Skip to main content

tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 22, 2015 12:00am-2:01am EDT

12:00 am
so he acquired a black belt in mixed martial arts. joshua who had never been in a he didn't speak a lot but when he did you listened to him. like i said, he never been in a fight in his life but somehow the killing skills were the martial arts his parents gave to him. we got an autopsy report that reads in part this body is , received in a gray body bag. there's a tag on his toe that bears the name joshua wilkerson. he is a white male weighing 100 pounds. he is tied up with braided rope 13 loops around his neck with a , slip knot. it goes behind his back during -- through his back loop it goes , to his hands and his feet, behind his body.
12:01 am
he has multiple fractures in his face. and nasal cavity. his throat and his voice box are crushed. he was kicked so hard in the stomach that it sent his spleen into his spine and sliced it in two. so it was painful. the medical examiner said it was torture. this body has significant skin loss on his buttocks, abdomen, penis, hands and his face. he has one stick of gum and a tardy slip in his pocket. this was our family costs 9/11 terrorist attack by foreign invader whether you want to recognize it or whether you do not. this government continues to fail or even recognize that we
12:02 am
have an issue. americans are dying daily at the hands of criminals that we don't even know are here. you are officially notified today there is a problem when this happens. you can't deny it any longer. you can't ignore our families, our american families. you are elected by americans not any other country. you should be for americans. if you want to sit quietly on the sidelines, you have thrown your hat into the ring already. your silence speaks volumes. you're either for americans or you're not. i will not give up control another one of my children so , that a foreign person can have a nicer life. i am not going to do it. you don't understand the pain. it's so deep in the soul in the place that you don't even recognize you have.
12:03 am
there aren't words to describe the pain to someone who has gone -- who has not gone through it. i'm not giving up another kid. city policy screamed to the criminal element of all illegals in this country, there is a criminal element, it screams to them come to our town u.s.a. we'll protect you from our terrible policemen, we'll protect you from these tough american laws that you, because you had a hard life, are not able to go through the same motions that an american did. they are buying into that fact. it's going to take another life lost by senator, congressman the president, even another of today's heroes, someone from hollywood, before someone in a position moves on this. i urge you you're in a position to do something about this for americans. i thank you to mr. trump for getting a message out about the
12:04 am
nation in two minutes that for 4 1/2 years solidly maria espinoza at the remembrance project and countless families like my own have been trying to say for five to six years. it feels good to be heard, whether you love him or whether you don't, i felt heard. our family is shattered. it's shattered. it will never be the same. we'll manage. we'll go on. we function. we put on a happy face. my kids have changed, the surviving kids. everything about us has changed. it's by the grace of god that in our broken hearts we have a stream of memories of the loving relationship that we had with joshua. joshua had a very deep, intense spiritual relationship, leaving us four, five scriptures in the weeks before he died. i'm ok with where josh is at today. i don't -- it's not just about missing josh. it's about what you're doing to
12:05 am
the entire family. not just our immediate family. his friends, the teachers, the community, our extended family. it's incredible. i can't even explain it to you. america lost that day. you lost a good citizen that was on the brink of becoming who knows what? he mentioned going into the air force like his older brother who had to come home for two weeks and bury -- was out defending this country, americans, and we had to bring him home for two weeks to bury his little brother when he wasn't being defended , right here at home. it's absurd to me. thank you for your time. i do want to say, too, just a little bit of rebuttal about they are not scared to come , here. we are inviting them. sanctuary cities say come on down. you can have a pass in our city. you're tying policemen's hands. i'm not mandating to ask them where they are from. but if they pull somebody over
12:06 am
for a reason valid cause, and , they are investigating vetting them for something, they have a right to ask them. they have a right to ask me , stop me on the freeway where , are you going, where are you coming from? do you have drugs? i'm going to answer those. in 15 minutes it will come out in the wash i'm ok to leave. why are you creating a class of people who seem to say we can't do that. they are not afraid to come here. they are not afraid to traipse across the desert. i have been to the border. i stood there with border agents and watched them come across from jet skis. i will finish quickly. sympathy has never trumped a law in this country, ever. you sympathize with me. can i go break a federal law? anyone? anyone here like to let me do that? every one of them here threaten national security because we don't know who they are. so they are a threat. we don't know who -- they make a decision to come here. they are not scared. they are invited by sanctuary city policies. they are not scared to stand in
12:07 am
line for a handout that every american here has paid into the system for our children. if need be. they mistrust police because they come from countries that mistrust police. they are not scared here. i want you to know that our family is broken forever. we are forever broken. thank you. i thank you for your time. i don't want the sympathy. i want you to do something about it. everybody sitting here is in a position to do something. just throw your hat into the ring for americans. quit sitting silent because it's going to help you get a vote. throw your hat into the ring and take care of american families. thank you. >> thank you.
12:08 am
senator grassley: first of all thank you for your testimony. , i heard frustration and anger about our immigration policies. we can learn a lot from you about how our immigration system needs fixed. and for me that starts with border security. can i ask my members, because we are here for oversight of the administration. how many of you have questions that you want to ask of this panel? if none of you want to ask questions of this panel, then i will dismiss them after thanking them. thank you-all very much for coming and lending your expertise to this hearing. i'll call the next panel.
12:09 am
senator grassley: could we have order. >> thousands of people.
12:10 am
senator grassley: today costs hearing deals with a very special issue. i trust that members of the public here will act accordingly. i want to note at the outset that the rules of the senate prohibit outbursts, clapping and demonstration of any kind. this includes blocking the view of people around you. please be mindful of those rules as we conduct a hearing. if it isn't abided by, i would have to ask the capitol police to remove anyone who violates the rules. before our next panel's seated
12:11 am
i would like, i would ask ms. saldana and mr. rodriguez. before i introduce you, i would like to ask you to affirm. do you affirm that the testimony you're about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god. >> i do. senator grassley: leon rodriguez is director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services. he was confirmed by the senate on june 24, 2014. director rodriguez was born in brooklyn, new york. graduated from brown university and earned j.d. degree juries doctorate degree from boston college. sara saldana is assistant secretary for u.s. immigration
12:12 am
custom enforcement. she was confirmed by the senate december 16, last year. she was born in corpus christi texas. graduated from texas a&i university and received her juries doctorate from southern methodist university. director rodriguez, would you please begin. and then we'll call the other director. director rodriguez: thank you, chairman. thank you, ranking member, thank you members of the committee. in august of 1988 i was sworn in as an assistant district attorney in brooklyn, new york. kings county, new york. at the time i was sworn in, new york city like many other large jurisdictions throughout the country, was witnessing unprecedented crime rates. high homicide rates, high sexual assault rates, high robbery rates, high narcotics trafficking rates.
12:13 am
it was into this environment that i started as a young 26-year-old prosecutor. among my assignments as an assistant district attorney were homicide investigations, sex crime special victims prosecutions, organized crime investigations and prosecutions. during my tenure as an assistant district attorney, i sat by the side of many hundreds of victims of violent crime, family members of victims of violent crime including homicides. , i witnessed the same kind of grief without limit that i saw among the crime victims' families that you saw here this morning. i witnessed the sense of profound injustice that was felt by those families. i did everything i could as an assistant district attorney to honor the oath that i had taken
12:14 am
in august of 1988 and have frequently remembered throughout my many years of government service, frequently remembered and felt the grief and sense of injustice that i saw in those years in brooklyn, new york. i learned another lesson as an assistant district attorney and that has been in law enforcement one size does not fit all. one size fits all is the surest way to let violent criminals go free, to let the worst crimes go unaddressed. it is for that reason that there are homicide detectives who specialize in homicide. those detectives are not asked to go and arrest the individuals who jump the turnstile at the subway. the daca program, the deferred action for childhood arrivals program, provides a way to take
12:15 am
young people who came to this country not of their own volition, but were brought by their parents. it takes such young people who have not been convicted of a criminal offense, who do not present a threat to national security, who are not members of gangs, and while they are pursuing a course of study or have pursued a course of study and does nothing more than to delay their deportation and to offer them work authorization. let me be clear about one of the points i made here. those individuals are not supposed to have committed and been convicted of a prior felony, significant misdemeanors, or multiple misdemeanors, and they may not be or have been a member of a gang. now, several of you are well aware there were situations in
12:16 am
my agency where that policy was not understood. and as a result in a small , number of cases, approximately 20, individuals who were identified in law enforcement databases as gang members were afforded deferred action nonetheless. that is unacceptable. we took decisive steps to correct our procedures, to retrain our staff, to ensure that that bedrock requirement of the deferred action for childhood arrivals program was fully understood. as a result, a number of those individuals have had their deferred action terminated. in a small number of cases we determined that the individuals actually were not gang members at all after thorough investigation. but you have my pledge that we will conduct our business at uscis, u.s. citizenship and immigration service, in a way
12:17 am
that prevents gang members from ever receiving deferred action. now, having said that i realize the topics that we are here to talk about are important and grave ones and i look forward to what i think is the very important dialogue that the chairman, you have convened today. senator grassley. thank you mr. rodriguez. ms. saldana. secretary saldana: thank you senator grassley, ranking member feinstein, and other members of this distinguished committee. like you-all and everyone in this country i am greatly moved , by the stories i heard this morning anti-tragedy that is have occurred and the pain, the very palpable pain that's been inflicted on the families that we heard from today. to them i say i am so sorry for the loss each of you has experienced and i know many of you have shared those condolences as well. and i say that not only as a
12:18 am
director of immigration and customs enforcement, but i say it as a mother, a sister, an aunt, and a grandmother, one of my grandchildren being here today with me. i can only imagine what such a loss would be like. and i want to say that, for over a decade first as a prosecutor then as a united states attorney for north texas and now as the head of immigration and custom enforcement, the largest law enforcement agency in the department of homeland security, i am committed to do all i can to prevent violent crime. i have been and i continue today to do so. i consider myself a law enforcement officer and have for several years. and while the things we did as prosecutors will not bring back the victims of any violent crime, there is some very small solace that i gained, at least
12:19 am
in bringing the perpetrators to justice. and i'm very proud of that work. as you know, the men and women of i.c.e. play an integral role in public safety and national security. tragic situations like the ones that the family members find themselves in are deplorable and highlight the need to continue our work to focus on the apprehension and removal of convicted criminals who pose the greatest threat to public safety and national security. this is exactly what our priority enforcement program is designed to do. we spent months talking with all kinds of people from all of the stakeholders that are interested in our program in designing it. and our objective is to take custody of dangerous individuals before they commit further crimes and before the release into the community. as has been said before, it's not a one size fits all. we have been working across the country to bring people to the
12:20 am
table to work with them to reach their communities and the needs of the communities when it comes to public safety. just as senator feinstein has done in san francisco, i am asking for the help of each one of you and those other members of the entire senate, to assist us in this effort to try to have jurisdictions who have not cooperated with us in the past to start doing so now. now. and i urge you, quite frankly, as part of all that to help with respect to a comprehensive change to immigration law. it is complex, it is broken, this is the -- these are the statutes and codes of regulations that our folks have to deal with every day. and it is -- i implore your help in that regard. secretary johnson has made it clear that our borders are not opened to illegal migration.
12:21 am
as such, i.c.e. through our enforcement and removal operations directorate, e.r.o. is dedicating our resources towards the removal of individuals considered enforcement priorities. we are making some progress. along the southwest border this year, apprehensions are 110 thousand. that i see as significant. 34% from last year at this time. our interior enforcement efforts are also paying off. of those people detained in our detention centers, 96% of them meet our top two priorities. 76% of them meet our top priority. i believe our people are doing a good thing and focusing where they should be with respect to these criminals. you know the enforcement work and the investigative work that our other side of the house
12:22 am
does, homeland security investigations. very fine work with respect to transnational crime with very good results. one in particular i want to point out with respect to gang enforcement. we have an operation recently called operations all fire which netted 32,000 criminal arrests. and 1,000 gang members in that particular group. some charged with criminal offenses. and it is very meaningful work as well. i do know we are going to focus on the enforcement and removal side and i stand ready to take any questions of this committee. senator grassley: i thank both of you very much for being here. most importantly i want to thank you for coming and listening to the testimony of the first panel. i'm going to ask questions then senator feinstein will and then
12:23 am
because the finance committee's meeting on taxes upstairs, i'm going to have to turn over the meeting to senator sessions, if he'll do that, please. start with you, mr. rodriguez. you said that certain actions of people in your department was unacceptable in regard to daca. and that -- so a natural follow-up of that is, somebody didn't do their job right in this particular case, somebody probably didn't do their job right and we know that people have died as a result of it. so then if it's unacceptable who's been fired or disciplined for providing daca to gang members? director rodriguez: senator, there was action taken to correct and counsel individuals who did not understand back in
12:24 am
2013. the proper manner in which to utilize the text database which is the law enforcement database that identifies an individual as gang members. we have undertaken extensive efforts to ensure that both the policy, that very clearly excludes gang members from deferred action and the processes of our agency are fully understood. i would also add that we have run the entire population of deferred action daca recipients back through the text database to identify all those instances where gang membership was not handled appropriately by our officers. so there has been counseling in appropriate instances. senator grassley: since there were 323 how many were changed
12:25 am
, after review? director rodriguez: as i indicated, of the nearly 700,000 daca recipients, we identified 20 cases in which an indication of gang membership appeared in the law enforcement databases for individuals who had previously received deferred action. eight of those individuals have already been terminated. others have been turned over to i.c.e. for appropriate handling. few cases we actually determined that notwithstanding the identification as gang members in the database, they were not after investigation gang members. senator grassley: what process if any, do you have in your agency in place to learn about daca's recipients' criminal activity in order to immediately terminate the benefit?
12:26 am
director rodriguez: we obviously have ongoing contacts and discussion above all with i.c.e. we are notified in situations where individuals have either been convicted of a crime or where information is discovered that they are gang members when we receive that information we act on it. we are also in the middle of the daca renewal process right now. some individuals have been identified as being gang members during the course of that process and of course have been denied renewal and other appropriate action taken. senator grassley: does the agency require an interview in every daca applicant who has a criminal record? director rodriguez: we do interviews in those cases where , in order to resolve an outstanding issue, for example one related to either criminality or gang membership we do utilize interviews in
12:27 am
those cases to resolve those concerns. senator grassley: ms. saldana, in you told the house you march, supported mandatory detainers. the following day you changed your position. sanctuary cities as you have heard today do very little to protect the public safety. they are in place to protect certain groups of lawbreakers but there are real consequences. can you tell the family members here today, including the steinle family, that you don't think state and law enforcement officials should have to abide by detainers of criminal aliens? secretary saldana: i'm not going to say that, senator grassley. what i am going to say is that we are working very hard, very hard with respect to a whole host -- there are about 200 last time i checked, of jurisdictions, when i say jurisdictions i'm talking about counties, cities, all over the country, who have declined to cooperate with us in the past.
12:28 am
as the secretary testified last week, senator, we are making some progress. we have actually identified the top almost 50 jurisdictions that we have had little progress in the past couple of -- in the past couple of several months, and we are going and meeting with those local officials to try to engage them in why the p.e.p. program is actually different from their experience was with secure communities. you heard from some of the witnesses this morning that there is some fear out there and some concerns about even the impact on local law enforcement if there is a feeling of distrust between a community and law enforcement. my answer, the question to me was, would it be helpful? clarity is always helpful to law enforcement. but what i would like to do
12:29 am
, since we just rolled out this program, we have been working on the design and implementation of it for months, we just rolled out this program, i want us to be given a chance to work with folks. as u.s. attorney my whole existence relied on relationships with state and local law enforcement. i had to work with sheriffs, d.a.'s all across north texas to try to get them to work with us. and it's a mutual cooperation. they help us and we help them. and i'd like to continue those efforts. senator grassley: can you admit, yes or no, that sanctuary cities pose a problem to public safety? secretary saldana: i don't know exactly what sanctuary cities definition is, i do know and i have said this in the past, sir, so has the secretary, that not cooperating with us does expose our officers to greater risks because now they have to go out
12:30 am
at large and try to recover some of these convicted criminals. and it's a resource expenditure much greater than it would be if we could just get these people from the jails directly into our custody and through the process. senator grassley: senator senator feinstein: thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me thank the two witnesses and the very moving witnesses we heard in the prior panel. i would like to put in the record, the record of lopez sanchez because you see the felonies and you see the number of deportations and you really see the failure of the system.
12:31 am
so the question really comes what to do about it. it's clear to me this man who was convicted and served time in more than one state, deported five times, kept coming back and this is how it ended. it shouldn't happen that way. and maybe the price on deportation is too low. because it doesn't seem to be a deterrent at all, at least in this case. mr. ronnebeck said the following. i.c.e. reported that they release 66,564 other criminal aliens back on to the streets of our country in 2013 and 2014 and another 10,246 as of march 2015. this group included aliens convicted of violent and serious crimes, including homicide sexual assault, kidnapping, and aggravated assault. then it goes on and says 123 americans had been murdered by one of those released criminal aliens. including mr. ronnebeck's
12:32 am
nephew. are those numbers correct? secretary saldana: they are. senator feinstein: ok. then how does it happen that of those numbers an additional 123 americans have been murdered by them? secretary saldana: how is it that happened? or how is it -- senator feinstein: yes. it seems to me that we've got one size fits all that you do for the worst felon what you do for someone without that kind of record. secretary saldana: and you really struck on the heart of our efforts in talking to jurisdictions who have not been working with us in the recent past. we try to tell them, work with us. let's look at your statutes. let's look at what you passed. and let's see if, one, we have to urge you to try to tweak it or, two, if we can work within
12:33 am
it in whatever ordinance, or legislation there is. i truly believe in my heart of hearts that we can bring reasonable minds to the table to work -- that's why we talk about one size not fitting all. it's because we are trying to accommodate the needs of the communities that are so different. west coast, north and south. i come from texas, our problems there are not the same as the problems in california or new york or in the heartland. that's one of the beauties of p.e.p. again, i need local -- senator feinstein: let me ask you what should happen to somebody convicted of seven felonies in this country in a number of different states and someone who has been deported five times and comes back to eventually commit a heinous crime? what should -- how should that be prevented? secretary saldana: my belief is in developing those
12:34 am
relationships, in communication here. there was a three-way law enforcement communication. the bureau of prisons. and immigration and customs enforcement. i'm doing all i can to try to -- look into and we actually have directed my senior staff to start opening doors and there have been conversations already with the bureau of prisons which is overseen by my department, to try to talk about at least with respect to federal agency to federal agency what we can do better. i invite your thoughts. senator feinstein: one last question. supposing the sheriff did consult with you, the city did consult with you. the record is still there. seven felonies, five deportations, and he came back and he's tried a number of different states and managed to commit felonies there, too. what would happen to them? what would you do with him? secretary saldana: we would probably with someone with that kind of a record, we would, if
12:35 am
he came into our custody present him to the u.s. attorneys' office for prosecution. senator feinstein: on what? secretary saldana: illegal re-entry. there are escalating punishments if you have, depending on your criminal record. we can do that. right now it's up to 20 years depending on the nature of the person's background. senator feinstein: are there cases where you have done that? secretary saldana: oh, yes. senator feinstein: can you tell me approximately how many where somebody with multiple deportations and multiple felonies actually goes, based on the last deportation, to jail, to federal prison or a long time? secretary saldana: we present presented in every occasion that those facts arise. unfortunately, the prosecution decision isn't up to us. it's up to the u.s. attorney's office. they have their own priorities. i can't quibble with that. we do present it every time we
12:36 am
see those facts. senator feinstein: there are members here who have bills that would like to put a minimum sentence on deportation that's violated. in other words, the individual comes back. what do you think of that? secretary saldana: i've got to start with, quite frankly, i would like rather than a piecemeal approach to this tremendous problem a more comprehensive approach to reform. but if we are just looking at that, i'd like to take a look at that language and what the statute provides. this fellow in this case served several sentences for illegal re-entry and substantial, the average sentence is 18 months to two years n this case we have 36, 56, 46 months this individual served. obviously it did not deter him. senator feinstein: right. my time is up. i will put in the record two different copies of the criminal record, mr. lopez sanchez. senator sessions. senator session: thank you
12:37 am
senator feinstein. and you made some important points. i would note that san francisco proudly calls itself a sanctuary city. they are not hiding it. they are proud of it. they directed their police chiefs and police officers to act in that accord, too. we are focused, i think, more today on the sheriff's department who even the mayor has concluded acted improperly. i would offer for the record a letter just a week ago on behalf of the san francisco deputy sheriffs that work for the sheriff there, and that letter to the sheriff says this, as evidence by the tragic death of kate steinle on july 1, to coordinate much less cooperate with law enforcement agencies, recklessly compromises the safety of sworn personnel, citizens, and those who merely
12:38 am
come to san francisco area. this association hereby demands the department immediately rescind the directives and comply with the statutory and contractual obligations to meet and confer in good faith. they go over, say moreover, it is the association's sincere belief that any changes that the department might pursue should honor ms. steinle's life by directing the department's flawed philosophy so the people of san francisco, citizens visitors, employees alike are safer in the future. ms. saldana, you are a in charge of filing these detainers and dealing with these issues, do you agree with that letter from the deputy sheriffs of san francisco? secretary saldana: i would agree with the essence of what's requested. let's do what we -- senator feinstein: could you put on the microphone. secretary saldana: let's get
12:39 am
cooperation. let's do all we can because we are all in the same business. senator sessions: you're exactly right. this is all about protecting public safety. isn't it a fact, ms. saldana everybody who would like to come to the united states is not entitled to be admitted on their demand? secretary saldana: that's why we have these statutes. senator sessions: make evaluations on people. if they get here legally or illegally and evidence dangerous tendencies they can be deported? secretary saldana: that's certainly laid out in the statute. senator sessions: that's required in certain instances by the statute. said they shall be deported. secretary saldana: yes, sir. senator sessions: i think we have a serious problem here and i believe it's directly from the top of this administration and i believe you have been directed to carry out administration policies. when you are asked about the
12:40 am
sanctuary city reform, senator grassley said, you said absolutely, amen. and the next day did you have a conversation with someone and decided to change your statement on that? secretary saldana: as i said before, senator, truly, my response was a straight out law enforcement response. what i did the next day was to clarify. i am not going against what we have, all our efforts in establishing and now implementing the p.e.p. program. we want to work with those jurisdictions. that's what i have always done is try to set up relationships with -- senator sessions: i agree. united states attorney, you gave a law enforcement response. which is this is unacceptable. every jurisdiction in america that i know of participates in a detainer policy that honors detainers from other jurisdictions. they don't ask whether the case is a good case or not. they don't retry the case. united states, federal, state, or local jurisdictions places a
12:41 am
detainer hold on a prisoner that's honored. isn't it historic and really unbelievable act that major cities in this country are refusing to comply with that basic requirement of law enforcement? secretary saldana: this is why i needed the next day to clarify sir, that, yes, we need to get there. but we've got this program that we are about to roll out and it's all hands on deck. we can't afford not to work together in this area. senator sessions: what if they don't cooperate? what if they just refuse as they refused before? didn't your predecessor call on chicago, cook county, to stop its sanctuary policies? secretary saldana: i'm sorry, sir. i wasn't following that. senator sessions: he made a clear statement about it. and it was a call on them to change. now the administration apparently has changed and stopped pushing it. and now after this -- these events that have achieved so much publicity you're beginning
12:42 am
to talk about it again. mr. rodriguez, you represent the citizens on immigration services. your council president has made a series of statements, he's a head official, saying, quote uscic adjudications officers are pressured to rubber stamp applications instead of conducting diligent case review and investigation. the culture at uscis encourages all applications to be approved, discouraging proper investigation into red flags and discouraging the denial of any applications uscis has turned into an approval machine. he goes on to say uscis officers who identify illegal aliens that in accordance with law should be placed into immigration removal proceedings before a federal
12:43 am
judge or prevented from exercising their authority and responsibility. goes on to say, ms. saldana, the i.c.e. officers' morale is reported to be the lowest in the entire federal government. they file a lawsuit against your predecessor, the office association did, claiming that they are being ordered to violate their oath to enforce the law. what actions have you taken to end this and create and meet with the officers to create a system in which they are encouraged to follow the law not inviolate the law? secretary saldana: i listen, senator. i have been to several of our offices across the country. i wish i had time to do all of them in my first year on the job. but i do go and i do listen. i meet with union officers.
12:44 am
i meet with employees top to bottom. we discuss what our mission is. and how it's so important and how commonsensical it is to focus on the most heinous crimes convicted criminals. i get a very good response. so i -- by the way, i may not be a named defendant in that lawsuit, i think i have been replaced. i take those allegations seriously and i work with our employees across the country to discuss it. senator sessions: i never seen the kind of morale problems that i see from the statement to you, mr. rodriguez, and your official actions. and you, ms. saldana, and your predecessor. this is not healthy. it's very bad. and it's a product of the trends we are seeing of nonenforcement rather than enforcement. senator feinstein: senator
12:45 am
durbin is not here -- excuse me, senator schumer is not here, senator durbin is here. i call on him. senator durbin: thank you very much, madam chair. first, i was not able to stay at the hearing for brian mccann's testimony. brian mccann is from chicago. i agreed to speak at a alzheimer's association research meeting. came back, got him on the phone. we are working with him through the f.b.i. to try to help bring this fugitive to justice who is responsible for this terrible tragedy in his family. i want to put that on the record. let me see if i could put some perspective on this for a minute. there seem to be two or three basic elements here that we ought to keep in mind. first is the belief of local law enforcement that if they are called on to enforce status crimes, that is persons who are here undocumented, that it could infringe on their ability to maintain order in a community. every time a police car drove by folks in a certain neighborhood thought they are working for
12:46 am
undocumented people, those folks are less likely to step up and cooperate with police to find real wrongdoers, real criminals so that they would be brought to justice. that seems to be a starting point i have heard over and over again. ms. saldana. secretary saldana: i agree. i heard it also because i met with quite a few officials. and they have a tough job. we all have a tough job. i recognize those arguments. one jurisdiction oregon has been sued, and other jurisdictions, and in these days of tough financial budgets i can understand why people are concerned about being exposed to constitutional challenges like they have been in some of the laws. senator durbin: what the president has proposed in daca referring to young people,
12:47 am
dreamers who were brought here as children and undocumented and dapa for those millions here undocumented, working, raising families and such, in both instances the president has insisted that there be a criminal background check before they are even given a temporary, a temporary permission to stay to either live, go to school, or work. is that not true? secretary saldana: certainly. and my colleague, director, can seek more clearly to this. yes, that is my understanding. senator durbin: director rodriguez, of the 680,000 who have successfully applied for daca status, dreamers, who were able to stay, of that number, i am told roughly 323, about one half of one percent, have -- either engaged in crime or had a criminal record to the point where they were disqualified from the daca program. director rodriguez: that is correct. most of those were as a result of criminal convictions, some of them were because of information received that they either were gang members or presented threats to national security. senator durbin: they were
12:48 am
disqualified from the program. director rodriguez: correct. i would cite that as an instance where we did not rubber stamp. as my union head suggested. we certainly dug into those. senator durbin: and the president's proposal when it comes to the millions undocumented, they, too, will not only be subjected to background check before they are eligible to stay and work on a temporary basis, they are subject to review every time that permit comes up to see if they committed a crime, is that not true? director rodriguez: that is correct, senator. it is a multistep process. biographic and biometric checks that are conducted on all such individuals to eliminate criminals, eliminate threats to our national security, eliminate gang members from access -- senator durbin: on both these programs, daca and papa, there's been general opposition on the other side of the aisle. what the president has proposed for regular criminal background checks about these people
12:49 am
living, undocumented america has been resisted. that's been a starting point in each of these proposal. yesterday i spoke to jeh johnson, secretary of homeland security, he just visited in chicago to meet with some of our political leaders to talk about the specific issue that brings us here today. what do we do about those who are convicted of crimes and also undocumented? and they are working now to come to an agreement threw the p.e.p. program there be an understanding certain levels of crime will result in reporting. they have not reached an agreement. don't get me wrong. but they are moving in that direction. can you explain to me the difference between a civil detainer and criminal detainer and whether that is significant to our conversation here? director rodriguez: senator, i
12:50 am
think i'm a little -- i do have some insight into those distinctions based on prior positions i have held as a federal prosecutor and also county attorney, but given it's director saldana's portfolio i may defer to her. secretary saldana: yes. quite frankly i'm not familiar with the distinction that way. more importantly it seems to me when there is a criminal case that's been presented to the united states attorney, they have accepted it, there will be a criminal warrant and a detainer notice sent to the person is in somebody else's custody, and that has -- it's a court order. it is not administrative. which is the large part of what our function is. our function is civil and administrative. there are some groups of illegal immigrants that we do refer to the u.s. attorneys for criminal prosecution, but that's only where -- that's the only place the criminal documentation would
12:51 am
arise. senator durbin: if we are dealing with someone who is incarcerated and been found guilty of a serious felony, no questions asked, it's over the line, serious felony, from your point of view, what you're asking is that before they be released and their undocumented status there be a report to your agency? a notice. secretary saldana: please advise us with respect to the notification part where there is not -- we have not established problem cause or we have a detainer. senator durbin: we are dealing with a question of illegal re-entry, illegal re-entry, may occur, if i'm not mistaken someone who has been deported from the united states and attempts to return. even if there is no criminal history other than that action of returning after deportation is that correct? secretary saldana: that is right. the u.s. attorneys across the
12:52 am
country are not necessarily enforcing those because of their priorities. it's just too low level. senator durbin: the suggestion we make a mandatory minimum five year sentence for people who have been deported and come back across the border with no other criminal -- no criminal history and no other history from the government's point of view, that seems to me to be an invitation for a lot of prosecutions. secretary saldana: we are stretched on our resources already and focusing on convicted criminals. to expand it to just illegal entries or re-entries would be a very big problem for us. senator durbin: thank you ver very much. senator sessions: thank you. i believe senator lee has yielded. senator cruz. senator cruz: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, senator lee. thank you to the witnesses for being here. the testimony we have heard today is powerful. ms. saldana, you are a texan. you were a prosecutor in our state.
12:53 am
had you a good reputation as a prosecutor. you are serving an administration that consistently refuses to follow the law. we heard this morning the very real consequences of that. now, in march when you were testifying before the house, you were asked about sanctuary cities. cities like san francisco that defy federal law and because of their defiance of federal law, kate steinle is no longer with us, she was murdered because of the refusal of local officials to recognize federal law. you were asked in that house hearing should federal law compel state officials to comply with federal law? and your answer, and i want to quote, verbatim, was, thank you, amen. yes.
12:54 am
in my view, that was the former federal prosecutor speaking. and giving an answer. yet the next day you issued a statement retracting what you said and saying, in fact although you said amen, which is a pretty powerful statement from the heart, you didn't, in fact mean the federal law should force local officials to comply with federal laws. i want to ask you what political officials pressured you to change your statement? secretary saldana: not a single one. this came from the -- the original statement came from my heart. the clarification came from high heart. i don't mean to quibble with you, senator. i respect you greatly. i will say this, the question was not asked, the question was very specific. would it be helpful for detainers to be mandatory. the law enforcement response there is clarity is always helpful.
12:55 am
but i wanted to be sure that people were not reacting to that as an indictment of p.e.p. or working with communities. and that's what i'm committed to do. senator cruz: let me make sure i understand your testimony correctly then. you said then it would be helpful, as in presumably helpful is good, beneficial, something you support, so are you saying, then, that i.c.e. supports making it mandatory to comply with detainers? secretary saldana: no. senator cruz: you just said it's helpful. secretary saldana: clarity is always helpful. but cooperation and working with our state and local partners something i have always done, i will continue to do and i'm committed to see it through with respect to these jurisdictions. senator cruz: it is difficult to work in an administration where you're required to take a
12:56 am
position where although something would be in your own words helpful, you nonetheless don't support t let me shift to a different topic. in the year 2013, how many criminal illegal aliens did the obama administration release? secretary saldana: in 2014, it was a little over 30,000. senator cruz: how many murderers? secretary saldana: in that year, sir, i can't remember the number right now. but i know that we had -- the statistic was said earlier four-year period, there were 121 persons who committed crimes. i can't provide you the number. senator cruz: how many rapists? secretary saldana: i am not sure right now. i have to pull that number. senator cruz: how many drunk drivers. secretary saldana: same answer. i can break that down for you. i think we are working on that right now. it's been requested before. senator cruz: yesterday, how many murderers did the obama administration release? secretary saldana: senator, i don't know the answer to that
12:57 am
question. i want the american people to understand our job and our mission if i may. we don't release people willy-nilly. we release people pursuant to these statutes and regulations. there are only a limited number of crimes that we are -- we are required to detain people. it is mandatory. they are spelled out here very clearly. many of them related to drug distribution and conspiracy. the rest of the people, as you know very well, the law requires us to release some of the -- a small percentage of the total. also the immigration courts have half a million case backlog, they have the proceedings they go through. they will order release because many of these folks challenge their bond or their detention. but the rest, and i think it's like 49% this past year, in the rest where i.c.e. has discretion, where this statute has given us discretion, we have very well trained, very experienced law enforcement
12:58 am
officers who look at the entire case just like a magistrate judge or a federal judge does -- senator cruz: ms. saldana. i want to know your testimony here, when i ask you how many criminals i.c.e. released in 2013, you are off by a factor of three. you said 30,000. the correct answer is 104,000. there were 68,000 criminals, criminal illegal aliens that i.c.e. declined to begin deportation proceedings against despite the fact as senator sessions observed, the federal law you are holding up there says they shall be deported, the obama administration refused to deport them. that's 68,000. in addition to that, there were 36,000 in deportation proceedings with criminal convictions that the obama administration released. i would note among those were 193 murderers with homicide convictions. 426 people with sexual assault
12:59 am
convictions. were over 16,000 criminal illegal aliens with drunk driving convictions. released by this administration because this administration refuses to follow the law. secretary saldana: those numbers i'm looking straight at them. you asked me, i thought, about 2014. that is 30,558. and the good news is at least that was down from 2013, when it was 36,000 -- senator cruz: you are admitting the 68,000 criminal illegal aliens that i.c.e. did not begin deportation proceedings, you add those together it's over 100,000. secretary saldana: that's right. all done pure suit to this statute that the congress has outlined. senator cruz: you heard the testimony from the victims' families. i introduced case law in the senate, a mandatory minimum of five years in prison for anyone apprehended with an illegal re-entry. does i.c.e. support case law?
1:00 am
secretary saldana: i sure would like to look at that. i'm not sure if it was introduced senator cruz: last week. secretary saldana: i'm willing to look at any proposal along those lines and consider and work with you i find some objection. sen. cruz: you said after listening to the victims families that you are so sorry for their losses. yet, the obama administration keeps doing it. when i asked you how many murderers were released yesterday, you don't know. there is a reason the american people are upset. if president obama had the courage and convictions he would look in the eyes of these men and women would lost their sons, daughters, mothers sisters, brothers and the administration would stop releasing murderers and rapists. it is within your power to
1:01 am
follow federal law. this administration refuses to do so and that is altogether unacceptable. thank you. senator feinstein: thank you, to both you, director and assistant secretary, for your work. i know senator grassley wanted to step out for another hearing but i want to thank him for bringing together the first panel of witnesses. i thought their testimony was moving and i know from being a former prosecutor how difficult it can be for victims and their families to come forward. i'm sure some of the families are still on the room today so i thank you for being willing to come forward. i wanted to thank senator feinstein for her fraknnkness in the sheriff of her own state. there should have been cooperation. i think it is very important to
1:02 am
remember there are some of us willing to look at these policies and look at them in a way to figure out what is best for public safety. deputy secretary, you talked about some of the work that is being done to work with these local jurisdictions. i listened to the head of the major city chiefs which made clear was cooperating. clearly, that did not happen. are there other sheriffs and other law enforcement people that have taken the position and have policies where they are not going to -- i understand the mayor said it is happening -- are they not going to work with you and notify you of a repeat felon? ms. saldana: the last time i checked the number of communities that had some kind of legislation was a little bit over 200 -- about 208.
1:03 am
>> did they vary? ms. saldana: tremendously. >> i'm talking about this idea that this has been reported several times and convicted of several felonies. there was no notification to make a better point for someone that is a repeat felon. do you know how many have that policy that was as severe as what this severe -- the sheriff did in san francisco? ms. saldana: maybe a handful. the top 49 was jurisdictions not cooperating. it would have the greatest impact with respect to their immigrant populations in their communities. we have made real progress. as the secretary testified, 33 of them have now set -- the efforts of the secretary deputy and quite a few officials --
1:04 am
they will work with us. we are working with them in some manner. sen. klobuchar: it seems like it should be mandatory that something gets reported to i.c.e.. i know senator feinstein -- ms. saldana: it is a common sense approach. i agree with you. p.e.p covers that. these are severe payments and dangerous terminals that we are targeting and working with these jurisdiction to say can't we all degree on this category of individuals? sen. klobuchar: we used to have cases -- i was reading about one where we convicted a man of murder. his wife was cutin pieces. he was from russia. he has been making requests to go back to russia. my successor is saying no. i remember the pressure you would get, not necessarily from defendants, but from sometimes
1:05 am
family members. people say send them back to the country. it is an argument for serving out sentences in the u.s. for public safety. also, you brought up the u.s. attorney's office and obviously they cannot handle all these. when the are serious ones with a number of felonies, i think they should become more of a priority when it comes to these prosecutions. has there been discussion about this with the justice department? ms. saldana: yes, i met with the deputy attorney general and discussed where we can work together to strengthen this. i'm at with the board of immigrations subcommittee of the u.s. attorneys and we discussed specifically what can you do to help us make an impact? they seem very interested. sen. klobuchar: i have been a supporter of immigration reform. i think there is a lot of work focus on this on allowing
1:06 am
people to get green cards and to start training and competition. there is very important things in that bill. one of them is also amore money for the board, and enforcement. do you think that would be helpful as well to have some kind of comprehensive immigration reform? ms. saldana: essential. sen. klobuchar: i'm talking about from a public safety perspective. ms. saldana: yes. it is like one of these very wide victims indicated this morning where you hear something simply stated, you wonder why do we get bogged down? that was political interest. we have to work on a better immigration system, comprehensively. mr. rodriguez: one of the issues that we have heard about this morning is the notion that
1:07 am
individuals who are here illegally -- we don't know who they are. they are not registered, they are off the grid essentially. both what the deferred action programs and more healthily comprehensive immigration reforms provide is a way to know who those people are. hold them accountable to hol d them where they do commit crimes. that is one example of many where public safety would be promoted by immigration reform. sen. klobuchar: the last thing i want to bring up is this different issue -- i don't want to ramble into it -- the visa program for victims of broader -- of crime. i know i had many experiences where people would be preyed upon because they thought they had power over them because some family member or something else could be deported. the visa program has been
1:08 am
helpful in bringing cases, as one witness pointed out who works in the domestic violence area. can you speak to that? ms. saldana: i can, certainly. i prosecuted human trafficking cases and we often requested vis as i'm happy to say many of the victims involved in some of these cases actually ended up staying in the country and applying for residency and ultimately citizenship and will make extraordinary american citizens. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much. we look forward to working with you. sen. lee: thank you for being here and your willingness to talk to us. i believe the great majority of those who have come to the united states in violation of
1:09 am
our laws have done so for sympathetic reasons and i probably been living their lives -- aside from a legal manner in which they chose to enter the country -- are otherwise living good lives, respectful lives. this fact does not -- i don't think ever can give them the right to citizenship. it certainly cannot override the need we have to ensure u.s. citizens are protected from violence, including the type of violence that might result from someone who came here who should not have come here. someone with a known criminal record who was allowed to remain here in violation of our laws. i have spoken at length that other hearings and on the floor of the senate about your concerns about the use of a
1:10 am
legal remedy known as parole. for those who are not into immigration law parole is a very narrow exception, one that allows a person to enter the country temporarily. the law -- governing parole within the immigration context is fairly specific. it points out this needs to be narrow, and needs to be either for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. this temporary parole is allowed for people to get into the country for temporary finite occasions like they need to get medical treatment. that would be in urgent humanitarian regent to get somebody parole -- reason to get somebody parole or talking about significant public benefits, we might ask the hypothetical of some of the meeting to testify
1:11 am
as a witness in a trial. these things are temporary and they are time sensitive. the temporary nature of parole and its narrow nature is very important because what you -- want to have been granted parole into the country, you have removed an otherwise preseent nt and significant legal impediment to getting legal citizenship. if it is used indiscriminately or outside of the framework of what the law allows, this you can understand really creates a giant gaping hole in our immigration laws. the president has cleverly and some might say surreptitiously made parole wide enough to make recipients the access to citizenship in circumstances in which citizenship would otherwise be not available to them. we are now seeing the president
1:12 am
expanding that program again expanding the use of parole. first, as vice president biden announced in november, the department of homeland security and state are establishing a refugee parole program that would allow those who fail to get refugee status to enter the country under parole. i reiterate parole is made to be a temporary admission to get past the border on a case-by-case reason. it is not a substitute for refugee status and should not be used to permanently relocate non-refugees to the united states or refugee status is not available. second, the president announced a report released last week that the department of homeland security will propose an expanded program for entrepreneurs. we all love them in the country. we have a lot of programs designed specifically to
1:13 am
encourage entrepreneur's to come here from other countries because we love entrepreneurs. any program that encourages entrepreneurs to come into the country should be established by statute, by law not shoehorned into a narrow exception that is meant to allow the administration to step outside the normal front only under extraordinary circumstances. so, mr. rodriguez, do you believe these programs are consistent with a limited intent and temporary nature of the statutory parole? mr. rodriguez: thank you for that question. the short answer is yes, i do. i do precisely for the point you made which is these are programs that are meant to be limited. they are meant to either afford a permanent immigration benefit, nor are they meant to be
1:14 am
utilized by everybody. i don't agree with your characterization of the program -- sen. lee: they are limited? ms. saldana: that is correct. they are limited. when we talk about the central american miners program, it is a limited number of individuals who would be able to seek parole. they are very specific requirements which are for people that parole and parole is the temporary program. sen. lee: it is intended to be temporary and limited. yet, when you look in the application for advanced parole, there is a form called i-131. it defines the statutory significant public benefit which historically was understood to refer like a need for somebody to come into the country to testify in a trial. it defined the bat to include
1:15 am
-- defines that to include semester abroad programs and meeting with clients. do you think that is a fair interpretation of the statute? is it fair to shoehorn meetings with clients or semester abroad programs into significant public benefit, something intended to give somebody the right to enter the country to testify? ms. saldana: understand what we are talking about what we talk about advanced parole. these are individuals that are participants in a deferred action whose ability to temporarily remain in the united states is under a different action program -- sen. lee: why are you using parole? ms. saldana: that is basically the manner in which the individuals are in either humanitarian or public interest program can reenter the united states. it permits them to temporarily enter the united states and return. sen. lee: and when they returned they have a significant impediment that would otherwise
1:16 am
exist for their pathway to citizenship? ms. saldana: it doesit does not make them qualify for legal permanent status or for citizenship. like anybody else. we need to have an actual basis. sen. lee: it is not independently adequate. but it removes an impediment that would otherwise be there by virtue of the fact of he entered illegally. that would impede them from getting a green card, but for t he use of parole right? mr. rodriguez: it is correct to appoint. they need to qualify for whatever the basis is. for residence visa, they need to qualify. sen. lee: it will not make them qualify but it is a condition precedent. you have distorted this law manipulated it beyond what the statutory text would bear and that causes me a concern.
1:17 am
i'm over my time. thank you, mr. chairman. >> it is an important issue. senator purdue and tillis, in that order. sen. vetter: i want to thank the full committee chairman and fl ake for a lot of work in cooperation with me. legislation we want to bring forward and will be bringing forward to stop sanctuary citizen policy to put it into existing federal law which has local law or spent has cooperate with immigration enforcement. i thank you. you have been very active on that. and senator flake and others who are working with me on that and hopefully i think we will move that soon in committee. thanks to you both for your service. ms. saldana, the white house
1:18 am
through the press secretary recently suggested that the murder of kate steinle was made possible because republicans refused to pass the large immigration bill which included an amnesty during the last congress. do you agree with that? ms. saldana: i decline to engage in this political discussion. i'm interested in law enforcement and making sure the immigration laws are enforced. sen. vitter: ok, do you disagree or agree with the suggestion? ms. saldana: i have no opinion one way or the other. i'm focused on a very important job under the immigration law and would rather answer questions or that than political questions. that does not advance the ball. sen. vitter: i agree that is not advance the ball. the statement was insulting to a lot of people, including the victims. let me ask you this -- how is
1:19 am
your action to block sanctuary city policy through the priority enforcement program going to be any more effective than it has been through the secure communities program? obviously, it has been completely ineffective. ms. saldana: lots of controversy, litigation arising. the differences are significant. particularly, i believe as we talked we will see this more clearly, the distinctions are deteriorating. one of the problems of the clackamas county case was there was no basis to return -- retain someone in the state or local level beyond 48 hours which was what our request was. detain beyond 48 hours beyond their underlying offense called for. under p.e.p., we are only asking for 48 hours notice before her release of an individual unless we have probable cause, in which case we
1:20 am
have indications of a true bible he -- violation where we can show the local jurisdiction, then we ask for detaining that person for 48 hours. sen. vitter: under this new policy to try to stop these abuses from happening, first of all, i'm glad we are finally doing this. under this new policy, what is going to happen if and when a local jurisdiction does not comply? ms. saldana: this is one of the things i am considering. i, along with the victims this morning, do not want to see their lives go without being -- sen. vitter: i hope we can all agree with that, but the bottom line is there is no consequence now. nothing happens to these local jurisdictions. so if this is a brand-new day brought on by these horrific incidences what is going to happen to these local jurisdiction? ms. saldana: i'm in the middle of looking at that.
1:21 am
we have just started implementing test in the last couple of weeks -- we will work towards that. i want to talk to more jurisdictions to talk about what is happening if they are accepting -- while earning with us. once i understand the local problems, i think i can help them better. -- ms. saldana: after you say pretty please three times and they don't comply, is there going to be any negative consequences? ms. saldana: i am looking at that's, sir. sen. vitter: you have not determined yet there would be any negative consequences? ms. saldana: the program has been in effect for about three weeks. we just started. we asked for a chance. sen. vitter: well, there were some victims' families that asked for a chance and their chances gone. three weeks -- this has been going on for years and you are
1:22 am
still not prepared to say there is ever going to be any negative consequences to those jurisdictions. when is that going to change? ms. saldana: i presume when you all address comprehensive immigration reform. perhaps that can be addressed there. sen. vitter: now we are going there, right? ms. saldana: what, sir? sen. vitter: ridiculous. now, we are going to the political line. ms. saldana: comprehensive immigration reform is not political. it is essential political efforts. sen. vitter: an absent congress passing that bill that you would the obama administration referred -- you'll think we can stop cities from launching political law? you don't think there can be any negative consequences when they don't properly cooperate under existing federal law with immigration enforcement? ms. saldana: that is what i
1:23 am
understand you all are working on. sen. vitter: are you working on it? you have the authority to do it now. ms. saldana: not according to certain jurisdictions. a federal district court in organ has will against mandatory -- veven setting the language. i'm looking forward to looking at the legislation that is being addressed. i want a solution, too, sir. sen. vitter: we have been asking to a solution for that about sanctuary cities for years. there has been absolutely no effort from the administration before. now, there is a promise of an effort, but still today, after these tragedies you are not prepared to say that you support any negative consequence to sanctuary city jurisdictions if they don't properly cooperate. i eagerly await you to finally say that, that there needs to be some kind of consequence
1:24 am
because that is the only way it will stop the hundreds of jurisdictions around the united states. ms. saldana: i offer you my assistance if you would like my input to respect to any legislation you propose to try to resolve this. sen. vitter: i'm asking for your input right now. what is the negative consequence? ms. saldana: i'm hopeful havei don't have to hit anybody over the head with a political hammer. i think you understand that, senator, and that is why would like to work with you. sen. vitter: unfortunately, the biggest thing i understand is that you were not prepared today as we speak even after these horrible tragedies to support a single negative consequence against a sanctuary city jurisdiction if they don't properly cooperate with immigration enforcement. that is unfortunately the biggest thing i understand. if that is incorrect, please tell me now. ms. saldana: it is incorrect.
1:25 am
sen. vitter: what is the consequence you will support? ms. saldana: whatever you will propose with respect to legislation -- i would like to work with you to see what we can to to help the community in their community policing. sen. vitter: would you tell us what you would support in that regard right now? ms. saldana: sir, i'm so focused on trying to correct the problems to our programs that i would heavy happy to work with you -- i would be happy to work with you on in the legislation. sen. vitter: thank you. i would note there was nothing that would fix the sanctuary city problem. it is just one of the loopholes in the legislation. senator purdue. sen. purdue: thank you for being here today. this is a tremendously important crisis -- a national security prices -- crisis.
1:26 am
there is only six reasons why only 13 colonies got together in the first place -- national defense. we heard from six families this morning and there are many thousands out there that have similar experiences, including in my home state. we have to work together to solve this thing. we heard this morning that between 2000 and 2014, over 100 convicted criminal aliens were released and subsequently released for murder. those convicted criminals were in our communities because the government let them go free. in 2013 alone, i.c.e. released over 36,000 criminal illegal immigrants into american communities. these illegal aliens had almost 90,000 convictions on their records, including 193 murder convictions in over 16,000 truck driving conditions. i know this is a debatable number -- all told, over 340,000
1:27 am
criminal illegal immigrants walking the streets right now. i would argue this is a national emergency. it is absolutely outrageous, in my opinion. i don't think there are innocent parties in this debate. in 2000, my home state a 16-year-old kid was killed by a legal immigrant. today, 15 years later the perpetrator of the crime is still at large. this is in constable when you view the stories of these families but we can bring -- thousands in thehere. i have a quick question, director saldana. thank you for your service in texas and now nationally. if you had this perpetrator in california in your country i just want to ask you again for clarity -- what would i.c.e. -- what is the policy? how would you are treated this particular incident where they
1:28 am
were released back to the country of the authorities in san francisco? ms. saldana: the difference between a criminal morewarrant and a notice of the tainter -- we expect other jurisdictions to respect the court rulers we get when we get a room in a warrant -- criminal warrant. sen. purdue: what if they don't? ms. saldana: that is not an issue we have when it comes to court orders. we take it to court and say this jurisdiction has failed to honor this court order. that is coming from a federal judge or even local judge. then, we ask -- other jurisdictions to honor our criminal warrants that we get. so to us, it is a mutual benefit. we would honor that criminal warrant. the secretary testified last week on something i know he and
1:29 am
i will have many more conversations about and that is what more can be done to try to ensure that we have where we have a jurisdiction cooperating with us that we work, in this case, with the bureau of prisons or someone else, to ensure we get custody of that person. sen. purdue: in that particular case, this is not a trick question i want to know that the policy is consistent in your organization of how you would have treated that particular perpetrator because last week one of your senior officials inside your staff told the judiciary committee that in their opinion i.c.e. would've done the same thing. we would release that individual back into the authorities of san francisco. ms. saldana: that is correct. here is the deal, here is how law-enforcement works -- we have or criminal warrant signed by a judge. we call the jurisdiction and say are you -- is this the i live
1:30 am
warrant and are you going to pursue prosecution? we work with that jurisdiction depending on what the answer is. we work with them to ensure where we will get the biggest bang for the buck. that is where that cooperation is so important. i truly recommend against enforcing these jurisdictions. that breaks relationships. >> i am not worried about relationships. i'm worried about resolves. we have cities not adhering to federal law. that is a tremendous problem. let me change topics. we just spoke earlier. we sent a letter to secretary johnson and have not received a response. we are concerned. i really believe that as we said to the secretary, it is pretty clear it will release to the
1:31 am
release of thousands of additional terminal aliens. -- criminal aliens. in regard to these communities given that these communities did not previously on her or cooperate at all, why do we have confidence that they will work with us. why will that be a better approach? >> because of the distinction. i mentioned on earlier. we are detaining people, or asking them to hold people without a basis for top now we are saying do not hold them 48 hours and the typical situation. just give us notice of 48 hours before. we have to communicate with them and show them. i think it will make a difference in many cases. i don't think i shared with you.
1:32 am
we have identified the top nine jurisdictions that have the greatest impact, based on their illegal populations. 33 have already said they are going to work with us in one way or another. 11 are still in the process of considering. that will have a great impact. >> mr. rodriguez, i want to talk about the potential loophole. this seems pretty off -- pretty obvious to me. i would like to get your opinion. is this another loophole for someone to falsely claim a threat that if they go back home, they are under threat. therefore, they should get asylum here. rodriguez: we do think that rule making is the right path to resolving the right way to
1:33 am
handle this issue. and we can certainly meet senator, and talk more about solutions to the issue you have presented. mr. chairman: senator tillis, are you going to next? senator tillis: thank you for your service. i know you have a tough job. a lot of people have quoted some numbers. the center for immigration studies estimates that there are some 347,000 criminal immigrants at large today. according to march 2 report, i.c.e. weekly departures and detentions report, there's 168,000 convicted criminal immigrants who had final orders of removal but are at large in the united states.
1:34 am
now, in 2013, i think that senator perdue mentioned there were some 36,000 aliens released. now, they represented a total of 88,000 convictions. 193 homicide convictions including one killing of a police officer with a gun. 426 sexual assault convictions. 303 kidnapping convictions. 1,075 aggravated assault convictions. 1,160 stolen vehicles. 9,187 dangerous drug convictions, and 1,670 drunk or drug driving conditions. after they were released -- now, that's what -- that's what they mounted. by the way, that's on average if my back of the napkin math is right, releasing someone who is convicted of a homicide, some two or three times a week.
1:35 am
now, after these people were released, 1,000 were convicted of another crime following their release. this is a significant problem. those stats were only for 2013. we could quote stats before and after that. it's a serious problem, and i think it's something that the sanctuary cities need to recognize. director saldana -- director saldana: quite a promotion. senator tillis: i'm not so sure. i'm a little bit confused about the p.e.p. program. i understand that you're trying to work with local law enforcement. but to a certain extent, it seems to me that we are really excusing the fact that they're not really reading, at least the spirit of the law, and some would say the letter. we talked about if we passed legislation and be very specific
1:36 am
about the mandatory requirements and you don't want to do it. it seems to me you're concerned about the relationship damage that could be done by forcing them. is that accurate? director saldana: well, sir, as i said, our local law enforcement relationships are vital, not to just what we do in immigration. i mentioned homeland security investigations earlier. we rely on our local law enforcement partners to assist us with crime that is part of the homeland security investigations. senator tillis: i understand that but shame on them if they all of a sudden not going to cooperate on other matters of homeland security because we want to take a very specific direct stand that they should obey the law. that to me is like we'll do a favor here and cut them some slack. so they will work with us. but, that is their job. that's what they're sworn to do.
1:37 am
director saldana: just because i worked in law enforcement over a decade, i want you to understand. most of the jurisdictions work with us every day. thank goodness they do. and let me set some context here. i think i mentioned a little over 200 jurisdictions that have passed some kind of ordinance or legislation not to work with us. there are thousands of jurisdictions that do already. i'm very proud of my home state of texas that has 254 jurisdictions in it and we have very good relationships with 99.9% of those. please, do not assume that these 208 represent the total number of -- the vast majority of jurisdictions out there. senator tillis: i do understand. we need to keep in mind that numbers i went through are significant, and each and every year there's roughly the same sorts of numbers. this is a significant challenge. i don't feel like, what i consider bad actor cities, sanctuary cities, shame on them. they need to cooperate with you all.
1:38 am
you need to do your job. they need to help you do your job. not because of some favor but because of responsibility. now, the last question that i have relates to the daca program and, director rodriguez, this may be appropriate for you. i asked the secretary when he was here if he felt certain -- you're probably familiar with the rangel hernandez quadruple murder down in charlotte, 20 minutes where i lived, this is a guy who had some affiliation with gang violence and he was one of the cases that i think spurred you all's review of the other actions. are you absolutely certain that we have scrubbed those who have received deferred action and
1:39 am
that we do not have another hernandez out there waiting to happen? director rodriguez: i'll take that as really two questions. so the first is, am i absolutely certain that my staff is engaged in a very thorough process of running the entire daca cohort back through the law enforcement databases that we use to identify gang membership. i do believe that the label of gang member in that database is a reliable label so that if the individual's identified, that gives us what we need to either deny them outright or to conduct further investigation. so that as we speak today that does leave me with confidence that as of the date that we ran -- we did that review that we were able to address all cases of gang membership. if we have future cases where people either become gang members or commit crimes, we will address those as we have. we will terminate daca in the manner that we have in other
1:40 am
cases. senator tillis: thank you. thank you, mr. chair. senator sessions: senator flake. senator flake: in response to a letter i sent to you along with chairman grassley, you mentioned in the morano case he posted $10,000 bond after his immigration hearing which means that he became obligated to report to i.c.e. upon demand. and at the time the most recent criminal offense i.c.e. had not triggered his obligation to report on demand. he was released from custody in january of 2013. he was arrested for murder january 22, 2015. over two years. was there any contact with i.c.e. during that period, between i.c.e. and him? director saldana: he was in proceedings. that's then -- he's involved with the court, with the immigration courts. whether i.c.e. had some
1:41 am
communication with him in that two-year period, i don't know senator. senator flake: do you know if the immigration court or anybody had contact with him? director sal dana: i don't know. i have look at that specifically, sir. senator flake: is it ok for them to go for two years without any contact? director saldana: it could happen. senator flake: i.c.e.'s obligation to report, you mentioned you didn't see him because there was nothing that triggered an obligation to report. has that policy been changed in terms of triggers for reporting? in light of this case and others, has there been any change? director saldana: not that i'm aware of, sir. senator flake: how many times has i.c.e. revoked bail for those that have been put out on bail like this? director saldana: oh, it happens with some regularity. i can't give you a percent but i
1:42 am
can give you for that specific period. senator flake: one thing striking about this is the lack of coordination and even notification between federal and local officials in response to the letter that chairman grassley and i sent to you, you mentioned that i.c.e. is working to implement a new initiative called the law enforcement notification system, or lens. in your testimony, you mentioned that lens has been deployed in several states. what's stopping that from being implemented in the other 39 states? director saldana: because we have to work with the each state office that gets notices out to their counties and communities. some, like mine, have a lot of counties. it's complex. we have to make our systems compatible to talk and so we started with three states as test cases. texas being one of them. and it worked pretty well there.
1:43 am
we expanded to the total of 11 and there's a period of time that you have to work out kinks because we want to be sure to get this right and that's what we've been going through right now which is the test program. we passed that. we expanded that to the 11. we're liking what we're seeing. senator flake: is this being handled with a little more urgency now? director saldana: i will stay on it. i would like to see it done. i assure you, to make sure it gets done as quickly as we possibly can. senator flake: so by the end of the year you can say in all 50 states we have better notification requirements? director saldana: yes, sir. senator flake: in director rodriguez's testimony he mentioned that 43,370 new daca requests were denied. 414 renewal requests had been denied. of these, you know, 44,000 denied requests, how many have been deported?
1:44 am
there are 43,375 daca requests that were denied, and then 414 renewal requests have been denied. if somebody is not able to access daca, then they are still eligible for deport sayings or that is demanded, how many of those have been deported? director saldana: whether they're daca or not eligible, sir, we look at ours the same way we do anybody else. i cannot give you the specifics. daca doesn't give them a free pass. we have to look at them on a case-by-case basis as to what's the next step, whether we detain someone, what level of bond we place, if we release them, that kind of thing. it's all done on the whole fact and circumstances surrounding that individual, including criminal history. senator flake: if they've done something or have an offense
1:45 am
that makes them ineligible, you would assume they're being looked at now. can you give me a ballpark of how many of those have been deported of the 44,000 daca cases that people who were not able to access daca? director saldana: i will get us an accurate number for you. as soon as i can get someone to look at that for you. i would rather not throw out a ballpark number. senator flake: director rodriguez, in the case of kate steinle, mr. sanchez was here in the country illegally. obviously he had been deported five times. that means he was able to come back across the border illegally five times. obviously border security is something we're very concerned about in arizona and this committee is extremely concerned about. there's one program that we've had, operation streamline, in
1:46 am
arizona, a secure -- or a secure consequences program. it's helped significantly in yuma. we've been able to bring repeat crossings down significantly. yet, the department of justice seems to be now backing away from that program. what are your thoughts there? director rodriguez: well senator, as you know, i administrator the immigration benefits structure. i don't operate border security. i certainly support border security. i am sure the commissioner can address those concerns you have, sir. senator flake: we want to make sure that the programs we have are working continue. we have one working in arizona and we're very concerned it's not being fully implemented. the fact that mr. sanchez was able to so easily return across the border five times in the case, you know, in california is very disturbing but not
1:47 am
surprising, frankly. so i thank you for your testimony. appreciate it, mr. chairman. senator sessions: thank you, senator flake. well, the streamline program i don't think either one of you operate that but i hope you'll fight for it because backing away from it, as senator flake said, is very much a retrograde step. we're also familiar with the 287-g. ms. saldana, you talk about cooperating with federal and state and local officials. your department, homeland security has dramatically weakened the 287-g program which trains local law enforcement officers how to properly and legally assist the homeland security in carrying out its function. do you support the 287-g, and what's the status of that? director saldana: well, yes. i'm not sure what you mean with
1:48 am
respect to weakening. we welcome any 87-g partners. it is not -- senator sessions: just check the record and see if there hasn't been a me minute ution of the -- if there has not been a diminution of the 287-g program which needs to be expanded regularly. director saldana: it's because of us not wanting that partnership. it's because jurisdictions have withdrawn or not coming to the table anymore. senator sessions: we think it needs to be advanced and what should be. look what the american people , know and what the victims of violent crimes know is that this administration has consistently and steadfastly placed the goal of amnesty above the goal of public safety time and time and time again, that's been the fact. and you're just functionaries in that system. you're asked to do a system but within the rules been given by
1:49 am
the political leaders and it's just not right. it's wrong. we need to do more about that and we need to see that end. if this administration has spent one 10th of the effort on enforcement in protecting people from crimes and punishing people who are criminals who violate our immigration laws, rather than on amnesty, we would be a lot safer today. many of the people that have been injured rob, or killed by a legal aliens would be alive today. that is just fact. everybody knows that. i am concerned about it. ms. saldana, chris crane is head of the association -- i.c.e. officers association. 7,000 officers. they have -- they're the ones that filed a lawsuit against your predecessor saying that he was ordering them to carry out out policies that required them to violate their oath.
1:50 am
to enforce the law. i never heard of anything like that the statements, mr. rodriguez, that your officers said, 12,000 led by chris -- ken polinkis, are just stunning in their criticism of supervisors and political leaders. morale is down. and it is because we are not doing what they are paid to do. and they know it. this is what mr. crane says, ms. saldana, i.c.e. is crumbling from within. morale is at an all-time low. as criminal aliens are released to the streets and i.c.e. instead takes disciplinary action against its own officers for making lawful arrests. it appears clear that federal law enforcement officers are the enemy, not those who break the laws, closed quote. he goes on to say, i.c.e. officers requested a meeting with president obama and are still waiting. in that time the white house has met with big business, big
1:51 am
labor, illegal alien activists. the administration has ramped up its nonenforcement directives, putting officers and the public in danger. every day dangerous and violent criminal aliens are released back into our communities. ". that is the true fact of the situation here. you can do better. you can do better if you had leadership that would let you do better. that's the true facts of the situation here, and you can do better. we've added thousands of officers since last dustup in 2007 over amnesty. and we ought to be in a position that we can make real progress. director saldana: senator, may i say something? that's one of the first things that caught my attention when i joined the agency late last year, early this year. i am putting a lot of effort in
1:52 am
trying to engage employees and what they do. i will tell you this, though. i have met with mr. crane several times now. i met with mr. trumka, the head of the afl-cio, as well to discuss our mutual -- their concerns, our mutual interests and i will say when i get out in the field, this is somewhat inconsistent with the portrayal that you just described of our employees. they are so proud of the work they do, and they're so proud of being able to focus on criminal convicted aliens and removing them from the country and they go about their business in a very efficient and good way. and they take pride in that. i just want to mention that to you because that's a fact. i mean, that's what i've seen as i traveled across the country. senator sessions: i believe the facts show that this administration in a host of ways has failed to take strong action to help those officers do their
1:53 am
duty and comply with their oath. mr. rodriguez, on the secretary jeh johnson, your supervisor testified recently before the house and you said that comprehensive immigration reform, had it passed, we would know who the criminal aliens are. but that's not so well-said because i don't think anyone that has a criminal warrant out for them or has a history of criminal activities is going to register for any of these programs that you got. in fact, mr. johnson admitted as much saying, most criminals do not subject themselves to criminal background checks. i agree with that. so you're not saying, are you if we called for people to come and register under daca or the president's executive amnesty that people with criminal
1:54 am
records are going to waltz in and file with you so they can be arrested? director rodriguez: so let me point out a few things, if i may senator. some may have, to their detriment, in the daca program some had disqualifying criminal records did number and apply and in many cases became subjects of notices to appear. but part of my point also is that those who are not criminals, those who committed no illegal act other than illegal entry into the united states, who are not murders, rapists, are on the record should they become criminals down the line we know who they are. for the most part, you're right. your ordinary criminal will not register in the manner you described. they know what the detriment is. if i could, senator, invite you to tour a field office with me because if you did that with me you would see what i have seen is that our officers take pride
1:55 am
in their work. they feel empowered in their ability to do their work, and they exercise their discretion and the chips fall where they will. meaning if there is a case to be denied they do that. i've seen them do that firsthand. senator sessions: well, with regard to this daca program and the process of providing legal status to people in the country illegally, isn't it a fact you set it up so they will not be in-person interviews for the people? director rodriguez: yeah, to my point -- senator sessions: an in-person interview is critical to a proper evaluation of a person who's applying for legal status? that is what experts tell us. director rodriguez: and we do do in-person interviews in those cases that raise concerns that need to be investigated. senator sessions: well, how do you know if it will raise concern if you haven't met with them?
1:56 am
director rodriguez: what i do is look through our files. i know at a time we're reviewing the file there is extensive information about that individual. where our experienced, trained officers can identify, if it's the kind of information about that individual that warrants an actual -- senator sessions: well, mr. polinkis has his -- how it will work in the real world. it has been set up there are few in-person interviews and he says that denies your officers to make rational choices that can protect the public safety. so i guess you just disagree with him on that. director rodriguez: i respectfully do, sir. senator sessions: regard to your process, is it true that over 95% of the daca applicants have been approved? maybe 99%? director rodriguez: i wouldn't be able to tell you the specific percentages other than to say there are a significant number who have been denied or --
1:57 am
senator sessions: you don't know what percentage can be denied? director rodriguez: i couldn't other than to say a substantial number who has been denied. other than that the number is substantial. senator sessions: would you is i less than one half of 1% is a substantial number? director rodriguez: i wouldn't say the number. senator sessions: you are the director of this program. you do not know? director rodriguez: what matters to me is the manner in which -- senator sessions: what mars to -- what matters to me, what percentage is being denied? director rodriguez: i can't tell you. i know a significant number have been denied because of these kinds of -- senator sessions: i'm looking at a sworn statement in the lawsuit in texas. we've referred to, according to the most recent data i've seen, this his quote under oath, quote, according to the most recent data i've seen, uscis reports a 99.5% approval rate for all daca applicants. the approval rate is high
1:58 am
because uscis leadership, you, prevented immigration officers from conducting case-by-case investigations of daca applications. leadership has intentionally stopped proper screening and enforcement. and in so doing it has guaranteed that applications will be rubber stamped for approval, a practice that virtually guarantees widespread fraud and places public safety at risk. so i'll ask you, does this process allow for person-to-person interviews for even a substantial minority? director rodriguez: as i mentioned, when there are concerns that warrant such an interview, yes, the process does allow for it. senator sessions: it goes on to say, as explained by routing daca applications through service centers instead of field offices all over the country uscis management has
1:59 am
intentionally created an application process that bypasses traditional in-person investigatory interviews with trained uscis adjudication officers. the way this will work, someone sends in an email or mails in a document, is that what they do and they are approved based on that? director rodriguez: well there's obviously a lot of information collected. senator sessions: how? how is it collected? director rodriguez: there are specific items that are required as part of the initial request. there are requests for evidence that are subsequently sent to the requesters. there is a sweep of biometrics and i'll graphic -- and biographic checks to answer national security issues. that forms the entirety of the files. if those raised concerns then, yes, those are referred for
2:00 am
interviews. senator sessions: let me go further with what he said under oath. for example, new uscis computer systems -- a new uscis computer system to screen applications known as, quote, transformation, has proved to be a disaster as the agency has spent upwards of $2 billion for a system that would eventually allow an alien, now referred to as a customer, under uscis policy, as i previously stated, to upload their own information via the internet for adjudication purposes. closed quote. so, it will be information sent through some $2 billion computer system by internet and there will not be an interview of most of the applicants. isn't that correct? director rodriguez: i am not sure that. no, i do not agree with that premise. a few things. i'm believe we have turned the


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on