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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 30, 2014 3:00am-5:01am EDT

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memos, or doctor? >> daca, as i understand, daca was enacted two years ago. something like 600,000 people have enrolled in the program. it is up for renewal later this year. i anticipate that it will be renewed. there will be some -- >> does it create groups or classes of people? >> i'm not sure i understand your question spent by the definition of the directives, is the result of that, that the definitions created groups or classes of people, rather than as i saw sometimes referenced in that document delivered by janet napolitano and she said it seven times or reference to on an individual basis only prosecutorial discretion on an individual basis only. i'm asserting to the degree to groups or classes of people and asking you whether you agree or disagree. >> i now understand your
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question. away daca works, there's an individual assessment of whether or not a person can be in the program based on a background check, based on the particulars of that person's situation. >> as the clock has turned yellow, do you agree or disagree that it produces and results in groups or classes of people? >> there is a class of people who are eligible for the daca program, but they've got to go through a background check for criminal history. >> i
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i think that's about right. it could be very confusing. impressions can be created that may not be accurate. for example, it was stated
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think by the chairman that the committee had learned and 20s1,en 2008 i.c.e. declined to taken against 160,000 people who were arrested by enforcementsl law and agencies. now, the nonpartisan congressional research service produced the subpoena and provided us with a report. analysis,ing to their more than 60% of those people permanent residents of the united states. they couldn't be removed until they were convicted of an offense. so it's important to note that we're not just talking about individuals who are present without proper immigration documents. aree talking people who legal permanent residents of the united states, in some cases decades, andre for law. ran afoul of the i'm concerned that as we take a
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applying oure're enforcement standards that we look at the nature of the that are at issue. the most common federal prosecution in the states today is felony reentry after removal. most of those cases, from best we can tell those are individuals who are trying to back to their families here in the united states. formere doing what governor bush described as an act of love. trying to come back to be a parent to their children. that we can take a look at what we are actually you take a look at the review. directorking at former morton's detainer memorandum.
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i think it's very constructive, why so many communities are with theto cooperate department today. in fact the state of california willd a law saying they not respond to the department of security. it says a prior felony conviction, but it doesn't specify that that, if that conviction is really just gett immigration, trying to back to your kids, we look at it differently than if you commit a criminal offense. an individual has illegally after aed the country prior removal or return, an very outstanding order of removal. these are really immigration they deternd individuals from cooperating is whye police, which all the police chiefs have come out against the secure communities program. my question to you, mr. secretary, is as you take
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review of our enforcement, i think we all agree that we are to focus on people who violent, who harm others, but singleicing that the biggest removal category in 2013, more than half, was for immigration violations. to takegoing to be able a look at those issues as you review this, sir? >> i'm in the midst of taking a look at those issues. one observation i'll make, i think that as i looked at this aidance myself, which covers multiyear period, i see a clarity in the guidance, and i think we could do a better job there. >> i thank you very much for that. and i wanted to just briefly touch on the unaccompanied alien minors. i know that you're concerned about the surge and that it is
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we have recognized as a congress, we passed a law that these little children are treated aso be criminals. but what efforts can we make to central american nations so that they can take some responsibility for these little kids? some, 3 and 4-year-old kids that custody.our >> i've had this conversation ambassadors from mexico, gotta mat la, el and honduras, this exact question. it isthink a lot of messaging in english and spanish. don't send your child or send for your child through south texas. a processing center in south child.s no place for a i think that we have to work of centralvernments migration from their
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countries. guatemala myself in in july on this issue. are a number of other things i think we can do. sensing a fair amount of receptivity from those onernments to work with us this. i think we all recognize, including them, that we have a in this area and we need to more aggressively address, of my priorities. >> thank you very much, mr. secretary. expired.time has >> the chair recognizes recognie gentleman from arizona for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thank you secretary johnson for today.ere with us mr. secretary, i know -- >> nice to see you again, sir. about thee you heard case regarding miriam ibrahim, sudanese christian a was sentenced to death.
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her husband is a u.s. citizen and she has two young children, one of which was just born two days ago in her mother's prison. both of these children are u.s. citizenship. and this case has become so high profile that many of us are deeply concerned about miriam's safety. especially if she wins her appeal and is released back into the sudanese society. so my question, will you assure committee that you will prioritize this case and quickly review the possibility of a safe haven in the united states? willngressman, i personally, along with the appropriate component heads, case. look at this it sounds troubling. >> is it a case you're aware of this point? >> i was generally familiar with the case, but i will take a look case, yes. >> thank you.
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of secretary, the d.h.s. act 2002, as you may know, lays out the rules and responsibilities of assistant secretary of infrastructure protection. us whichn you tell federal agency has the primary responsibility of protecting the grid?ic and secondly, has your assistant recommendationa to protect the electric grid known significant hazards, as is mandated in her not why would d.h.s. hesitate to do everything possible to protect the electric from potentially catastrophic events? d.h.s., sir, nppd, our programs protectorate direct tort, is responsible for critical infrastructure power grids and the like. in conjunction with other thatal agencies, we have
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responsibility. but it's not ours alone. witha share responsibility other federal agencies. but within d.h.s. that's the belongs and i agree with the sentiment of your ofstion about the importance protecting the power grids and like.tions and the >> we have a letter that primarys that the responsibility of protecting the power grids assigned to the department of homeland security with assistance from the energy federal regulatory guess i am and i wondering why, this simpson even in your emergency protocols. geotromagnetic pulse or magnetic disturbance. and i'm hoping that if nothing else comes from this that that's your radar, because we have additional information that
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seems to indicate that the is more significant than we have been aware of. be happy to take a look at that, sir. >> with that i'm going to yield back. >> the chair thanks the chn and recognizes the gentleman from texas, ms. jackson lee, for five minutes. >> we thank the chairman and the ranking member. mr. secretary, welcome. let me on the record thank the many men and women of the department of homeland security that i've approach of working with for more than a decade, certainly since the heinous act of 9/11 to all of us are committed to the security of this nation, and we know that everyday members of your staff of this department are on the frontline, unsigned, not unappreciated. i'm sure my members on the panel would say they are appreciated but they go by everyday without thanks. everyday we face securing this nation, we owe them a debt of gratitude and want to publicly make that point.
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we work together to improve their work performance, how we can add resources that are effectively used not just throwing money out there at issue, and we are eating. and i think that is the approach that i hope that you perceive. these questions are certainly mine, and recognize that we have to do this together. i have a series of questions, and let me quickly proceed with them. i can work with my colleague for a number of years, and members of the committee on the -- i know that you're at the border, ma the number should be stated for the record, some 60,000 increase of over 800% since 2011. my subcommittee on border security and maritime security and homeland security at a hearing and the markup which we added language to the poor security authorization bill on the determination of resources used in a slightly different perspective on issue of human trafficking, unaccompanied children. but erased these conditions,
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these issues, i would partly like them to come in writing because i've a series of questions. i'm concerned about the detention conditions of these children. we know that this committee some years ago referred to hhs jurisdiction in particular on these children, particularly these families and youth commission. i understand that detained immigrants are the cleanup persons and some detention centers. i don't know if you're cooking for better cleaning up her i want to know what is your understanding of that situation and whether children are used to clean up and do work as well. what kind of legal representation does dhs provide or are they seeking to have providing legal representation for the unaccompanied children? if you could answer that -- let me give my questions because some of them you'll have to give in writing. i apologize to you. i have a sheriff you've had the opportunity meet with who
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mentioned the effectiveness of 287 g. let me say he's done enormous job with respect to including or writing m.o.u. that would include having i.c.e. at the table but the real point is that under 287(g) we are finding out that 85-90% of the people are not terrorists or drug cartel members but simply trespasses, marijuana possession, most of these people work in the committee not dangerous. and, therefore, the funny were using as not asking people -- i like to know what you're assessing the effectiveness of 287(g) and the money we spend for it? many of us have worked for the people who are now residing in camp ashraf, camp liberty, excuse me. mek has been declared a non-terrorist group in the united states. my understanding of these individuals at camp liberty are trying to assimilate and receive status in the united states that
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dhs and fbi officers are asking them to deny their affiliation, mek, which is no longer a terrorist group. that poses a great difficulty for any of these individuals trying to get it to the united states of america. so i would like you to begin on the children and then work on the issue of 287(g), but i would like you to get each case but he can't get to everything, then just enter mek a double take the others in writing. >> first of all thank you for those questions. we are concerned about the plight of the mek, and we are taking a special look at the interviewing them, screening them for the purposes that you have referred to. i'm not on the ground there. i'm not versed and familiar with how that process is going, but
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it's something that i know our government is focused on, and and we have made commitments that we seek to fulfill with regard to the mek. i'm very focused on the issue of children in south texas, as you know, congresswoman. i visited there personally. i'm concerned about detention conditions, as it was in the department of defense, our detention facilities in dod. i took a special interest in conditions of confinement and advocated for and saw a number of improvements to our conditions of detention. detention. and so that's a special interest of mine that i'm continuing at dhs. my understanding of the work program is its voluntary in nature at our facilities. nobody is required to work if they don't want to. it is a form of activity for people who want to work and get
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paid for the work. now, is it a lot of money? i don't think it is that it's a voluntary program. >> well, let me just conclude by saying if i can explore it further with you as we can engage in meeting on this as well as a further understanding of the actual questioners or people on the ground in iran regarding camp liberty. you are not there. the question has to be if they've been removed off the list, why would that be at or seen as a bar? meaning they have to denounce it. i do think we need to be there in the process i look forward, i think the chairman, i look forward to secretary pursuing these more definitively both in terms of a detention center and children, 287(g), which i mentioned to you, and the mek. thank you. >> time of the gentleman has expired. the chair recognizes the gentleman from texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me just say i agree with my
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colleague from texas about camp ashraf and the injustices that of gun on. appreciate you looking into the. secretary johnson, back in 2011 and 2012, i had conversations here in a hearing with secretary napolitano about one of the top advisers at homeland security named mohammed. i had asked her if she knew about his downloading of two documents from utilizing a classified secret clearance that she'd given him. she said no. however, the night before the director of the department of public safety in texas had been ushered she was briefed that evening about the situation. so either secretary napolitano lied to me or we have people at homeland security that are lying to state officials. neither of those is a good situation. so i've got a letter here dated may 28 asking you to look into this.
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she said later in 2012, she looked into the situation and said that he did not shop these documents he downloaded, and the fact is there is a report that did this tour and i know from talking to the reporter even yesterday that nobody contacted the reporter to get the information. it's kind of like asking tsarnaev, are you radicalized, asking his mother, are you radicalized? and then being satisfied that a boston bombing will occur. it's not adequate and we hope you will look into that. i had a letter dated may 28 asking you to do that. would look into the matter further? it is a serious matter if someone with a homeland security advisory council has shopped information downloaded. wouldn't you agree? >> i read the exchange that you had with secretary napolitano a
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couple years ago. i am not -- >> but my question is, do you agree that if someone on the advisory council have shopped documents to a national media outlet that he downloaded, that would be a serious matter and wouldn't? >> i agree that unauthorized disclosures of government information -- >> right. so would you agree to look further into the matter since nobody bothered to contact even the reporter that put it in print that that had happened? also, i found the taxes resources very reliable and i provided information from october 2008 to april 2014, texas identified a total of 177,588 unique criminal alien defendants booked into texas county jails. these individuals have been identified through the secure communities initiative in which texas has dissipated since
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august 2008 -- participated. a review of these 177,588 defendants show that responsible for at least 611,234,000 individual criminal charges over their criminal careers, including 2993 homicides, 7695 sexual assaults, and i know that these numbers are staggering. ..
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since those case is only counted after due process has been you're new tonow the situation, but are you going to reducete a plan the massive numbers of aliens in that are,ry illegally have been ordered removed from states?ed >> i may be new to the job, but responsible to the department from the day i started. in general, i believe that we a better job of working more effectively with state and local law enforcement. is run out and i just need to know whether or not you're going to formulate a plan those numbers. in the backlog, waiting -- ordered, deported.
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>> i think we need to reduce the help fromut i knee congress to do that. you give me the resources to do the job. i have a -- >> that's the magic thing, if and we see you doing the job, then you get the resources you need. i have other questions and i would ask thatler dated may 28 themay 29 be provided to secretary in seeking written if you to the questions, will be amenable to having those answered for me. >> thank you, sir, i look forward to your letter. report reflect those are beg provided at this time. m puerto rico for five minutes. >> you did it very well, mr. chairman. it's a hard one to pronounce. thank you. secretary johnson, welcome to the committee. in your short time in office, you have already proven yourself a worthy successor to secretary napolitano. she traveled to puerto rico in
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2012, and i hope you will visit the island as well. i would like to outline a narrative for you and then ask you to comment. i took office in 2009. that year there were about 900 merchandises in puerto rico -- homicides in puerto rico, home to less than four million american citizens. in 2010 there were nearly 1,000 homicides. and in 2011 there were over 1100 homicides, an average of over three a day, the most violent year in the territory's history. in each year our homicide rate was four to six times the national average. and twice as high as any state. of every ten murders in puerto rico, seven to eight are linked to drug trade. puerto rico is within the u.s. customs zone and is used by organizations transporting narcotics from south america to
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the u.s. mainland. given this crisis, i examined the level of resources that the dhs and doj were designated to combat drug-related violence in puerto rico, and it was clear that the federal law enforcement footprint on the island was inadequate. let me give two examples on the dhs side. first, in 2011 patrol aircraft for the coast guard -- the lead agency for maritime drug interdiction -- conducted -- [inaudible] hours in puerto rico. if puerto rico were a state, that would have never been allowed to occur. second and also in 2011, cbp closed a boat unit in san juan that had seized over 7,000 pounds of drugs the previous year. clearly, there was a disconnect between the problem in puerto rico and the federal response. along with colleagues like
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congressman michael mccall who's now the chairman of the homeland security committee, i did everything within my power to highlight the need for additional federal resources in puerto rico. my colleagues here can attest to this, having heard me raise this issue every time a dhs or doj official appears before this committee. i have no alternative, because the stakes are too high. starting in 2012, our message finally began to sink in, particularly at dhs. much of the credit owes to secretary napolitano who, as thosed, traveled to puerto rico and upon her return created a dhs task force charged with taking steps to reduce puerto rico's murder rate. as a result of this initiative, i searched 30 agents to -- i.c.e. surged 30 agents to puerto rico last year.
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between 2009 and 2013, the coast guard tripled the number of days its ships spend conducting counterdrug operations in the waters of puerto rico. the number of coast guard flight hours increased from 150 to approximately 1,000 this 2013. and -- in 2013. and cbp, having assumed of the counterdrug program earlier this year, moved quickly to improve the radar in southern puerto rico that had been destroyed because of bad weather in 2011. the result of this dhs effort combined with enhanced effort by dea and doj and other component agencies has been remarkable. puerto rico still has the highest murder rate in the country, but the number of homicides this year is on pace to be 40% lower than 2011. the lesson, mr. secretary, is
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clear: when the federal government is committed to combating drug-related violence this puerto rico, hundreds of my constituents' lives are saved each year. i'd like to give you the chance to comment on the narrative i just laid out, and i hope you can assure me that puerto rico will continue to be a top priority for the agency you now lead. >> well, first of all, thank you for the comments. i'm pleased to know that we've been able to make progress since 2012. and what is, obviously, a very, very important issue and a very big problem. i will, hopefully, i'd like to be able to continue the progress that secretary napolitano taliban in 2012 -- began in 2012. this is an issue that i intend to focus on and, hopefully, together we'll be able to continue to headache that progress, make good progress. >> thank you.
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>> chair thanks the gentleman, recognizes the gentleman from texas, mr. smith, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have a brief statement, then i have some questions after that. the department of homeland security last year released 36,000 criminal immigrants into our neighborhoods. this would be considered the worst prison break in american history, except it was approved by the president and carried out by immigration officials. by the administration's own admission, 90% of those who were voluntarily released had committed thousands of crimes such as murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, drug trafficking and hit and run. should someone be charged with crimes against humanity? here are some of the other ways the president has ignored or undermined current immigration laws. the secure offense act of 2006 requires the dhs to prevent all unlawful entries into the u.s., yet the government accountability office reported in 2011 that only 6.5% of the southwest border is under full
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control. the dhs' widespread abuse of prosecutorial discretion ignores the statutory requirement to apprehend and remove illegal immigrants. immigration and customs enforcement weakened the rules that required illegal immigrants to be detained. the administration has undercut the ability of local law enforcement officials to apprehend illegal immigrants. and currently, the dhs is reviewing deportation policies and no doubt will weaken them even more. if the president cannot be trusted to enforce current immigration laws, how can he be trusted to enforce future immigration laws? mr. secretary, a couple of questions. first of all, in regard to the homicides that have been committed by those who were voluntarily released, will you be able to provide this committee with the details of those homicides; who was involved, the nature of the crime, the date and so forth? >> it is something that i'm interested in understanding
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further, and i will provide that information to you also. >> okay. you have that information, do you not, in hand? >> i'm sorry, what's that? >> you have that information available to you, do do do you ? >> i will share that information once i have it. i wrote you a letter, we wrote you a letter that was signed out yesterday that more generally talks about this issue, but i'm interested in understanding further some of these more serious questions, and i will -- >> you had that information, or you wouldn't have been able to give us the details that you did in the letter that you wrote. when can we expect to get the details of those homicides -- >> not long after i get it. >> do you expect that to be within the next week or two? >> i'm not sure. but not long after i get it, sir. i will make that commitment -- >> are you saying under oath right now you do not have that information? >> what's that? >> you saying under oath right now you don't have that information? >> i personally don't have the information about the specific details -- >> okay, not you personally, but the dhs does not have that
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information? are you saying that? >> somewhere in the department, hopefully, that information exists. >> okay. it should. >> i have asked for a greater understanding of these particular cases, and i'm waiting for the answers to that information. >> and you will get that to us, we hope, at a timely fashion, is that right? >> i don't have a problem with sharing further details about these particular cases with the committee. >> okay. thank you. my second question is this, in your prepared testimony for today you said comprehensive immigration reform is not amnesty. let me read you the definitions of amnesty. the first is from black's law dictionary. quote: a pardon extended by the government to a group or a class of persons. the 1986 immigration reform and control act provided amnesty for undocumented aliens already present in the country. and from merriam-webster dictionary, quote, the act of an authority as a government by which pardon is granted to a
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large group of individuals. whether individuals pay fines or back taxes or receive citizenship is irrelevant to the definition of amnesty. therefore, would you agree that the administration has given amnesty to thousands of individuals and that the senate immigration would have provided amnesty to millions of individuals at least under the definitions that i just read you from black's law dictionary and from the merriam-webster diction diction -- dictionary? >> through prosecutorial discretion we prioritize our use of resources. and through the -- >> mr. secretary, that's not an answer. >> [inaudible] >> do you agree that the administration's policies have resulted in amnesty to thousands of people, and do you agree that the senate bill would have provided am he'sty to millions of people -- amnesty to millions of people under the definition i just read you? >> that's not what i consider amnesty. >> so you disagree with the black's law dictionary definition of am he'sty? >> i don't believe any act of
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prosecutorial discretion in the administration of our immigration laws constitutes amnesty. as i understand the concept of amnesty. and i think i do. >> why wouldn't your concept of amnesty include the definition of amnesty in black's law dictionary? >> i'm not sure of the answer to your question. >> well, it seems to me it's kind of amazing that you would disagree with the longstanding definition of amnesty as given in various dictionaries. now, it's not the first time the administration wants to change the definition or change the term, but i'm absolutely amazed that you don't recognize the legal definition of amnesty. thank you, mr. chairman. i'll yield back. >> mr. chairman? could i ask unanimous consent to put into the record two statements? >> sure. would the gentlewoman describe those statements? >> one from the national immigration forum and one from the human rights first organization. >> without objection, those will be made part of the -- >> mr. chairman? >> for what purpose does the
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gentlewoman from texas? >> i'd like to enter into the record the course of action why children can't wait for immigration reform. >> without objection, the document will be made part of the record. the chair recognizes ms. dell vain think for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. secretary johnson, thank you for being here today. i want to take a moment and thank you and fema administrator fugate for traveling to washington, the site of a massive mud slide in my district. i think you'll agree it's impossible to describe the scale of what happened without being able to see it, and i appreciate you coming out. the support of the department through fema assistance has been very critical to everyone there, and as we continue with the recovery efforts, i look forward to continuing to work with you and fema to make sure that we have all the federal resources available to support the communities of oso and derrington and and arlington as
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they continue in this long rebuilding process. so thank you again. i want to turn to the issue of immigration policy which is particularly relevant in my district because we have the border with canada, the northwestern border with canada. under federal law right now cbp officers have the right to stop and conduct warrantless searches on vessels, trains, aircraft or other vehicles anywhere within a reasonable distance from an external boundary of the united states. , currently, central agents from cbp operate in a 100-mile zone drawn from any land or seaboarder, and this distance was established by a regulation over 60 years ago. while this may be sensible in some areas, especially on the southern border, in washington state we've seen the border patrol set up checkpoints that disrupt commerce and hassle residents. i'm particularly concerned about racial profiling complaints we've received during vehicle
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september in washington state the border patrol reached a settlement agreement in a lawsuit alleging that the agency was engaging in discriminatory conduct in its stops. as the review of the department's immigration policies moves forward, i'd ask you to take a close look at this. we need to provide our federal officers with theâuz tools they need to keep our boarders safe and also -- borders safe and also keep our customs and border patrol agents focused on their mission near the border. so i wanted to ask for your commitment to review the 100-mile zone, whether this is the particular distance for the northern border. >> yes, i will take a look at that. i will also take a look at our enforcement activities generally at sea and elsewhere. it's a topic that i'm interested in. as the head of this agency, as a lawyer, as a former prosecutor, i also want to comment on what i saw when i was in oso.
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i think all the members of the committee should appreciate the remarkable community effort that we saw the day we visited there. private citizens, local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, state law enforcement and just neighbors who had been at the site of the mudslide for, like, two weeks with no sleep trying to help their neighbors, trying to find evidence of their loss. it was a really remarkable effort, and so i just wanted to note that as well. >> thank you. >> and i hope that your constituents are in a better place as a result and, please, send them my regards. >> thank you, i will. also on sunday "the new york times" reported that even as the federal government cracks down on undocumented immigrants and forbids businesses to hire them, it's relying on tens of thousands of immigrants each year to provide essential labor,
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usually for dollar-per-day or less at detention facilities. and in washington state at the northwest detention center, a privately-run detention facility, detainees led a hunger strike recently to protest their conditions which included concerns about their severe undercompensation for the labor they provide to keep these facilities running. and without protections afforded to other workers. the vast majority of i.c.e. detention facilities are operated under contracts with private prison companies and county governments. given that, is there any statutory or regulatory impediment that would preclude dhs from requiring these contractors to pay wages to detainee workers that are higher than a dollar per day? >> as i mentioned a moment ago, this -- my understanding of the program is that it's on a voluntary basis, but i am concerned about conditions of confinement at our facilities. this is something that i've
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spoken to you and ad ap smith about -- adam smith about, in particular that's one in washington state. i sent a group from my front office out a couple of weeks ago to visit this facility when the hunger strikes had started there, and i intend to visit it personally, myself, along with other detention facilities. in terms of the law and the legal requirements, that's something i'd want to look into. >> thank you. i appreciate that because i have met with individuals who were released from the detention center in tacoma, and they said that, you know, folks were put in solitary confinement for work stoppages, failing to show up to cover shifts and so, clearly, that does not describe a voluntary scenario. but compensation has been important when they aren't -- they feel like they haven't had adequate food, and they need to work to get enough money to buy things from the common share, and a dollar per -- come my share, and a dollar per day does not help them. i'd appreciate your feedback
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going forward, and i yield back. thank you, mr. chair. >> chair recognizes mr. poe for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. a few questions about several things. one, my friend from texas, ms. lee, has head some comments and questions -- made some comments and's and's and about k and their status overseas. i will tender to to those and ask for a written response to myself and the chairman. >> that's fine. >> the 36,000 that have been released, walk me through this. as a former judge, i'd like to kind of figure out what their status is. what is their legal status in the united states now that they are released? >> well, your honor -- >> hey, i've been called worse, so -- [laughter] what is their legal status this the united states now that they've been released? >> well, it depends. my understanding is that some of those 36,000 were lawfully in the united states. others were not. others were undocumented. >> the undocumented, what's their status?
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>> they're undocumented immigrants that are subject to removal. >> excuse me for interrupting. got five minutes. so there's technically illegally in the united states. >> those who are undocumented, who were convicted of a crime -- now, there are all sorts of variations on this. we're talking about a class of 36,000 people. >> i understand. >> but if you're undocumented and you're here and you're not -- there's no special status, there's no special -- >> so your illegally -- >> you're not daca, you're here illegally. >> okay. the ones that were released that are undocumented that are now illegally in the united states again, did they get work permits? >> did they have what? i'm sorry? >> did they get work permits when they're released there custody, being released from custody and are now illegally in the united states again -- >> i couldn't say categorically one way or another. i'd have to know each individual case. >> of the 36,000, kid any of
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them -- did any of them get work permits? >> i don't know the answer to that question. >> just roughly. percentage wise, i'd like to know that. so let's take the ones that were illegally -- undocumented, they were released. if they are rearrested for something, some other crime, then they are back in the same status, they're back in jail again, and they go through the process again, is that correct? in other words, they're not given some kind of stay out of jail free card that they, now that they've been released? i'm talking about the undocumented ones. >> i agree generally with that, yes, sir. that should not be the case. >> correct. >> if you're released under some conditions and you commit a crime, then that, obviously, changes the circumstances, and, you know, somebody needs to reevaluate whether you should be running around on the streets. correct. >> my understanding is your department has the authority,
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obligation to report to the state department those countries that do not comply with repatriation. in other words, a person commits a crime in the united states, they're a foreign national -- forget whether it's legally or illegally -- but they're a foreign national, they go to prison, they're ordered back to where they came from and country don't take them back. why would they? they've got enough criminals of their own. the law says under some circumstances after you make a recommendation to the state department that those countries can lose visas. do you know of any time that that has happened in recent years, where that has actually been made, that somebody won't take them back? china's a good example of those that don't take them back. there are other countries, vietnam, where they refuse to take them back, and that condition lost diplomatic visas or any kind of visas because of their failure to take it back?
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>> i'm -- i know that there was a case several years ago. i've forgotten the country -- >> granada, i believe it was. >> i'm sorry? >> granada or gray -- gras nay da, one of those two. >> i've forgotten, but i know that occurred several years ago. >> would you check with your -- would you get an accurate report on that, the last time that actually occurred, when the recommendation was made? >> yes. >> it seems to me, this problem is going to continue when countries don't have any sanction, punishment, the you will, for failure to take back their lawfully-deported criminals. and myself and others on the other side have legislation to try to fix this problem. i have other questions besides the mek, but i'm going to yield back my time to the chairman. thank you. >> thank you. >> chair thanks the gentleman, recognizes the gentleman there illinois, mr. gutierrez, for five minutes. >> thank you so much, mr. chairman. and welcome, secretary johnson.
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i guess i'd like to, first of all, start out by saying that i am disappointed, saddened that you are not going to announce in the coming weeks the. the president said that he had instructed you to do a review and to humanize our deportation processes in the next 90 days. so i was waiting for a couple of weeks to give you time to finish that review. i want to make that clear. i was in richmond, virginia, yesterday. i wish my colleagues on the other side of the aisle had been in richmond, virginia, with me. they would have met a woman who has a gps ankle bracelet, two american citizen children, and i assure you while she may have -- because of the ankle bracelet you might have thought of her as a criminal -- i saw a mom. i saw a mother of two american citizen children. and she said, please, help me.
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and i'm going to help her. and i hope you do too, mr. secretary, continue to help people like her from this broken immigration center. i met three other women there, and they were reporters that had come from washington d.c. and one of after another they told me about their broken families. we met a young woman, beautiful young woman, 18 years old. been here since she was 6, spoke in two languages. clearly, the united states is their home. and so i simply say to my colleagues on the oh side of the -- other side of the aisle, i hear you. you want to talk about law and order, law and order and law and order, and i'm for law and order, but i'm also for compassion and justice. and we can find a way where you can have your law and order, and i think we can find a way where we can have justice and compassion too. people make mistakes. there's a broken immigration system. we should find a way. i get -- the day before that i was, last friday, last saturday
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i was in riverside, and the day before that i was at loretta sanchez on friday, that's how i spent my memorial weekend, going and visiting. and everywhere there was the cry, mr. secretary, from people being deported, from families being devastated, from a community saying get the work done. so i wanted to simply say to my colleagues, look, we don't have to do it the way the senate says. but i think we have to do it. and let me just say this to you, mr. secretary, while i'm disillusioned, i'm conflicted, too, because i think it's a pretty grand gesture on the part of the president of the united states -- i think, in my opinion -- it's a pretty grand gesture on his part to say no to me, to say no to those mothers this richmond and that i met over the weekend in riverside, to say no to millions of people who support him, voted for him, cherish him, love him and have protected him. for him to say no to us because he wants to say yes to you.
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because he wants to reach an agreement with you. i think that's a pretty grand gesture. especially when i have seen the kind of disdain that some members of the other side of the aisle have showed for him. i think it's a pretty grand gesture. and my point is i, like the president of the united states, want to work with you. i respect that you are the majority party in the house of representatives. and, therefore, get to dictate how it is things proceed. but i beseech you that there has got to be a way that we can find some commonality. and i want you, mr. secretary, to understand that i want to be supportive. when you guys talk about criminals, criminals, criminals, do you think we like criminals? i want to find a seamless process in which you commit a violation of the law, and if you're an immigrant in this country, you pay the price here, and you're seamlessly deported from the united states of america. i don't want them here either. but the only way we're going to reach that is if we fix the system completely.
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because unfortunately, when you talk about felonies, that they're felons, it is a felony to reenter the united states of america once you've within been deported -- once you've been deported. who on the other side would not reenter this country to regain your relationship and your love with your wife and your children? which one of you would not reenter illegally this country? every one of us would. we love -- i've had dinner, i've sat down with members of the other side. i know how much you love your wife and your children. i know how much you cherish your families. i know what you would do. and i think you know what i would do. so let's simply find a way where we can find law and order and some compassion. and lastly, i just want to say this. mr. secretary, i'm so happy this is the first hearing. i hope to have many, many more in which i actually ask you questions. [laughter] ..
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would you met with members of the i.c.e. -- >> i would like to meet with the president of that union, like to meet with the profit of -- >> i hope we have -- >> other a labor leaders. >> i hope you have a chance to meet with the i.c.e. officers in particularly their union. >> i just committed to do that on tv. >> i appreciate it. i do appreciate it.
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operational control of the border, i don't think that's unreasonable to ask. what personal of the bored deer we have operational control of and -- >> we don't exactly compute it that way. we have a fairly sophisticated analysis that demonstrates on he southwest border, that we have enough asset wes feel we have pretty good situational awareness in the more remote areas we have other assets, surveillance assets but not as much boots -- >> time is short here. owout a her saying i do not believe that deportation quotas or numeric goals are a goodded idea. can you explain to me why you don't think numeric goals are a good idea? >> i think the analysis into
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what constitutes a secure border requires a more sophisticated approach not just the number of attempted contractings but who is crossing, where are they front drug deals, criminals? i think there's a more sophisticated analysis into border security. >> so where they're from and if -- >> border control agrees withme. >> you they agree with you? >> yes. >> we all try to look at the same set of metrics. you're saying that metrics are not a good idea and it depends their reason for crossing the border. i don't understand. if you're saying it's one -- we have to look at the intent, where they're from, if they're criminals. is that really -- >> no. >> so it's okay if they don't have status but is a d. >> i believe metrics are very
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important but not just one metric. don't believe that it is as simple as one statistic like effectiveness rate. there is more that should go into what constitutes a secure border and we have that analysis -- >> something you can share -- >> needs further refinement. >> i'd love to see you're version of that but i haven't seen that. >> i've hat that conversation with other members of congress and am happy to have that with you. >> if there were some sort of document i would appreciate it. byow metrics -- biome -- you said it's a gold standard player, we ought to get to end quote. how do we get there? i want to add another part of this because i think they go hand in glove. you said that it is your goal that -- i believe in response to
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mr. king, if you had enough resources you would be able to detain and deport more people. correct? but you haven't asked for more resources, have you? in fact your request is going down. >> in response to the question about biometric exit, i do believe that it is definitely worthwhile goal and requires resources from congress. we're operating and living in fiscally constrained times with huge national debt, and a huge deficit. so, we ask the congress for resources. it's your per prerogative to give -- >> do you have a plan -- the entry-exit program. do you have plan to do that? >> i believe we do. i believe we have a plan to get to biometric exit but it requires resources from congress, resources from you. >> and the resources you talk about, if you're going to get tougher, is a situation, people here illegally, you said if we
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gave you the resources you would make that happen, but you're not asking for more resources, are you? >> i have to prioritize where i think it's important. i believe it's important that we add resources to the southwest border, which is why we asked for -- >> why didn't -- did you ask for less -- >> surveillance resources. >> you asked for less beds. why less beds? >> because my budget realities, we must prioritize. >> mr. chairman, with all due respect, a nonsensical answer. it's circular. you're asking for less resources but saving you had more resources you would do your job better and you're asking for less. that doesn't add. mr. chairman. >> may i be allowed to answer? >> the secretary definitely can answer the question. >> thank you.
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we make a budget submission every year. we're given a top line to work with. we're given a budget reality to work with. and we have to make hard choices, and in my view, in my judgment, the priorities must be border security, without a doubt, particularly southwest border and some of the challenges we face there we asked for additional surveillance technology there we have to deal with cyber security and counterterrorism threat. we have to provide grants for urban areas that face terrorist threats. we have priorities. i would love to fund every thing i believe is a priority but congress is only going to give us so much money so i have to make hard choices. i'd like to have biometric exit. it would add to our homeland security. but over the years we have had to make some hard choices about
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prioritization, and so it's a goal, unfortunately we haven't beenible to fund it as quickly as we would like. >> mr. chairman, would we have to release criminal aliens because there aren't enough beds they made a conscious decision to have less beds and that's what have a problem with. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. and biometric entry exit is not the goal, it's the law, and we would like to see efforts made and we actually think the cost of that is coming down with the development over new technology. the chair recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson, for five minutes, his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director johnson, what you're saying basically is you have to prioritize and -- from the standpoint of your priorities, you believe that border security trumps the number of beds that
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the congress would want versus what you have asked for in your budget. is that correct? >> not necessarily, sir. the detention of those who are dangerous is part of border security, part of homeland security, part of national security, part of border security. every year we make an estimate of what we think we will need in terms of detention space. it's the congress' prerogative to agree or disagree with that. but homeland security, border security, is -- >> let me ask the question -- >> -- detention of those who are dang rouse is -- dangerous is part of that. >> i understand we spend $2 billion per year on immigration detention alone. the house appropriations committee is currently
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considering an appropriations bill to dhs that requires the department to maintain 34,000 beds, while the president's budget only requested roughly 30,000 beds. do you really need these extra beds that the house appropriations committee says that they want to give to your department? >> well, our request, as i recall, was for bed space for about 31,000 or so. obviously that number could change based on current circumstances. so, we're seeing a rise in illegal migration in south texas, for example, which may require additional bed space. but -- >> but -- >> it's a number that can fluctuate, not necessarily -- >> asked for roughly 31,000 and they want to give you now more than that, three plus thousand
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more beds. how much does that cost? >> i don't have the exact number. >> let me ask you this. the 2011 i.c.e. performance-based detention standards update existing i.c.e. standards to address gaps in very standards with regards to health and safety conditions. i.c.e. facilities include prisons as well as i.c.e.-owned facilities, and they operate under widely varying detention standards. according to reports from i.c.e., almost half of the average detainee population is not covered by the most recent pbnts standards. what is dhs' timeline that ensuring all facilities that hold detainees operate under the most recent standards and why do we continue to hold detainees in facilities that cannot commit to
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complying with the most recent standards? >> i'd like to take that for the record and get back to you in writing. i don't know the answer to your question. >> all right. detaining an immigrant costs over $150 a day. of course immigration detention is purely civil. that is, we're not detaining individuals to -- we're only detaining individuals in a civil proceeding to make sure they show up for the court date. that's the reason we're detaining them. not at criminal punishment. i understand that there are alternatives to detension such as ankle monitors or checking in by phone. which costs anywhere from 70-cents to $17 a day. what plan does your department have for expanding the use of these alternatives to detention? >> the alternatives to detention program that we have -- i know
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that it's part of our budget submission this year -- is, in my judgment, an important program and a reasonably effective program. i'm sure we could always do better but i think we become pretty sophisticated in terms of alternatives to detention and the conditions under which we release people to ensure their return. so, i think alternatives to detention in general is an important program. could we do better? i suspect we can and we have to continue to try to make improvements in that area. >> thank you. with that, i yield the balance of my time back. >> chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the gentleman from south carolina, mr. gowdy, for five minutes. >> thank you marx chairman. mr. secretary, you had a very distinguished career as an attorney so i'll ask you some legal questions. what is the difference between prosecutorial discretion and the wholesale failure too enforce a category of law?
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>> prosecutorial disaggression is a prioritization, now, something who is a low priority is not necessarily, therefore, beyond the reach of the law. they arlo priority. but they don't have any sort of status that says, you have amnesty. >> on the doctrine of prosecutorial -- >> i'm sorry. >> are there limits on the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion? >> daka -- >> no. are there limits -- >> or on individual -- >> -- are there any categories of law that the chief executive really actually has to enforce and this time we really mean it? >> as a lawyer i will tell you i believe there are. there comes a point where something looks like a wholesale abandonment of the enforcement
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of the law versus prosecutorial discretion. so i -- >> there are at least three different categories of law. law can forbid conduct, can require conduct, and law can tell one branch, you have to do something, like sentence within the parameters. does the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion apply to all three categories. >> daka is an visit assessment of people who are eligible for daca and they -- >> i'm not just asking about -- >> eligible for -- >> -- you were attorney general has concluded his doesn't like mandatory minimums so they're no longer going to inform the grand jury or the sentencing court what the drug amounts are. i'm not talking about daca specifically. i'm trying to determine whether there are any limits to this theory called prosecutorial
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discretion. >> i believe there are. >> give me a for instance. give me a category of law where you can't rationalize, due to a lack of resources, your failure to enforce a law? >> like i said, sitting here i'm not sure i can answer specifically your question in hypothetical terms but i believe there comes a point when something amounts to a wholesale ammann -- abandonment to enforce a constitutional law that is beyond simple prosecutorial discretion. >> well, if you -- >> -- in principle. >> you mentioned in response to one question, lack of resources and a need to prioritize. >> right. >> can the legislative branch prioritize for you what we think your enforcement mechanisms ought to be or the priorities of your department? does it only come from the executive branch or can the legislative branch say we want you to detain this category of
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alien and we really mean it? >> i think that is a good question. i think that there is a role for the legislative branch in making national priorities and how we enforce and prioritize the law. for example, if i may, congress can ratchet up criminal penalties for certain things. that's an act of prioritization, that's an act of telling the executive branch where we want your priorities be -- >> that enhancement is meaningless if there's no prosecution. you would agree with me there. we can raise the statutory maximum on all crimes. if you say the administrative branch has the unfettered discretion to not follow the law, knock will ever be prosecuted. >> that's not what i said.
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>> you cited something the legislative branch can do, which is raise the statutory maximum. >> right. >> what i'm trike to get -- trying to get at is what can the legislative branch do -- i'm not talking about innings right now. i'm talking about any category of law. you really want the law enforced. this time we really mean it, mr. president. we want you to enforce the law. what are our remedies? >> i think that the legislative branch in general, whether it's the enforcement of immigration laws, the enforcement of criminal laws, or how we conduct counterterrorism operations, needs to be careful not to intrude into the discretion at the executive branch should normally have. you cannot, will awe respect, micromanage certain functions that the executive is charged with carrying out. and i know whether it's the aosa or the department of defense
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responsible for signing off on the legality of certain military operations, that the legislative branch can and should and has the prerogative to set the broad parameters for national policy, and the executive should be given a certain amount of discretion based on existing circumstances, to implement and enforce those laws, and there's a line between those two that i think is probably a little difficult to articulate, but i believe both branches have a role -- >> i'm out of time. but, mr. secretary, will say this in conclusion, our politics may differ. i don't know you well enough to know. but you're a former prosecutor and there are a former prosecutors on this committee, and the beauty of this country, even if our politics differ, we still respect the rule of law and we are playing with the foundation of this republic when we decide selectively which lieus we're going enforce due to political expediency.
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that transsents -- begins to impact the foundation of this republic and i would urge you to help me find where that line is between prosecutorial discretion and just decide you don't like to enforce the law. >> chair thanks the gentleman, and recognizes gentle woman from california for five minutes. >> yes. congressman -- >> few for yielding. i just want to point out that congress has identified the priority in the appropriations language for 2013. we prioritized the removal of criminal aliens and i thank the gentle lady for yielding and yield back. >> thank you. thank you, secretary johnson, for meeting with the congressional -- we had a fruitful dialogue on at the deportation policies and i appreciate that. i would like to have questions
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about removals without due process, and i know that those on the other side of the aisle saying there's too much prosecutorial discretion. i believe actually the opposite is true and that is immigration agents now deport most people without ever bringing them before an immigration judge inch 2013, more than 70% of all people that i.c.e. deported were subject to removal procedures which bypassed immigration courts entirely and lacked fundamental due process. so, hundreds of thousands of individuals, immigration agents are the jury and the judge, and in fact deportation decisions are made so quickly that there's no time to see if a person merits discretion or needs protection. take the case of gerardo contreras from san diego who entered the u.s. when he was 15 and later married a u.s. citizen and had two children. he was pulled over by the san
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diego police department for talking to his wife on his cell phone while driving. so the immigration officials are called to the scene and just one day later he was deported to mexico, a country he had not lived in for a decade. he appears to be a prime candidate for prosecutorial discretion. he has no criminal history. had lived in the country for over a decade, had u.s. citizen family. instead he never had the opportunity to present this case to a judge. he was pressured by innings to sign a voluntary return form and was not informed of the consequences of doing. so by signing the form he with ad a right to a hearing and consented to removal from the u.s. and now faces a ten-year ban before re-entering. -- he slipped through the cracks. so, mr. secretary, it's of great
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concern to me that those like mr. hernandez contrary roar who lives near the border and apprehended are subjected to less due process than those detained by i.c.e. and ice is required to use prosecutorial discretion. do you believe that they department's enforcement priorities should require the border patrol to at least screen individuals for prosecutorial discretion? >> well, i can't comment on the specific case, but in general i believe that in the process of prioritization, border officials should evaluate whether a case is a priority one, two, or three. all along the way. as i commented earlier, however,
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i think there are special considerations at the border that you can't ask a border patrol agent, when he is watching somebody crossing the rio grand, to engage in that sort of balancing and discretion. so, it's knockally something that -- normally something that is done once somebody has crossed into the country illegally. i do think that we should -- this is one of the things i'm seeking to do. i think we should do a better job of providing our people with clearer guidance about what our priorities should be, and spending the time to educate and train the work force on the guidelines so they understand them, they understand what is expected of them and they are truly making the effort to prioritize. i don't think we have spent --
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when i say "we" i mean the leadership of my adapt has spent enough time talking to the work force. what i've tried to do is spoken to ero leadership as well as a number of people in the work force, and congressman forbes cited an example earlier at fairfax, virginia, i had a session with a number of people on the front lines in the work force, enforcing immigration laws. so i think an important element of the answer to your question is, better communication between leadership and the front lines, and more effective and clearer guidance. >> thank you. i yield back. >> recognize the gentleman practice texas for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, secretary johnson. i serve on the transportation committee, so i also want to talk to you for a second about the tsa before i get into more
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pressing issue. currently the passenger fee for scranning is a maximum of $5 each way. the bipartisan budget act of 2013 increased that from 250 to 560 per one way regardless of the number of emplanements. die understand that from 2001 the agency implementing the law so with the 2.50 you maximum out at $10 each way. so, it's 2.50 per, with a maximum of $5, and $10 for a round trip. >> i think that's right. >> my office is hearing rumors there may be a different way you interpret what we're doing. given this precedent it seems the correct thing to is to look
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at will macout at 7.20 per round trip so we can put the rumors to rest? >> i know i've looked at this issue. i would need to refresh my rex on how we -- refresh my recollection how we propose the fee be calculated because i want to get this right, and i'm happy to get back to you on that. i do know that one way or another we need to fund our activities. >> absolutely. this is a -- a billion dollar expense to the flying public but falls, i think, under the category of a user fee rather than a tax. you don't fly, you don't pay it. >> one way or another we need to pay for the activities. >> just let me know to make sure there's no intent to go what -- to goon what think beyond kennedyed what beyond what
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congress -- >> you testified earlier on a couple questions before the inof increasing number of minor children that are crossing the border. in fact, there are two facilities in the district that i represent that house those children. one in bishop, texas, and -- i'm sorry, driscoll, texas, and one literally four blocks from my residence, and i've toured one of those facilities and spoken to the people, and they say they can't deal with the children fast enough. there's so many coming in. you mention you went to a facility in mcallen that was overcrowded with children, and your suggestion and answer to one of the questions of how we fix this is an ad campaign saying it's dangerous to cross the border illegally, and i'm concern that isn't enough. i think well intentioned manner
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we have created an incentive for parents who are in this country, lawfully or unlawfully, to hire a coyote day to bring their children across, let them get captured, and we deliver them to the parents at over a billion dollars. i think the numbers are -- i don't want to get the number wrong, either. do you think an advertising campaign really is going to be enough? or some policy changes we need to make to solve this? >> clearly not by itself, sir, and i didn't get a chance to finish my answer to the question. messaging directly to the parents of these kids is an important aspect but not the only answer, clearly. i think that we ought to -- we have to do a better job of attacking the network, and
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reviewing statistics recently -- >> my fear is that as drug cart els who run these operations, are losing money, whether it's increased enforcement or legalization of marijuana, they're losing revenue. my fear is they turn into traffickers, the coyotes, and hold out for more more once the child is across the border or worth yes, take the children into sex slavery in human trafficking. i want you to have an opportunity to outline what you propose. i am concerned, we are unintentionally incentivizing actionses that will cost the lives of children. >> going after the network is important, and we are increasing prosecutions of smugglers. i think smuggling organizations, as you pointed out, are the key
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to this. nobody free lances across the southwest border that i've seen. they're all the -- they're all paying smuggling organizations to get them up the east coast of mexico, into south texas, and then the interior of our country, 3,000 or $4,000 a head simple think the important part of this is increased prosecutions of smuggling organizations, those engaged in this activity, many of whom can be found in the united states. and so i think that is part of it and i think there are other things we need to consider. this afternoon, when i go back to meet with my team, because this is a problem that we have to address for a number of reasons, including the humanitarian reasons. >> any way i can help, please let me know. my time hassedexpired.
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>> the chair recognizes the gentleman program -- >> thank you for being with us today. as you're aware the house appropriations committee just released the homeland security appropriations bill which contains the detention bed -- something has been talked about here today, and it says, quote, that's funding made available under the funding shall maintain level of not less than 34,000 detention beds through 2015. close quote. what's the purpose of detention? >> public safety. >> the purpose is, as i understand it, to ensure that it complies with court proceedings. is that correct? >> those with immigration court proceedings, some are released pursuant to conditions. if we don't think they're a risk of flight or public safety. but those that are considered to
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be a risk to public safety should be detained. >> that's that what i'm asking. be intent is to ensure that these undocumented immigrants wind up appearing in court. isn't that why we have this? isn't that the basis for the system? >> one of the purposes, yes -- >> thank you. >> also need to pay attention to public safety. >> i understand that. and paying attention to public safety is what law enforcement does. are you aware of any law enforcement agency in this country, any other law enforcement agency, that is required to hold a certain number of people every day? >> no. >> why -- so, why do we do it -- >> statutory requirement is beds, not people. some people think it's people. but it's beds. >> a colleague made the point the detention is a mandate, not only is it people but meant to be a deterrent because
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apparently he believes, some of my colleagues believe it is congress, rather than the law enforcement, that should enforce the law. how do you feel about that? >> well, as the exchange i had with congressman gowdy reflects a few minutes ago, i think that a core function of the executive branch is to enforce the law which includes appropriatal discretion. >> and every law enforcement agency in america has the ability to make their own decisions to exercise in their discretion, except in this case, where congress has stepped in and has insisted the interpretation of my colleagues, some of my colleagues here, is not yours, though it should be, but the interpretation here is that it means people, and the costs, the cost then is $2 billion a year. 2 billion daz year that we spend
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when there are -- at a cost of $160 per detained person per day when there are alternatives that cost anywhere from 17-cents to $18 today. the average cost for alternative detention is $5.94. why shouldn't we let law enforcement do, in this case why shouldn't we let immigration officials do their job the same way we allow law enforcement to use their discretion in every other place in the country. >> i don't want to -- don't misunderstand in the, please. there are lots of people in the immigration, the removal system, who should be detained. who should not be at liberty. we make estimates every year of what we think our detention bed space should be. congress comes to their own number and give us their own number, and that's the back anding for we have every year. >> but -- sac john -- secretary
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johnson, i.c.e. detained a record number of detentions in 2012 when there are alternatives. so with these detentions and the interpretation that congress had put forth, there is no discretion that can be utilized. so, my question to you is, why wouldn't -- instead of having this back and forth of how this should be interpreted, why didn't we have this requirement, this detention bed mandate in the law to begin with? why does it come through the appropriations process instead of through a debate about policies that should take place in this committee, and shouldn't be, through these alternatives to detension, be working to save taxpayer money and make sure that immigration officials can do their job? why are we mandating this? >> well, i think that, first of all, that's a discussion you should have with your
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colleagues. >> well, secretary johnson, i'm asking you. i don't believe we should. i have had this discussion and a lot of my colleagues can't understand why when we spend so much time talking about taxpayer dollars and making decisions, wisely and spending decisions wisely, in this case we have policy that benefits a certain group that costs $2 billion a year, and that is a policy that we impose that we don't impose on any other area of law enforcement. it tears families apart there are less expensive ways to do it. i don't believe we should have it at all and i ask you whether you agree with me. >> i think there are certain number of people in the system who should be detained. >> we agree. we absolutely agree with that. mr. secretary. i'm talking about all of the others -- that could be released on alternatives to detention which would save taxpayer money,
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would not put communities at risk, and would allee these -- allow these people to go back to their families and ashower their going to show up in court which is what this is intended for. >> let me finish my sentence. there are some people who can and should be detained. congress has to allocate resources to do that. i also believe there is instances where it is not necessary, given the costs to the taxpayer to detain people who are in the system, and, therefore, alternatives to detention is something that can and should be looked at and funded by this congress. now, arriving at the right balance between what we devote to those who should be detained and those who can be released, as an alternative to detention, is a difficult job. that we have to continually evaluate it to achieve that balance that ensures public safety and maximizes the
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efficient use of taxpayer dollars. that's what i'm interesting in doing in working with the congress to achieve. >> time has expired. >> we're not -- focusing on a mandate -- >> time for the gentleman has expired. over ten minutes and i would only add to the secretary's comment that right now there are over 860,000 such people who are under deportation orders and not detained and have not left the united states. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized for five minutes. >> mr. secretary, in the supreme court's decision of kendall vs. the united states, the court stated that to contend the obligation imposed on the president to see the law faithfully executed implies a power to forbid the execution. a novel construction of the constitution and entirely inadmissible.
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would you agree with that? >> without knowing who wrote it, i agree with that. >> good. you think that dhs has been living up to the supreme court decision? >> i believe that's my obligation as head of the agency and that's what i seek to do. >> good. now, recent press reports warns that the administer offer -- was called on the carpet by the attorney general for apparently her desire or expression of wanting to enforce the drug laws in the united states as they're on the books, particularly the marijuana laws, and i was surprised that the attorney general, chief law enforcement officer, would have a problem with another law enforcement officer wanting to uphold the laws of the united states. so, with that in mind, i was listening to your response earlier today and i was
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refreshed because -- he was asking you about the scanning of ship containers and you said, well, you had looked at and it it's a duly passed law and things that are duly passed law, it's your job to enforce it, and you acted -- my question about kendall versus the united states, and it's your job to enforce duly passed laws. so, as you're doing the review, in the department, as the head of -- for the president, let the president know about enforcement priorities, so if you're were to do this rereview and come back and say, i've had various hearings with the rank-and-file, the police on the ground, hearing from them. look at the resources, looked at the challenges we have, and in the interest of public safety, we have gang members coming
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across the border, infiltrating our immigrant communities here. we have drug dealers coming across the border. we have chai molesters, violent felons, not able to detain them all. we have many tens of thousands released. i've seen that. the deterrent effect of not enforcing the laws is terrible and we have now people lining up at the borders, trying to get across because they don't believe we're enforcing the laws. i've seen that, and saw the president, in talking to the rank-and-file, morale is down amongst the agents. they believe that their mission is to enforce the law, they want tone force the law, they believe they're being inhibited from doing so. so you make this review, you come to the president and say, the laws are duly passed and i believe it's my duty to enforce the laws, and that's what i
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intend to do. do you think, based on your experience with the president, that he will say to you, well, you're tired do a job, conformed do a job do your duty, do your best and enforce the law. do you think you would have a different response? what you're telling me doesn't really match with what i believe the policy of the united states ought to be and don't match with my politics or what i'd like the law to be. so, do you think the president like the attorney general would call you on the carpet and have concerns if you were to come back with a review as i described? >> that's a good question. i appreciate the way you articulated it. because i've been not just the head of a department of our government but the senior lawyer for the largest department of
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our government and i've had occasion to make some really tough legal judgments for this administration, in the conduct of our counterterrorism policies. let me answer the question this way. i am appointed by this president. my political loyalty is to him. i had the higher obligation to the law, to the constitution and the laws duly enacted by this congress, and i will not participate in something that i do not believe squares with my legal obligations, which are higher than any other obligations except perhaps the obligations i owe -- to conduct myself in this office. the district judge who swore me in said, you're about to take an oath.
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your oath is not to homeland security. your oath is to the constitution. and i believe that. i believe that very passionately. so, my obligation is to the law, and i think i have a pretty good understanding of the law, as a lawyer, someone who has been a government lawyer, and i conduct myself within the main stream of legal interpretations of duly enacted laws by congress and the constitution. that is at least how i have south to conduct myself in public office and hope to continue to do so. >> thank you for your answer. thank you. >> before turn to the gentleman from florida,let me announce to the members and to you, mr. secretary, that a vote series has begin, which includes five votes and we have probably time to get the a gentleman program florida and the mr. desantos in before we go to the vote series and that will
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take us at least 30 minutes. mr. secretary, are you able to return? >> i have appointments this afternoon, sir, but i am happy to stay as long as you need me. >> we'll make you as comfortable as possible and will return promptly after the vote but we'll get two more out of the way before we vote. so, recognize the gentleman from florida, mr. garcia, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, good afternoon. thank you for your service, and i want to thank you for your ongoing review as welling a your willingness to meet with the different -- trying to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. mr. secretary, we're coming ounce our second anniversary of the daca program. can you give us a review how it's working. >> i'm sorry. >> can you give a brief overview how it's working?
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>> we have had something like 600,000 people enrolled so far. it's a large number of people. i think our department has done pretty good job of enrolling those people and administering this program, and we're reaching a stage where we're going down the road of renewal, and that's not a big revelation, not a big secret, and so i would anticipate that the daca program will continue. i am looking -- i'm interested in understanding the program better to see if there are ways that we can more effectively administer this program, but my general sense is that the program is working reasonably well. >> thank you. i recently meat young man in my district named julio, who came to the united states from honduras a month after his 16th birthday. after missing the daca cutoff by
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one month. just one month. after graduating from high school he worked construction, trying to go to college. his parents didn't graduate high school but he evenly was given the -- eventually was given the opportunity in a university in my area, miami-dade college, and florida university where he became a campus leader. julio is an asset to our community but when he finishes college he is done, his ability. so do you think that allowing him to stay couldn't -- don't you think that allowing him to statue would be in the spirit of the daca program? >> is it within the -- certainly there is a spirit of the daca program that reflects the special nature of people who cross the border as children. i think in any program like that involves large numbers of
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people, you have to have cutoffs and deadlines and clear parameters. we can't have a case-by-case judgment made with respect to how we're going to administer this program for 600,000 people. so there need to be clear guidelines, clear rules, but certainly the case you describe is within the spirit of what we're trying to achieve with the program. >> thank you. on another note, jurisdictions throughout the country have expressed frustration and skepticism through the secure communities program, including miami-dade county, formally refusing detainer requests. as part of your review are you looking into this area? >> yes. i'm very troubled by how this program is being administered, and the reaction we're getting from governors and mayors and we need to do a better job.
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>> mr. secretary, thank you for your service and your review. >> thank you. recognize in the gentleman from florida. >> welcome, mr. secretary. i was looking through this list of the 36,000 criminals who were released and some of the stuff is really troubling when you look at serious, serious crimes, homocide, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, domestic violence. i mean, do you egregious as a general rule that if somebody illegally enters the united states and they're committing crimes that endanger the life, liberty, or property of the american people, that -- the response should be those individuals are sent back to came from? >> correct. >> so i noticessed in the response you sent the committee that there were certain numbers of criminals who were enumerated as having been released because of binding legal precedent.
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for example, there were ten individuals released whose crimes were classified as homocide, wilful kill, guns, and the reason, according to the response, was because you're only allowed to hold them for a certain amount of time, and in those bases it's because the parent country while not accept them back. is that a fair guess why we would be releasing people who committed -- who are out there mowing down people with a firearm? >> i know in many cases a person is released on conditions because we do not think we have the legal authority to continue to hold them. >> can't support -- i'm just trying to figure out -- >> could be one of the reasons but i hesitate to try to give a broad cad categorization of -- >> are there certain instances where there are violent criminals whose countries have not allowed to us return them? >> that is probably the case. >> have you notified the
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departments this is the case? because there's a statute, 8usc1253 which says upon notification the secretary of state is supposed to order the consular office in those countries to discontinue granting visas until the countries are willing to accept back their foreign nationals. so have you notified the secretary of state this happened, and if not, why not, and if not, will you do so. >> i have to check. >> if you can do that, that would be helpful. the statute imposes a duty on the secretary of state and we me a -- if we were to comply with the laws. one of the thing is saw, there were over 15,000 convictions for dui, and you see reports where there are illegal immigrants driving drunk and killing people. i was airplane when -- alarmed i saw two dui convictions are not
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enough to require deportation. chairman smith wrote i.c.e. before youyear dhs secretary, asking them to launch removal proceedings against illegal immigrants with prior convictions for drunk driving. my question for you and secretary napolitano didn't respond affirmatively -- well you honor former chairman smith's request and protect innocent american lives by detaining these individuals who have these multiple dui convictions? >> well, i hesitate to give a categorical response to broad -- to individual cases without knowing the circumstances of the individual cases. in general, i believe that someone who represents a threat to public safety, who is removable, should be detained and removed. >> that would through children you say multiple convictions for dui -- >> i generally regard a dui as a significant misdemeanor.
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>> i question about a u.s. citizen negatively effected by the administration policies. there's an article in the "new york times" about the daca program and they said that the department has to devote so many resources to doing the daca that these u.s. citizens are now seeing their wait time goes if they want to bring in a foreign national, spouse or family member. so my question to you is, do you find it troubling that legal immigrants and u.s. citizens who have simply been playing by the rules are suffering due to the administration's desire to grant these benefits which we can both agree were not statutorily mandated, it was administrative discretion. does it bother you that u.s. citizens are getting the short end of the stick? >> it -- my understanding it was a terror from that abated after a period of time -- it was a temporary phenomenon that abated and it's my understanding that is not the case now.
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>> you awe agree there's a problem? >> i agree that those who are lawfully in this country, who are seeking citizenship, should not have to wait an unduly long period of time to obtain that, yes. >> very well. i yield back. the committee will stand in recess resume immediately following the votes.
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>> -- forbearance and giving us as much time as he has today. we will turn out to the gentleman from pennsylvania, mr. marino is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. welcome, secretary. minus that with me, so i will do the best that i can as far as asking you some questions. you made, and i apologize, you're at a press conference numidia comments concerning the people here in this country. and i don't know if you refer to it as illegals here deserve to become citizens. do you recall about? >> say it again. >> that the illegals here -- i'm not sure if you use the word illegal, but people here undocumented, deserve to become
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citizens because a lot of children grew up here. to recall that statement? >> i don't think that's what i said. no. >> it was in the media and i take with a pound of salt what i read in the media. my question is though, what type of illegals that are here -- and i want you to do a broad category, should go back. can you give me an example of people that we do not -- they should not be here if they are here illegally? >> well, under existing enforcement priorities, those who are here undocumented who work with it a felony is, convicted of serious misdemeanors, convicted of multiple misdemeanors, who are repeat reinsurance, who are fugitives from a final
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immigration order or consider priorities for removal. and that is where we devote our resources in the removal process. so in general, what we say is those who represents threats to border security, national security. there's a lot of dubliners details obviously anything exact date asking this, but there deserves to be greater clarity in how we define that i removal priorities should be. but i put them in several different buckets, including threats to border security, those who abused the immigration enforcement to send in some way. >> you're as the complex question that i get a great deal of the time when i'm not only traveling in my district, but around the country, concerning immigration. what do we do with the children that are born here in this
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country, that their parent or parents are here illegally and they are parent or parents have a serious criminal record. >> that is a very good question. >> it is a conundrum. it really is. do you have any insight on that at this point? i know you have only been in your position for several months. >> i can't characterize every case. hopefully enough circus and there is a parent in this country who is in a position to care for his or her child. >> that does not have a serious criminal record? >> that does not have serious criminal record. >> i'm going to switch gears here a little bit to guantánamo bay. you said you think we need to close that operation down. he said we had some hundred 30 -- 50.
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>> at this point there's less than 160. >> detained there. what do we do with those people? >> they should be either prosecuted our military systems -- >> that we agree on. >> is part of the reform effort in 2009. we had at one point been in discussions with the state of illinois about a facility in thompson, illinois. or they should be transferred back to their home countries with suitable security arrangements. but you know, we are at a point where the toughest cases at one point the population at guantánamo was over 600, maybe close to 800. the easier cases have left. the harder cases are the ones that still remain. so obviously, we've got to do with this population in one way
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or another. .. >> mr. chairman, thank you mr. secretary for being here. i want to begin by saying that i think the suggestion that this administration has not been properly enforcing the immigration laws is almost laughable. the united states today under this administration spends more on immigration than all other federal law enforcement agencies combined. there have been record removals this administration has formally deported more people than any president in history. record detentions of this administration has detained more people than any president
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in history. a record prosecution immigration offenses have now become the most prosecuted crimes in the federal courts. and our borders have more secure than ever over the last five years border incursions have decreased to levels not seen since the 197 0s. so this notion we can't do immigration reform because this administration can't be trusted is totally belied fwi the facts and i think that the american eople know that. frankly, people who would qualify for legal status under the bipartisan senate-passed immigration and the house
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proposal hr 15. i hope as you assess where you will put your priorities, that you will take into account those individuals many of them are in fact likely to be permitted to pursue legal status and it would seem that those should be priorities in terms of the prosecution that as you evaluate what the priorities of the department are. question about guns. as you know according to the gao, a number of individuals that on the terror watch list of legally purchased firearms in the united states in recent years. according to the most recent gao study come individuals on the terror watch list tried to buy guns, 1450 times between february 2004 and december 2010. on 1321 occasions, 91% of those attempts, the fbi was not able to blog guns and explosives goes to suspected terrorists. my first question is do you support legislation that would
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ensure the federal government has the ability to block gun sales to those on the terror watch list? secondly, so my colleagues have raised concerns about this, about the accuracy of the terror watch list. i'd like to hear from you as to whether not the our efforts underway to update that list compared to maybe the status of it five or 10 years ago when there was some concern about who was on it. it. >> consistent with the position of this administration, i support sensible gun control laws. i believe that part of our mission in the department of homeland security is to train, prevent, educate with regard to mass shootings. and we've done that. secret service, through our fema grants, we tried to help communities better respond to mass shootings. and we obviously see far too many of these in this country.
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and so irrespective of motives, when a tragedy occurs, involves multiple deaths, whether it's a terrorist motivated bomb plot or a mass shooting, the department is prepared to do what we can to try to prevent these acts, to minimize the fallout from these acts, to provide grants to communities to better prepare for these acts, by way of first responders and so forth. and so we do what we can. >> but mr. secretary, what i'm asking but specifically, a gao study that showed 91% of the occasions the federal government or the fbi was not able to block a gun or explosive purchased by an individual on the terror watch list. my question is, do you support legislation that would ensure that the federal government has the ability to block gun sales or explosive sales to
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individuals on the terror watch list? >> i'd have to study the gao report more specifically before i took a position. >> i would ask another 40 working with you. this is a very serious issue were individuals are place on the terror watch list because their dangers and have been identified as terrorists and have the ability to go in and buy a gun or by explosive. that is unimaginable to most americans. i urge you to read that report and look for to working with you to make sure that we prevent such individuals and have access to firearms. and with the i yield back. >> the chair thanks the gentleman, and recognizes the gentleman from north carolina for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, good to have you on the hill. mr. secretary, in responding to a question following a confirmation hearing you asked whether you had any concerns with the current interior enforcement policies that represent i.c.e. come and you
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stated and i quote, that i've reached no conclusion at this point, but i anticipate that if confirmed i will become fully immersed in this issue, closed quote. several months have passed since that time, mr. secretary. do you have any concern with the current interior enforcement policies and efforts at i.c.e.? >> thank you for that question. i have immersed myself in this issue, to the extent unable to do so in five months and i spent a lot of time talking to our workforce. one of the things that's apparent to me is our guidance for enforcement could use consolidation and added clarity. i'm struck by the fact that our guidance exists in a whole series of written documents, memoranda, issued by i.c.e. leadership dating back to 1976, although it into 2012.
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it's a whole series of things. so if one wanted to fully understand what our removal priorities are, what are enforcement parties are you would have to look at the holsters of documents. no one place you go to do that. in many places i think it lacks clarity. so i'm interested in trying to build clarity and try to consolidate all of this guidance, which will be a very huge project. i also think that our removal workforce has some morale issues. i think they could use a pay raise. a lot of them are capped at gs-9, and are upset about the fact that they can't go any higher. and i talked to people in our workforce who are contemplating leaving ero to go to a lower paying job where they have greater pay opportunity. and i think that's unfortunate. so those are just two issues that occur to me. but i continue to learn more and
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more about interior enforcement all the time, but these are two issues that strike me in response to question. >> i thank you, mr. secretary. mr. secretary, george washington university law professor, professor jonathan turley, in fact he's appeared before our committee several times which i'm sure you know him. >> i do. >> he told the house judiciary committee that abusing the concept of prosecutorial discretion, and i'm quoting the professor nye, president obama is now the fun part of the law that he said he disagrees with the it is difficult to discern any definition of the faithful execution of the laws that would include the blanket suspicion or nullification of key provisions. if president, if the president could claim sweeping discretion to suspend key federal laws, the entire legislative process becomes little more than a pretense, he said. you

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