930s. but the fact that those symptoms are there is something that i think we should be extremely
worried about. >> russia is the most ethnically diverse and religiously diverse country in the world. rather than embracing this and making the best of it, which it could. it's certainly in its power, it doesn't. as we've been discussing. >> okay, i'm going to answer you with quotes from two different russian dissidents. first, alexandra yana who in the '80s published -- living in the u.s. purchased a book called the russian idea in the year 2000, and he went into cycles of russian history that asta has referred to and said liberalism never becomes systematic. it's always suppressed. so he traces all of russian history and says there's a liberalizing tendency but it's always suppressed with some horrible dictatorship and that slowly, slowly thaws, there's an opening, and he said that
everything changes except the stereotypes of political change. so if you're kind of yanov, if you're projecting that on to what's happening now, you'd see it very much in this kind of -- you would see the 1990s as a liberalizing period that can't systemmatize itself and goes back into horrors that are very similar to its past. but i have another. but there's always another russian dissident. and it's father glebukunan. it was a year after the killing in moscow. and it was decided that no one should speak because we shouldn't be politicized. it was a small group of people. there was an exhibit of photographs and it was starting to rain and we said, okay. we're not going to politicize. just stand here and there's this rain starting. and people are kind of standing around awkwardly.
it was mostly people who worked with her, her friends, and at one point, there's this older gentleman with an umbrella and a younger man is helping him, and he takes off his rain coat, and he's wearing a vest and it's father gleb, and he starts to pray. and then he turned around to us, and he said, what is this faith? this faith that you're supposed to have. what is it? and it's that good will triumph even here in russia. so from father gleb. >> i think that's a perfect note to close on here. thank you. thank you all of us for joining us and to our panel. >> a good friend of yours. >> yeah, thank you again to the united states commission on international religious freedoms. if you have time to maybe -- i'm sorry. if you have time after the session to maybe stay for questions, but we should really close at this point. thank you for joining us and for
this really fascinating discussion. thank you. >> -- which are sort of -- >> you can pick up outside. the national museum of african-american history and culture opens its doors to the public for the first time this saturday. we recently spoke with some african-american members of congress about this newest smithsonian museum. >> 50 years after the passage of the civil rights act, what do you think is the significance of the new african-american museum to the country? >> well, the word that comes to my mind is pride. and appreciation for the african-american experience and the united states of america.
>> and to you personally? >> again, pride. i think that the world will be educated about our contributions. i'll be educated about our contributions, and also i think that particularly for african-american young people, they'll see all of the contributions that african-americans have made to this country and we've helped make this country the great country that it is. >> the museum director lonnie bunch says this museum is really about understanding the american story through the african-american lens. what are your own thoughts on that? >> i agree with him, but also we are the american story. i think we've been left out of the american story a little bit too much. i mean people know about martin luther king. they know about muhammad ali, but there's so many people that have contributed to what makes this country the country it is, inventors, doctors, lawyers, on and on and on.
besides arts and entertainment which is, of course, very important, but we've contributed in every aspect that you can think of. >> is there any specific story you're hoping to see reflected in the museum? >> you know what, not really. i haven't seen it yet, so i'm just looking forward to the whole experience. and i guess i'm looking forward to the things i don't know about. i know there's going to be things about a president or things about muhammad ali or martin luther king. you know, things that -- people i've just named, but i'm looking to learn about the experiences i don't know about or i thought i knew about and i can learn more about. >> the effort to build this museum is more than a century in the making. do you have a sense in congress today of the support for this museum and the political story behind the museum, the
african-american story as well? >> i really haven't heard many people speaking about it besides members of the congressional black calk urks but that's not to say other people are not interested, because this museum is for everybody. so everyone can learn, not just african-americans. it's for the whole country. and actually for the whole world because it's not just going to be american citizens visiting the museum. and i've heard great things about it. and i think it's going to be very, very popular for a long time. and also i think that because of who our president is, that brings some popularity to the museum itself. >> congresswoman kelly, thank you very much. >> you're welcome. >> c-span3 will be live from the national mall with the dedication ceremony of the national museum of african-american history and culture. speakers include president obama and founding museum director lonnie bunch. also attend, first lady michelle
obama, former president george w. bush and mrs. laura bush, u.s. supreme court chief justice john roberts and congressman and civil rights icon john lewis. watch live starting at 8:00 a.m. eastern here on c-span3. tonight on c-span3, a house judiciary committee hearing on enforcement of immigration laws. then treasury secretary jack lew testifies about threats to the financial system and a $1.7 billion payment to iran. the head of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement testified at a house hearing about how immigration laws are enforced. topics included the treatment of immigrants convicted of felonies. the deportation of undocumented immigrants and sanctuary cities. congressman bob goodlatte chairs the house judiciary committee.
good morning. the judiciary committee will come to order. the chair is authorized to declare a recess of the committee at any time. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on oversight of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement, and i'll begin by recognizing myself for an opening statement. u.s. immigration and customs
enforcement, i.c.e., is the federal agency charged with enforcing the immigration laws of this nation. its mission statement is to protect america from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety. its website boasts enforcement of over 400 statutes and touts the agency's focus on, quote, smart immigration enforcement and combating the illegal movement of people and goods. this sounds like an agency that is committed to devoting every available resource to vigilantly protect the american public. yet, under the policies of this president, safety and security for americans appear to be far less important than the so-called immigration enforcement priorities which result in hundreds of thousands of unlawfully present and criminal aliens remaining in our communities. smart enforcement does not include -- excuse me -- allowing nearly 370,000 known convicted
criminal aliens to walk the streets and it defies common sense to designate removal aliens arrested for serious crimes as low priorities because they have not yet been convicted. they remain threats to the public, despite the lack of a conviction. any policy that noteifies violators in advance that they will not be prosecuted is simp lie unacceptable. how is that smart enforcement when the offenders know there are no consequences for their unlawful actions? it only encourages similar conduct by others. i.c.e. cannot refuse to arrest those who have knowingly violated our immigration laws or by releasing over 86,000 convicted criminal aliens over the last three years. these are not policies that protect americans and help secure our borders. during the last oversight hearing on april 14th, 2015, director soldana testifies that
i.c.e. released 30,558 criminal aliens in fiscal year 2014, and those aliens had a combined title of 79,059 criminal convictions associated with them. the committee recently learned from a source that the number of convictions associated with those aliens increased substantially to more than 92,000. and i.c.e. has now admitted it knew of the additional 13,000 convictions at the time director soldana appeared before the committee. i look forward to hearing the director's explanation for the difference between what she told us then and what was known to the agency since the data demonstrates that these criminal aliens pose an even greater threat to public safety than was represented to the committee. specifically, there were 17% more convictions for homicide related offenses. 22% more for robbery. 27% more for sexual assaults. 17% more for aggravated
assaults. and 11% more convictions for domestic violence assaults. the failure to report this critical information raises serious questions about whether i.c.e. intentionally distorted the true nature of these threats to congress and to the american public. for the families of those killed by criminal aliens, those like kate steinle, marilyn farris, casey chadwick, sarah root and josh wilkerson, assureances of smart enforcement ring hollow. and sadly the number of victims continues to increase. also troubling is the fact that despite clear indications that's i.c.e.'s enforcement priorities are placing americans at greater risk, the president's budget rekwoft for fiscal 2017 asked for $138 million less to detain and remove aliens next year. and, worse, last year i.c.e. gave back $113 million in funds that had been specifically appropriated for detention and removal purposes.
consistent with his policy of nonenforcement, the president also requested $23 million less for the fugitive operations program in fiscal year 2017. fugitive operations officers must locate and arrest criminal aliens, often in a high threat environment after they have been released back into the community by sanctuary jurisdictions. with more than 300 sanctuary jurisdictions nationwide, there are more than enough removable criminal aliens to warrant the additional $23 million in funding for this important enforcement program. this administration's failure to allocate resources to critical program areas that directly impact i.c.e.'s ability to keep criminal aliens off the street belies any assertion that public safety is a primary concern. i want to thank director saldana for appearing here today. i look forward to your testimony and to your responses to the questions i have outlined, as well as the concerns and questions of other members of this committee.
thank you very much. it's now my pleasure to recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. conyers, for his opening statement. >> thank you chairman goodlatte. and i begin by thanking director sarah saldana for her service and appearing before the committee today. as head of the united states immigration and customs enforcement, director saldana has one of the most challenging jobs in government with limited resources, she must ensure that our immigration statutes are enforced as well as ensure that this is done in a fair, just and balanced way. for that reason, the 2k679 homeland security's enforcement priorities recognize that millions of unauthorized immigrants have been living and working in the united states for
five or ten years or longer. these men and women are parents of united states citizen children, pray at our churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship and make significant contributions to our economy. their removal is not and should not be an enforcement priority. we're here today to first examine how our immigration laws are enforced, and how this enforcement affects our communities. as we conduct this examination, however, we must keep in mind that many of the challenges faced by i.c.e. and immigrant communities are a result of congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration
reform. yet we are now in the waning days of the current congress which will soon adjourn without having a justice failure, even though every day families continue to be separated and hardworking members of our society are forced to live in the shadows. despite all the challenges, the majority continues to focus exclusively on immigration enforcement that would criminalize entire communities. the republican presidential nominee advocates policies based on the abhorrent 1950s program "operation wet back." if enacted and carried out, the ensuing chaos would be a tragedy rivaling the darkest episodes in america's history.
comprehensive immigration reform is the only real option to repair our broken immigration system in my opinion. another issue we should consider at this hearing is the fact that there is a significant increase in the time noncriminal asylum seekers are being detained. the united nations high commissioner for refugees states that the detention of an asylum seeker is an exceptional circumstance and should only be used for a limited period of time. i agree. and i also encourage i.c.e. to use its parole authority to release asylum seekers who have passed credible fair screenings or in the alternative to consider noncustodial forms of
alternatives to detention. i am pleased to see that the department of homeland security will be conducting a review of private prison policies. i have long been deeply concerned about the use of private prison companies, particularly in light of reports of serious medical neglect, physical abuse, preventable deaths and other forms of mistreatment. the department of justice recently decided to end its relationship with private prison companies. in part, because of abusive treatment of inmates. i encourage i.c.e. to follow suit and end its reliance on private prisons. finally, yesterday dhs announced a change in policy for haitian
nationals arriving at our ports of entry. i know this is a complex area of the law with no easy answers, but deporting haitians back to a country still reeling from both a devastating earthquake and a cholera epidemic caused by the united nations, their own admission, is concerning and warrants close oversight. i thank the chairman for this time, and yield back the balance, if there's any left. >> thank you, mr. conyers. all other members opening statements will be made a part of the record. if you would please rise, i'll begin by swearing you in. director saldana, do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you very much. let the record show the witness
answered in the affirmative. director saldana was sworn in as the director of the u.s. immigration and customs enforcement on december 23, 2014. prior to her appointment, she was the united states attorney for the northern district of texas. previously, she served as an assistant district attorney for the northern district of texas, also serving as the deputy criminal chief in charge of the district's major fraud and public corruption section. director saldana graduated soumah cum laude from texas a & i university and received a jd from southern methodist university. your entire written statement will be made a part of the record. we ask you summarize your testimony in five minutes. and welcome. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member conyers. if i could have that little bit of time, ranking member conyers
had any left, i would ask that you indulge me just a little bit over the five minutes, if possible. distinguished members of this committee. i appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you all the important work of i.c.e. by providing you an overview of our progress over the past year since the last time that i appeared before this distinguished committee. as as well as some challenges which we continue to address. there are many americans who are not familiar with the full gam ot of what i.c.e. does to promote i'm land security and protect our communities. an average day, and i've got a banner with this information to remind me, just exactly what our agency does, in the life of the average day in the life of an i.c.e. special agent or officer or attorney results in the arrest of four human or sex traffickers. this is every day. seven child predators, 279 criminal immigrants, and the removal of 645 individuals. each day personnel from i.c.e.
initiate eight new sensitive technology investigations. block 3,055 malware attacks and forensically process more than 17 terabytes -- i have no idea what that is, but i think it's a lot of data. oouf spent time to increase engagement with stakeholders of our community. it's important for those of white house serve the federal government to -- that serve in the federal government, the american public, we've got to have collective partnerships with local law enforcement agencies, elected officials, professional groups and nongovernmental organizations, as well as the citizens of those communities. another one of my goals is to ensure that each one of our employees has a voice, is mentored, feels empowered and is recognized for his or or contributions to the agency and our mission. i believe this year's initial federal employee survey results which were just announced by the
office of personnel management on monday demonstrate our employee engagement is working. this is one of the commitments i made when i was nominated and questioned about how are we going to get i.c.e. out of the cellar in terms of employee engagement. we had an 11% increase. an 11% increase in global employee satisfaction. i.c.e. wide results exceeded last year's on each and every -- i repeat -- each and every question in the survey. and we had a 6% overall increase in participation in the survey. i'm very proud of this. perhaps the lesser known work of i.c.e. is how we strive to protect our nation's homeland security. under the visa security program, which i've testified about before, i.c.e. agents assigned to diplomatic posts all over the word. i.c.e. is the second largest contributor of federal agents to the joint terrorism task forces across the country led by the fbi.
we support and complement counterterrorism investigations with i.c.e.'s unique immigration and trade-based authorities. and we are instrumental in the investigations of events such as we saw this past weekend. we also perform critical work combating human smuggling, trafficking, child exploitation and we have a tremendous program in the hero program which involves wounded warriors who assist us in our child exploitation cases. to address the challenges of jurisdictions which have lessened their cooperation with i. criticism e. over the years, we implemented last year the priority enforcement program. we got the forms out and started this program last summer. we've had about a year under our belt and we conducted a nationwide effort to bring jurisdictions which were not previously cooperate with our detainers to do so. over the past year, we've also increased our engagement with recalcitant countries. and i will tell you, i personally have sent 125 letters
to foreign leaders. i've met with the ambassadors of guinea and china to work on resolution of some of these blocking points that we have in repatriating others to their country. our people face, as you said, chairman, a very tremendous challenge. we have people who enter the country and choose to do harm to others. we have ever evolving every day our law from our immigration and federal courts, changes one after the other. local law sometimes conflict with ours. recalcitrant countries nr then this tremendous influx of families and children who are fleeing violent conditions in their own countries. a lesser workforce would bend, maybe even break but not at i.c.e. we continue to focus on these issues to try to get some resolution. with respect to the private detention issue, ranking member conyers, i -- if you should have questions for me, i'm certainly
happy to go into detail about that. you know that secretary johnson has asked his advisory committee to look at this issue with respect to our detention centers. i will say, and i think i've visited with many people, i think i may have a date coming up for you, sir, that -- about the specifics of this. but we have apples and oranges in the bureau of prisons, a punitive system as opposed to our administrate of civil system we have at i.c.e. finally, just -- i'd like to say there are two legislative priorities that i will continue to push until the day they turn the lights off on me in january. one of them is an equitable pay reform system for our officers. they need to be paid in terms of premium pay equitably as compared to other federal employees. this is a legislative priority for our agency. it's a legislative priority for me. same with respect to
authorization, mr. chairman. i think i've mentioned this to you personally. i.c.e. needs to be authorized. thank you so much, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, director. we'll now proceed under the five-minute rule with questions. i'll begin by recognizing myself. a report by the gao last year found immigration judges have granted asylum to 3,709 aliens whose ark silum claims were prepared by others convicted of immigration fraud. many of the aliens were involved in the fraud and investigators stated that most of the aliens had not suffered prosecution -- had not suffered persecution. none of these cases had been reopened according to the department of justice. what action have you taken to investigate these cases? >> [ inaudible ]. >> no, i'm talking about a report by the general accounting office of aliens who made asylum claims and were assisted in making those claims by
individuals convicted of fraud. immigration fraud. >> obviously, fraud is an area that we are focused on. both our office of general counsel and homeland security and [ inaudible ] -- >> pull your mike up a little closer, please. >> thank you, sir. have had -- have focused their efforts on detection of fraud. and we will, obviously, focus on these 3,000 in particular. we believe that that -- >> my question was, what action have you taken to investigate those cases? >> in those cases that we've reviewed, we have opened matters in order to take a look at them and see the facts and circumstances of each case. we will look at each one of those. >> have you instructed our i.c.e. attorneys to review those cases and file motions to reopen those where fraud is suspected? >> those, sir, and every other
because there are more than those in which we believe there may be a fraud aspect that were parts of ongoing investigations. >> if your answer is y then in how hane many of those cases we motions filed. in how many of those have your i.c.e. attorneys filed motions to revoke or bring into question whether those grants of asylum were legitimate. >> i don't have that number directly in front of me, but i can get it to you promptly. >> how quickly? >> tomorrow. >> have any of the asylum grants been rescinded by a judge? add that to your list of questions. on august 29th, secretary johnson directed the homeland security advisory counsel to determine whether i.c.e.'s private detention operations should continue. wouldn't ending the use of such facilities adversely impact i.c.e.'s ability to detain removable aliens, including
criminals? >> it would pretty much turn our system upside down, sir, because we're almost completely contractor run with respect to our detention facilities. we'd have to build detention centers, hire staff. >> or conversely, wouldn't you be forced to release criminal aliens that would otherwise be detained? >> we will not be releasing any criminal aliens. we've been directed specifically by the secretary that we can't do that. >> congress has mandated i.c.e. maintain 34,000 detention beds. could you meet that statutory mandate without private detention facilities? >> no. >> and last year, you told the committee that i.c.e. released over 30,000 in fiscal 2014 who had a total of 79,059 criminal convictions. later we learned we now have more than 92,000 convictions, 13,000 more than originally reported. i.c.e. was aware of this larger number before your testimony last april. april 2015.
why was it not reported to the committee that the number was higher? >> in april, sir? >> yes. >> when i appeared last, or first and last time, chairman, i saw your letter regarding this inquiry, and i take very seri s seriously these concerns you have. let me urge you to consider when we press -- we cannot press a button for data to be spewed out particularly with respect to these -- this criminal release data you wanted that says as of march 23rd, 2015 or 2014, these are the number of criminal convictions that apply to releases that we've had. it's not a pressing of a but op. the information we provided you was as of march 23rd, 2015. and that number is going to -- could very well and does, as you
know now, increase when you run the data again because in the interim, there may be additional convictions. what we -- >> let me ask you this then. i.c.e. data shows -- has i.c.e. rearrested any of these aliens? >> i have to believe so, yes, but i cannot give you a number right now, chairman. >> how soon could you give us a number? >> that i'll have to go back and see. these are essentially manual searches when we do something like that on a special inquiry like this. >> i.c.e. data shows one or more aliens with terrorism convictions were released from i.c.e. custody in fiscal year 2015 under the supreme court's zabidas decision. what action did you take to recommend that secretary johnson send notice to the state department of -- to invoke visa sanctions against those recalcitrant countries under ina section 243d. in other words, you released people because of that supreme
court decision on to our streets. it is almost always because other countries have refused to take back people that we have attempted to deport. but we have a process whereby sanctions can be imposed. visa sanctions can be imposed on those countries. did secretary johnson send notice to the department of state to invoke visa sanctions against any of the recalcitrant countries that refused to take back individuals, particularly individuals who released who have terrorism convictions, of all things. what is being done to make sure that we know we have terrorists in our custody that should be deported but they are indeed deported to their home country and make these countries take back thyseese individuals. >> even when we're required to release, chairman, people with criminal records, including concerns about terrorism under the zabitas decision, we don't just put them on the street.
we do release them, because we're required to, under conditions. reporting conditions, perhaps even monitor. with respect to the visa sanctions issue, i am not aware of that having been exercised once to date, although i know that the secretary has under consideration doing so. with respect to one or more of these -- >> i've seen no evidence that's he's done that. there pror visions that authorize mandatory detention for terrorist aliens in the immigration and nationality act, section 236a and code of federal regulations 241.14. what actions did you take or the secretary take to invoke those previsions to maintain custody of those terrorists? >> we have at least done so in one case. we do not release someone who we have the ability to detain with mandatory detention provisions. i will assure you that. >> but to your knowledge, secretary johnson has never sent a notice to the department of state to invoke visa sanctions
against any country that refuses to take back their own citizens who are required by our laws to be sent out of this country? >> sir, i have -- he has done so once that i'm aware of. i don't know that we've heard from the department of state. >> how recently was that? >> i know we had it under consideration. it's been whispered in my ear that that letter may not have gone out yet. he's at least considering it seriously with -- remind me the country? >> gambia. >> well, we're into the last month of this presidency and the last months of the secretary's service. this problem is not a new one. it's been going on preceding this administration. don't you think it's time the administration stepped up and started enforcing our laws with regard to countries that don't
cooperate with us? >> i know the secretary takes that seriously. he's taking under consideration this, in particular with this one country, there may well be more. >> my time is expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from michigan, mr. conyers, for his questions. >> thank you, chairman. thank you for being here today. i want to talk about the increase in haitians entering the united states through the southwest border. as a result, the department of homeland security announced today a change in policy toward haitian asylum seekers entering the country at the southern border. and all haitians, not just those convicted of serious crimes or posing a national security threat will be subject to removal. i understand that to accomplish
this at the southwest border, haitians will be detained and placed in expedited removal proceedings, whereas previously, they were granted parole. what guarantees do we have that in the aftermath of the earthquake and cholera epidemices the haitian government will issue travel documents for significantly increased numbers of haitian removals. >> we are in conversation with the haitian officials. the secretary did announce that change today, but let me assure you, mr. conyers, that we do not -- haitians report going to be treated any differently from anyone else. if they have an asylum fear, asylum claim or claim to be a refugee, we will consider those claims along with everything else. i think you know that right now
it's the emergency situation that i'm aware of is actually on a california border with some 4,000 haitians there. i just was in the central american region and heard from a number of those countries -- el salvador, honduras and guatemala -- that they're aware with conversations with their governments in south and central america of 40,000 haitians who are en route to the united states. this is why the secretary made a decision based on what he perceives as, based on facts he's reviewed, that the conditions in haiti at least are improved enough for us to change the policy back to treating haitians just like everyone else. and that includes affording them the rights and privileges our society provides asylum seekers and refugees. >> let me turn to the november
2014 priorities memo directed to the department of homeland security agents and officers to prioritize the immigration enforcement of individuals with serious criminal offenses. can you talk to us about i.c.e.'s efforts to locate, detain and deport individuals with a criminal history? >> yes, sir, i'm happy to. obviously, one of those other things that we are focused on, who out there, fugitivewise, do we need to focus on as a priority because we can't get to everybody. but as a priority, to focus on those folks who are out in the community that we know need to be apprehended and returned to their countries. we have a very strong unit that works on only fugitives.
they review records. they prioritize those fugitives baseod the nature of their crimes, how long ago their crimes occurred, and they are out there on a constant and daily basis in the early hours of the morning trying to find folks where we have at least information on where we can encounter them and take them back. we've had quite a bit of success in that regard. and we also have operations that occur on a focused basis like "operation border resolve" this past -- earlier this year where we are trying to locate those folks that are fugitives and have escaped our system and we need to get them back. >> let me tell you that we have a number of other questions that i'm going to send you, and you can respond in writing, and we will incorporate them in the record.
>> yes, sir. >> i think that would be the easiest way with me with only 15 seconds left to begin this discussion. i think we need to become more familiar with the details of the strategies that you are using, and i want to encourage you to help us locate and detain and deport those individuals with a criminal history. >> yes, sir. again, one of the secretary's priorities, and why ae are doin that. >> all right. thank you, mr. chairman. >> chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the gentleman from tex amr. smith, for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i'm going to use my question time to make a statement because after eight years of asking obama administration officials why they refuse to enforce our immigration laws, i am confident that the committee still won't
receive satisfactory answers today. the president's immigration policies continue to put innocent americans at risk. the administration has ignored laws, failed to enforce laws, undermined laws and unconstitutionally changed immigration laws. among these dangerous policies is the president's unconstitutional executive amnesty which requires immigration and customs enforcement officials to release criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods where inevitably they commit additional crimes. over the last three years, i.c.e. has released 86,000 criminal immigrants into our communities. they have been convicted of over 230,000 crimes which include homicide, aggravated assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, driving under the influence and other serious crimes. over 30% will be arrested again for killing or injuring more innocent americans. the administration's intentional
release of criminal immigrants amounts to the largest jailbreak in american history. and every day, americans across the country are paying a steep price. last year, i.c.e. deported 235,000 illegal immigrants, the lowest number in ten years. this was only 2% of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, and of these, only about 70,000 were interior removals. under the current administration, i.c.e. has started counting turnbacks at the border as additional interior removals in an attempt to pad their deportation figures. previous presidents did not count turnbacks as deportations but then no president has done so little to enforce immigration laws. investigation of immigrants who overstay their vis as has disappeared. at least 40% of the illegal immigrants entered illegally and overstayed their vises. yet i.c.e. only deported 24,000
in 2014. this is less than 0.1% of the total number of visa overstayers. in addition, the administration has done nothing to hold any of the 300 sanctuary cities accountable. these local governments violate federal law when they refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the apprehension and deportation of illegal immigrants. congress mandated the cooperation of local officials in an umigration enforcement bill in 1996. i know. i wrote the law. tragically, the number of sanctuary cities has exploded during the obama administration. director saldana couldn't name a single instance in which i.c.e. tried to prevent a jurisdiction from becoming a sarche ining sa criminal immigrants. the lawlessness of these
districts has had disastrous consequences. last year, juan francisco lopez sanchez, a five-time deported career felon shot and killed kathryn steinle. he was sent to prey on innocent americans because of san francisco's sanctuary law. unfortunately, similar tragedies have occurred across the country as a result of these laws. so add these casualties to the current list of americans who have become victims because of president obama's immigration policies. these facts and figures demonstrate that enforcement of our immigration laws runs contrary to the obama administration's amnesty agenda. until the immigration policies of this administration are overturned, illegal immigrants will continue to victimize innocent americans. mr. chairman, i have a minute remaining. i'll yield that back to you for a question. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. i want to follow up on a
statement that mr. smith made and put it in the context of what mr. conyerss observed, and that's that your organization operates with limited resources, yet in fiscal 2014, you gave back to the department of homeland security $113 million in funds that were specifically appropriated for detention and removal. why did you give this money back? given the problems that were just cited by mr. smith and the fact, as mr. conyers noted, you have limited resources to begin with. >> absolutely, sir. that is something, this whole issue of how we manage funds for specific categories in this case is extremely important to me and to our folks in the enforcement and removal area, as it is obviously to you. last year, it is very difficult for us to anticipate the number of people coming across the border from one year to the next. it goes up and it goes down,
even over the course of a year. >> i understand that. mr. smith noted there are over 250,000 individuals in this country who are not lawfully present in the country and have committed crimes in the country. so that number continues to rise, and, therefore, while it may be difficult to predict how many are coming across the border, it's not difficult to know you have 250,000 who are already here who shouldn't be here and, therefore, should be, until they are deported, in detention facilities or using resources to detain them and then remove them. >> and we are, sir. that's is exactly what we're trying to do. this enforcement priority approach that you have -- you and i disagree on as to its wisdom focuses not on the release of criminal aliens but the apprehension and remove alf criminal aliens. our statistics alone with respect to the beds, those are filled by people with one or more convictions that we are preparing to remove from the
country. the last number i saw was something like 84% fit into our top priority. so we manage these beds as best as we can. last year we had some bedded that were not filled. this year we had the opposite problem. we have more people in beds than we can afford but we're working hard to manage that problem through the end of the fiscal year. >> i'd recommend that when you have limited resources and you have a huge problem that's not addressed you not return money back that could be used to keep americans safer than they are now. at this time it's my pleasure to recognize the giantlewoman from california, miss loftgren for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this hearing comes just days after the bombing and attempted bombing in new york and new jersey. the allege d perpetrator ramann
has been arrested. the investigation is ongoing and i know you cannot comment on that pause it's an ongoing investigation. i would note that there's a classified briefing for members of congress this afternoon. i certainly intend to attend that. but i just think it's important to say what the case is of the facts that are currently known. it's clear that the facts as we know them indicate this is a case about terrorism, radicalization, national intelligence, law enforcement, but it can't be about immigration bedding because ahmad khan ramadi came to the united states as a little child and how you'd vet a 7-year-old, it just doesn't make any sense. he came -- his father was a small business owner. his father contacted the fbi two years ago to express concern about his son. and i hope to find out in the
classified briefing why the fbi kind of blew that off. but we will find out. i hope that people around america won't conflate that situation with the syrian refugee situation that is unfolding. we know that dhs has a dedicated office to counter violent extremism, and i hope to hear more about your efforts in that regard as time goes on. but i would just note, looking at the record of refugees from afghanistan, there were virtually no refugees from afghanistan until 1980 in the united states. and refugees came into the united states at about 2,000 to 4,000 a year until 1990. it's interesting going back into the record, there was a congressional task force on afghanistan. some of our colleagues, dana
rohrbacher who i serve on the science committee with, was a member of that committee and former members like don ritter, republican from pennsylvania, and marcino, a republican from california, orp that. it was a bipartisan committee. charlie wilson was on that. and one of the things they said was that the united states had a moral obligation to the people of afghanistan because of the pivotal role they had played in defeating the red army at a time when communism was on the march around the globe. so i think as we look at this situation, and this individual who came to the united states as a little boy, it's important to remember that the refugees were admitted as part of the fight against communism at that time. now i want to turn a little bit to detention in i.c.e. i've mentioned in the past my
concern about for-profit, private detention facilities. i'm glad that the department is looking at that. i realize the change can't happen overnight, but i do believe that for the same reasons the department of justice has decided to go in a difference direction, namely, the private facilities are more expensive. they're less accountable. they fail to meet constitutional standards. i'm hopeful that we will be in a position to move in a different direction in i.c.e. just as the doj has after that report is received in a few months. having said that, i continue to be concerned about the situation of women and children in custody. we know that mothers and children have been on a hunger strike at the facility at burkes, and i'm concerned and wondering why we couldn't provide monitored release for
those women and their children. obviously, you can't just -- these are individuals who are appealing an adverse decision. they're in a different posture than the women and children in the texas facilities, and yet some of those little children have been essentially in jail for over a year. you know, 5-year-old, 6-year-old kids. that really is not in keep with american standards. and i'm wondering, director if it's possible to take a look at what forms of accountability, whether it's bond, ankle monitoring, placement in a facility that is more home-like and less traumatizing for children could be looked at for this population of mothers and children. >> congresswoman, i share your concern. this is not the business we were in not that long ago. we were not in the business of family and children. this is a phenomena that has increased over the years as problems have occurred south of our borders.
but i do take very seriously how long we detain families. as you know, the average length of stay is now in the teens with respect to our family facilities overall. i am familiar with the cases that you're referring to with respect to longer term detentions. i will say that those -- while i cannot comment on a specific case, i'm happy to cover that with you to the extent we can and are allowed to specifically where we have a waiver of privacy, but generally speaking, the folks we're talking about are subject to mandatory detention, outlined here in this statute. and when they are losing their appeals, and we are preparing to remove them, we don't detain them for the purposes of punishing them -- >> i understand that. but i will follow up with you off agenda because there are provisions in the law that would allow them to be held in an accountable fashion.
i want to turn now since i don't have a lot of time left to the issue of solitary confinement in civil immigration proceedings. we have had a lot of information about the use of solitary confinement in america. i mean, whether it's in criminal detention or juvenile detention and, unfortunately, in civil detention. solitary confinement does tremendous damage to people. it actually, the psychologists tell us it can actually make a person mentally ill to be in solitary confinement for an extended period of time. i have come across cases, and we've been in communication with your department about the use of solitary confinement for young people that seemed frivolous to me and have been changed. i understand the president has directed departments to end their practice of restrictive housing and the department was required to submit to the white house by september 1st a report
on the use of solitary confinement. do you know when that report will be made public? >> i think it will be any day now. i don't know exactly where it is, but i am -- i have been advised, and we kept track of, i think it will maybe even be early next week before week's end next week. that's our best estimate right now. >> i have many other questions, but i see, mr. chairman, that my time is expird. so i will yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentlewoman and recognizes the gentleman from iowa, mr. king, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i appreciate this hearing, and i would like to associate myself this morning especially with that of mr. smith from texas because i think it's important that we have been at this now for almost eight years. and the numbers don't look as discouraging perhaps as they did a year ago, but there's not hope
on the horizon either. and i look at the numbers that mr. smith has rolled out, and i didn't hear them disputed but 86,000 criminal aliens released on to our streets. streets and f the years that we have -- and i remember testimony that came here before this committee, oh, for years, and shortly after i first arrived in this congress, and they would be the testimony of how many people died in the desert trying to get into america. do you have any of that data in your memory to give us an ideal scope of how many died in the desert trying to get into america? >> oh, my goodness, sir. i've heard of those. tragedies. but i don't have that at my fingertips. >> i remember the witnesses that came in and testified and we saw numbers of just the arizona desert in those years that would say, 200, 250, then the next year it went up. we saw numbers that went over
400 a year just in the arizona desert. brooks county texas has a lot as well. and i began to think about that and i began to think about how many americans died at the hachhand of those who made it through. we did at least two gao studies at my time in congress. apples to apples is hard thing to arrive at. very difficult to unravel this. but i've met a number of the people. and it's heart breaking to me to think of the many people suffering a loss of a loved one because we didn't enforce the law. and when i look through this list of those who have been released by ice and i see in this particular list i looked at a little bit ago, 101 released to committed homicide. and how many others along the way. what's the price to americans? so i recall donald trump making, highlighting some of the people
in his statement before the convention in cleveland and he made a statement that there are thousands of americans grieving because they lost a loved one at the hand of someone whom have been encountered by law enforcement in america, including ice, who have been released on to our streets. would you agree with that statement? >> that there are thousands? >> yes. thousands of people who are suffering the loss of a loved one. >> i don't have the exact number but i don't disagree with you, sir. and if i may, congressman, let me tell you, i am a prosecutor. i come to this job as a prosecutor. i am used to trying to keep the community safe and i have not discontinued that in this job. i am trying to make the moment out of the money i have. i told you earlier that 84% of people -- >> sorry, the click is ticking on me. i don't dispute what you said. but you have to get your orders from on high.
and so if this is matter of conscience, then i ask you now, have you come before this congress and told you what you needed for reinforces and what do you need for officers, what do you need for prosecutors, what do you need for judges, what do you need for prison beds. i never saw it said we want to enforce 100% of the law. the data is that this president has given orders from on high to release these criminals on to the streets of america and if that's egregious to you, why haven't we heard you push back against the president and why haven't we heard that progress? >> i really have tried to make this clear but there is no discretion in these releases other than for about a third of the number you're talking about so when we continue to repeat that administration is releasing people willy-nilly on the streets who have criminal records, we've talked about
that's the united states supreme court, that's not ice. >> i would like to ask you, do you recognize these names. sarah root. >> i do. >> brandon mendoza. >> i do. >> dominik durden. >> yes. jazz shaw. >> yes. >> his father, jamil. >> yes. >> tessa trancha and alley coonhart. >> yes, i do. >> i'm glad that you do. the immigration laws that we vr here to be enforced, if we have to lay out standard then it is a hundred percent and if we have to put the resources out there to do that, this congress, i believe and the next congress, will be prepared to do that. we need to restore the respect for the rule of law. americans are dying every single day because of our failure to do so and because of turning people loose on the streets that don't return back again. and i see face after face of grieving americans. they are in the thousands over
the time i've watched this tragedy. i'm glad you are aware and you recognize these names and i appreciate the personal part of this but we need a fresh start on this immigration law in this country. thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. king. before i recognize the young woman from texas, i am sure you know that fewer than 10% of the criminal immigrants released back into our communities are this jabba das cases. so don't give the impression that you don't have a choice. you do have a choice on over 90%. >> no, sir, that's not correct. would you like me to give you the numbers exactly? >> that is a figure we got from you. >> that can't be. i would have signed that letter probably. >> okay. we can come back to this. the gentle woman from texas, recognized for her questions.
>> let me thank the gentleman for yielding to me and let me thank you for your service to the nation. thank you for your service as a u.s. attorney. and your commitment to law enforcement and your compassion and passion in the leadership that you've given. i take particular offense to the suggestion that a life-long professional such as yourself would in any way seek to release individuals that should not be released. so first question that i ask, is it your purpose, as director of ice, to release people without authority, without legal authority, that are judged criminally and just to release, is that your purpose as administrator, the director? >> it's not congresswoman. >> i'm just going to ask a series of questions.
as i do so, let me also take this moment to thank the 19,000 ice employees everyday that are on the front lines that are assisting and protecting this nation. we should be grateful for their service. i work with i.c.e. employees. i happen to have my office in the federal building in houston. and i want to acknowledge many of them as they work throughout our community. that, i think, is very important. i also want to make the point that we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. it feels to me that the line of questioning this panel seems to ignore that this nation was built on the hard work of immigrants. and some who came not willingly. i know that in my history. but what i would make the point
is that we do better when we work together. and i was at the border when we had the surge of unaccompanied children. and i associate myself, by wait, the comments of my colleague, congresswoman, as it relates to detention but i will not ask that question and i saw the transfer from the border personnel into i.c.e. and the responsibilities that occurred. and i understand what you're saying about not being able to project the numbers that come across regularly. so i want to put that the record. but i also want to take note that those who are undocumented in the country have dropped under the obama administration. dropped from 11 million. and it may be continuing to drop. i also want to make the point that i see nothing in the leadership of president obama or secretary johnson to in any way adhere to the illegal releasing of individuals that should not
be released. so let me raise these questions. there's been reports, of course, that there were 858 individuals that should not have been naturalized that were. i just want to ask you a yes or no question. inspector general has provided two recommendations. that i.c.e. finished uploading into the digital repository the fingerprints it identified that dhs resolved these cases of naturalized citizens who may have been ineligible. are you in the process of doing that? >> yes. >> do you do it willingly? >> of course. >> do you acknowledge 858 is the number you deal with perspectively millions in this very large country of individuals that come under i.c.e. authority over the years? >> yes, ma'am. >> so out of 858, you are now correcting that process and my understanding is that the inspector general is satisfied that you are doing that, is that correct? >> yes. >> and let me follow up with this, the majority has raised
questions about the release of individuals with the criminal history. i understand you cannot talk about specific cases, but can you give me general examples of the reasons why an individual might release from i.c.e. custody, what are the reasons why a judge would grant release from custody, and in the context of release of individuals with the criminal history, what types of crimes are we talking about? are these violent felons, individuals with minor traffic offenses mostly, or individuals whose only crime is reentering after deportation, which i know there are many. according to data from i.c.e., opla, i.c.e. exercised pros cuetory discretion and individuals with a criminal history, understanding that you cannot discuss that, can you give examples of the kinds of cases they may be. number two, we have had over the last couple of days tragic incidences in new jersey, new york and minnesota. all initial public reports suggest that in new york, new
jersey and minnesota, they came as young children and completed their primary and secondary education in the united states. this is a collective effort by all of us, members of congress, department of homeland security. on this question do you have any thoughts as to how i.c.e. can work with other law enforcement agencies to prevent homegrown terrorist acts like this? but the point i want to make is that individual actors of the terrorist incidents of the last three days were in fact individuals here in the united states although they visited other country possess. can you answer the first one and second one, and i'd appreciate it very much. again, thank you very much for your service to the nation. >> thank you so much, congresswoman. this is the point that i was making earlier. ever decision we make and this is why we go about our business in the most appropriate and efficient way that we can, given the limited amount of dollars. $6 billion sounds like a lot of
money. but when you're talking about the vastness of our country enand the immigrants in our country, you have to figure out a way to use your discretion to prosecute wisely with the first emphasis on public safety. so this statute lays out the laws, regulations, with respect to how we make those decisions. on apprehension, there's a section there. there's a section on who we must detain and who we can detain and a section on bond and who we release on bond. if it's up to us and often it's not, it is sometimes the court will actually order a release on bond. i want to repeat and advise every member of this committee because i want you all to know this important fact. we do not -- we do not ignore any immigrant who has a final order of removal and that for whom we have a travel document.
that person is going back to their country. we need those two things, though. so when we're talking about removals, and with respect to this detention issue and releases, the release is two thirds of these releases are out of our hand. this is what ways telling congressman smith a little while ago. we have sabadas and an immigration court system which has a half a million case backlog which is going about their business as efficiently as they can, i'm sure, but can't get to everybody. so we will use our discretion to look at all the facts and circumstances of a case. do they have a serious criminal conviction? if not, how long -- if so, how long ago was that conviction? what is the amount of time that they have been in the country? do they have citizen born
relatives or children? so many factors that are included in our review of those people and we make the best decisions we can. >> director saldana, let me interrupt you. i'm looking at your official figures. if these are incorrect, i hope you will correct them by the end of this hearing. but what we have from you is fiscal year 2015, 11%, only 11% cases, 37%, 7,293 discretionary. you put those individuals back in our communities where over 30% will be rearrested. >> 7,000. right. >> that's correct. that's just in one year. >> you're looking at only one number. you should look at immigration judge decisions -- >> no, no, i've got that in front of me. so the dabadas case is 11% and
the other is 37%. i welcome her to correct her figures. the gentle woman's time is up -- >> can i yield back. i appreciate her answer to my question. again i want to emphasize the discretion and so, the young people who were here in the united states came in college is a reputable decision by i.c.e. and others that these individuals don't fall into that priority and are not dangerous. prosecutorial discretion is within the law in the context of directive saldana. thank you so very much, i yield back. >> thank you ms. jackson lee. and the gentleman is recognized for his question. >> thank you director for being here today. thank you for sharing your time. i was reviewing my materials last night regarding this hearing today. and i came across the core mission of i.c.e.
i found it interesting. it is to protect america from the cross border crime and illegal immigration that threatened national security and public safety. i.c.e. has been delegated the statutory authority to detain illegal aliens who are illegally present or otherwise violated imgrag law. obviously this policy, this mission that you have, is extremely important to this nation. and accordingly, you have been delegated substantial enforcement power to fulfill your mission. and i noted earlier that you said you came into this job with a prosecutor's state of mind. that's how you think of your job. and i appreciate the fact that you do that. because i think you recognize that we are a nation of laws that responsibility is to enforce the law.
we know the detainers as sanctuary cities, they refuse to accept detainers or request notification for aliens in their custody charged with state offenses. does the existence of sanctuary cities threaten your ability to fulfill the mission that was just stated? >> as i said in my opening statement, sir, we have to have the cooperation of local law enforcement in going about our job. because they're inclined to encounter these folks first, then we are. so the 23 you're talking about, actually that was my effort as manager of this agency to try to identify what jurisdictions are having the most negative impact on our ability to get prisoners
transferred to us who have criminal records. or otherwise meet priorities. and so identified 25 at the time. we have worked incredibly hard and i say "we", i can't take the credit. i'm going to have to give some to the secretary and deputy. >> director, i'm low on time. so sorry. we have five minutes. i don't mean to interrupt you but my concern is as a former prosecutor, i'm wondering how you can continue to square the distance of sanctuary sifties with the duty of a prosecutor to ensure justice an constitutional duty of the state of equal protection of law? it's specifically stated in the 14th amendment. so i know that you're got all this great team in place. but it just seems to me that the policy of sanctuary cities prevents you from your core mission. and that's my concern. that's my concern.
but it's also a concern of the folks that i represent. and the constituents that i represent. i'm from a border city, detroit. it's not lists in the list, but they tell me that poll spip it troubles me to know that i live in a border city and the policy worries me for my constituent and but it also worries me for one of your core objectives which is to represent i.c.e. officers and to protect i.c.e. officers and i'm concerned that the existence of sanctuary cities puts your officers at risk. along with the citizens. puts your officers at risk. i don't know how that can't be an issue with your office and with those officers on the street who really are -- their
hands are tied. >> and i think i mentioned earlier, i worked with a hundred counties in my u.s. attorney job. i had a hundred different sheriffs and other law enforcement officials i had to work with. these cities that you're talking about, sir, have their own laws. either the state passes them or there's a local ordinance over which i have no control. all i can do is to use my best persuasive powers to work with them, to try to bring them back to the table. the fact we have 17 who are working with us of the 25 that i had on that list and three more that are beginning to work with us, it's a result of very hard work on the part of all of us at i.c.e. so i will continue to do that. i'm not going to give up on anybody. >> i appreciate that. i know my time's up. but i want to ask one more question. if you were running the shop, and you've decided that you've looked at this and i know you've had experience here, obviously, would you continue the policy of
sanctuary cities? >> i.c.e. does not have a policy of sanctuary cities. >> you are part of the enforcement process. obviously you would work in the environment of these cities where sanctuary cities exist. so you are a critical part of this process and enforcement of our lou laws. >> and i'm trying to gain back the trust of those communities who have given up on working with us. i will not give up on them. >> i take this as you -- >> i want to work with every local law enforcement agency there is. >> thank you, sir. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. now we yield to mr. johnson. >> there is a history of free and cheap labor to create wealth for owners of the means of production in this country. there's been a concerted effort throughout the years to attract
undocumented workers from south of the border who provide cheap and reliable labor. at the same time, america has prosecuted a drug war south of the border, also here in america. in the inner cities. it's been a complete failure here in america and it's a complete failure, the drug war, south of the border. it has resulted in the destablization of governments and fostered armed violent gangs, vying for control of the drug trade. the more violent the drug war becomes, the greater the profits for the most violent drug gangs who can eradicate their competition. who gets caught in the middle? the innocent citizens in central and south america. the top three most violent cities do to criminal violence
in the world are located just south of our borders, venezuela, honduras, el salvador and the fourth is in mexico. it has produced a humanitarian crisis. of families, unaccompanied minors, making their way from central america or through central america, from central america through central america, through mexico, up to the u.s. border. now, this confluence of man-made consequences intentional foreseeable consequences, comes at a time where this congress continues to enforce a 34,000 bid mandate on your agency. in other words, we have created a private prison industrial
complex that feasts on this confluence of foreseeable consequences. with respect to the 34,000 bed mandate, does your agency -- what is your daily average occupancy? >> well, last time i checked, and the last couple of days, we were at a little bit over 34,000. something like 3421, something in that neighborhood. >> and you generally keep the 34,000-bed requirement filled; is that correct? generally. >> yes. generally speaking. let me just be sure i'm understood on this point. we don't put a person in a bed because we have some kind of a quota. we put a person in detention because it's necessary to have them in detention in the process of removing them from this
country. so i don't -- so my effort is not -- >> okay. and i know you've been interrupted quite a lot. and i've got to follow suit, too, because i want to get my questions in. the 34,000-bed mandate, does it include women and children humanitarian cases coming out of central america to escape the drug violence? >> it's a -- the requirement is not to have the beds filled, it's to have those beds available. >> those beds are available for that group of people, is it not? true? >> there is a group of that, a small group comparatively speaking, that are families, women and children. >> and also, for things like the targets of operation border guardian, central american
families where children live, those raids result in people filling those 34,000 beds. is that not correct? >> i will have to disagree with the word "raised." those are focus ud operations where we have gone through a file and identified people who have final orders of removal and are ready to be removed. >> these include children who have been brought to this country by their parents at an early age. they didn't give consent. they just came with their parent. they're innocent. but yet they get swept up in operations like operation border guardian and they get put into the private prison industrial complex to fill the 34,000-bed mandate. is that correct? >> no. children are not put into detention. they are turned over to our department of health and human
services. >> so the children are not part of the 34,000-bed mandate? >> children, i'm talking about people under 18 years of age. they are turned over, the system with respect to kids, is to turn them over to health and human services who find a suitable placement outside of the detention system. >> if they're in the detention system, they are part of the 34,000-bed mandate? >> the gentleman is out of time. but you may answer the question. you may answer, director, if you'd like. >> the children are -- what you're talking about is children who are with their parent. >> yes. >> typically woman. that is part of, i think the 34,000 is a separate number. that's adults. we a we are allocated money for families and children. so, no. the 34,000 you are talking about is families. and these we have in two institutions in texas and the burks facility, about a hundred
bed, maybe a little less in pennsylvania. >> thank you. >> gentleman from georgia yield back. the chair will now recognize the gentleman from california, mr. issa. [ inaudible ] >> first of all, our colleague from michigan asked a couple questions you answered them. but i didn't hear one answer and i would like to ask again if i could. he said when the sanctuary cities or jurisdictions in some cases, because some of them aren't cities, they are counties and things, but when they failed to honor i.c.e. detainers, he asked, wouldn't that put your officers and people they are trying to in some cases detain or arrest, doesn't that put them at risk as well? >> i've testified before, yes, sir. that's one of my concerns about not having this cooperative
relationship is we have to go out in early morning hours in order to find people, unfortunately many times in their homes. >> thank you. i just didn't hear the answer to that. obviously, if a local community has, you know, got them arrested, made sure they don't have a weapon, patted them down, safe there, as you said in the early morning hours your officers has to go out and pick them up again, they're at risk. they might now have a gun. it might be dark out. you don't know what's going on. so your officers is at risk and the person they are trying to detain could be additional risk. so the point is that the sanctuary cities are putting people on both sides at risk by having this policy. >> and unfortunately, there's some -- and fortunately there is some good news in this area, that's what i was telling about having turned at least the minds and hearts of at least 17 of the top 25 communities. so now that's one of the point
we make with respect to the communities. help us here. these are law enforcement officers who are facing additional risks. >> i think the public has the right to know, what are some of the larger cities we're talking about that are sanctuary cities? >> i think we provided that. i think one of the congressman mentioned san francisco. >> san francisco. boulder, colorado. philadelphia. >> i can provide you a list, sir. i think we have provided it to the appropriations folks. >> your support staff is nodding in the affirmative. boulder is one of the larger -- >> it may well be. >> this is something that's a national issue. i think the public has the right to know who some of the cities are that are abusing the process. and okay -- i've got a couple other questions. let me move on. given the recidivism rate for criminal aliens, it's difficult to understand why aliens who are
repeat offenders of crimes are far too often released back into our communities. how does i.c.e. address the increased danger posed to our citizens and what steps has i.c.e. or any other governmental age a encys taken to decrease the chance that an alien will reoffend? >> well, public safety, as i said earlier, is my primary concern. this is the top of our mind. i have personally worked with our field office directors in the terminations of pros cue tollal discretion and in those areas, 37% where we do of criminal releases that we've had that are at our discretion, i want to make sure that they are looking at all the facts and circumstances pertaining to a particular individual to make sure that we don't have people who are a threat to public safety release under our discretion. again i point out, two thirds of the people released that have criminal records that you all have mentioned have been at
either the instance of the supreme court and in the abadas case or immigration judges letting folks go. matter is out of our control. >> thank you. i think i have time for about one more question. hopefully the answer, too. criminal alien gangs such as ms13 are growing rapidly across the nation, as we know. ms13 gang-related violence and murders have risen sharply all over the country. department of justice siz there are 13,000 in the u.s. and over 30,000 in central america and mexico. and i happen to be in guatemala and honduras and costa rica recently and you know, one of their points is one of the reasons a lot of the young people are coming up here is they are trying to get away from the gang activity. so one of the main things we can do to keep them from coming up here is to help them fight the gang activity. i think there's some mer knit that. it's not the whole answer, but i
think it's part of it. with the continued surge of unaccompanied minors illegally entered in our southwest border we can only expect gang membership in this country likely to increase. aggravated felons are supposed to be enforcement priority under guidelines. yet isis office, principle legal adviser closed removal cases against at least 44ing a revated felons since 2014. these individuals were released from custody and i.c.e. will not seek their removal. what is the purpose of enforcement priorities if i.c.e. chooses not to adhere to dhs guidelines? >> those guidelines are exactly that. as i said earlier, just like a federal judge releasing someone based on all of the facts and circumstances relating to that person, we do that also with regard to the discretionary releases. if you have someone who turned away from gangs, who is clearly
trying to make their way in this country, having rejected that lifestyle, that may be an explanation for some of those 40. i don't know exactly the 40 individuals you're talking about. but we look, sir, we look at all the facts and circumstances, gangs have been part of our special operations that we've conducted. we yielded about a thousand gang members in our last operation and they are now in removal proceedings on the way out of country. so it is definitely an enforcement priority. but that doesn't mean that every person who has had the moniker of being associated with a gang or gang member previously would necessarily be detained if in fact their situations like i described where someone is trying to turn away from that lifestyle. >> what about the aggravated felons? >> gentlemen is out of time. but you may answer the question. but you may answer the question. but you may answer the question. >> same thing with thing a ree t
aggravated felon. if they are released -- i found like a broken record, i know. was this a felony that happened 30 years ago, aeb the person has been in the country for 50 years? i don't know. but our people are trained and they have consistent training over a period of time with respect to what to look for, what information to give. i have given -- i have set up a review panel within headquarters to look at every criminal release. and to make sure that we have done it properly. and that there is actual lay reason for the prosecutorial discretion if it is being exercised in that case. >> thank you. the gentleman yields back. the chair now recognizes the lady from california, mrs. chu. >> thank you. the immigration and naturalization service released operating instructions on persons during labor disputes. the document has been used since
its release and has been a valuable. in particular, the guidance laid outweighs in which immigration officers could avoid annoyingly becoming involved in a labor dispute. for instance, if information may have been provided in order to retaliate against employees for exercising their rights. i think it's important to know your agency's policies for interaction with workers during employment disputes. i would like to know why this document has not been made public. >> the document that you're talking about having been revised? >> yes. >> if it contain essencetive law enforcement information with respect to our procedures, our
approaches, to apprehension or things like that, that is something we would not disclose to the public. but i'll tell you, congresswoman, we have involved nongovernmental agencies, in the drafting of so many of our policyes. with respect to detention, reform on family centers. i've got an advisory committee on that very issue. i will take a look that and see specifically why it is we have not released it and certainly get back to you on that. >> well, i find it curious that you're saying it could be law enforcement sensitive because the document was made public for so many years, since 1996. >> and that's very unfortunate. i have made it a point to be careful with respect to our law enforcement sensitive information. that is not something i disagree with necessarily.
we shouldn't be disclosing certain procedures but i don't know if this specific report falls within that. >> the working group created by president obama's executive action on immigration was charged with not only affecting different policies but upholding the value of trarns parncy. this seems to fall right into the ideal of being transparent. so i would have to say that i truly am puzzled by this lack of transparency on this particular guidance. especially when it's a change in the negative in terms of reducing the information available to people. also, if you won't publicly release this new version of the operating instructions, are there alternative ways of allowing advocates to fully understand how isis policy in this area has changed? >> absolutely. there's ways to communicate with
the general public and immigrants in particular. and we will look at that with respect to this particular document. you've given me an opportunity to talk about my community relations officer and our office of community engagement that we just stood up recently for that very reason that you're talking about. i want an open line of communication. not only with law enforcement, shares, police chiefs, but also with members of the community. chambers of commerce. immigrant advocates. i have personally met and so has my senior adviser who is actually here, with a number of groups across the country, to try to explain our policies and why we go about our business in the way we do. we're not trying to hide our policies. in fact, rather than hide, i'm trying to inform folks. where our priorities are.
who should be concerned and that's top of the list is criminals and gang members and the like. and who is not a priority on our system. i'm with you on transparency and open communication. i wish i could get out to more places. but i have a long chain that leaves me in washington often. but i have now a community relation officer either in route or already on board in every one of our areas of responsibility. 25 of them across the country with the exception of hawaii. >> at the very least, can the immigrant it labor rights advocates have meetings with your top administrator so they can explain how isis policy in this area has changed? >> we will certainly communicate on the policy with them. along with where we apprehend people, sensitive locations, all these other issues we try to deal with the advocate community on.
>> thank you, i yield back. jz gentle lady yield back. now the chair recognizes the gentleman. >> thank you for your openness and candor on a number of subjects. i've got one more. i.c.e. policy of releasing removable criminal aliens under priority enforcement program and the use of prosecutorial discretion led to some tragic consequences. no one doubts that we've had multiple and they generally make national news for obvious reasons. but reports indicate that 83% of aliens released nationwide between 2012 and 2016 were convicted felons and 30% of them committed serious felony offenses such as rape, child molestation and attempted murder. after the release from i.c.e., again 30% committed additional
felonies after their release, given the danger from of recidivism by these individuals or another way of putting it director, consider that in your discretion you've been wrong 30% of the time and people have died, people have been raped, people have been molested, isn't it in fact time to change that discretion to make it less permissive? >> i'm not sure where that is coming from, congressman, with respect to we've been wrong 30% of the time. if you're talking about total releases, that's one number. but as i explained earlier, two thirds of those releases are not at our discretion. only about 37% are. and in those cases, we take very good care in reviewing files to ensure that there is a basis for that release. we don't -- the women and men of i.c.e. do not want to see a single immigrant go back and commit a criminal act. we're doing the best we can.
are we perfect? we're not. i have to admit that. >> let's look at it another way. under rodriguez currently, if you do not foresee finishing adjudication of a case after six months, you're obliged to release a nonleg immigrant, someone who came here illegally, who you're atimting to deport, and when you release them they generally disappear and unless you catch them again, they don't know up. is that correct? >> many times. >> so for this committee, committee of jurisdiction to change the law, even to change the constitution, if needed, isn't this a problem that currently either you do not have the tools to adjudicate a case within six months or the courts are not available to you for an expeditious six months and you're forced to release knowingly people who enter the country illegally, are appropriate for deportation often violent criminals and yet you're forced to release them
undercurrent supreme court decision and ninth circuit, right? >> that's true. >> so if we look at both side of the aisle here and we look prospectively into next congress, isn't the most important tool we would live you a pair of tools. one, the ability to adjudicate cases in less than six months so you do not come up against the mandatory release and sufficient assets to in fact ensure that you never have to release somebody simply because you don't have the capacity to hold them? >> that certainly would be helpful and if i could add to that point and i would love to sit with anybody who is looking at this issue in particular, to assist in any way i can, but with respect to those people required to release the supreme court decision, many of them and probably the majority are because we can't get travel documents. that's why from the country to which they need to be
repatriated and that's why we are working so hard with those foreign governments to try to change that. >> let me do a final question in my remaining one minute, and that will leave you plenty of time for an answer. i also serve on foreign affairs and my colleague and i serve together. wouldn't it be at a bare m minimum, appropriate to provide through your assistance through secretary johnson that in fact there be an outcome. meaning visas granted by the state department should be withheld by countries who refuse to take back the individuales who have committed crimes, done other wrong things and for which we want to return their home country. isn't that quid pro quo that
could assist secretary johnson to use his authority to deal with countries that do not cooperate and isn't that something to which they have to deal with? >> he has taken under advisement how he should exercise -- >> has he made that request to secretary of state? >> as i said earlier, i believe he has one seriously under consideration. i don't know that letter has actually been exchanged. but i do know he is aware of it. >> thank you. mr. chairman. >> the chair yield to the lady of california. >> i would like to make a request for unanimous consent that immigration and refugee service and national law center human rights first and immigration assistance and american immigration council be placed on the record. >> without objection.
>> chair recognizes the gentleman from florida. mr. deutsche? >> thank you, mr. chairman. director saldana, thanks for being here. i want to go back to something that the chairman had asked initially when he asked about the 34,000 beds that congress said must be filled and the reliance on private facilities to fill those beds and as you're aware and our homeland security appropriations bill congress requires detention foolishly, i believe. requires detention of 34,000 people each day with no regard for actual need. this requirement is referred to detention bed mandate, costing more than $2 million per year or 5.5 million per day. the cost of holding someone in detention is approximately $159 per day per person when in many instances there are other ways that the person can be monitored at significantly less money.
significantly less to the taxpayer. i want to go back. i have serious concern about the conversations between i.c.e. and contract companies that mandate a fixed number of people be locked up at specific centers. the gao raised concerns about the cost and lockup quota. like the center for cons fusional rights also have spoken out against them. the lock of quoted provisions. referring to contracts as guaranteed minimums and mr. contracts i.c.e. pay fes for a minimum number of beds even if they aren't use all to make sure the private companies receive a profit. after july 14, 2015, i submitted several questions for the record on guaranteed men mum detention bend paid in contract with ice and private companies. and it was confirmed that contracts between i.c.e. and private detention have the
minimum detention beds these contractual provisions containing lockup quotas are entrenching the mandate of the local level and encourage local ice officials to keep people in detention. over the summer a report by the u.s. commission on international religious freedom was released describing a very disturbing statement from an i.c.e. official at head quarters who described that bond rates are determined in different areas based on bed space. rates are lower when there are fewer beds available and nowhere to detain the individual and vice versa. it is extremely troubling that bond rates are set for people based on the availability of detention bed space in a locality, instead of whether or not that person is a flight risk and whether or not they are violent. i just have a few questions. does the statement for the i.c.e. official accurately describe how bond rates are set? >> no. >> that statement was incorrect.
could you elaborate? >> yeah. the bonds are set either by a court or when those cases where i.c.e. has discretion, we look at the facts and circumstances of the case and set the bond amount at a number that will ensure that person's appearance for their day in court. so that is the instructions that's out there. that's in writing to our lawyers. and that's the way it's exercised. >> so the statement in the report that the bond is based on bed space is absolutely inaccurate? >> it's inaccurate. >> do you agree that congress requiring that these beds be filled takes away the discretion of law enforcement in a way that we don't do, congress doesn't do to my other law enforcement agency? >> i have the ultimate responsibility for detention and detention centers, sir.
the way i con strus that mandate is to have the beds available. the mandate is not to spend x amount of money. i'm not going to put someone in a detention bed that doesn't need to be there. neither am i going to deny to release someone because detention space is not available if they need to be detained. >> i don't have a lot of time. i understand what you would do. but when the contracts are entered into with private detention facilities, does the detention mandate come into play? do those contracts guarantee to private operators that certain beds will be paid for on a regular basis? >> we have to anticipate there are a certain number of beds available. 34,000 is a number that is obviously part of that mandate of available beds so we we have to have that available whether the beds are used or not. that's the way the statute is written. >> so you would agree with me that congress getting involved to mandate that there is certain
number of beds that are filled which is the way it's interpreted by my colleagues here that put that misguided policy into law that having that in there takes away the discretion of the i.c.e. officials and in fact winds up guaranteeing profits for the private detention facilities. >> that's not why we engage in these contracts with them. and i do not put someone in a detention bed just because i need to fill one. >> i know that's not why you engage. but private companies come to you seven a, we have to have x number of beds paid for. congress says it. and congress says there has to be billions of dollars to spend every year in order to ensure that. we will calculate our fees based on what congress says has to be done regardless of whether you believe the beds should be filled or not. and whether the person is determined to be a flight risk or not. >> gentleman sought of time. but you're welcome to answer. >> i'm sorry, i lost your question there.isought of time. but you're welcome to answer.
>> i'm sorry, i lost your question there. ought of time. but you're welcome to answer. >> i'm sorry, i lost your question there.ht of time. but you're welcome to answer. >> i'm sorry, i lost your question there.t of time. but you're welcome to answer. >> i'm sorry, i lost your question there. what is your question there? >> the way the contracts are ge noeshated based upon the $2 billion a year that congress says has to be spent in large part for the benefit and primarily so sm would argue for the benefit of the private detention companies. >> no, i'll tell you, they don't dictate to us what terms of the contract are. we lettous a proposal that specified terms of the contract. that 34,000 is a useful tool because that's how much money we have in order to set that number. but it's not that bed is not going to be filled unless it needs to be. and we're not going to release anyone who should be in a bed because we don't have a money available. >> so it is not injury determination what beds are needed. it is a determination made by congress that says we will spend $2 billion a year to make beds available that is interpreted by my colleagues as beds should be filled which ultimately will benefit the private companies. it is not -- for everyone who
looked that, to take away the discretion of ice officials to decide what should be done here and to say that congress is imposing it so that these private companies can come to you and say, look, congress has to spend the money, $2 billion, here is the money we need in order to build this, doesn't seem like the right approach. that's all i'm saying. thank you. >> chairman reluctantly yields back. chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona, mr. frank. >> thank you, under chairman. director saldana, thank you for being here. if i can, i want to take up where chairman issa left off. i thought his questions were very profound, very cogent. i suggested in court records that quote many of the criminals that they released were traffic violators or other nonviolent offenders. but mr. issa's comments there show the percentage of criminals
released by i.c.e. nationwide from 2012 to 2016 was 83%. i mean, is that right? that's an enormous figure. from my perspective, you know the first purpose of the federal government is to defend and protect its citizens. and that seems like prima facia evidence that we are failing at least in this area. even if the area is sincere. if 83% of those we are releasing from 2012 to 2016 were felons. that's big deal. i don't know about the 30% recidivism. do you think that's approximately correct, 30% recidivism? >> i haven't done the math. but if you have, i won't quibble with you. >> well, if 83% of those released are convicted felon webs then there is something desperately wrong in the system
somewhere. i guess, you know, just in reoffenses, we're showing statistics of around 130 murders or attempted murders since 2010. and according to a letter from the senate judiciary committee, that's their number. but i.c.e. insisted that reoffenders were isolated examples. these aren't isolated examples. these numbers are staggering. i guess the next question occur says what is ice specifically doing now to prevent the release of these serious criminals on to america's streets? >> as i mentioned earlier, sir, i share the same concern as you did. when i first arrived in this job back now almost two years ago, this was of grave concern to me. we need to be very careful in knows releases. setting aside the fact about two
third of those releases are required upon us by either courts or this abadas decision. we make sure that the field office directors and supervisors in the field have taken to account very carefully all of the facts and circumstances of that case and have made a decision based on facts, not feelings, but based on facts, that that person does not present a threat to the community. so mixed into the numbers that you're talking about are some of these people -- well, two thirds of them, who are not being released by i.c.e. we don't, i will assure you, no one at homeland security or at i.c.e. takes the release of someone with a criminal conviction more seriously than we do. >> but the original question is, what are we doing now to remit gate the fact that 83% of the people we leasing are fell kwon.
and some are recommitting. i know you probably just don't know. >> no, i do know. we have given specific training and instruction to the field. things to look for with respect to any decision on a release. that's discretionary. it is based on the entire file. it is based on the file, facts and cirques. once that decision is made locally we review the decision at head quarters to make sure that it is a well reasoned decision. and not just based on someone who's been careless. as i said earlier, sir, i fall on my sword that we have, best used discretion. i wish we were 100% perfect. >> i understand. sounds like you're making an effort but there is still 130 people, americans, who have died because we made the wrong decision there. let me quickly shift gears. about 140 nations refused to take back at least some of the
citizens that come over here, and i know that there's, i think we've gotten a letter from, is it gambia, a hundred percent of them? are there others besides gambia? is that the extent of our letters? are we saying to any other countries if you break our laws or cross our borders and you commit a crime we will stop giving you visas. is there any other country other than gambia we are doing that with? >> are there any other countries -- >> speaking of letters, i have spent about 126 myself to countries i've met with ambassadors of those countries. i met with those am bar dors in those countries to change their mind. these are obligations under world treaties. we are doing our best to bring those people around.
>> well i would suggest that they don't need to change their mind we need to change our mind. we don't offer visas in the future. a very simple equation. the chairman will recognize this young lady from washington. >> thank you, mr. chair. and director, thank you for being with us today. it's been reported that draft rules are being considered that would create national uniformity for immigration judges to allow child immigrants to -- more time to obtain legal representation. and in light of the ninth circuit's decision or opinion this week, i think these rules are highly welcome step towards ensuring treatment towards the most vuner able individuals, so i wondered if you could share with the committee your officer's involvements in discussions on those rules, if any. as an agency that's responsible for carrying out removaling
following legal proceedings, do you have any comments on this issue. >> those rules you're talking about would bind the immigration reports and those come under the department of justice, not the department of homeland security. the immigration reports are under the department of justice. i am sure that at some point being under considered now that we may well be consulted. i may not wait to be consulted, we may reach out and see if we could have some input, that would be the decision by department of justice and ultimately by the courts. >> well, in a concurring opinion, two judges, one a republican appointee and one a democratic appointee, came together and they said "what is missing here money and resolve. in other words what is missing here is congressional action and the political will to ensure that young children fleeing
violence are not facing the complexities of our immigration procedures alone. the law requires fair hearings and i would say that three-year-olds who are alone before judges is not fair what do you think is needed that reflects at least the basic notions of justice and due process, what do you think we should be doing to make sure that we are making sure those children's rights are protected? >> you know, i've been two weeks ago i was in guatemala. i saw and met several of those children, families, mothers, children, adult men. it's an important significant issue, i'm glad to hear that there were some rules that were reconsidered, i would like -- i agree with you that a
three-year-old could not be expected to know what their rights and privileges are, but again, it is -- we will reach out to see if we can be consulted about this. in the end it is the department of justice and i know that's my old department. i know they will take good care of promulgating something fair and correct. >> do you think that congress has a role to play on this issue? >> no -- >> what would you recommend. >> i've been preaching since like almost the day i arrive that we need comprehensive immigration reform. we can't just be dealing with one issue or the other, everything -- and this should be towards the top of the list, how children's rights are vindicated and represented, should be a part of a comprehensive immigration reform package, i believe. >> and i want to highlight that over 7,000 children have been deported who have come from central america, largely due to notification problems, lack of
representation, difficulties navigating the process and so we've impacted many, many children already. does getting this right have an impact on the ability of to properly carry out its mission? >> sure. i want to be sure that i'm clear on this. our whole involvement with unaccompanied children is to process enter into the country and turn them over to the department of health and human services who looks after their needs and where they are while their cases are being heard, so it's a fairly minor role with respect to children, but obviously we have concerns at heart and we believe that we need to have their issues treated differently and sensitively because of their age. we have very little involvement
with the with children, underaged children. >> again, the law requires for young children who are seeking refuge across our borders. so thank you and my time has expired. i yield back mr. chair. >> the chair will now recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. rat cliff. >> thank you chairman, director, it's good to see you, i appreciate you being with us this morning and appreciate the candor of your testimony that's not something that we always get in front of this committee from some of the administration officials that have been here. i want to start out by asking you about a specific immigration case that tragically impacted a family in my northeast texas district at the hands of a man who was for, at least the second time in this country illegally back in april a van driven by that man served from his lane
into the opposite lane and drove a car being driven by a 42-year-old man by the man of peter, who was a fire captain from wiley, texas, in the car with mr. hackie was his four-year-old daughter, elly, and his two-year-old son, grayson, all three of them were killed. now mr. cantaro was a mexican citizen who entered the united states illegally the first time where he entered in 2006. i don't know how many times he reentered the country illegally, but we know he was back for at least a second time in 2016 and obviously with tragic consequences. now i want to start out and go on the record to thank you director for being responsive personally when i called your office immediately after the incident, i didn't expect to get a call back directly from you and i received one and what you
told me during the phone call about what i.c.e. was going to do and able to provide the hacking family with the small, but i think very important token of assurance and justice wouldn't be ignored. i'm grateful to you and i know the hacking family is as well and i want to go on the record to that point. i think the fact that i felt compelled to urgently pick up the phone and call you really speaks to the larger problem. i felt compelled to do that because i was aware of a similar accident that resulted in illegal alien posting bell and fleeing the country so i was really acting out of fear and i'm sure you can understand why i wasn't about to let that happen to one of my constituents. again, i want to thank you for issuing the detainer so that we
know if he's somehow released r, we have the comfort of knowing to go into federal custody. let me ask you about that specific case, he's been charged with three counts of manslaughter by the collin county d.a. and awaiting trial on those charges, but can you provide me assurance that hacking families and my constituents the say insurance that he'll also face federal charges for illegal reentry. >> yes, and thank you for your kind remarks, congressman. as i told you, i made a commitment regarding. he is from my state of texas as well. i mean, he was -- the accident occurred in my state of texas and the victims were from texas. we have a detainer on him and we'll be hearing, we have no problems from collin county, you're familiar with the area with respect to cooperation on
those. we will keep an eye out on the trial and he'll get a long sentence we'll proceed further there. >> i will for the record say this speaks to the larger issue that my constituents care about border security to that point. if you're perfect in your job with respect to enforcement of our immigration laws if someone like can simply walk back and forth across an imaginary line and commit more crimes i think we're doing american people a grave dwisservice. having said that, an issue where you can play a role in addressing situations like this that are frankly happening far too often is with respect to the
287 g program. if county and local jurisdiction want to participate in the program to assist i.c.e. and enforcing our immigration laws, why is isn't i.c.e. leaping at the chance to do that? the reason i say that, there are jurisdictions where application to be part of that have been pending with ice for a number of yea years. >> since i've been on board we've reviewed the jurisdiction. i have signed letters approving some in texas, so we -- we are open for business with respect to that, we do look carefully at the jurisdiction, make sure that they understand what their role is, what our role is -- but we
will accept those requests and review them and then, to the extent that they will be appropriate partners with us under our requirements under 287 g, we will engage them. >> can i take it then from the testimony that the backlog that's there that i understand is maybe due to manpower as opposed to -- >> actually, i can pretty much assure you, we can talk about specific jurisdictions as follow up to the hearing, sir, but i can assure you that we've been back to anybody -- since i've been on board, we have been back to anybody who indicated an interest to inquire whether they still had that interest, some of them do not, so we can't do anything about that. but respect to those who have, once they pass our requirements, we certainly will take a look at that to become our partners in that program. >> i'm glad to hear that. thanks, director, i yield back. >> gentleman from texas yields
back. >> in your individual testimony you related to isis who are engaged in immigration proceedings with respect to the issue of human rights abuses and that screen for human rights abuses. i'm working on a piece of legislation that will give them human rights abuses, human rights abusers who commit crimes against humanity if they end up in the jurisdiction of the united states. so can you tell me what your process, that screening process that you described, looks like, what you do to prevent those who have committed human rights abuses from entering the united states. >> well, we have a tremendous network of visa security posts where somebody is trying to come in on a nonimmigrant visa, that's one of the issues that's top of our list of things to consider. i've got a unit with the office of principle legal advisers, our
lawyers, specifically focused to identification apprehension and prosecution of human rights violators. they are -- i would love for you to meet them, especially if you're working on this legislation, they are about their work and very. >> and i would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with that unit, it will be very helpful. the second thing i want to ask you about is to extend the work that the department has done for taking a deeper look into how
lgbt immigrants face particular challenges in the detention process and for issuing guidelines on how to address and deal with lgbt individuals in detention, but, of course, as you know guidelines are only as good as the people who enforce them, would you tell us a little bit about what is taking place, what efforts are taking place to enforce and enhance the guidelines for lgbt individuals in i.c.e. custody and what training and custody is underway? >> we have a policy group that has been involved in looking at that guidance? we -- any time we issue guidance like that, we make sure that everyone who touches those cases where there might be a concern that someone is detained and that we look at those cases and make sure that people understand what our guidance is, that we must must be sensitive to these
issues, we must look through the appropriate environment. >> i think we all remember, director, the stories from the summer of 2014 when we were receiving a large number of unaccompanied minors ae cross our southern border. i know that time they put into place policies to deal with unaccompanied minors, can you tell us what those policies are today. are we ensuring that these young children that have experienced unspeakable traumas or facing abuse or violence if they returned home, are they getting
the help that they need with i.c.e. i know some of this is not in your jurisdiction, do they have access to counseling, to counsel and i recognize as i said some of this is not within your jurisdiction, but to the extent you can inform us to the best of your knowledge what's happening to these children who are without parents when they're coming? >> both our sister agency, which may be the first point on this when they see them at the borders points of entry. and our agents are trained dealing with these folks for the limited time these young people, these children, babies in many cases -- i know because i've had a couple of conversations with
them they're responsible for their well being until their cases are determined. but, i am happy to, certainly, pass your inquiry along to them so they can provide you some more full explanation, because i'm not, personally, familiar with everything they do there. thank you for that director, i yield back. >> gentleman yields back, the chairman will recognize the gentleman from utah. >> thank you -- director, thank you so much for being here. it was march 18th of last year that two appeared before the oversight committee and you admitted that in fiscal year 2014 i.c.e. had released 30,000 aliens with criminal convictions in fiscal year 2013, 36,007 criminal aliens were released. now -- and then you directed in 2015, i.c.e. released some 19,723 criminal aliens, as of february 11th of this year, 124
illegal immigrant criminals released from detention since 2010 have subsequently been charged with homicide. two had homicide related convictions before they were released for the first time, so the question here is one of the rate of recidivism, do you have any updated stats on the rate of recidivism of the criminal aliens that you're releasing back into the public? >> you know, we've looked at that and i know i've had it. i've had some -- some information that relates to that, sir, but i don't recall it just off the top of my mind. >> yeah, i understand that it's hard to recital the statistics in prom impromptu over several hour hearing, what's a reasonable time to get back to us on that? >> pick the date? >> someone is going to kick me
if i'm -- >> i'm happy to do that. >> i'm pretty sure that within the month we can get it to you, i'm going to get it to as quickly as i can. >> can we say by the end of the month. >> this month? >> i don't think so. >> okay. >> it's eight days away. >> i don't know why it would take a month. >> but at the outside. >> i will get it to you as soon as i can. >> this is a prime concern is people that are here illegally and they commit a crime, they get convicted of that crime, as opposed to deporting them, so last time we were together in our oversight hearing, we talked about the ability, it's what mr. frank is in part talking about, in the country to accept those. what countries are not accepting
the deportation of criminal aliens? >> we have a list of 23 countries that we referred to as recal saw trant. we just compiled that list recently because we want to keep a record of those who are not working with us. >> can i get a copy of that? >> absolutely. >> and then we have a longer list, with respect to those that are not particularly cooperative that we have a difficulty, while we may have some, them honor some, maybe they don't take others back, so we can provide that to you. >> since last year, there are provisions in the law that the state department must act on and the frustration that the state department has been empowered by the united states congress, in fact, directed by the congress to not allow them to grant visas from those countries so that, why should a country be able to allow -- why should we be
issuing visas in a country to come to the united states when we're taking our criminal aliens and saying, look, this person is here illegally, we should go back. if you have 23, what has been shared with the secretary of homeland security and consequently what has gone on to the secretary of state for action under the law. >> i am pleased with the fact that the chief of the bureau of counselor affairs, the individual who worries about all her conflicts and embassies across the world, i have been meeting with her seven times, personally, as we go over information relating to what can be done on these -- >> can you please update us to where we're at in that process, you have given information to the secretary of state, but the secretary is required, under the
law, to act on that. i need exposure to what has been given to the secretary of state, where in the food chain we're breaking down, because we need action taking on these countries, i do believe that some of these countries face the consequence. the other countries might set out and take it, you know, to pay attention, so i've got to hit one more thing and i've got only three minutes left of my time here. so, i believe -- and lack of identity documents in the refugee from homeland security, again, i don't mean to play gotcha, but i want -- i would like to know if you're familiar with this document and get your reaction to it, there's some very troubling aspects to it. i don't know if you're immediately familiar with this document, i would like to confirm its authenticity with you, but i need to understand if this is something that you're familiar with. >> gentleman is out of time, but
you may answer the question, director. >> somebody just handed me a document, i presume it's the one you're talking about. i have never seen this document before, i don't know how long you've had it, but i -- >> i haven't had it very long. mr. chairman, i just hope that if she -- the director can get back to us about its authenticity in any comments, particularly, the first -- the first two sentences in the second paragraph are extremely concerning to us. >> thank the chairman for his indulgence. >> the chairman now recognizes the gentleman from california, mr. peters. >> i will like to begin two articles dated the 21st and 22nd of september and tribune to highlight the urgency of the situation facing hatian immigrants in san diego. >> thank you for being here. i had some questions on that topic. since 2010, hatian entrants have been given a special refugee status. just this morning secretary
johnson that he, yesterday, announced enforcement -- and consistent practice guided by his memorandum dated november 20th, 2014, the justification for this change in policy seems to be rooted in what -- "sufficient improvements" to the situation in haiti. however, my understanding his position of the haiti government that they do not have the ability or capacity to accept the reason of these individuals, toward hatian entrants? >> that was announced by the secretary today and one is the changed conditions that he has perceived based on the facts and information that was available to him, since that terrible disaster -- in 2010.
at one point beginning then, the then secretary of homeland secretary stopped deportations of hatians. it was -- they let up a little bit on it a year or two later, but since then, it culminated in today's announcement. the other aspect of it the number of hatians at borders seek an entrance. treating them the same as anyone else will still afford him congressman rights that are provided by statute with respect to asylum and refugee status. they will be looked at in terms of their claims, probably immigration courts will make a final determination. but it doesn't -- it doesn't take away or strip those rights. they will still have them. >> do you think i.c.e. has the funding and capacity necessary to detain in process the hatian migrants waiting at the southern border? >> that -- those and the other increased numbers of families
from central america are really taxing our resources. >> so in san diego we've welcomed about 4,000 hatian entrants and the communities stepped up to accommodate the individuals, are you of assistants available to our community to help with temporary housing of folks like this? >> well, i'll tell you who has always stepped up in this regard, is religious organizations, i am just so impressed by both on the border that i visited myself personally and also in san diego that i've been to personally also these organizations step up to help and i know that we will advise and work with organizations to assist with respect to their some humanitarian aid that can be made available to those people that need it.
>> any sense of what we'll need at the border and housing like this. >> i don't -- i really don't know, sir, i haven't studied it to that extent. i certainly can converse with you more later with respect -- >> when you stu -- >> yes. >> finally just raise the issue with respect to zika, we have people migrating from and through areas known to be home to zika, active zika zones, obviously, the community and the nation has to make sure that these people get access to care as quickly as possible and obviously congress has to do its part, i'm optimistic we'll do something about that soon. but it takes an average of four weeks for these entrants to receive benefits. do you have any light of the about zika transmission.
>> in general, as part of the -- taking people who are coming through areas with active zika problems. >> i know there's medical screening that's done by our sister agency and ourselves, with respect to the bigger picture on the overall public health concern, i wish i could help you on that, congressman, but i really not familiar with all of that. >> so how would we -- do you have any suggestions for us and how we would reduce that four-week timeline between when people ask for help and get it concerning zika. >> i appreciate you being here today and mr. chairman i yield back. >> thank you. >> gentleman from california yields back, chair will now recognize the gentleman from texas. >> it's good to have you here.
first, let me say, i know in may you suffered what every parent i hopes and prays they never have to endure, so our thoughts and prayers have been with you since we found out about that. i know michael has to leave a tough spot that will never be filled. and i know that's got to be tough to continue on, we appreciate your continuing to do what you can. >> thank you congressman, i appreciate that. >> so that's something every parent, i know, shares. i want to share with you about an experience i had earlier this year in -- down on the border in the mcallen sector that had taken over, as i understand, being the busiest. and, of course, i know you're aware that's a wider area of the rio grand, i hear people talk about areas where you can walk across and obviously that's not
one of them. you don't make it across, unless you've got help and normally it's one of the rafts that coyotes are bringing across. but, as i'm sure you're aware, the state of texas had appropriated millions of dollars, they've got four boats down there on that section of the rio grand and those boats are extremely well equipped and all the nights i've spent on the border down there, one some months back, was on the fast boat and has the thermal technology. we had night vision, so we were able to use the night vision but the thermal technology was just amazi amazing. >> we went down the river and we would spot people when it's
2:00, 3:00 in the morning when people are gathering up along the edge of the river behind trees, bushes, among other things. you know they're probably going to try to cross. and we know that there were homeland security employees along the way, some border patrol. and when we would see somebody like, okay, there's two, maybe three, looks like they're carrying something, they're squatting, they're -- looks like they're trying to bring something in, not people. and that's communicated to homeland security personnel. and there's balloons down there they send up and they can focus in and use the technology and, generally, we would get the response back, yes, we have that -- those individuals spotted.
there's 16, 17, 18 people, they're not carrying anything, they look like they'll try to come across, as we spotted things that was conveyed to homeland security personnel and the balloons, the technology, the cameras would zoom and they would find who we had reported. we went down to a bend in the river and turned off the engine and waited for a long period of time and the federal employees finally communicated stay right where they are. they know you're down there somewhere where you can get back to them before they cross. why don't you go on back to your dock and we'll intervene when they try to cross. and so they ask, is that all right with me, i said you're the guys in charge. so we went back to the dock. as soon as we got back to the dock, we got the report that when they heard our engines going far enough away, that the
groups that we had seen came across and they were happy to report that they had gotten all of the 18 that came across that we had spotted with the thermal and that the people that appeared to be bringing large amount of drugs in, they hadn't gotten them. they're somewhere on the u.s. side, but they got all of those that came in and i said to the texas dps, what, they didn't intervene and tell them to go back before they got on to american soil? and the texas guy said, that's what they do, they let them come on to u.s. and then we got to report they had all been successfully processed in. and with no intention of deporting them any time soon. now, i know they have been around, what, 160,000 or so that have been turned back that are being counted as apprehensions
and deportations, but are you aware of i.c.e. just taking people that were caught red-handed coming in illegally and then in process rather than being deported. >> i suspect that would have been our sister agency, as you said. >> border patrol. >> right. >> then you had i.c.e. people backing them up. you know you've got a lot of i.c.e. folks there. >> if there were drugs on them, and we had our hands on them, we wouldn't have let them go. >> they were never captured, that's the point. but, any way, it's now on your radar and it really needs to be dealt with and i appreciate the chairman's indulgence, thank you. >> gentleman there texas yields back. director, i want to thank you for your patience this morning. i'm last. i'm going to bounce to a couple of different topics.
so. >> so i'm going to -- we're going to start with visas and schools. would it be helpful to your student efforts if all schools that accept foreign students were required to be accredited. >> it make as difference, sir, of course. it makes a difference to have accredited institutions that will have -- be partners with us in the -- in our efforts to keep track of students who are coming in from foreign countries. >> how much of an issue has it been or have you seen these kind -- visa mills where you bring students here with no expectation that they actually pursue an education. >> well we had a tremendous case announced i was there at the press conference with my former county that was just a academic
mill, very proud of that work done by our homeland security investigation agents who had a elaborate undercover operation going on and there were multiple -- 18, 19, for example -- for some reason is coming to mind of people that were involved in that. it's a matter we take great interest in and focus our investigations on. >> we can ask for alien detention and less money for fugitive operations. is it true that your request for less money and if so, why?
>> i will not ask for money in those areas. >> okay. there's another report that at least in previous years, occasionally, i.c.e. attorneys will not appear for hearings in front of judges, that probably strikes you and i as being unusual that the governing attorney will not be there. have you heard that? was it a practice or is it a practice? >> that is an issue that i'm sure would come to my attention that were in any way systemic. has one missed a hearing here or there, i wouldn't be apprised of that. but i assure you that i have met so many of these attorneys, i can't imagine that being a practice and a report that's really valid. i'm not familiar with the report you're talking about, but our
lawyers wouldn't just ignore a court setting. >> that's why i ask and i make no presumptions as to the validity of that report. but if you could have someone, not yourself, but just somebody check to see whether or not that is currently an issue or was an issue in the past, it is hard for me to understand how the government can be represented if the attorney doesn't show up, but you would have that same feeling because you had the same job, so. >> last two issues, sanctuary cities, when i go back home, when i suppose it's true for johnny in texas, it is really hard for the people we represent to understand, particularly in light of what they perceive to be a federal government that is willing to get involved in certain state and local issues jurisdictions that consider themselves sanctuary city. i heard you say you're working
on it. other than the power of persuasion, which may or may not work. but what tools do you need to be able to get local jurisdictions to cooperate. >> well, i know that. >> talk about success, though, with respect to the 17 of the 25 that i targeted. the 25 that have the most impact on our declined detainers. we have 17 working in a very robust manner with us. so the secretary did something right in his communications with local law enforcement in different places that he went to as the deputy and myself personally did. but i believe our message is getting through, i think that's an indication getting through. officers who are going out
there. we continue in our work i'm not sure we're going to get to the point we're going to get to. all of us. i have had specific instruction from the secretary. >> last question, there are not that many things on capitol hill that are bipartisan, but dealing with the decision would be one of them. i have had a number of my friends on the other side of the aisle having constituents impacted by supreme court decision, what can we do or what can you and i and you and congress do together, it is impossible to explain the constituents why in some instance, this country who benefit from foreign aid from us will not accept their foreign nationals back. it is just hard to explain that,
so what do we need to do to get the state department more fully engaged so it's not you and me answering the question, because it's really up to them. so what can congress do about it? okay. well, i see two different issues here, one is the work with the countries that are not taking their people back and the other one is the decision that compels us to release people. sir, i've read that decision. i don't know if you have. it is very legal in nature, but the bottom line there is the constitutional concerns of holding somebody indefinitely when there was little chance that we're going to be able to return them to their countries. you're right, none of our people like doing that and it hurts us in our heart of hearts that that
is the deal. i'm happy to consider and work with you, any options that you have with respect to those countries. i am working diligently with michelle bond, the chief of counselor affairs. she has really taken a personal interest and made a commitment to me that we're going to take a look at each one of these countries and do what we can. the world is a complicated place, as you know. and i would not put myself in the shoes of the department of state to know all of the ramifications of a sanctions decision, for example, against a country with whom our relationship is complex, to say the least. and i don't know all of those ramifications. all i know is i have a difficult problem to deal with and she is working with me at the department of state to try to get to a better place than we are today. >> well, with my friend from california. this is a bipartisan issue,
congresswoman and i have discussed it. congress courtney has an issue. congressman welch on the other side of the aisle. what is the dominant explanation given from countries who will not accept their nationals. what is their excuse for not doing so. >> quite frankly, in many instances, there is no explanation. some of the factors are instability of a country. i mean, what are we doing with syrians, you know, returning them to the country. that country is in the throws of a terrible turmoil. so often it's instability. it's a claim that our proof of citizenship is not sufficient, even though we believe it is. it's the lack of records and the lack of records kept by certain governments that they just don't value recordkeeping the way we do and so establishing citizenship becomes a problem. it's a very picture of things that are brought up to us as why
they will -- as to why they will not accept their people back. >> all right. i will ask my friend from california if he had any concluding remarks. we'll want, on behalf of all of us thank you for your service and for your testimony today and, members will have five legislative days to submit questions to the record. with that, we thank you for your time. >> thank you.
once more, we will have a government of by and for the people. >> we are stronger together. and no matter what, remember this, love trumps hate. >> c span's campaign, 2016 continues on the road to the white house with the first presidential debate monday night live from hofstra university in new york. then at 8:30. the predebate briefing for the audience. at 9:00 p.m. live coverage of the debate followed by viewer reaction. the 2016 presidential debate on cspan, watch any time on demand at cspan.org or listen live on the free cspan radio app.
committee will come to order. authorized to declare recess of the committee at any time. this hearing is for the purpose for receiving the annual testimony of the chairperson of the financial stability oversight council. i recognize myself for three minutes to give an opening statements. with today being the official start of fall, it's disappointing that the financial stability oversight council has delivered the equivalent of a summer rerun, it's 2016 annual report is basically identical is
2015 breaking little ground and adding new value. it's charged with identifying risk to financial stability continues to mention only in passing the need for fundamental housing reform, that fannie mae and freddie mac, institutions at the ep center of the last financial crisis pose for precipitating the next. since the advent of dodd frank, we're losing on average one community institution a day in america as they are crushed by a federal regulatory burden. the big banks have grown bigger. banking system consolidation can clearly contribute to heightened financial system risk, yet there's no mention of the report, a federal regulatory risk brought on by dodd frank, a glaring emission. yet, the most scandalist remains conspiracy of silence regarding
the expo ne-- posed by the nati debt and are staggering unfunded obligations. since president obama came to office, the national debt has increased by mind boggling 84%. the congressional budget office noted in a recent report, that the president's 2017 bundget wil add $7.5 trillion to publicly held debt equivalent to 59,000, $609 for every american household. cbo recently warned that such high-rising amounts of debt have "serious negative long term consequences for the economy and would constrain future budget policy." on this again, remain silent and thus its annual report loses credibility. although, the annual report is disappointing, this committee's focus must remain on the frightening and likely
unconstitutional powers it ended in designation process clearly gives federal regulators broad license to concentrate immense economic power in their own hands. the designation authority is taking our financial system regrettably one step closer to a government controlled utility model, a model whereby washington will allocate credit to politically favorite classes at the cost of our freedom and our prosperity. this must change. finally, the highly politicized structure of a shadow regulatory system that is to democratic principles. that is why it's so important last week this committee favorably reported the financial choice act. the financial choice act will bring about economic growth for all and bailouts for none. it will end bailouts once and for all by removing the ability to designate privilege, too big
to fail funds and replaces bailouts with bankruptcy. it would prevent our -- it would protect our financial system with high levels of loss absorbing private capital and impose the strictest for those committing financial fraud and will hold them accountable and focus its mention solely on the vital task of emerging threats to the financial system. it is undoubtedly a better way for forward. >> thank you for joining us today to discuss the financial stability oversight council's, 2016 annual report. last week the u.s. census reported that median household income increased by more than 5%. the largest increase in both percentage and terms since the government began tracking this data, nearly 50 years ago.
the census bureau also reported that the poverty rate declined by 1.3% and that the number of people without health insurance in the united states declined by 4 million. all told, our progress is rather remarkable, compared to where we were 8 years ago, when doing the last days of the bush administration, we were shedding more than 700,000 jobs per month and millions of people were being displaced from their homes. but make no mistake, we need to be doing more, especially to address the wealth gap and, particularly, for african-american and hispanic households, whose economic security was devastated by the financial crisis. unfortunately, however, there's an unnerving sense of amnesia from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle about the dark days of the crisis.
here we are, eight years after that devastation and more than six years after dodd frank became the law of the land considering the same harmful deregulatory proposals that will undue the critical progress we've made, just think about this, two weeks ago one of the largest banks in the united states, which was supposedly one of the most well-run was found to have opened more than 2 million unauthorized deposit and credit accounts for unsuspecting customers. this is a massive fraud of historic proportions that begs to question, what further reforms may be needed, and yet, in this committee, the answer is deregulation and more opportunities for wall street to write the rules of the game. and like the consumer financial
protection bureau, they're on the front line of those attacks, with wall street reform, recreated it to look across the entire financial system. identifying gaps that may exist between regulators and action to prevent another melt down. no longer would we allow banks to shop around for the weakness regulator or move money around the globe to escape regulation. earlier this year, we saw just how effective the it can be in preventing companies from going too large, or risky as to threaten the economy. general electric capital voluntary agreed to shrink itself and sell off much of the consumer and financial business returning to its roots as industrial company. the firm is smaller, safer and less likely to cause risk to the rest of the financial system, if it becomes stress.
in turn, they allow ge capital to share its systemically important designation and the higher regulatory standards that came with it. what this means is that wall street reform is working as it should. the system is creating incentives affirms to shrink themselves and it's ensuring that companies like ge, renew their focus on creating jobs in the real economy. and, yet, despite this progress, my colleagues opposite side of the aisle are intent on dismantling it. nowhere has this effort been more apparent than the chairman's dodd frank repeal bill, which received bipartisan opposition in the committee last week. this harmful legislation would strip it of its ability to designate nonbanks for heightened supervision, repeal all existing designations, the large complex firms like aig
and, otherwise, limit its ability to operate effectively. this bill and others will put wall street back in the driver's seat and leave consumers and investors to fend for themselves, rather than continuing this focus on harmful roll backs, we should be supporting further reforms and exploring how we can do more to prevent scandals like the one at wells fargo. so i look forward to your testimony, secretary lou on the state of our financial markets and what we need to keep doing to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. thank you, mr. chairman. and i yield back the balance of my time. >> chair recognizes gentleman from texas, chairman of our financial institution subcommittee for one minute. >> thank you mr. chairman, the financial stability oversight council mission is to ensure the stability of the u.s. financial system and to identify future risks to the system. it was given authority to designate banks and nonbanks
alike for heightened regulation. i believe, however, it also has the responsibility to ensure that the recommendations and designations are appropriately calibrated and provide sufficient clarity to the marketplace. today they've failed to live up to the duty to be a responsible federal agency, first they've failed to exercise the authority under section 115 of dodd frank applied fairly to the bank holding companies. in the face of analysis of the office of financial research that suggest $50 billion banks aren't systemically important, they've shown air -- they've failed to immement failed transport when designated nonbanks as systemically important. as the u.s. district court noted the determination process is fatally flawed. yet, f sock has created additional unregulatory
uncertainty by appealing and third and finally, the regulatory protection has failed to identify market concerns like those seen with strengths in the bond markets. i hope today we'll finally get to hear the substantive answers to legitimate policy answers instead of the talking points praising dodd frank. >> time the gentleman has expired the chair recognizes the gentleman from new jersey, mr. garrett, for one minute. >> thank you. mr. chairman and mr. secretary, good to see you again. i understand you're a tough man to nail down, to get to this hearing today, even though it is the rule of law. but i guess i would be, too, if my job was to come here and try to defend. so, you know, we're starting to get a point of add mip straminif people talk about legacy and what you'll be leaving behind. when it comes to it, the -- it will be remembered by what,
secrecy, and the continue refusal by administration and especially you to answer the most basic and simple questions to provide transparency to either this committee, to congress, and most importantly, refusal to provide transparency to this congress and the american people. the recent course decision invalidating the decision of metlife is a reminder to all of us that we live in a system governed by the rule of law, mr. secretary, and not by the rule of bureaucrats. mr. chairman, i hope the treasury secretary finally understands this, and i look forward to some of his answers today. with that i yield back. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. today we welcome the testimony of the honorable jack lew. secretary lew has previously testified before this committee on a number of occasions. i believe he needs no further introduction. mr. secretary, without objection, your written statement will be made part of the record. and you are now recognized for five minutes to give an oral presentation of your testimony. thank you. >> thank you, chairman h
hensarli hensarling. we've just past the eight-year anniversary of the collapse of lehman brothers. every autumn, this date provides a grim reminder of the most severe financial crisis of our lifetimes. it's also an opportunity to measure the tremendous progress we've made to build a safer and more resilient financial system that will support long term economic growth. six years ago we worked together to put in place the most far-reaching, comprehensive update of the financial regulatory system since the great depression. the dodd/frank wall street reform and consumer production act put in place new consumer, investor, and taxpayer protections and effectively restored confidence in our nation's financial system. today, the success of these reforms continues to be reflected in a long and stable economic recovery. we've cut the unemployment rate in half.
our economy is more than 10% larger than its pre-recession peak. u.s. businesses have added a total of 15.1 million jobs since private sector job growth turned positive in early 2010. and our financial system is safer and more resilient, providing the critical underpinnings for more inclusive long term growth. recent census bureau data demonstrate that significant strides have been made. the nation's poverty rate is down for hispanics and african-americans. it's at the lowest level in more than a decade. household incomes are rising with 2015 seeing the fastest one-year growth since the census bureau began reporting on household income in 1967. recent enforcement actions by the occ and the cfpb also remind us of the ongoing need for robust protections and that that need is very real. without a strong consumer watchdog, the financial system can be dangerous for consumers
and businesses alike. indeed, one of the most important lessons of the crisis was the need for a financial regulator dedicated to looking out for and protecting consumes. the last financial crisis had at its core abusive practices that should have been prevented. as the only regulatory agency focused seoully on consumer production, the cfpb assures that markets are fair, transparent, and competitive. and it's been fulfilling this statutory mission actively and well. the conduct that led to recent enforcement actions again underscores the importance of finalizing strong, sensible executive compensation rules, a central component of wall street reform. moving forward, it's critical that we continue to build upon the success of wall street reform in creating a framework for responding to risks that arise in any part of the financial system. rather than regulating purely in
reaction to crises, wall street reform focuses on regulating and identifying risks presented by markets as a whole and by types of activities wherever they're conducted. the financial stability oversight council exemplifies this approach. too often regulators operated in silos and there was no single agency or group collectively charged with monitoring and maintaining financial stability. for the last six years fsoc has brought the entire financial regulatory community together to be on watch for signs of vulnerability and to respond to emerging threats to financial stability before they turn into crises. today, the council continues to benefit from the diversity of expertise and perspectives of its members. and the council has been open-minded and deliberative in its approach, regularly engaging with stakeholders, frequently updating the public on its views and actions and always aware of not emphasizing a
one-size-fits-all analysis. before i discuss the council's finding in the sixth annual report, it's worth noting the report's significance. the council's annual report serves as a key mechanism for public accountability and transparency, setting a marker for action and outlining the council's priorities. it includes recommendations to mitigate risks. importantly, the report includes a statement signed by each of the council's ten voting members that affirms that all of the aissues and recommendations in the report should be fully addressed. the council's 2016 annual report focuses on key areas that have been the topic of council discussions over the past year. these areas include cybersecurity, risks associated with asset management products and activities, reforms to wholesale funding markets and global economic and financial developments. for each area the report cites
progress made and if necessary, the need for further action on the part of councilmembers and agencies. cybersecurity remains a focus. the u.s. financial sector has stepped up efforts to improve securities across the system. efforts to include greater information sharing and analysis and establishing private sector best practices for assessing risk. the report makes several recommendations for building on this important work. the administration remains committed to staying ahead of this issue and we look forward to working with both the council and congress as we continue to address it. the council is focused on potential risks to financial stability posed by asset management products and activities. as these products and activities represent an increasingly important part of the u.s. financial sector, the council will continue to evaluate their implications for financial stability. to that end in april of this year we published an update regarding the council's review of potential risks in this area,
in particular focusing on liquidity redemption and risks. it reflects the council's focus on asking tough questions to help inform its views. our work in this area is ongoing and we plan to provide timely public updates as our analysis continues. let me close by saying that in the years ahead, it's vital that we remain vigilant to ensure that we do not return to the precrisis way of doing things, looking narrowly at jurisdictional lines dictated by the kind of charter a firm has selected and reacting to old problems instead of identifying and addressing threats that lie ahead. the old approach did not work. and regulators did not respond in time to prevent a crisis. we cannot go back. that means we must not only remain steadfast in opposing he was to roll back reform, but also that we must continue to build on the progress we've made. the work of the council has been
critical to this progress and it's important that the council continue to have the tools necessary to respond to future threats as they emerge. i want to that anything the other members of the council and the staff involved in the development of the 2016 annual report for their hard work and commitment. i would encourage the commit to work with the council to build on the progress that we've discussed today. the recent news of consumer fraud by a large firm should strengthen our collective resolve to work together to build on wall street reform rather than advancing legislation that would return us to the days when we had broad regulatory gaps and weak consumer protections. going forward, i'm confident that the progress we've made over the past six years will continue to promote the strength and stability of the u.s. financial system for many years to come. thank you, mr. chairman, i appreciate your accommodating my schedule by adjourning at 1:00 p.m. and i will do my best to keep my responses brief so we can get in as many questions as possible. >> the chair now recognizes himself for five minutes for questions. mr. secretary, one of the
emerging threats listed in the fsoc report is the possibility of destructive cyberattack. as i believe you recall, it wasn't six months ago that seven iranians linked to the iranian revolutionary guard were indicted for coordinated cyberattacks on u.s. major financial institutions. attorney general loretta lynch at the time said, quote, these attacks were relentless, systematic and widespread. a couple of questions about the recent 1. billion in payments the administration recently made to iran, payments that we now know were made in cash, made in secret, and 400 million of which we know coincided with the release of american hostages. secretary kerry, your fellow cabinet member, said of related sanctions relief under the jpcoa, quote, i think that some of it will end up in the hands of the iranian revolutionary guard corps or other entities,
some of which are terrorists. isn't it true, there secretary, since the $1.7 billion was paid in cash, we have no way of tracing the money and you have no way of assuring us it will not be used for terrorist purposes? >> mr. chairman, the payments you're referring to are payments related to hague tribunal settlement. >> i understand that. but the question is can you trace it and can you guarantee us that it will not be used for terrorism. >> we have laid out the facts related to this transfer in a letter sent to this committee. the payments complied with u.s. sanctions. >> i understand that, mr. secretary. it's a yes-or-no question. can you guarantee us it will not be used for terrorist purposes? >> mr. chairman, if you would just give themme a minute, i'll answer your question. you in your question characterized this incorrectly. it was not ransom. it was settlement of a contractual dispute. >> i didn't use the word ransom, mr. secretary. >> you didn't? >> no, i didn't. you can read the record.
i said it coincided with the release of american hostages. >> you've asked a specific question about where the money goes. when the payment was made to the central bank of iran, we did work to monitor what support -- >> what i asked, mr. secretary, was could you trace the money. can you trace the money. >> we have not seen an increase in terrorist funding by iran. >> i think we'll move on, mr. secretary, because i'm not getting an answer. but i want to know, and we have pursued this line of questioning before, who authorized the cash payment. so we know that cash has been called the currency of terrorism. you have an entire office at treasury devoted to terrorism and financial intelligence. according to press reports, senior officials at the justice department indicated objections. did you object to the payment or were you the one who authorized the cash payment? >> mr. chairman, the president spoke clearly to the facts on
this on january 17th. we've given you the details in a letter. this was a settlement of a contract claim where the united states government and the american taxpayer was exposed to -- >> the question is -- mr. secretary, the question is, you're voidiavoiding the questi who authorized the cash payment? >> the method of payment is a technicality. the agreement to settle the contract dispute is a substantive issue. >> it's not on the technicality of those on the receiving end of hezbollah's missiles. did you authorize the cash payment, yes or no? >> the method of payment was worked through a process that we outlined in a letter that we provided to this committee. >> okay, mr. secretary. isn't it true under 31 usc 1304 you must personally certify payments for the the judgement fund? >> mr. chairman, i am telling you the payments were properly made. i was aware of them. i was cognizant that it was
happening. it was an appropriate settlement of a contract dispute that saved the american taxpayer billions of dollars. >> if you won't tell us who authorized the cash payment, what we do know is on at least two -- on multiple occasions, the administration said that you had no choice but to use cash, and in fact your state department spokesman on august 3rd said, quote, it couldn't be done over wire transfers. the president himself on the very next day said, quote, we could not wire the money. yet a treasury department spokesman acknowledged that on at least two occasions, the u.s. did make payments via wire transfer on july 2015 or april 2016. so did politico get it wrong? did your spokesperson get it wrong? or did the president get it wrong? >> mr. chairman, the president got it right, you weren't misled. >> were two wire transfers made, one on --
>> mr. chairman, i'm happy to answer your question but you've got to let me speak. >> i'll listen. >> all right. we have done a very effective job cutting iran off from the international financial system. the payment that was made by wire to iran was not for a billion dollars, not for a million dollars . it was for $900,000. it went to a foreign bank account that iran had. and it was a difficult process to get the money, as it has been difficult for iran to get access to its own money under the jcpoa, because we've been so effective in isolating iran from the international financial system. >> so wire transfers -- the method of payment is a technical detail. the agreement was that this settlement would go to the central bank of iran. and it was done in a way that was consistent with -- >> you're confirming that at least two wire transfers went to iran, correct? >> mr. chairman, i'm telling that you before the transaction
we're discussing, the transfer we're discussing, one had gone. the other was subsequent. it was for $900,000. and it was a difficult process because as it has been hard under the jpoa and the jcpoa, it has taken iran a lot of time to get access to its own money that it's entitled to under the agreement. i'm not saying -- >> i believe that the president did get it wrong. >> no. >> my time has expired. >> that's totally incorrect. i disagree with you, mr. chairman. >> i recognize the gentleman for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, i would like unanimous consent to enter into the record, from the opinion pages of the -- who is this from? from "the new york times." >> without objection. >> an editorial titled "the fake $100 million iran ransom story."
i think it is perhaps incumbent upon us to have debunked the distortion of what took place with iran. let me just say, it's not simply about the so-called ransom story that has been, you know, made up by my colleagues. every attempt that my colleagues on the opposite side of the aisle have made to discredit the iran agreement, to try to dismantle the iran agreement, has been made. just yesterday, we were on the floor with a bill that simply said that my republican colleagues wanted to identify and list, i don't know, a whole array of the leadership of iran, and expose them for their
assets, where they came from, what they're doing with it. they've been told over and over again that even that action did nothing but signal harassment and a conclusion by iran of a bad faith effort by the united states. i don't know why they continue it. as a matter of fact, i've said over and over again that this country needs the support of the congress of the united states, as our president takes rightful leadership to act on behalf of this country. and to negotiate deals. and to do the business of the presidency. what we find is an undermining of this president at every turn. and it has been absolutely shameful, what has been happening with this iranian agreement. and so this conversation that just took place is just one more effort for my colleagues to send
a message across the world that our president cannot count on the congress of the united states, that we negotiate in bad faith, and that somehow what is going on in the united states is bad for the rest of our allies who have supported us. this ties into what the presidential candidate mr. trump is doing. he has a thing about making america great again. some of us think america's already great to begin with. and his alliance with putin, his friend that he may be doing business deals with, all of this ties in together. what are we doing? in the name of trying to acquire the presidency and align themselves to trump, are they continuing to try and dismantle the leadership of this country,
to undermine us, talk about how bad we are, how crippled we are, how mr. trump knows better than our generals, on and on again? it needs to stop. you should not have to suffer this today. this is a continuing of a political effort. i guess to align with the theme of america not being so good, not so great. and what they're doing somehow with mr. trump is going to make it better? this is absolutely outrageous. i had some other things that i wanted to talk with you about today. but let's just put it on the line. what we have here is the opposite side of the aisle, the republican party, and mr. trump, who are not only not supportive of the president, they just don't think this country is much good. they just don't think that the generals know what they're talking about. they just think putin is our friend. they just think somehow this
country has gone to the dogs, i suppose, and they have to do everything that they can to prove it by proving that somehow this iranian deal that's going to help keep the world safe and certainly the middle east safe, that somehow it is wrong, it's no good, and should be undermined, be damned our allies who joined in this deal to help reduce iran's ability to have the kind of nuclear capability that could cause a holocaust. and so i just want to tell you, mr. secretary, i'm sorry that you have to endure this. this should not be a place where this kind of politics is placed, put before you. it is happening. i would hope that you would refrain from even trying to answer some of these questions that are being raised. this is a great country. the iranian deal was a great deal.
the president provided great relationship. we don't have to be ashamed of it. shame on them. i yield back. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from texas, the chairman of the financial institutions subcommittee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. before i get to my fsoc question, just one followup question from chairman hensarling. did we record the serial numbers on the crash that was delivered to the iranians? >> congressman, i would have to check. >> could you check on that? i think that was the chairman's question. we just wanted to know if we have some traceability there. my question applies to your capacity as treasury secretary and chairman of the fsoc. as you're probably aware, the federal banking agencies submitted a required report on investment activities of banks required under section 620 of the dodd/frank act. the federal reserve board made a
recommendation to congress to repeal the merchant banking authority for banks. as you know, the gram/leach act gives the authority to limit merchant banking. before the submission of the 620 report, did the federal reserve consult the treasury department concerning its recommendations on reappealipealing the merchan banking provision? >> we were not involved in the preparation of that report. >> since congress gave the authority to the treasury has joint rulemaking authority with the fed reserve -- >> i believe there were two different pieces of work that were involved. >> it was a recommendation. do you agree with the recommendation?
>> so look, we're looking at the report. and would be happy to work with this committee as we review it to respond more fully. we just received the report as well. >> so does the treasury believe it has the appropriate tools to analyze the risk from merchant banking activities? >> yeah, i think we have the ability to understand merchant banking. it's not new to us that there are issues regarding merchant banking. you're asking about a specific report that came about a week ago. >> with the tools that you have and the activities that you had in the past, have you found that merchant banking is too risky, or you haven't been able to mitigate it? what would be your response on merchant banking? >> look, i think that the issue regarding merchant banking is
really an issue that's arisen out of the fact that in the original legislation, dodd/frank legislation, distinctions were made between different kinds of activities. so that, you know, private equity is treated one way, merchant banking is treated another way. and i think we're going to need to take a look at whether there are inconsistencies there that do require attention. and i would be happy to get back to you. >> so i think basically there's probably approximately $26.7 billion in merchant banking investments held by banks. if the vote was to eliminate merchant banking activities, who is going to take up that slack? >> well, i think it would require legislative action. as i understand the recommendation that the regulators made was a proposed legislative action to remove a provision that exempts merchant banking from the rules. so it would require this body to
act. >> so that recommendation made to fsoc, and fsoc has not acted on that recommendation? >> we just got the recommendation very recently. we haven't had a meeting since we got the report. i'm not aware of administrative authority that exists to do that. but i would be happy to check and get back to you. >> so you weren't consulted and you've just received the report, is that what you're saying? >> the report came to us. i forget if it was a week or ten days ago. and it was done by the regulators independently. >> but you couldn't have any prior knowledge that that was going to be the recommendation? >> no. i don't believe so. i'm happy to check. >> and so what will be the process moving forward? when will fsoc take up discussions on that particular recommendation? >> i will have to get back to you, congressman. we haven't had an fsoc meeting since that report came in. and i'm not in a position to respond until we've had a chance
to look at it and discuss it. >> will fsoc report its findings to congress? >> we're happy to work with this committee going forward, as we review it, and as you review it. we got the recommendations, as i point out, just very recently. >> thank you. >> time of the gentlemen has expired. the chair now recognizes the gentlelady from new york, ms. velazquez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. last week the majority passed legislation that will severely hobble the fccb by subjecting it to an appropriation process repealing the single director structure and putting up significant roadblocks to its ability to create rules and enforce them. it will remove the bureau's authority to bring enforcement cases against abusive products and services. in light of what we know about
the impact of predatory products leading up to the financial crisis and the recent evidence that wells fargo was trying to extract profit in these deceptive ways, what will these changes to the cfpb do to americans' economic security? >> congresswoman, i think that if you look at the financial crisis, it is undeniable that at the heart of it was a practice of mortgage lending that was abusive, and that when it became part of our financial system through complex financial instruments, ended up triggering a financial crisis. so we know that abusive practices are not just unfair and bad in terms of the individuals who are affected, but if left unchecked, can become a real threat to financial stability. i think the recent actions taken by the cfpb and the occ reflect
the ongoing need for tough consumer protection, for independent consumer protection, and for an agency set up in a way that is workable, which is what we have now in the cfpb. i think there's the good thing there was a place for those issues to go, for them to be addressed. it was the largest fine that the cfpb has made. i actually think it's important to address things even if it's just a question of abusing millions of consumers. but we also know that when these kinds of abuses occur, it can accumulate into financial stability risk. so for both reasons, i think it's critical that the cfpb retain the ability to operate. i believe it's operated very well, and if you go around to the industries that are affect by the cfpb, there are many who say the same thing, that they've
done their job very well. >> thank you. we wonder why there is so much anger among working people in this country. so here we have regulations to prevent the same crisis that we saw from happening again, and yet people continue to use deceptive ways to get people and to exploit working families in this country. i hope that if the department of justice look into this and bring justice, not only for the families that are impacted, the consumers that are impacted, or even for those workers that were tricked into going into behavior that was not the right behavior, just because of the pressure coming from the top at the bank.
mr. secretary, you are well aware that puerto rico is currently facing a severe financial crisis. the median household income is $18,000, just one-third of the national average. 46% of the population lives below the poverty line. on top of these challenges, the island is still struggling with the zika virus which has infected now 20,000 people on the island including 1500 pregnant women. and just yesterday, a massive power outage left the island without electricity. half a million people in the island today have no water. i know we passed promesa that was signed into law in june. it will provide for the control board and every structural mechanism for the island's $70
billion debt. my question to you is, promesa did not include any proposal to reinvigorate the island's economy for the long term. the u.s. government has a colony in the caribbean. it's puerto rico. we have a moral responsibility. so given the situation that i just described, what is your view of what is needed to happen in puerto rico? should we in congress revisit what we did and come out -- >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. if the secretary could give a brief answer, please. >> thank you, mr. chairman. promesa was extremely important, it will provide the basis for puerto rico to have a fiscal plan that leads to debt restructuring and financial stability. but as we've always said, alone it's not enough. there needs to be more action.
we've proposed that puerto rico be treated as states are treated for the pick up of medicaid reimbursement and for the earned income tax credit, things that would really stimulate the economy. we look forward to working with this congress to take additional steps to make sure there's a long term economic plan for puerto rico. >> the time of the gentlelady has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's fair to say all of us in congress, myself included, are outraged at the activity that occurred over at wells fargo. i know you're very familiar with it. over a number of years. the entire incident now has a number of people clamoring for regulators to be tough when they finalize the incentive compensation rules under section 965 of dodd/frank, which i'm sure you're familiar with. the current proposal intended to limit compensation at financial firms includes something called clawbacks for compensation of
high level executives that could go back as far as seven years. like a lot of things, for the other side of the aisle, when it depends on what executives we're talking about when this happens. let me give one example. you, mr. secretary. you joined citigroup back in 2006. by 2008 you became the chief operating officer of the citigroup alternative investments unit, which at that time managed $54.3 billion. then the alternative investment group began to do what? hemorrhage money that year. by the end of 2008, citigroup had laid off more than 50,000 employees. the stock price dropped by 75%. and then of course they were bailed out by who? the american taxpayers, to the tune of $45 billion. then to add insult to injury, last year the sec announced that two city group affiliates, including the one where you were the chief operating officer, agreed to pay $180 million to do what? to settle charges that your unit
defrauded investors. so you were the senior officer at citigroup, a unit which lost money, that contributed to the bank's near collapse, and which later was charged with defrauding investors. talk about a legacy. was any of your compensation at citigroup ever clawed back? that's a yes or no. >> congressman, i am proud of my record implementing financial reform -- >> i'm not asking that, mr. secretary. let's just get to the question. i saw how you did not answer the chairman's question. simple question. was any of your money, your seven-figure compensation package, ever clawed back for the time that you were the chief operating officer? >> the issues regarding my compensation have been well worked over. >> so then it's an easy answer, mr. secretary. >> i've answered many questions. i was paid in a way that is well-understood and disclosed.
i'm telling you my services in this role has been to make sure that we put rules in place that work going forward. >> mr. secretary, a simple question. you were paid, your unit -- >> congressn, i -- >> was any of your money ever clawed -- >> i was not subject to any action of any kind, because -- >> okay. >> no one ever asked any questions that led to that nor will they. >> see, mr. secretary, simple. the answer is no. >> and let's remember what my role was. >> you were the chief operating officer -- >> i was involved for administrative activities, not for designing risk products. so let's just remember what my role was. >> you were a senior executive. would the proposed compensation rules capture or impact any of your compensation if those rules were in place back then? >> i amot aware of anything that relates to me personally. but i also am not directly
involved in writing the rules. so i can't tell you exactly what they are. i have urged the regulators to have broad and tough rules. >> should the rules be suv that senior executives, and elizabeth warren doesn't make difference between coos and ceos. she said all senior executives should have clawbacks. is she wrong? >> the question in designing theseules is how do you align the incentives for risk taking. >> that's not the question. >> the driving issue is how do you make sure there's not an incentive -- >> here is an alignment. >> that's the right question. that's wha we've been pushing. >> mr. secretary, thanks. when you left there, despite all the hemorrhaging and the taxpayer bailout, you received something called a bureaucratic parachute. you had a promise in your contract that you would be paid $944,000 if you took a high level position in the u.s. gornment. i guess you got that, didn't you? was that contingent on you doing or your unit doing a good job,
was it contingent on whether or not there was any fraud in your unit or did you get paid regardless >> congressma my compensation was based on my performance at the job. the only thing that that provision said was that i didn't lose my last year's pay. >> the company lost 75% stock, it -- >> congreman, you don't know what my job was. >> well, yeah, i do. it's in the disclosure as to what you are. you were the coordinator for all the units, oversee cooperation between operations, technology. it seems like you had yr finger on every single aspect of the company. i guess you're telling me you'r not responsible for anything. mr. chairman, i'll end with this. i want to make it clear for the record as long as you are a high ranking democratic official, you can make all the money you want on walstreetut if you're not one of them, then you have to play b the rules, if the company coapses. >> the time of the gentleman has sp expired. the chair recognizeshe gentleman from california, mr. sherman. >> mr. secretary, let me spend the first couple of minutes on
stuff so noncontroversial that i don't think anybody in th room ll disagree, because you deserve at least a couple of minutes. >> i don't need any ti, i'm fine. i know, but you deserveit. first, thank you for the treasury department announcement and clarification that i asked for last time you were he, so the 8,000 people from my distct who had to evacte for months due to the world's largest methane likeeak can cley undetand they're not going t be taxable for the money they got to reimburse them for expenses when they were living outside of their home. second, last month, last time you were here, back in march, i brought up the issue of a u.s./armenia tax treaty. i know we told your aff, i'm not blindsiding you here, that i would bring this up again. and the answer i've got from your staff is, hey, it would be
wonderful if we did it, but it's a matter of prioritizing our resources. so i want to review with you why i thin it's a priority. canada, whose treasury department analog has maybe a tenth of your resources, negotiated a treaty with armenia. your department has negotiated treaties with luxembourg and malta and dozens of other countries. but what i think your staff may be losing track of is the -- they're looking a everything through solely an economic lens. and they also need to look from a geopolitical andoreign policy lens. d i'm asking your department to just have one tax lawyer spend a few months to do something. and i want to describe how important it is from the standpoint of the congress and the standpoint of the executive
branch state department, foreign policy, defense department. we in congress have provided a billion dollars of aid to armenia over the last 25 years. the executive branch has a policy of getting the newly independent states, it became independent from the soviet union, to wean them from moscow. and tt is so important that not only have u done tax treaties with estonia, latvia, lithuania, but we've put our lives on the line. we admitted estonia into nato. we could be at war with ruia. we could lose soldiers in the field. i'm not asking anybody in the treasury department to put their life on the line. just asking to do sometng that should be rather easy, because i persuaded -- well, in talks with the armenians, they'll start with yourodel treaty. given that we, the congress has provided a billion for this
objective, given that our soldiers are ready to die for th objective, can you spare a tax lawyer for a few months? >> so congressman, i understand the strategic significance of armenia and appreciate the source of yr concern. we obviously look at these tax treaties through an economic tax policy lens. and the basic question that we ask is, can we avoid the kind of double taxation that tax treaties are meant to avoid. we don't have any evidence that there is double taxation. >> that was the answer you gave last time. it's a chicken and egg. there's no investment becau there's no tax treaty, there no tax relate toy because there's no investment. i've done my best to convince you that too big t fail is too big to exist. you and fsoc have the right to break them up. you and people on thisommittee could co-sponsor the sherman/sanders bill to break
them up. we know they're so big, they're too big to fail. we know that if they get in trouble, they will be bailed. the chairman says, well, don't list them and they won't be bailed. many of us were here in 2008. if they're about to go under, this congress will pass new laws to bail them out. we're talking about fail, we're talking about bail, we're also talking about jail. the chairman said he would be reluctant to criminally indict em. but wells fargo has given us two more reasons, one democrat, one republican. it appears as if wells fargo, for example, was too big to manage. here you had -- they hired 5300 good people. they established a system that caused those people to commit 2 billion felonies. they didn't monitor. they didn't notice. that's too big to manage, and finally, too big to regulate,
because all the regulators at wells fargo missed this too. please break them up. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from missouri, mr. luetkemeyer. >> tnk you, mr. chairman. good morning, mr. secretary. i would like to have my questions in the areas of sifi designations in community banking. let me start out with an sifi designation stuff. dodd/frank calls for the automatic designation of any bank with more than $50 billion in assets to be an sifi. mr. secretary, we'adve h barney frank, the author of the dodd/frank bill, in this committee, sitting in that chair, who has testified to this committee that he told us that the $50 billion threshold is arbitrary and we should look at alternative methods for determination. we've also heard from other regulators such as chair yellen, and they support a different approach as well. would you agree that size should not be the only thing to
determine what a systemic important financial institution is? >> congressman, i think ultimately the real issue is risk. >> do you agree that -- >> i think part of the challenge is that when people talk about what sizeank is a big bank, the conversation is often unconnected to whether banks fall in terms of size. there aren't that many banks over 50. when you talk about drawing the line at 500, you're talki about only a very few institutions. some of the largest institutions are in beeen. >> mr. chairman, i've got just a few mutes here, please. my piece of legislation takes away all of the size definitions. as you can see on the board here, you probably can't see from where you're sitting, behind you is a copy of a chart from the office of financial research, brief series dated april 13th, 2016.
this is how globally systemic banks are determined. as you can see, there's five separate things. those are exactly the five criteria i have in my bill. size, complexity, cross jurisdictional -- >> i think the challenge is the designation process is a very cumbersome on and if you were to require the decisions firm by firm for every single firm, it would require a much more massive structure than we currently have. >> so a minute ago, though, you said that, you know, complexity is something we need to take a look at. now you're going back to size. you know, if you do that, we're looking at an institution that's $50 billion at the bottom end of this versus the larger banks that are $2 trillion. that's 40 times difference in size. >> i totally agree there's a difference.
>> how can a bank that's $50 billion -- >> we have tried in every way we can to use regulatory flexibility and keep looking for new regulatory flexibilities to trees firms differenttreat if i differently. >> the way to do it would be to support my bill. this is something that even the office of financial research says is a way to go about it. i'm -- it's a little frustration on my part. can you tell me, sir, what the cost is to designate an sifi? >> i would have to get back to you on what the -- it's a long process. >> okay. what's the cost to de-designate? >> i'm sorry, i didn't hear you. >> what is the cost to de-designate? you already have the information, your examiners are in the banks, they live there. what additional costs are there to de-designate? >> which institutions are you
talking about right now, congressman? >> the ones designated sifi. >> the ones that fsoc have designated, the largest firms? >> the one designated sifis by the $50 billion threshold. >> there are two different issues. we've designated 12 institutions that are large, nonbank institutions for insurance companies -- >> the ones over $50 billion, sir, also have to pay fees, under the same regulatory regime. >> that's not an fsoc determination. they're covered under dodd/frank for oversight and supervision. we don't make the designation. >> my question is, you already have the information to designate them. what additional costs are there to de-designate? i'm just asking you a question about cost, not whether you can or not. i'm just asking about cost. >> i think the process of determining whether they're covered now is a fairly simple one, because it's based on a review of information that's available in size. if you had an individual firm by firm review to see whether you meet multiple criteria, it's a
very different process than the current one. so for me to answer the question in the current versus -- >> one more quick question, my time has totally expired here. in my whole state of missouri, we've got 44 banks less than $50 billion. 26 of them lost money. those are all targets for merger. in fact one in my district, 30 miles away from me, was merged on monday morning. this is all due to the complexity and increased cost of compliance. what are you going to do about that? does that concern you? >> i agree with you that small financial institutions, regional banks, play an important part in our financial landscape, meet important needs. we are continuing to look to craft flexibilities that are appropriate to make sure the risks are visible and not overly burdensome. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from new york, mr. meeks.
instead, the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. hinojo hinojosa. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, my good friend, gregg meeks. thank you. mr. secretary, thank you for your testimony today. we appreciate your efforts. as chairman of the financial stability oversight council to identify the risks to our financial stability and to respond to emerging threats and vulnerabilities in our financial system. the chairman's dodd/frank repeal bill which received bipartisan opposition in the committee last week would provide a so-called off-ramp for dod/frank capital liquidity requirements. it would replace those
safeguards with an insufficient leverage ratio that fails to contain the guardrails in other proposals. for example, while the chairman has attempted to conflate this bill with proposals from people like fdic, vice chair thomas hoenig, the chairman's proposal doesn't include the same limits on derivatives activity in order to receive regulatory relief. so, mr. secretary, my question is, can you discuss how replacing more complex risk rates along with other dodd/frank measures might make sense for community banks engaged in traditional banking activities but is wholly insufficient when it comes to global megabanks? >> congressman, that's a very good question. i mean, we i think should be looking for ways to simplify reporting where appropriate for small banks that don't engage in a lot of risky activities. we have to always be aware that even small banks are in the
business of making risk decisions. that's what banks do. and we have seen in the past that in the accumulated activity, small institutions can create a financial risk that's significant. but it's different than the activities of large global financial institutions. and we should be trying to distinguish. for the largest financial institutions, i think if you look at what we've done in financial reform, and wall street reform, that's made the system safer, we have gotten much more transparency. we see what they are doing. we see what they're holding. we understand how it's connected to the financial system. they have capital buffers internally. so when they take risk, we know how much of the risk they're taking they can absorb before they have to look outside for any kind of help. i think if we roll that back, it would be terrible. we have done it, a lot of other major economies have done it. if you look at how the global
financial system responds to shocks nowadays, we can just look back to the week after the vote in the united kingdom on brexit. there was a sense of confidence in financial institutions that just wouldn't have exist without financial reform. >> thank you for that clarification. so what impact would hr 5983, the chairman's dodd/frank repeal bill, have on financial stability and international confidence in u.s. banking system and capital markets if it were enacted? >> i believe that if we were to roll back some of the protections and wall street reform that that legislation would roll back, it would bring back concerns about the stability of the u.s. financial system the next time there is a bump in the road. i mean, bumps in the road happen. they're either geopolitical or economic. you want a financial system that can withstand those kinds of shocks. we're in a much stronger place
now. and i think it's a mistake to go back. and if i can just add, there are some things we still need to do. from the back and forth a few minutes ago, you wouldn't know it. we are pressing very hard for executive compensation rules to be finalized by the regulatory bodies so we can align risk taking incentives and compensation in a better way. >> i agree we've come a long way in recovery. let me ask you a question on the economic recovery of our country. much more progress needs to be made in order for us to climb out of that hole created by the 2008 great recession which was spurred by an historic wall street created financial crisis. tell us, to what extent would our progress have been even more remarkable had the republicans in congress not been so committed to fiscal austerity? >> congressman, i believe that the early imposition of tight
fiscal controls was actually something that held back our recovery here in the united states. we would have grown faster if we had put longer term deficit reduction in place, not slammed on the brakes so quickly. >> would gdp be higher today? >> i believe it would. we've seen, since we have more sensible policies through two budget agreements, putting in place freer spending, the economy has done better. >> the chair now recognizes mr. huizenga. >> thank you, mr. chairman. so many issues, so little time. i do want to say first of all, congratulations, mr. lew, oftentimes, depending on who is sitting in there you get a jekyll or hyde performance. i'm waiting for the outrage from the other side with vaunted claims of how the economy has benefitted hispanics and african-americans that you just spoke about in your testimony, a robust economy is needed for
all, unfortunately this administration has not provided that. wall street is doing just fine, main street is not. and inner city main street is even doing worse. and i guess it's going to the dogs characterization depending on who is sitting in the seat. they like who is saying it, just not what's being said. i got just teed up, i got teed up by my colleague from texas about this. you testified as well about dodd/frank, and the countecil he made, quote, the financial system safer. however former treasury secretary and harvard president lawrence summers says major financial institutions don't look any safer than they were before dodd/frank and may even be more risky. he also flagged dodd/frank's myriad of regulatory restrictions as a prime suspect for this duplicity. so i would like -- i'm going to follow up with that in a written
question, but i'm going to give you literally 20 seconds to address that. >> i don't think that paper in any way called for rolling back wall street reform. >> but it isn't it didn't work. >> i think what it did was looked at one indication, market evaluations, and used that to do some analysis. we've seen markets get things wrong. they didn't predict the subprime crisis because of what was going on in the financial sector. it didn't predict the outcome of the vote in the united kingdom. you have to look at the whole picture. >> while we're on the united kingdom, obviously we saw that european unity was something that has been called for, as greece has been bailed out before. we've had this personal conversation. i've contacted treasury department well over a year regarding further imf financial participation in the greek bailout, i'm urging you to oppose that. even a former director of the
fund who voted for the bailout has come out against a third one. the ims office released a scathing report on the fund's involvement in greece, blasting its debt stability analysis and concluding the best governance was not practiced as the board was poorly informed and too late in several instances and as a result the decisionmaking of the executive board was undermined, end quote. at some point we have to acknowledge the damage has been immense. you have stated that it was important for european unity. we've seen elections, the brexit in england, recent elections in germany that i'm sure have many of your colleagues over there very concerned. my next issue is the world bank, and mr. chair, i would like to submit for the record a couple of letters to the record that was sent with ms. moore, my ranking member, and myself. we wrote a letter to president kim. >> without objection. >> thank you.
expressing our alarm over a failed transportation project in uganda, this project was linked to the sexual exploitation of children among other appalling consequences. moreover, the bank's new safeguards have been criticized for ignoring human rights, even as they protect, and this is not a joke, the rights of farm animals. given all this, i hope we can work together so the ongoing negotiations result in realistic commitments as well as true reforms at the bank. and finally, just kind of rounding off, going back to the chairman's questioning on iran, there is a letter to senator marco rubio in june that thomas maloney, the senior legislative affairs, said the administration has not been and is not planning to grant iran access to the financial system. to be clear, until iran has addressed other concerns we have have with the u.s. financial system, including the branches abroad will remain off limits and u.s. persons will not be
able to do void financial services or products to iran without explicit authorization. iran's behavior is outside of the nuclear profile. terrorism remains unchanged. you even said that earlier. you said it hasn't gotten worse, that means it hasn't gotten better either. just yesterday you announced the authorization of u.s. financial institutions to finance aircraft sales. doesn't this contradict your written assurances to congress? >> no, congressman. the licenses issued yesterday for aircraft were something that were negotiated in the joint comprehensive plan of action, and they were consistent with it. it goes only to entities that do not engage in terrorism. >> the 1.4 billion -- >> and they cannot be used for it. the u.s. financial system remains closed except for very specific purposes. and this i don't believe -- i'm not aware of a transaction through a u.s. financial system that will support it. but a licensed activity is the only exception. >> my time has expired. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair now recognizes the
gentleman from new york, mr. meeks. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and let me first welcome you, secretary lew. it's coming another way, but as a member of this committee and a member of the foreign affairs committee, i think that -- i mean, this piece talking about the settlement payment to iran, as i see what they put up on the board and i heard the questions about by the chairman as i was listening in my office, it seems to me that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are using as fodder for a convenient political spin, they're playing politics in this election year. and the majority has quickly turned to talking points about the administration's settlement being a ransom payment. this despite the fact that the obama administration had in fact briefed congress in advance, i'll say that again, it's been said before, congress was briefed in advance of the $1.7
billion settlement of a longstanding claim with the government of iran. you did brief congress; is that not correct? >> it was fully described by the president at the time and we briefed congress at the time. >> and it is not the first time nor is it unusual that -- in fact i think it was a smart thing, using leverage when conducting diplomatic negotiations. that's a common and smart strategy that is utilized not only by this administration but past ones also, is that not correct? >> i believe that settling something for $1.7 billion when you're exposed to 5 to $10 billion of risk is the right outcome. >> in fact, that's right, because isn't it true, mr. secretary, that had the administration not negotiated the hague settlement, we would have ended up ultimately paying much higher for the 1979 failed arms sale? >> i believe that we resolved it in a way that saved the united states and u.s. taxpayers substantial exposure. >> and on top of that, for the record, on top of that, since
the establishment of the u.s./iran claims tribunal, all u.s. citizens' claims against iran that were registered under the algiers accords have also been resolved, and americans as a result have gotten, what is it, about $2.5 billion in payments? >> i don't know the total. to my knowledge they've all been paid. >> so let me -- i mean, and the record should be clear about that, this was a smart deal done utilizing leverage that you had, you have leverage, you don't give it up, you utilize it. it was done by the administration. and the fact of the matter is, i would like to say it was something nobody else did, but other administrations have done the same thing, democrats and republicans; is that not correct? >> settling outstanding claims? that's right, that's not a new phenomenon. it obviously is a new conversation. for decades we haven't had an ability to have a conversation with iran to settle this, and we
faced the possibility of an enormous judgment against the united states. >> let me go back to what we were talking about in the time i have left, fsoc, because fsoc, which was created by dodd/frank act, is something that i leave is an absolute necessity as a framework so that we can deal with the complex multi-sector risks in our financial markets. i encourage fsoc to further embrace greater transparency in its designation process and in how designated entities would be regulated, because it is key, i think, i strongly believe that we should emphasize and focus on working with the designated firms so that they can derisk. we work with them, they are no longer risky. it's better to eliminate systemic risk as opposed to supervising it; is that correct? >> congressman, i actually think
the process ge went through demonstrate that it's a two-way street. ge changed its focus to go back to being an industrial as opposed to a financial firm. it made the showing that it was no longer engaged in the activities that caused it to be designated and we quickly responded by de-designating. for the debate about designation, you would think that hundreds of firms have been designated. you know, it's four nonbanks and eight utilities. we're not aggressively designating firms. we identified firms with a high level of risk. if another firm were to appear that presented risk, we would go forward. we always lay out the basis for designation so that they know what it is that is making them be designated. and it's a business decision whether they want to be in the form they are with some additional oversight or change their business structure. it's not like being designated stops you from doing your business. it just means we have more visibility so we can see what's going on. >> thank you.
i had another question but i think i'm out of time. and i don't want to hear that gavel from the chairman. >> the time of the gentleman has expired. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from wisconsin, mr. duffy, chairman of our oversight and investigations subcommittee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, mr. lew. i want to go back to your iran deal. i think you testified that wired transfer payments were made to iran before the $1.7 billion cash payment. >> i testified that one $900,000 -- >> went before. >> yes, sometime before. >> that's my recollection too. and a wire transfer also went to iran after the cash payment; is that correct? >> yes. >> so the fact is, per your testimony, that wire transfers to iran are possible. i'll take that at face value. >> no, congressman. it's very important, the wire transfer -- you have to understand what a wire transfer does. >> let me get to my question,
though. >> but what you stated is incorrect. i just want to make it clear what you stated is incorrect. >> you made a wire transfer before the cash payment, you made a wire transfer after the cash payment. and the president told the american people that we could not wire the money. so it leads me to believe that the administration has not been truthful -- >> no, congressman. >> -- with the american people, because wire transfers could take place. >> indulge me to answer your question. the wire transfer goes to an account in a foreign bank, a european bank. it doesn't go to the central bank of iran directly. the question is, if you have a contract settlement with a party that you have no trust, they don't trust us, we don't trust them, they're not asking can you get the money to an account that they may or may not be able to get access to. it was part of the negotiation to get the money to the central bank of iran. >> okay. but wire transfers can take place. and did you -- the wire transfer
before the $1.7 billion and the wire transfer after the $1.7 billion, were those also converted to cash? >> just as a factual matter, congressman, it was -- >> yes or no? >> it was quite challenging for iran to get access to that money. >> there's the reason for that, right? they're the lead sponsor of terror. we have rules in place so they can't access cash. >> i enforce those rules. i understand those rules. >> let's talk about the rules. in the code of federal regulation, you can't load up a plane full of cash in the u.s. and fly it to iran lawfully. so to get around that rule, what did you do? wired the money to europe, and then had it converted to cash, and sent to iran so you didn't violate the law. so yeah, you complied with the law but you got around the spirit of the law, right? >> congressman, we have successfully cut iran off from the u.s. financial system. when we agreed to settle a legal claim with iran, part of that
agreement is you make payment. the way you make payment is you wire money to their account or you transfer -- >> convert it to cash? >> the question was how do they get access to the payment of the settlement. and we worked through foreign banks and they wanted access which was not unreasonable given that it was a negotiated settlement in this case. >> it is unreasonable, because this is a bad deal. mr. lew, they're the lead sponsor of terror in the world. we cut them off from cash because cash is the currency of terror. when you make payments, you'll make it to a foreign bank. they're restricted in how they might use that money. they want to access the cash because the cash is untraceable and they can use it for nefarious things we object to. and you made the payment anyway in cash. >> congressman, the joint comprehensive plan of action gives iran access to its own money in international banks. no, let me answer your question, congressman. this is a very important question. part of the agreement that caused iran to dismantle its
nuclear program and increase their -- make it take 12 plus months, not three months, to develop a nuclear weapon, was they dismantled their nuclear program. we had to keep our part of the deal which was to give them access to their own money. >> in cash. >> they have been having a hard time, i'm not going to apologize for saying we need to keep our deal. they need to get access to that cash. in the case of settling -- >> this is my time, mr. lew. >> mr. chairman, can the congressman get a few more seconds so i can answer his question? we shouldn't have to talk over each other. >> this is an important issue. >> without objection, the gentleman is acorded an extra 30 seconds. >> i respect the question and i don't want to be talking over each other. i would like to explain it. a deal is a deal. when you have a country dismantle its nuclear program and you give them access to their money, that means they're going to get money, it's going to go to the central bank.
we knew that. we said all along we're going to make sure we keep an eye on what they do in terms of nefarious activities and use their authority to stop that. >> i wish i had more time. >> the other half of my answer is very important. >> you say you cut a good deal. can you guarantee the american people that that $1.7 billion in american cash will not be used to fund terror? >> congressman -- >> yes or no. >> these are not yes or no questions. >> congressman, let's be serious. >> one more question for you.