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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 30, 2016 12:00am-2:01am EDT

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management and what the reporting processes that would make you aware of what is going on. management ofr her division even though she fired 1,000 employees for this fraud in 2011 and yet supposedly it took you two years to know about what had happened. she didn't tell you. she withheld information. and you indicated in her glowing retirement that she had done a great job. i'm really concerned about whether or not -- in fact, you understand we have been sitting here fighting to implement dodd-frank and trying to work out, you know, some of the problems that have been identified with dodd-frank, but
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you on the board of directors of the financial services roundtable, it's an advocacy group for the banking industry that has worked to defund the cfpb, hobble its structure and remove its ability to curb abusive practices. now i want to know perhaps what you think that wells fargo has been caught by the cfpb for all of this fraud and i wonder if you denounce the financial services roundtable's actions to get the cfp b. in addition to that, while we've been sitting here, i have learned that maybe not only is wells fargo too huge to manage but maybe the reason you don't know some of the details is because you also sit on a number of good boards. you sitting on the board of chevron, $375,000 in total compensation per year, and you are on the board of target, corporation, for $272,000 in total compensation per year. you have a responsibility to them. you have a fiduciary
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responsibility. and in addition to that, during this hearing, bloomberg sent out an alerter you will be facing a $20 million penalty for improperly repossessing cars from members of the military. it it appears the company just can't make it through this congressional hearing without us learning more and more information about what is going on that wells fargo. i appreciate your apology. i i appreciate the clawback and all of that, but, mr. chairman and members who have left, i have come to the conclusion that wells fargo should be broken up. it's too big to manage. you know, i served on the conference committee for dodd frank. we talked a lot about the living wills and how to learn more about how these banks are put together and how they operate. and of course, the five largest banks in this country have failed the living wills test,
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including wells fargo. and so i'm looking at living wills and the inability to pass the test. i'm looking at stress testing. i'm looking at size. i'm looking at this fraud that has gone on, and i'm worried for the whole banking community that the public will not and continue to not trust our banks who we need in this economy in order to do the business to make the economy work and run. but they're looking at us and they're saying for all of you, particularly those of you who serve on the financial services committee, you're letting us down. you're not protecting us. and so with that, mr. chairman, i'm going to be talking with you and the members to show their outrage here today and moving for to break up wells fargo bank. respond? -- may i respond?
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as i said before, i am sorry that we did not get this right. i take this very seriously. a nondenial. we will get this right. we will fix this. we do a lot of things really great. california is our home state. we have been there for 164 years. we are a major employer we are privileged to serve some a great customers and we feel that the best way possible. . arkansas,tleman from mr. hill will be recognized for an additional five minutes upon the conclusion of the time allotted him under the five-minute role. the gentleman from arkansas. >> thank you for holding this hearing. a key for being willing to appear today. i appreciate your forthright testimony. i've been a customer of your company and i have admired your
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company and i've eastern company as an example for my own businesses in the past 20 years. developing what i thought were best actresses for retail bankers across the businesses i was associated with. time, i've recommended your company the company to do business with and a stock to own. that comes with a heavy burden. i have same not my stomach that you probably have. because in my view as a former person who's worked in finance on and off for 35 years, this just isn't a one-off situation down in the los angeles basin that wells fargo is struggling with. it really is a systemic, a compliance failure inside the assume principleably retail --
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president clinton plea retail portion of the -- principally portion of the retail business. very hurtful for the companies -- customers who have been damaged by their reputation, their credit, potentially. including the 933 people in arkansas that have been affected by this. it resulted in four people who apparently worked for you in arkansas that were fired as a part of the sweep across your company. about whyd us today management between you and the branch manager were many ways. managers, they report to carry tolls that is been discussed today. is that generally right? there is any leader in her name is merrimack. she is in charge of the
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organization. did kerry report to tim sloan? >> to me until about a year ago. eight. remember the fact >> the credit card issue does not report to her. consumer lending executive or community bank? >> it report some place else. >> a matrix management to the retail side. through the consumer lending channels. bank would talk to customers and they would send the request over to the credit card where they would do the underwriting and gentlemen. all those people i named all sat on your operating committee of management. how often does that group meet and is it by teleconference or face-to-face? >> every monday.
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face-to-face. , or tolated to the board meet -- we had nine meetings in 2015. 14 meetings with the audit committee during 2015. the operating committee meets every monday. the one question i have, do you remember this being talked about at that operating level online managers bring their top concerns to you? maybe two years after this was manifesting itself? >> it was being managed within the business in 2011. each business has their own corporate -- own compliance. out of the sales part into the byes control function and
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2013 is wheree -- he brought the corporate resources. corporate investigations, so forth. we saw a spike in that behavior. >> now your lead director is the former ceo of general mills is conducting an independent investigation and has hired independent resources. that is commenced recently? >> as i understand it, he is believed director along with the -- the lead director along with independent directors have hired counsel and are doing the investigation. >> when to expect it will finish their work? >> not part of the process. they will do a full comprehensive review. >> i hope that gets released to the public once the board has seen it and refuted and can be posted on your website.
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and posted on your website. treasurys at the department in the 1990's, we had a little problem with government security business. your largest shareholder, mr. buffett became the ceo of salomon brothers. ofy were found tilting manipulative and the u.s. treasury market at that time. have you talked to mr. buffett about this or sought his advice? >> have talked to a lot of our investors and the have a conversation with warren buffett. >> warren buffett in two minutes probably doenate the best job on behalf of corporate america, do you remember what he said at that time? about -- rather make less money if integrity, go ahead.
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come hel paraphrase said, he wanted every employee to be their own compliance officer. employee,every everyday when they can to work to think about the actions they took on behalf of customers and read that and their own hometown newspaper written by critical journalists. he summarized it. and what i think you will be successful, he made this quote which i think people quoted now for 25 years. lose money for the firm and i will be understanding. use a shred of reputation for the firm and i will be ruthless. >> that is what i remember. i agree with him. >> that is where we are. i agree with my colleagues. this is hurting the ability of the banking industry to do consultative selling. something that we all pride ourselves on. we seek to understand the needs of our customers and try to meet them.
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this damage about what has happened is going to hurt that effort on behalf of community banks all over the country and cause investigations of incentives fail programs and cross-selling cell progress. it is what we are talking about. i hope we will also ask originally where they were at this time. the occ clearly had it needs to improve ratings for you and compliance and intensive work you are doing. o evidence of the cfpb taking action. about,ing i will ask you mr. himes talked about materiality. quarter, lawyers, being counters, did they tell you what is material or what is not?
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you have the ability and the board has the ability to address that in the chairman's letter. you don't need a lawyer to tell you what to write. 50% over 3-5d years, that is material. 10 billion compared to 22 billion. that is a big. not a coming small bites, eye your letter to6, shareholders that you and your lead director will address what i think is a systemic failure in a few areas. it has tarnished this beautiful reputation of your company. i yield the balance of my time. >> thank you. i want to follow up a little bit on the regulators. , the on-site did occ have at the time?
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i think it is around 80. >> and today at wells fargo? >> i think it is about the same. >> the federal reserve? >> i don't know. today?about the cfpb >> i don't have the number. >> did they advise you not to share those numbers with congress?'>> i've not spoken with them about that. >> anyone on your team? told mey has shared -- about your numbers. >> i ask that because you seem very reluctant to share the information with us as to how were orminers from cfpb are currently at wells fargo. number -- i don't of
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the other ones. >> the time has expired. >> gentleman from colorado, mr. tipton. >> thank you. letter from of -- someone who is never had an account with wells fargo. fraudulently opened. sent back from your compliance department, the wells fargo financial crimes manager telling someone who was not the client that he needed to be able to provide complete signed the right return affidavit of identity theft, the right documentation, collection letters he may have received, let verification from social security number administration and a copy of a police report stating he was a victim of identity fraud and a copy of his drivers license and proof of address and copy of previous bills, statements, and voices during the timeframe of fraud.
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he does not even have an account with you. isn't that a little burdensome? what are you doing to respond to people who have no connection with wells fargo but are now swept up in the net of the challenges that your organization has created? on that issue i would like to see, it so our people could take a look at it. i don't know that issue specifically. it sounds to me like identity theft by someone else, most of what we saw, and i can't say exclusively, but of the two million accounts that could not be excluded, those were accounts that people already had at the bank and one of our bankers improperly opened a second account that our system closed. so this sounds a lot like identity theft to me. i don't know that situation in particular. i'd like to look at it. mr. tipton: i'd like to get a personal assessment of you by you. would you label yourself as
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aware and engaged? mr. stumpf: i believe i am. i love this company. i've been here a long time. i spend most of my waking hours thinking about this company. mr. tipton: you know, i'd like to be able to follow up a little bit. maybe on mr. neugebauer's question, in regard to the board. you think about it a lot. when did you make the board aware of the issues? mr. stumpf: the board was made aware generally of issues in committees at high levels, the 2011-2012 time frame, by 2013 we had talked about maybe, i can't remember which committee it was, surely by 2014. and then when we finally connected the dots on customer harm in 2015, the board was very active on this. mr. tipton: you discovered it in 2013. you were aware -- you were engaged. we are now in 2016. now you're rapidly starting to respond.
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there seems to be a little bit of a disconnect in terms of the response mechanism that you're having there. mr. hill had just brought up, and you gave a response saying you had a sense of urgency. who have you fired? mr. stumpf: we fired managers, managers, another manager. we're doing a full review of anybody who was responsible for any behavior of any kind that would not put customers first. mr. tipton: are you try be to be able to say that these were lone wolves acing independently, or were they following policies that came from the engaged urgent managers who are is the c.e.o. and chairman of wells fargo? mr. stumpf: they were doing exactly the opposite of what a c.e.o. wanted them to do. everything i've talked about, everything that we train, everything that we -- mr. tipton: do you have a problem with monitoring from the
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top down? mr. stumpf: we should have done more. it was our monitoring that found this behavior. are we should have done more sooner. i give you that. mr. tipton: you have an infrastructure that is set up, a chain of command in terms of your organizational chart. somebody was overseeing the manager of the manager, however you want to describe. that are there going to be any consequences at that level? mr. stumpf: we're going to let the facts take us where they are and people will be held accountable. mr. tipton: do you have a time frame for that? mr. stumpf: i don't want to make -- foreclose anything we do, to make sure we do it right and people are held accountable. mr. tipton: there was a report that came out of the "wall street journal" that said the person in charge of creating the yearly sales claim for the community banking unit didn't know that the numbers were exaggerated. can you identify exactly, though, when you're looking at this, where the breakdown did first start? mr. stumpf: i didn't read that article. i don't know what that's referring to.
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i know that a lot of us, including myself, should have done more earlier. mr. tipton: thank you. mr. chairman, my time is up. i yield back. mr. hensarling: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from maine, mr. poliquin. mr. poliquin: thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate it very much. mr. stumpf, you're the c.e.o. and the chairman of the board of wells fargo, is that correct? mr. stumpf: that's correct. mr. poliquin: how long have you had that position? mr. stumpf: i was named c.e.o. in the summer of 2007. i was named chairman in the beginning of 2010. mr. poliquin: so six, eight, nine years in that, roughly, in that position. how long you have been at the bank? mr. stumpf: 35 years. mr. poliquin: you've been at the bank a long time. one could conclude, i think would you agree, you know the bank pretty well. mr. stumpf: i love this company. yes.
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mr. poliquin: you know what really bother me? along with other thing. is that i'm looking at this pattern of you folk ripping off your customers, getting caught, paying a fine and doing the damn thing all over again. we just had on the board a minute ago 13 instances of this in the last six years. you're paid a total of $11 billion in settlement fines. you just stood here before us and told us several times you know the difference between right and wrong. you're the head banana over there. i look at you, i look at wells fargo. i know it's a big organization. 268,000 employees. 268,000 jobs. thank you for that, sir. you know something, i don't think management, which means you, knows the difference between right and wrong. i'll tell who you does. the people i represent in maine.
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i represent 650,000 of the most honest, hardworking people you can ever find anywhere. they know the difference between right and wrong. one thing i want to throw out in your lap right now, be very clear, i don't know where this is going. but i will not support in any way, shape or form, any kind of bailout using taxpayer money for wells fargo. you're going to get through me and a lot of other people on this committee. here's what i worry about. i worry about wells fargo. you have 268,000 employees. how many attorneys you got over there? mr. stumpf: i don't have that number. mr. poliquin: more than 10? mr. stumpf: yes. mr. poliquin: more than 1,000? mr. stumpf: i don't think so. mr. poliquin: you have a lot of attorneys. i don't worry about you folks. somehow, sway, you're going to make your way through this -- some way, you're going to make your way through. this you know what i worry about? i worry about our 31 community banks, local banks in the district that i represent. highly rural.
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31 community banks, 500 branches, 9,200 employees. good paychecks, good jobs with good benefits. we also have 58 credit unions with 196 branches and 2,250 employees. these folks are relied upon in their communities. they take their paychecks and they trust the teller and they trust the bank manager. you know what happens? when this happens, it flows downhill. that's exactly what happened in the financial meltdown seven, eight years ago. all of a sudden, because of a handful of -- a small handful of big money center banks that too much risk, with a problem with the regulators, i understand this, everyone was culpable, but all of a sudden we have this very smothering set of financial regulations that are choking off home loans, mortgages for the folks in my district, they can't get a small business loan to put enough diesel in the lobster boat.
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now you come along. i don't know where this is going to go. but i will tell you this. the probability will be high that your organization and the actions of you in your organization, this systemic pattern of misbehavior and gross mismanagement, and it looks like fraud, is going to find its way to the community banks and the folks that rely on them in rural maine. you ought to be ashamed of yourself. what do you tell a family, what do you tell a family that's looking to add their fourth child to their family and they need to put a new bathroom on their house in ellsworth, maine, and they can't get a loan because of regulations and now it's going to get worse? what do you tell them? mr. stumpf: senator, i'm -- mr. poliquin: congressman. you're asleep over there. mr. stumpf: i'm so sorry, congressman.
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i'm sorry for what we've done. our people also live and work in these neighborhoods. in these communities. we're trying to do the right thing. mr. poliquin: you should have done the right thing during those 13 settlements, fines, call them whatever you want, over the six years, totaling $11 billion. that's the pattern that i see. mr. stumpf: there's no question that we've had a lot of settlements and every one we've learned from and we're trying to do a better job. thank you much. mr. hensarling: the gentleman's time has expired. there are no other members in the queue. i wish to thank our witness for his testimony today. without objection, all members will have five legislative days within which to submit additional written questions for the witness to the chair which will be forwarded to the witness for his response. mr. stumpf, we will expect you and your organization to respond promptly and to fully cooperate with our ongoing investigation. without objection, all members will have five legislative days within which to submit
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extraneous materials to the chair for inclusion in the record. this hearing stands adjourned. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016]
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>> of the smithsonian national museum of african american history and culture. clinton remarked that president obama, former president george w. bush, supreme court chief justice john roberts and oprah winfrey. with performances by stevie wonder and patti labelle.
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at 8:00 eastern on c-span. this weekend, c-span cities tour along with our comcast cable partners will ask for the literary life and history of playbook, colorado. >> the railroad and steal industry and coal industry has brought the city where it is today. it sort of speaks to how this is a natural place to settle with the confluence of this area. people still keep coming back to this place because it is a natural place to build a city. c-span2, colorado state university professor and author of the book, making an american workforce. the rockefellers and the legacy of ludlow. the deadly strike between miners in the colorado fuel and iron company. which resulted in a public relations nightmare for john d rockefeller junior. goes out to his car and tells him to turn
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around. you are not welcome here. i cannot guarantee your safety. >> that author matthew harris discusses his book, the founding fathers and the debate over religion and revolutionary america. >> they did not talk a lot about religion at the constitutional convention. in fact, one of the only things they said was that you did not ore to hold public office believe in the bible or some form of christianity to hold office. >> here about the ludlow massacre which took place during the colorado coal strike of 1913 and 14. and we visit this to work center of the museum and talk with the curator about the colorado fuel and iron company. >> this is the shift change whistle. oany generations of puebl children learned how to tell time by this whistle. >> the c-span cities tour of playbook [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] pueblo, colorado.
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working with our cable affiliates and statetion department officials were on capitol hill wednesday to talk about the refugee resettlement program and how refugees from the middle east are vetted. this senate judiciary subcommittee hearing is 2 hours and 15 minutes.
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sen. sessions: good morning. i want to thank all of you for being here. i want everyone to be able to watch the hearing without obstruction. if people block the view of those behind them or speak out of turn, it is not fair or considerate to others. officers will have to remove those individuals from the ring. before we begin with opening statements, i would like to explain how we are going to proceed. we have one panel of witnesses. i will make an opening statements, followed by opening statements from senator durbin. senator schumer is the ranking
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member, but senator durbin will be filling that role today. after a brief introduction, each witness will have five minutes for an opening statement. following their statement, we will begin with the first round of questions, in which each senator will have five minutes. if each sender wishes to continue with questions, we will have a second round of questions. senator grassley for being here for his leadership on these issues. they's hearing addresses obama administration's plans to 000 refugees into the united states through the refugee admissions program that will begin saturday. the tragic reality is that we have millions of displaced persons in the world today, persons that are short of food and water, persons endangered by
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conflicts throughout various regions of the world. no one disputes that most are victims. this is a humanitarian disaster. things have gotten worse. it seems it could be even worse in the future. i think it is important for government leaders to consult something more than their feelings as we deal with nations in unstable areas of the world. good intentions are not enough. good intentions can lead to disastrous consequences and put stresses and pressures on human beings, costing their lives and prosperity, as well. the challenge for us is to focus on what we can do to help in the best possible way. we must also consider our limits. we must not endanger our
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homeland and use our resources unwisely. we must be highly effective in what we do to try to improve this situation. thertunately, administration has presented at american people with a false dichotomy. according to the administration, we either permanently me -- reset all hundreds of refugees in the united states, or nothing can be done. the administration presses forward with plans to admit larger numbers, hundreds of thousands of largely unvetted refugees from areas of the world producing terrorists and extremistss. we must reject this. dichotomy.alse we can protect even more people that are facing danger. i have long argued and called
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the defense department about it on several occasions, that the most effective, compassionate strategy, and the only long-term strategy that can work for millions of people, is to establish safe zones in and around the danger areas in the middle east, as close to their homes as possible, with the goal of being able to return people to their homes as soon as possible. we can more effectively provide protection at a fraction of the cost to resettle them in the united states. one study found resettling one refugee in the united states was 12 times more expensive than providing care for that refugee abroad. with the prospect for a cease-fire in syria, and we do hope that can be accomplished, there is more reason to focus on providing temporary support for displaced persons in the region.
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instead, the president continues to push to expand the annual admission of refugees. in 2015ent from 70,000 110,0000 in 2016 to starting saturday. on top of57% increase a silent admissions, -- asylum admissions and other forms of immigration into the united states. the american people oppose these policies. 48%rding to a recent poll, of americans do not want any more refugees with an additional 26% supporting much lower numbers than the president has proposed. a total of 74% do not support these increases, and for good reason. the security and fiscal implications of these plans are tremendous.
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they are just monumental. put simply, there are serious limitations on our ability to adequately vet significant portions of the refugee population, particularly those from syria and the middle east. the director of national intelligence, the director of central intelligence, the secretary of homeland security, having knowledged that terrorists could infiltrate and are infiltrating the refugee population. as itconcerns are valid, is clear terrorists have done so in the past. the director of the fbi has testified he cannot certify every refugee admitted to the united states is not a security threat and recently compared the to's anti-terrorism mission "looking for needles in a alsonwide haystack" while trying to figure out "which pieces of hay might someday
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become needles." recent attacks highlight how difficult this is for officers. it is not possible to vet syrian refugees. we do not have the information. we cannot get the information to properly vet these and other similarly situated refugee applicants. there are no reliable records in syria. prevent no way to islamic who are extreme extremist from being denied entry to the united states. all our refugee programs, we uty to favor and a d the admission of immigrants who celebrate our pluralist western values. this is not a security test. it is a national interest test. we canaive to imagine
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let him millions of immigrants from around the world and screen out potential terrorists. it has been proven over and over again our ability to do so is not there. hence one of the main reasons we have such a problem. we do not, as a matter of policy, screen refugees for their likeliness of success if they are admitted to the united states, their ability to be to adoptl, assimilate, our legal and constitutional values. iews towards the treatment of women and onosexuals, honor killings, the supremacy of the constitution of the united states. should we not factor in if a group wants to enter the united states has hostility towards the and their ability to eliminate it and impose a new ideological framework for the
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country? there are now 10,000 open terrorism related investigation across the country in every state in the country. there is an active investigation in every area of the country. dedicated law enforcement officers carry a tremendous burden to keep our country safe everyday. it is impossible for them. people need to know this. it is impossible for them to bear this burden if we, the administration, does not even recognize the fundamental challenges we are facing today and the risks we are incurring. he continues to admit those that present significant risk, becoming involved with terrorism after their admission into the united states. in fact, hillary clinton proposes not just a 10,000 syrian refugee admission program 65,000 syrian a
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refugee admission program next year. there is no way we have the ability to secure that group of people that might come here. komi --note director comey has said if you imagine we are going to give full surveillance to a person that might pose a threat to the united states, it takes 30 agents a week to monitor one single individual effectively in this country. it is physically impossible for us to do that. in addition to the serious national security implications and initial resettlement costs, admitting 110,000 refugees will result in enormous long-term financial burden on the taxpayer's. the senior fellow at the heritage foundation has estimated the total lifetime cost of admitting just 10,000 refugees, which includes all costs at the federal, state,,
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and local level, is $6.5 billion. refugees, as,000 the obama administration proposes to admit beginning october 1, will result in a total lifetime cost to the taxpayers of $71 billion. there are limits. we cannot do everything for the world. we have to consider cost to this country. it cannot continue. we must change course. we must be more reasonable and cautious. if we cannot ensure adequate screening of any individual, we must not admit them to the united states. we must admit those who can support and be reasonably expected to participate positively in our nation and support our values.
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we must only admit the number of immigrants who we can absorb in our society successfully. we must only admit those who choose to become fully a part of the american experience. we must admit those who can flourish and do well. we have admitted 59 million immigrants since 1965, and we are adding the equivalent of one million each year. we are adding the equivalent of one city the size of los angeles through immigration alone every three years. it is time to focus on the task of helping recent immigrants and our residents living here today to rise into a stable middle-class instead of growing the pressure on working families by continuing the flow of new workers we do not have jobs for, who are scientifically proven to pull down wages in areas where eatest.w is gratis -- gr
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this becomes more imperative at a time when automation is changing the structure of the labor market. i would conclude that immigration policy must be guided by our understanding that our society, the western heritage of faith and reason and law, is unique, special. our rules, our values, our traditions, is what makes our society as successful as it is in creating a climate where the values we cherish are able to flourish. we are incapable of discussing met today. it is necessary and proper and just to choose among those 7 billion people around the world who might be asking to have the honor to come to the united states, with some basis of confidence, that they will share
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our values. certainly no one has a constitutional right just to demand entry into the united states. it is our choice, and we should do it in a way that furthers our country. we do a disservice to those living here today and those that wish to come here in the future if we allow immigration policy to replicate the conditions that the people have fled from. we must guard jealously our constitutional heritage if the torch of liberty is to continue lighting the world. so we have to work to maintain the national economic wealth and thength so we can help lead world in a positive way and help others in need. appreciate the opportunity to share. senator durbin, we appreciate your willingness to participate today. i will turn it over to you. i ask consent that 12 statements be placed in the
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record as part of the committee hearing. sen. sessions: without objection, yes. sen. sessions: thank you --sen. durbin: thank you. we are facing one of the worst you military and crises in the history of the world. more than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. the brutal syrian conflict at the epicenter of the crisis has killed hundreds of thousands, injured more than a million, and displaced more than half of syria's entire population. in some areas, children are starving to death. an entire generation of children has known nothing but war. a new unicef report finds 28 million children around the world have fled their homes due to conflict. 8.4 million syrian children in need of humanitarian aid. 2.4 million refugees. no place is safe for
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children in syria. violence has become commonplace, reaching family homes, andgrounds, schools, parks, places of worship. imagine what it must be like to meet a mother or father in syria, this war-torn country, the possible choices you face. if you stay, your child could be bombed, like a five-year-old boy who was injured and his brother was killed by a recent military strike. your child could die before your eyes, like three-year-old alan kurdi, who drowned last year in the mediterranean sea with his brother and mother. here is what is said about the impossible choice refugees face. no one leaves home unless home a shark.uth of
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no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safe or of a look -- than the land. i want to show you a photo of amir, a muslim refugee who fled sarajevo in 1995 and came to the united states at the age of 17. came the first bosnian american to serve in the united states marine corps. he is a veteran in the wars in iraq and afghanistan and has deployed eight separate times in service of this nation. he retired after 20 years as a u.s. marine. this former refugee returns to his hometown of st. louis, where he is currently a police officer. for those who proclaim that muslim refugees are a threat to america, please come to know retired marine gunnery sergeant
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hedzik. amir is now part of veterans for american ideals, a group of american veterans that support refugees. they argue that accepting refugees is not just the right thing to do, it is important for america's national security. amir is here with us today. he is joined by scott cooper, a retired marine lieutenant colonel, and andy slifke, retired marine sergeant, who have been fighting to save the lives of translators, largely muslim translators, who literally risked their lives to protect america's troops. acknowledge to it -- e these outstanding veterans and asked them to stand. thank you for being here today. >> thank you for your service. [applause] we are also joined
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by a number of refugees around the united states. 11 states like georgia, texas, vermont, and illinois, and among them are professors, lawyers, business owners, an invisible priest, and a famous -- episcop al priest and a famous actor. thank you for being here today. each of them has an amazing story to tell. veterans for american ideals are not alone in arguing that accepting refugees protects america. listen to what michael hayden, former director of the cia and former james staritis, nato commander said about refugees. it is ironic to say the least that today, some politicians are seeking to shut out refugees in the name of national security. refugee crisis during
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the infrastructure of lebanon, jordan, turkey, who are hosting bye vast majority refugees, doing more to host these refugees, the united states safeguards the stability of these nations and advances are a national security interests. moreover, hostility to refugees helps isis. welcoming refugees regardless of raceion, nationality, or exposes the falseness of terrorist propaganda and counters the warped vision of extremists. let's be clear about these refugees. many of them wait months if not years to come to the united states while they are being carefully screened and vetted. they must pass rigorous security screenings. all of that screening takes place before they ever set foot in america. syrian refugees are subjected to another enhanced review,
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stricter screening. if there is anything we can do to make that process more secure, sign me up. if republicans are serious about securing our country from threats, they should focus on other areas. consider the visa waiver program. 20 million people from 38 nations travel to the united states each year. 20 million without visas. that is one third of all foreign visitors to the united states. they arrive at our airports without undergoing biometric checks. tried to massaoui enter through the waiver program, so did richard reed. every participant in the attack fitter held an passport from a waiver program country.
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if we are concerned about protecting america from terrorists, how about strengthening the waiver program and requiring biometric checks so we know who they are before they board a plane? if we are serious about protecting america, congress should close the loophole that lets people who enter the u.s. through the visa waiver program weapons, even assault and even if they are on the fbi's terrorist watchlist. speaking of gun violence, every day in america, around 300 men, women, and children are shot, and 90 of them die. gun violence is a public health crisis. what has the judiciary committee done about these real threats that face us? since the republicans took control in january of 2015, nothing. nothing. no hearings, no legislation on program, or on
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the gun violence epidemic. instead of these real security threats, we are talking about innocent men, women, and children fleeing terrorism. instead of these real security we cannot forget the lessons of history. fortunately, some have not. last year, the senate received a letter from more than 1000 jewish rabbis who opposed restrictions on refugee settlement. they have not forgotten. they have not forgotten how in 1939, the united states turned away the st. louis as it tried to dock in our country and saved 900 jewish refugees from a holocaust. the 900 returned to europe and many died in concentration camps. id, in 1939, our
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country could not tell the difference between the actual enemy and the victims of an enemy. today, let us not make the same mistake. in the aftermath of our tragic failure, these jewish refugees fleeing hitler, many of them went back to their death. we changed after world war ii after taking a close look at our policies. since world war ii, the american people have set out to create an example for the world when it came to refugees. consider these numbers as we talk about the possibility of 10,000 or 20,000 more syrian refugees. europeans,000 eastern admitted as refugees after world war ii into the united states. close to 400,000 vietnamese refugees fleeing the vietnam war admitted as refugees into the united states.
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approximately 650,000 cuban refugees were admitted into the united states after castro came to power and was clearly enth ralled by the soviet union. 650,000 cuban refugees came to this country, some of them were the fathers and grandfathers of the three cuban-american senators we serve with today. is there anyone who questions whether these cuban-americans have made a positive contribution to this country? we accepted 150,000 refugees from former yugoslavia. the list goes on. many of these refugees were fleeing regimes hostile to the united states. many of their critics argued they could be spies. hostile elements could be among them. the united states did the background checks, not literally to the extent we do today. we were not dissuaded by fear
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and hate. ronald reagan called america a shining city on the hill, whose doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to come here. here is what he said about refugees. i am quoting republican president ronald reagan. continue america's tradition as a land that welcomes people from other countries. we shall, with other countries, continue to share in the responsibility of welcoming and settling those who flee oppression. ronald reagan. compare that with the current republican presidential nominee. notwithstanding his own immigrant mother, two immigrant wives, and the hard work of immigrants who contribute to his company and his wealth, donald trump and his loyalists have made demonizing immigrants and refugees a key plank of his party platform. america cannot build its future
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on fear and hate. today's refugees will become proud americans who contribute greatly, like amir. borders walls on our and fear in our hearts will not move this nation forward. let's not continue the cruelty and deception of blaming immigrants and refugees for economic challenges. let's work together to build a better america for all americans, including new americans, no matter the color of our skin, where our parents were born, or how we pray. sen. sessions: thank you senator. senator grassley, do you have opening statements? thank you very much. we are not here to demonize refugees. we are not going to end the refugee program. there are risks in the program. yes?
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>> i am sorry to interrupt, sir. >> may i just associate myself with senator durbin's remarks and say a couple little things? sen. sessions: well, i think we had probably better -- we will definitely come to you. i believe you are next on the list. if our witnesses will stand and raise your right hand and be sworn. do you affirm the testimony you are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? we appreciate your testimony today. we are, you know, dealing with reality that we have got to confront. it is a painful time. number an extraordinary
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of refugees seeking entrance to the united states and other areas of the globe. it is not possible that the refugee problem can be solved by the united states. we will wrestle with it in this witness making the open statement. we have simon henshaw, bureau of population, refugee, and migration at the department of state. he is a career officer in the u.s. foreign service, who has worked in a positions across the department of state since he first joined in 1985. he attended the national war college, where he earned a masters of science in national security affairs and has a bachelor of arts in history from the university of massachusetts amherst. glad to have your
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opening statement at this time. mr. henshaw: thank you very much. chairman sessions and distinguished senators, thank you for having a hearing and bringing attention to the refugee admissions program. thank you also for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee with my colleagues from the department of homeland security and health and human services, and to describe our plan to bring 110,000 refugees to the u.s. during fiscal year 2017. the united states remains deeply committed to safeguarding the american people and security threats, just as we are committed to providing refuge to the world's most horrible people. we do not believe these goals are mutually exclusive. admitting refugees is an important form of american military leadership. our country is made stronger and more vibrant because the richness that immigrants and refugees brain. with each wave of newcomers, deepening what it means to become american we share a deep
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bond with those who come to our country seeking safety, opportunity, and freedom from fear it we are grateful to have theance to update you on measures we are protecting, while keeping americans safe from harm. my part of this testimony will address the department of state role in the refugee admissions program. president obama led a leaders summit on refugees at the united nations on september 20, in response to the largest mass displacement crisis since world war ii. according to the u.n. high commissioner on refugees, there are 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world to become a 20 million of whom are refugees. the united states recognizes the most refugees desire safe, voluntary return to the homeland. her opportunities for the safe and voluntary return remains unlikely or impossible, the u.s. and the organizations that we fund to promote local
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integration, primarily in neighboring countries. less than 1% of all refugees worldwide are offered an opportunity to settle in a third country. the united states is proud to offer the opportunity to build a new life in our country to 110,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017. since 1975, we have welcomed more than 3.2 million refugees to the u.s., who have become contributing members of their new community. u.s. refugees admissions programs embody our highest values, demonstrating compassion generosity,, and leadership. admissionsfugee program has maintained a focus on ensuring that refugee resettlement opportunities go only to those who do not resent a risk to the safety and security of our country. we continue to employ rigorous security measures to protect against threats to our national
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security. in order to protect our security, applicants are subject to the most intensive screening of any type of travel activity in the united states. the size has varied over its history. depending on global circumstances. after 9/11, refugee arrivals dropped. through the 2000's, the u.s. government slowly increase the number admitted into the country, while ensuring that additional security measures are added and implemented. with those changes in place, we are now able to offer protection to a large number of refugees in need, and we have met the targets for refugee arrivals for four consecutive years. the united states will admit 85,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016, with the largest number coming from burma, iraq, democratic republic of congo, somalia, and syria.
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we are proud of the u.s. operates the largest resettlement program in the world, and resettlement is an important component of u.s. global humanitarian leadership. in late august, we reach the president's goal of 10,000 syrians this year and expect to admit about 12,300 total by the end of fiscal year. kerryretary of state briefed on september 13, as part of the annual consultation mandated by law, the u.s. intends to admit up to 110,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017. which will include growing numbers of refugees from africa, up to 35,000. and a greater number of refugees from the near east south asia region, primarily syrians, iraqis, and iranians, among others. the refugee crisis caused by the conflict in syria is the worst the world has witnessed in a
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generation, resulting in more than 5 million refugees in the region. u.s. government is deeply committed to assisting the syrian people and has provided nearly $5.6 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the crisis, more than any other donor. while the vast majority of syrians would prefer to return home when the conflict ends, it is clear that some remain extremely horrible and would and would vulnerable benefit from resettlement. it has notear 2017, established a target. of every nationality are subject to higher levels of security checks that any category of traveler to the u.s., a multi step screening process that takes many months. syrian refugees going for yet another additional form of security screening, tailored to the particular conditions of the syrian crisis, classified
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details of which have been shared with congress. we understand that in order to be a will to offer this much-needed protection to 110,000 refugees, we be the confidence of the american people that we have taken every vet before they have been settled. all the refugees are typically living in extreme a difficult conditions, they must move through the extensive u.s. government vetting process before we approve them for admission to the u.s. the department of state works extremely closely with the department of homeland security to ensure that every aspect of our process to bring refugees to the u.s. take advantage of the government's tools and databases for in ensuring security. it is premised on the idea that they should be economically self-sufficient as quickly as possible. the department of state works domestically with agencies to ensure that refugees receive services in the first 30-90 days
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after arrival, in accordance with established standards. during and after the resettlement period, the office of health and human services revised technical assistance and funding to states, the district of columbia, and nonprofit organizations to help refugees become self-sufficient and integrated into u.s. society. from the very beginning of the program, and was a public-private partnership. this partnership is the very heart of the refugee program. our confidence in the strength of this partnership is why the administration has had a target of bringing 110,000 refugees to the united states next year. and this partnership is growing. this month, the white house announced 51 companies from across the american economy to do significant measurable commitment around the world, in response to the president's call
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to action. in total, these 51 companies have committed to investing, doheny, or raising more than $650 million. americans have given their time, money, talents to assist more than -- last paragraph, sir? in thissting more than program. and it is gratifying to see the enthusiasm the u.s. demonstrates cities and and their towns. we are testifying as representatives of the u.s. government, that those who form the backbone of this program are the countless faith-based volunteers, local organizations, and elected leaders that ensure acceptance across the country. our dialogue with local community members and authorities in shores our program remains robust and sustainable solution for truly vulnerable refugees, an american
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tradition of which we can all be proud. thank you. chair sessions: next we have the honorable leon rodriguez. he previously served as director of the office of civil rights and the department of health and human services, as chief of staff and deputy attorney general for the civil rights division of the department of justice, and has worked in a variety of positions before, including county attorney for montgomery county, maryland with a law firm in the private sector, and several other positions in the department of justice. he received a ba from brown university and it jd from boston college. dir. rodriguez: chairman, like you, i has been a large part of my career as a prosecutor. in fact my very first job at the state prosecutor in brooklyn, new york at the height of the crack.epidemic assignmentsfirst
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was in homicide. as a result of that assignment, i spent many nights with family members of homicide victims, shortly after the family members were killed. morgan withs in the a medical examiner -- morgue with a medical examiner in those cases. i understand the gravity of the have., that we currently and i understand that when we talk about public safety and national security, that these are not abstractions, but that in fact, real families, real people are potentially affected if we get it wrong. refugees,the child of who came to the u.s. from cuba in the early 1960's. and i grew up in a community of i understand what those hopes and dreams and realities and aspirations are.
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i am also a student of history. thumbingay, was through some books in the library and found the book of speeches about immigration. this one was given in 1964, before the u.s. house of representatives committee on the judiciary, by a person who is still president of the daughters of american revolution. the title of those remarks was national origin quotas should be retained. after first expressing concerns about the cultural and economic impacts presented by the immigrants from the period, she went on to state the following, "in view of this, revisions as per new quotas to greatly increase immigrants would be a
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threat to the security and well-being of this nation, especially in face of the cold war, inasmuch as it would be impossible to obtain adequate security checks from satellite calmness controlled countries." now, i don't believe her advice was heeded. had it been, it is quite possible i would not be here, but in fact all four directors since the founding, not only that, the former ceo, the late ceo of coca-cola, the parents of the ceo of amazon, the ceo -- former ceo of intel, andrew himself a refugee from eastern europe, and the list goes on and on and on. about what would have been lost to this country, if we had listened to this advice. generalnderstand the point.
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that we must meet the standard, that chairman you have stated, that we cannot ensure the screening, we must not admit them. we live by that principle. with the ideaever that the individuals who we stamp for admission to the u.s. are largely embedded. in fact, we detail in exquisite henshaw'sth and mr. written remarks as well as my own, the process that we undertake in order to ensure that the individuals we admit are in fact that individuals about whom we need to worry. this does not eliminate all risk. and i have been candid. but the fact is, since september single act of actual terrorist violence has been committed by a refugee who is undergone our screening procedures. there have been individuals who came to the u.s. as children. and there are individuals who
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came along time ago, before our modern procedures, but since september 11, all we have had our conspiracies not only by refugees but other kinds of immigrants. it is really an equal opportunity world. so, -- chair sessions: you don't count conspiracies? they were acts of violence. dir. rodriguez: effectively disrupted by law enforcement. just tossions: 20 to you get to your point. dir. rodriguez: if you look at the record and what we have done, let us take the example of syrian refugees. in fact, 7% of all -- chair sessions: mr. henshaw went twice as long, so we have to -- dir. rodriguez: i use my time. and i have about 30 seconds more? is within a couple of more points, sir. the following, vetting
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syrian refugees, 7% have been denied for security issues identified by information from law enforcement databases, about twice as many have been placed on hold because we have concerns. in other words: live by the principal you have stated, sir. thank you very chair sessions: mr. robert bob terry, director of resettlement, most recently served as vice president of the resettlement and migration policy at the international rescue committee. advocacy onagency's refugee, immigration, and trafficking community development possibility. he served as chair of the refugee council of the united states of america, and we, as senator durbin indicated, we have some wonderful people who go out of their way to help refugees. make them successful in america.
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chairman sessions and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the department of health and human service's resettlement of refugees and the u.s. i have the honor of overseeing the office programs, would provide refugees and victims of torture and other humanitarian interests with the support and services they need to become self-sufficient and integrated into communities across the u.s. in my testimony today, i will describe the role that health and human services place in resettlement. the mission to serve refugees, to advance services administered by state governments and androfit organizations, extensive public-private partnership network which involves many volunteers across the u.s., as well as faith-based and committee organizations. all of our grants are designed to facilitate the successful
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transition and integration into the u.s. refugees arrive with distinct skills and we try to provide the services necessary to support their success. we support transitional and medical services for refugees, through programs administered by states and volunteer organizations through the wilson program. and provide cash and medical assistance and other populations for up to eight months after their arrival in the u.s. a portion of the new entrance participate in what is called the matching grant program, through this program u.s. resettlement agencies use a combination of funds and privately raise resources to assist refugees in obtaining employment services such as case management, job placement, interim housing. and they become employed and self-sufficient within their
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first eight months in the u.s. in fiscal year 2015, the matching grant program served just under 30,000 refugees and required economic self-sufficiency rates of approximately 82% for participants out of 180 days after arrival. it expanded in recent years, and quitting additional 5000 slots and fiscal year 2016. we also provide funds to government and nonprofit agencies to promote social services, including english-language courses, employment services, case adjustment,social and interpreter services. we recognize that many individuals resettling to the u.s. have experience. we have services for these victims of torture, given the survivors, the expanded access of the program.
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we are also deeply committed to supporting refugee youth, particularly through school impact grants. through this program, we support local school districts. the program provides english-language instruction, afterschool tutoring for refugee students, afterschool activities, parental outreach, and interpreter services for parent-teacher meetings, aides, and bilingual counselors. finally, i would like to share the story of one refugee and his family who fled the democratic republic of congo. when he was 16 but there was a war in his country and it was not safe to live there. he witnessed the murder of his father, his sister was sexually assaulted, his mother was severely beaten. they fled to a camp outside of the congo with a live for seven years. musa and his family apply for refugee status. fivewent through interviews and it took several years to come to america.
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the mother and six younger siblings were eventually settled to area, pennsylvania, and role in the matching grant, program and after a period of adjustment and struggle and active participation in the program, he is adjusted well to american life. he has two jobs, a drivers license, and his brothers and sisters are doing well in school, and the whole family is enjoying the new school in committee. exemplify thehat courage and determination seen in so many of the refugees who arrived in the u.s. that i have the honor of hearing everyday. and they are not the exception, but rather the rule. every day, thousands of refugees are successfully integrating into new committees in the u.s. and giving back to the country that has given them the opportunity to start over and live free from fear and persecution. despite facing hardships, they resolved to better their own lives, contribute to the community, and integrate as
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productive members of society. supporting refugees and other humanitarian populations in achieving these goals i welcome this committee,'s interest in the settlement program. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the critical work we perform in assisting vulnerable populations. i would be happy to answer any questions. thank you. chair sessions: thank you very much. senator grant, anything you want to start with? i would be glad to yield at any time. senator grant: if i could exercise the time to answer questions, i would like to do this. we will start with mr. henshaw. in the report to congress, the administration says that it aims to admit a significantly higher inber of syrian refugees fiscal year 2017. last year, you told us you were going to admit 10,000 syrians,
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but that estimate was overshot by about 30%. when we met with secretary of state on september 13, secretary kerry still could not give us an estimate of the number of syrian refugees to admit. so, what is the number of syrian refugees you expect to admit fiscal year 2017? the whitew: senator, house has not given us a target for next year for syrians. 12,500,ipate about but i don't have a number other than that. typically in our program, we don't set nationality numbers. it was unusual for a particular number to be set as it was for syrians. senator grassley: you may have answered this by saying 12,000. would you say that the range is in that area of 10-15,000?
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mr. henshaw: i can only say that i expect it will be above 12,000. grassley: you cannot say how much above 12,000? mr. henshaw: i cannot. no, sir. senator grassley: because it is a hot political item? mr. henshaw: no, because the number has not been given to us by the white house. we have not been given nationality numbers in the past. they have not taken a level of interest, so i do not want to speak before the white house does, in case they want to set a number. mr. henshaw,ley: mr. rodriguez, just 10 days ago, ramahi, a u.s. citizen from afghanistan, was allegedly responsible for bombing
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incidents in seaside park, new jersey, new york city. he was also allegedly responsible for explosives recovered near train station in elizabeth, new jersey. this young man was born in afghanistan and reportedly enter the u.s. as a derivative of is parents who sought refuge. he reportedly scrabbled extensively back to his home country, back to pakistan's thing for months. this is not new. time and again, we see the returning to the country for various reasons, even though they claim they would be persecuted if they go back. and their life is in danger if they go back. back, they stay a long time. questioning whether or not they enter the country based upon the principles of our refugee program, so they travel back in that way. yet, the department of state and homeland security do not track those travels or regularly
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review the travel patterns of those who seek asylum or refugee status. you can connect a 2013, the tsarnaev brothers, who bombed the boston marathon, traveled extensively to meet with islamic radicals after obtaining asylum. will the department of state and homeland security consider tracking the travel patterns of those who obtain asylum or refugee status? and if you would not track them, why not? and don't you see the danger that i have just expressed of not tracking? i would like to have both of you answer. dir. rodriguez: i think generally, this would be in the first instance, either a dhs responsibility written large or a consular affair. what i will say, is that in certain circumstances, the kind
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of information you are talking about, about travel, could be relevant. as we consider subsequent benefits that an individual may seek. an individual may arrive as a refugee or may be granted asylum and subsequently seek to adjust, and that is indeed an issue we could explore. now, to the broader issue affecting all travelers, those are other agencies that are responsible for systemically tracking the individuals. i would not speak beyond the observation i just made. senator grassley: mr. henshaw? mr. henshaw: i would agree this is generally a law enforcement issue, and other agencies that track the movement of people. i don't think it should adhere to any one category of people allowed into the u.s. but i think if there are questions of movement by anybody from this country, it is a law enforcement issue.
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and those agencies are more able to answer the question that i am. senator grassley: my time is up. chair sessions: people claim to be refugees, they say is too dangerous to be in their home country, then they go back. just a fundamental question, that the purity of this program is not so graeat. senator durbin, we yield to you. senator durbin: i would to ask the panel, the chairman and his opening remarks, said that refugees "are largely un-vetted." i would like to ask anyone on the panel if you know of any refugees that have been admitted to the u.s. during your tenure with the government that have come in unvented? dir. rodriguez: it is my watch to vet. flat answer to that question is no.
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every single refugee over 14 years old is interviewed, is screened, in the manner we described in our written statements. that is the case, regardless of her they come from. there are particular countries of concern, syria has been identified. those requirements are heightened yet, and there are additional steps we take in those cases. senator durbin: take them for what it is. the second statement made by the chairman, and it stands to reason that it is more complicated and challenging to syria, ane coming from war-torn country where records may not be easily available. how do you address that? dir. rodriguez: we address it in two critical ways. the fact that the u.s. is not
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present in syria, in the manner in which it was present in iraq, is what really drove the observation that director comey made. that we had a wealth of information available coming from iraq. and there is no other country from which we would have quite the quantity of information that we got from iraq. does that mean we have no information. in fact, gathering information and ofhose organizations those countries that mean this country harm, both from intelligence perspective and national defense perspective, is no surprise one of the highest priorities of the administration of a particular agency responsible for gathering that intelligence. when we conduct for example our interagency check, which bounces against a variety of law enforcement and intelligence holdings, the details of which we cannot discuss here, in fact hundreds
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of individuals have had derogatory information come back, which then became the basis for their rejection of refugee treatment. and i am talking specifically about syria now. there is another part of this. we have officers, refugee officers, asylum officers, who alsoxtensively trained and very carefully selected to do the work they do. i am a former prosecutor, former criminal investigator. so, i understand what the process is to conduct interviews, to assess credibility, and i have observed the work our officers do. and in fact, they are in an ongoing, high quality process of assessing credibility, testing what they hear from refugee candidates against the country conditions. about which they are briefed by intelligence officials, by law enforcement officials, by other
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refugee officer. that is another layer of screened accounts for the fact about 7% of syrian applicants, since the beginning of syrian admissions, have an out right rejected because of credibility or hits. and it also accounts the fact that 13% have been placed on hold, until such time we feel that we have the correct amount of information based on work, conducted i'll our fraud detection. there is noin: so, presumption that you're entitled to come to the u.s. dir. rodriguez: the burden is on the applicant. senator durbin: and the process involves not just the security agency, but also law enforcement and intelligence? dir. rodriguez: there are a number of partners. senator durbin: is it fair to say the level of background checks for these refugees is significantly different and more
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involved, than when cuban refugees came to the u.s.? dir. rodriguez: yes, i have actually seen some files from the period. and that is what my answer was so long, about to get longer, senator. senator durbin: let me just ask you this basic question raised about whether the people admitted as refugees share our values in the united states? those who are willing to wait two years to finally come to what we consider a great country, and it is, and the safety of our shores, can you comment on that aspect? dir. rodriguez: i can comment on what i have seen. and that is that the refugees who i have met overseas, the communities i have visited, including the number of folks who are here with us today, every opportunity that i have bad to meet a refugee in what i have observed throughout the history of this country is regardless of what country they
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came from, what faith they practice, what walk of life, level of education, economic circumstance, in fact what the vast overwhelming majority of what refugees have done is exactly that, a simile to life in this country and seek a better life for their family. >> mr. chairman, and i have 30 seconds? you folks left the impression that it is not your business, law enforcement will have to track these guys. and if you have that attitude, they will never be tracted. because you folks know they left the country the first place. dir. rodriguez: what i was talking about -- youtor grassley: are sharing this with a law enforcement you're talking about? dir. rodriguez: actually, yes. identifyet refugees information of value, that information is shared with the
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applicable law enforcement and intelligence agencies. that is one example. if i left the impression that we do not care what happens, i apologize. it was not the impression i intended. mr. henshaw: i certainly did not leave the impression either, but what i would say is that the vast majority of our refugees do not return to the country that they came from. syrians are not going back to syria. somalians are not going back to somalia, anything but very rare circumstances. and that information is pass ed to law-enforcement agencies when it happens. there are cases when they do eventually go back to their countries, but that is one situation that has improved. the vast number of afghan refugees in the world have returned to afghanistan now, even of the situation is somewhat tenuous. so, it depends on the country and situation, but we do keep law enforcement informed. senator grassley: mr. chairman, thank you.
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rodriguez,ons: mr. we just have to be realistic with the american people about the situation. individuals of the middle east convicted of terrorism since 9/11. our staff has been able to find 40 refugees who have been convicted of charges related to terrorism, many in recent years. and your department, secretary johnson, has refused to answer the question of how many? we have only been able to get this republic sourcing? to give uspared answers to the letter i submitted months ago on the subject? yes or no. dir. rodriguez: i'm not familiar with the aspect you're talking about. how many have been charged with terrorist charges? i am aware of the 40. chair sessions: we do not get it
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from you. dir. rodriguez: we certainly stand ready to work with you. chair sessions: i would just note that i wish it were not so, but government data from the annual report to congress shows that refugees from the middle east from march of 2009 through % are on of 2014, 89.7 the system. secretary, 76% receive medicaid. these costs are not a part of your report to congress, because it is not your agency. when you estimate how much it costs to move a refugee into the united states, we just need to know this, a lot of people are having difficulty being successful in the u.s. and i wish it were better than it is, but that is just a part of it.
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with regard to security checks mention,and iraq, you iraq we had good records on. but we have had a series of individuals from iraq that have come in here that have been involved in terrorism, too. and so, we obviously missed some of that. and we have virtually no record for our investigators to confirm or deny statements made by applicants for asylum or refugee status from syria. some security data that you can run against. you continue to say we run this as hard as we can against whatever we have, but what mr. comey is suggesting is that it is just not very good. we do not have enough information to be able to make a rational decision. at the had a statement house hearing yesterday, or a day before, that he warned we
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would have a big flow into the united states if isis loses its removed fromd is syria, and other places that they are going to come to the u.s. and europe? do you deny that? dir. rodriguez: i watched parts of the testimony yesterday. i did hear what he said. chair sessions: you agree or disagree with that? dir. rodriguez: i certainly know that is is in the area of national security concern. absolutely. that is exactly the kind of thing we have been taking steps, certainly within the refugee programs -- chair sessions: with regard to this consultation, i was at the meeting with secretary came and consulted with us. it would be 10,000 people. he did not say what you think, congress? he told us what it was going to be. is that right? mr. henshaw: i understand it was
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a conversation back and forth, the consultation -- chair sessions: mr. rodriguez was there. he just told us for the number was. we have a candidate for president, former secretary of state who knows the rules and laws, she says she does not want 12,000 refugees from syria. she has published stated she wants to have 65,000. we had 10,000 supposedly last year. does she have the legal authority to do that after president of the united states, appointing the secretary of state who executes her policy? i cannotaw: senator, comment on the statements of president of candidates. chair sessions: what about the law? she has given no specific number for syria. that is why he said 65,000, they could come from syria. has she the ability to direct the state department to admit 65,000 from syria mr. henshaw:
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the president of the united states can change the numbers after consultation with congress. chair sessions: and consultation does not mean ask our opinion. simply note it. and mean it. let me ask you this, aside from the security question that we deal with, that you do your best to check, i don't dispute that, you do not screen refugees for anything other than what threats they might make to the united states. isn't that correct? mr. henshaw: they are screened for medical issues, as well. chair sessions: i just want to discuss this a little bit. and so, i think the american people, and all of us need to think about this going for the rational immigration policy, you take into consideration the applicant's proficiency or lack of it in english, or even the literacy with regard to the
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country from which they come. mr. henshaw: our decisions to bring in refugees are based on their former abilities. chair sessions: you don't consider whether or not they read or write in their own language? mr. henshaw: no. chair sessions: neither do you consider level of education or unique job skills? mr. henshaw: no, but i have to say we have received many refugees with a high level of education from the middle east. chair sessions: do you make any inquiry about practices that we reject in the states, like female genital mutilation? you said you believe in that, when you come to the u.s. will you comply with the laws of the u.s. and that question? mr. henshaw: on all questions, we make it clear to refugees that we are a nation of laws and the need to comply with the laws. chair sessions: you do not ask them if they would comply with that law?
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mr. henshaw: i cannot answer the question. 27 honorsions: we had killings last year in the united states, according to doj. if you ask do you adhere to the practice of honor killings for the people who violate certain religious codes, before in michigan to the united states? mr. henshaw: i'm not sure does honor killings took place among the resettled refugee community in the united states. we make it clear, and we have a cultural orientation program which orients refugee applicants, would be refugees -- chair sessions: do you make any inquiry to determine if there is any evidence that adhering to a group that has those kinds of views, like honor killings, and whether or not they would give that up, if they admitted to the
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united states? mr. henshaw: senator, i see no evidence to show refugee communities are bringing these values into the united states. they are becoming good american citizens, members of the military, members of our police, people with u.s. american values. that is what i see when i visit refugee populations in the u.s. chair sessions: if they are literate, i've elected to become a police officer in the u.s., are they? with regard to honor killings, you have evidence that 27 people were killed in the united states for honor killings, according to report. mr. henshaw: not relevant to the population in the u.s. chair sessions: it is the same cultural background, i would say. 40 were charged with terrorist acts, so you are
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not perfect in your admission, i have to admit. mr. chairman, my time is up. i am sorry. i am the chairman of the steering. [laughter] we are klobuchar, delighted to have a good prosecutor. that is aobuchar: good way to begin your thank you very much, mr. chairman. and thank you to all of you for working on this issue. senator durbin and i have been long involved in this issue. and iso, senator franken represent a state that has a lot of refugees and are a big part of the fabric of life in our state, leading businesses, teaching our students and our police forces. so, i think i would start with this issue, director rodriguez, on the security check. as you stated in your testimony, refugees are subjected to the highest level of security check of any traveler to the u.s.
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i believe we need to uphold the stringent security standards, which require extensive biographical and biometric checks, information vetting. do you agree with me that they are the most carefully vetted, ensuring that the efforts are not compromise as we look at some increase in the number of refugees? dir. rodriguez: yes, i agree. that they are the most highly vetted travelers to the u.s. my particular sample population is the rest of immigrants to the are, who also incidentally subject to extensive background checks, in certain cases an interview as well, but refugees definitely get more. as do asylum-seekers. we are in a constant process of tools, as those tools
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become available. and a lot of times for example, talking about incidents for people to arrive, even eight or nine years ago, let alone 20 years ago, the process they would have undergone then is nowhere do the process that we have now. senator klobuchar: for syrian refugees, and even extra layer. dir. rodriguez: a couple of extra layers. one, a select portion of the cases, when they have particular characteristics, are pre-reviewed by our fraud evention directorate, before interview is conducted by our officers in order to identify areas of concern for officers to pursue. if there are concerns after the interview, those cases are than held for further review by the same thing. senator klobuchar: we have a lot of refugees. and not as many from syria, and i met one of the 24 of them two weeks ago, wheelie have 24 in our state. she came actually from
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armenia, she was at the independence day celebration from aleppo. i talked to her about the process she had to go through. about theg to ask you special immigrant visas for iraqi and afghan translators, raising the issue of some of these refugees.and i personally have met one guy that is friends of the general that is in charge of our minnesota national guard. he is teaching at military college now in the u.s. he helps protect our military abroad, including senator graham. and as a result, he and his family were forced to flee their homes because they received death threats from al qaeda. he has been waiting for more than two years to receive asylum in the u.s. i think you know that this program of bringing in the people that helped us are supported by general mcchrystal and campbell, both the knowledge and how crucial this is.
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and why it is taking so long for someone to help our country in this way? dir. rodriguez: this really speaks to the various challenges that we are dealing with in our asylum process. it is no secret that our asylum process is backlogged. the fact is, we essentially run it on a first-come, first-served basis. we do address the oldest cases, regardless of backers of nationality or anything else. that is the approach we have taken. we are and have been for some time, in the process of adding, training, deploying, making sure that they have experience. initional asylum officers, order to reach the level needed to adequately address the caseload. senator klobuchar: the last question i had, i have a pretty important question i will put on the record, towards your victim's release. republican representative chris
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smith and i have been working on this, senator durbin and franken cosponsoring the eye with that on the record. my last question is about refugee is my understanding that in going over your testimony that this is actually to mr. carey, the voluntary agency matching grant program reported economic self-sufficiency, about 82% for refugees after 180 days. that does not surprising. our state on a woman rate is down to .6%. the refugees are not illegal. because they are legal, they can work. and it has been a big help for us in areas of our state, where we simply need more workers. and i can give you numerous examples of managers of plants that told me they were going to shut down if they have not gone to the refugee program. whether they were from burma whether they were from -- our
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state has been the most successful areas in the country. and a lot of us understand we have legal workers back and work at our 17 fortune 500 companies or other places. how has this program been effective, and what can we do to make it more effective? mr. carey: thank you, senator. it is a signature program. yes, sorry, a little distant. no, the matching grant program is a signature program. we are very proud of it. 82% is an important indicator. we have extended it by 5000 slots the last year, recognizing it is exported very effective. i think it is also in nomadic of the public-private partnership -- emblematic of the public private partnership. organizations participating in the ongoing orientation and job search effort with refugees. we found that employers we work
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with on an ongoing basis during the initial placement period, it is extraordinary successful. and we hope to continue it and increase it, should resources become available. senator klobuchar: thank you very thank you mr. chairman. ,>> mr. rodriguez, fordham law school's center on national security has released a report on isis prosecutions in the united states. and they look at all isis prosecutions in the united thats, and determined those involved in that, 18% were refugees or aca asylum-seekers. should never be of enormous concern? dir. rodriguez: without a doubt. >> is not a big percentage? to. rodriguez: i did not get say what was about to say.
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my question is, isn't in a very big percentage? 18%? dir. rodriguez: 1% would be big. this is an area of concern. ago,vitter: a few minutes you touted, or perhaps in response to question, since 9/11 there is been no person who came in as an adult in the refugee program who was convicted of a violent terrorist attack. now, that is great. but that was very carefully crafted. there are many people who came in as adults in the refugee program who have been convicted of terrorist offenses, correct? dir. rodriguez: that is correct. sen. vitter: we are happy they were disrupted. but in terms of security threat possibly, posed by the security refugee program, they are darn relevant.
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are.rodriguez: sure, they they inform a number of improvements we have made over the years. many of those cases involve admissions that took place a while ago. and even the last 4-5 years, there have been significant changes in the way we vet refugees and make a difference. touted thatr: you no one came to the refugee program as an adult who committed a violent act. but there sure were those who came and convicted of terrorist activities. dir. rodriguez: i was transparent about it. that is correct. vitter: you're only transparent about it -- dir. rodriguez: i said in my opening remarks. sen. vitter: as the chair said, we had asked for the total number. and your department and other agencies have been unable to give us a number.
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revied the universe of threatboth the specific to those? dir. rodriguez: i can tell you two things. one, i reviewed a lot of cases. and certainly, as new cases and risen in recent years, i became immediately familiar with the fact of those cases. and one of the things we do collectively with our organization is look at the improvements that may be indicated by the circumstances in those cases. shouldn't you know the total number in the universe? perhaps we know it as an agency. i have some rough sense of the number. i should -- sen. vitter: we have asked that question for month. why have we not got a straight relationship? dir. rodriguez: i will make sure
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you get what you're looking for. sen. vitter: you are in charge. it seems to me you should darn well know the number. and you should address all the cases. now, as mentioned earlier, fbi director comey has testified that the federal government does not have the ability to conduct thorough background checks on all of the syrian refugees being let in. any of the witnesses here disagree with that? dir. rodriguez: i believe that that statement has been vastly over red. i would like to read another cinema director comey, made back in the summer for the house committee. and this was referring to both his testimony, and also testimony with the director of national intelligence, and the head of the ncpc. what all three of us said was that we were comparing our refugees, vet iraqi
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as opposed to syrian refugees. we have made great progress. and we have made even more progress at getting better at what we know about anybody who is looking to come to the united states. sen,.. vitter: that is the full scope of what i believe director and thellscope was, vast number of syrian refugees, there is no information in our database, if you will, from independent sources. is that correct? in a great majority of cases, the test is basically the interview with them, checking that with what you know of the area where they have testified they were, not any third-party sourcing? words,driguez: in other that is true. or somebody that has not for whatever reason appeared in our intelligence basis, i think that
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is a fair statement. sen. vitter: that was clearly the point of director comey's testimony can we can only "query against that which we have collected." in the vast majority of syrian cases, that is not correct. in part -- dir. rodriguez: because we would hope a lot of those folks are not coming up on intelligence databases at all. ds, they ared in othe law-abiding people looking for a better life. why did not appear in those databases. but you do admit -- sen. vitter: there are terrorists on those databases? dir. rodriguez: i do not know. i cannot guarantee that every single terrorist is on that database. let us all agree. his make clear that every single terrorist is not on the database? is that a virtual certainty?
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dir. rodriguez: that is true regardless of the country. and in fact if they are born in the u.s. to begin with. the point i am making, first of all, i would not dismiss the interview process so quickly and easily. these are highly trained officers, and tensely briefed on country conditions. and the track record speaks for itself. significant numbers of people have been denied because of what is in those databases, and is in fact a high priority of muchnment to develop as and as robust information as we can about these organizations. sen. vitter: on the track record of terrorist prosecutions that came through the program? dir. rodriguez: without a doubt, that is has occurred. chair sessions: well, we have not had a terrorist attack from people who came from cuba or philippines or mexico or south
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africa or ethiopia, but there are areas around the world where we have had a persistent number of that. and we suspect that this congress has a duty to make sure we are careful about those admissions, and being in touch with reality when we do vetting. that is what the issue is about. >> thank you. on the vetting process, so how long is it for someone coming from syria and i guess we've admitted only 12,000 refugees as displaced population of five million people. considering the humanitarian crisis there which i think is he worst since world war ii. and today's chairman talked about the light of liberty. and i


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