tv Acting Homeland Security Secretary Mc Aleenan Discusses Immigration CSPAN September 24, 2019 12:12am-1:17am EDT
house oversight committee looks at lung disease caused by e-cigarettes with ac/dc official -- with a senior cdc official. eastern, a look at u.s. policy toward syria. announcer: acting homeland security secretary kevin mcaleenan spoke about border security and immigration policy at an event hosted by the council on foreign relations. mr. mcaleenan also touched on election security and the work the agency is doing with states and local governments to prepare for the 2020 elections. this is one hour.
mr. mcaleenan: good afternoon. how is everybody doing? really appreciate the opportunity. thank you, fran, for the kind introduction, and thank you for the opportunity to be with you today to have this important discussion on the state of security and immigration concerns nationally, but also, hopefully, we will have a conversation and dialogue on some of the other department of homeland security priorities, and of course, with the members here. i know many of you have been following the crisis over the past year and tracking the growing regional challenge of migration in the region. not only has the situation had obvious implications for order -- for our border security, but it has led to a significant humanitarian prices as well as a foreign-policy challenge in the u.s. and throughout the region. i would like to take a dialogue -- the dialogue today a little and thee the headlines daily news cycle and kind of look back at the challenges over the past 10 months or so, in our efforts to address them, especially focused on the past three or four months during my tenure. we really started building momentum and progress on our strategy to combat this crisis.
-- crisis in the last three or four. for the cfr audience, it is not too controversial to state the development of a regional approach in migration is among one of the most pressing u.s. national security interests in the western hemisphere and one of the most fundamental challenges to the region. -- for the region. whether it is the migration situation from haiti to brazil, and across the region a few years ago, the venezuela crisis or closer tong, home, the central american migration flows toward the u.s. border. with regard to that effort, we have been leading at the department of homeland security working with our partner government to target the push -- governments to target the push and pull factors driving migration. at the same time, we have to recognize that one of the biggest country bidding factors to this crisis and one we face here at home is the immigration framework. i was brought in as acting secretary at the peak of this
crisis. we were in the second of four months of over 100,000 arrivals at the u.s. border heading toward a peak month in may of 144,000 arrivals. that means over 5000 migrants daily, primarily families and children. -- children from central america. we lacked the tools to prevent and unprecedented flows, as well as the funding of congress to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. we make some progress. today, i am pleased to report the daily arrivals are down 64% from our peak in may and total enforcement actions for central americans arriving at the border have been reduced by 70%. critically, as well, we have dramatically improved the conditions at the border -- conditions and care at our border facilities. i will be able to talk more about that. more broadly, as of next week, we expect to have achieved another milestone. with some humanitarian medical
exceptions, dhs will no longer be releasing family units into the interior. that means that for family units, the largest demographic arriving at the border this year, the practice of catch and detainedith families together in custody will have been mitigated. this is a vital step in restoring the rule of law. taken together, i believe these improvements demonstrate significant progress. i do want to set the stage for a moment. where we were a few months ago at the height of the crisis. the strategy and solutions we applied to begin addressing it and why i believe continued effort and partnerships are needed to solve it. to give you a sense of the enormous scale of this crisis we have been confronted with this year -- again, in may, we had the third of four months of over 144,000 arrivals, 90% crossing the border illegally.
in addition to that modern-day record of 144,000 in may, we had one day of over 5800 arrivals at the u.s. border in a single 24-hour period. in that week, we had a group of 1036 migrants cross in mass together and turn themselves in to border patrol agent's. -- agents. 72% were unaccompanied children and family units. a stark change in this traditional demographic arriving at our border. many of these migrants represent america's most vulnerable populations who put their lives in the hands of very violent criminal organizations to make the journey. with those overwhelming numbers of arrivals, department of homeland security facilities were overcrowded. resulting in some very difficult humanitarian conditions. in some sectors, over 50% of agents were redirected to processing and care of migrants, hospital runs, medical
screenings, leaving key areas of the border unmanned, closing checkpoints. while we had warned congress about the crisis going back to december of last year, and requested humanitarian resources and legislative changes, congressional action was not responsive, and the crisis spiraled. i want to talk a moment about the fundamental causes for the migration patterns. -- for the shifts in migration patterns. the core of this issue in the region, and i spent much of my time is acting secretary with central american leaders. since april, multiple meetings here in washington, but at the core, the push factors are predicated on a stark economic opportunity gap exacerbated by poverty and now food insecurity. with continued high levels of violence in some areas of central america. job creation has simply not kept up with labor growth. resulting in a stark opportunity shortage. with only about 1/5 of the needed jobs being created each
year for the number of young people entering the workforce in the northern triangle, which is the single most important push factor in my perspective. poverty and food insecurity are also key contributors. 64% of hondurans live below the poverty line with rural poverty even more severe. 63% of central americans cite like a food as a primary -- lack of food as a primary incentive for migration. on top of that, over the past decade, transnational criminal organizations have used the central american core door for a range of illicit activities, including trafficking cocaine bound for the u.s. through central america. as a result, while the security situation is improving in all three countries, guatemala, under is, and el salvador, -- honduras, and el salvador, the murder rates are down 50% or more in each of the three countries. the region has experienced elevated rates of violence and
general crime committed by drug traffickers, gangs, and other criminal groups. these factors have created conditions that push money to make the dangerous trek north. if you want to be clear, we believe whole -- pull factors, however, are even more significant. the strength of the u.s. economy first and foremost with historical levels of unemployment. and the presence of significant diasporas with resources in the u.s. are certainly strong magnets, but the main cause in the increase in arrivals this year is the weakness in the u.s. immigration system, the vulnerability of our legal framework, which allow families and unaccompanied children to stay in the u.s. for months or years. the vast majority of them will not receive the full set is from an immigration judge. by the end of the fiscal year, coming up in a few weeks, we will see the numbers more than triple the record for family units arriving at the border with close to 550,000 this year. a record number of unaccompanied minors.
-- miners in fiscal year 19. just to be really clear on this point, and our estimation, the central factor driving the migration crisis this year has been the inability to achieve results from the immigration process. it can be effectuated at the border with these demographics at or near the time they arrive. in short, the crisis derives from multifaceted programs and -- problems and really has called for multipronged solution. stepping into the role in being able to look across the immigration spectrum is a very complex set of processes with five different agencies and three different departments of government involved. we have developed an aggressive and holistic strategy to mitigate the crisis within existing law. they will first disrupt smuggling activity and reducing the unprecedented flow. second, changing the way we process the flow to create greater integrity in the system. and third, at the same time, we
sought to urgently mitigate by providing health care for migrants once they cross into the u.s. to reduce the flow, we realize first and foremost that international partnerships will be essential. we need to do work with regional partners more effectively. we need to develop operational and strategic partnerships in the region based on a sense of shared responsibility for the migrant crisis. presently, this has meant partnering with the government of mexico. to increase the security of their border and to reduce the flow. second, it is meant to build relationships and capacity with law enforcement, immigration, and diplomatic authorities. in the main countries guatemala, honduras, and el salvador. to address the root issues.
the single biggest factor has the the effort from government of mexico. this has included the deployment of 25,000 groups under the new mexican national guard focused on increased residence along the guatemala border, stopping the conveyor belt of large groups to the u.s. border. we had a phenomenon of groups of over 500. we had 50 groups over 100. we only had six last month. you can see dramatic progress from mexico's efforts. disrupting those key transportation hubs. and importantly, having consequences for those involved in the human smuggling cycle, arresting and prosecuting coyotes and those praying on preying on human population. they have now through our intelligence and efforts with central american partners, more arrests and prosecutions made of human smugglers initiated
throughout the region in the last three months than in any three-year period in history. for example, the government of honduras has arrested more. guatemala has greatly appreciated this and has adopted new techniques and technology to identify fraudulent documents and disrupt human smuggling networks. they opened their doors to the department of homeland security and requested system in their efforts and were currently have over 45 personnel embedded with and supporting border security and counseling -- and countering smuggling operations in guatemala. in the last two months, salvadorian police made about -- made over 5000 arrests nationally of gang members as part of their national security plan. to address some of the push factors of migration. in addition to these enforcement efforts, several countries have
agreed to partner with the u.s. on regional asylum capacity building efforts known as asylum cooperation agreements. recognizing these countries' decision to join the framework merps in latin america. these agreements will enhance operation. to that end, the u.s. will be supporting significantly the guatemalan efforts to build a -- build their asylum capacity with tens of millions of dollars in funding to be supporting the unchr. i believe these partnerships have paid great dividends already in ensuring effective immigration results in central america and the southern border, as well. our partnerships are having that impact in our border, not just in the region. both with mexico and all three central american governments. we have initiated or expanded programs resulting in more
effective immigration results for arrivals that do make it all the way to our border and can't be deterred or protected. -- or protected closer to home. perhaps the most visible program resulting from the national efforts has been the aggression -- the migration protection protocols, or mpp, which we established this fiscal year. established with mexico earlier this year. i want to explain this, because it is not very well understood publicly. under mpp, migrants crossing illegally at the ports of entry are processed for expedited court hearings and returned to mexico. they are then allowed access on -- access to u.s. ports of entry on their hearing dates. they are getting initial hearings in three to five months on average. an initial hearing for someone released into the u.s. could be two years or five years or more under some of the busier jurisdictions in some busier cities. mpp enhances the integrity of the system by getting immigration court results at a much faster pace than a non-detained undocumented in the u.s. while keeping families together,
and without keeping them in custody. conducted in partnership with mexico, who has committed to providing appropriate humanitarian protection and workforce -- work authorization while they await the adjudication process. under mpp, we have successfully provided protections to hundreds of asylum-seekers already. this just started in january with very small numbers. finished their claims and were may have already granted asylum on merits by an immigration judge. i have got the back-to-school cold i'm still working on here. it is like the perennial september fun. back to mpp. it provides expeditious access. -- and decisions for meritorious claims. individualscourages
who were told they would be -- the united states. we are grateful for mexico's cooperation in this effort. in addition to what is happening with mexico, the department of homeland security is expanding a program streamlined for central america for those folks who do not have a claim of asylum or have a fear to return for their country of origin. it allows us to verify nationality electronically. this program is an extension of our process in place of mexico -- with mexico today, but now has really rapidly increased in central america. in addition to these layers at the border, we are also working to build capacity to extend the fellow protections with in partner countries in the region to ensure those who need protection from persecution, for political, religious, racial, or membership in a social group, the court grounds
for asylum, they can seek those protections as close to home as possible instead of putting themselves in the hands of smugglers and taking this dangerous journey to the u.s. border. as many of you have seen in the u.s. media, alongside these efforts, we are implementing new regulations to limit asylum abuse and preserve international law, stringent requirements for custody conditions for minors in federal holding. we still believe key legislative thes are necessary for solutions to the crisis. i don't want to -- i can't underscore this enough, we cannot be in the position we are with a 70% reduction in the flow of central americans without these international partners. -- international partnerships. this renewed strategy of engagement with support from the president and the white house has been absolutely critical to changing this dynamic. to increasing a sense of shared responsibility around the region and making progress. area,ant to in the third
highlight one more place with more great process, perhaps the most fundamental. when you look at the responsibility of the federal government to those in our custody, that has been the area of care and conditions, alleviating overcrowding and -- in border facilities, providing showers and toilets and hot meals, and medical screening and care for young and unfortunately, increasingly ill population arriving at the border. also, to ensure sufficient transportation to manage this very complex process. since receiving the emergency supplemental request in late june, almost two months later, dhs has added over 5000 beds, providing more appropriate settings for children and eliminating overcrowding of single adults. hhs is a key partner in this cycle, as well, which has resulted in dramatically reduced times in custody at the border. we have ensured access to showers at all major stations within 24 to 36 hours with hot
-- with accessibility of hot meals and age-appropriate meals. since january, dhs has increased the presence of certified medical professionals at border stations and ports from a proximately 20 beginning in december to over 200 today, ensuring that all children arriving at the border are screened. a policy choice i made in late december after two tragic incidents at the border. we have contracted and purchased dozens of buses for large-scale transportation between facilities. to give you a sense of how big an impact this has made, the combined flow reduction in this emergency supplemental, we had almost 20,000 people in the first week of in custody at the june border. these are police stations, not designed for long-term holding. 2700 of those 20,000 were unaccompanied children. today, we have 4500 in custody.
this morning. that number has been fluctuating between 3500 and 4500. those 2700 kids, we have under 150 in custody. they are saying -- staying less than 24 hours and being promptly transferred to better equipped hhs facilities. we made a dramatic impact as we promised congress we would with the emergency funding, but also the initiative undertaken with national partners to address this crisis. we have a much better situation at border stations. more broadly, the actions in the past six months have been focused on breaking the crisis to protect vulnerable populations in the region and restore a sense of integrity to our immigration system. -- system for border arrivals. but we can't let that process cloud our vision. we're still a crisis levels with illegal crossings -- at crisis levels with illegal crossings at the border. we will not be solving the underlying problem.
1500 to 2000 arrivals per day. we are counting that as a dramatic success and significant reduction, but hundreds are dying on the journey. it can't be an acceptable situation to any of us to say that his success. -- that is success. not only in terms of the danger of the journey and the crossing for the migrants, but also the impact to our security missions and really, for this group, in terms of the regional impact. in guatemala and honduras, they will send 25% of their population to the u.s. border this year. i think the leaders of all three countries are very concerned about this process. when president made an explicit art of his form to -- part of his perform to force migration to be defined as forced migration is being required to leave for insecurity or lack of access to economic opportunity. in closing, i think it is essential we expand the dialogue and work on solutions together. with policy experts, congress, with state and local partners
excessively burdened by this crisis, especially those along the border, and of course with our international partners and neighbors. i just want to note one last thing before we have the dialogue, i am really privileged to work alongside the department's extraordinary workforce. i want to tell you that this crisis has hit them really hard both in terms of their efforts to care for vulnerable populations, but also the way the efforts have been perceived. i want to tell you that they have done an amazing job with heart and compassion in trying circumstances, and they deserve our support and thanks. i'm very proud of them. so, going forward, i know this audience understands our -- border security is national security. migration crises cannot be addressed simply by the destination crisis work -- destination country working alone. we must create and are building a set of responsibilities and an effective capability with regional partners to make sustainable progress. we need your ideas and voices,
your support and criticism. and i really appreciate the opportunity to provide you an update today. i look forward to the rest of our dialogue. thank you. [applause] frances: secretary, thank you very much for your remarks. i think this is one of your highest priorities, but you have others. hopefully, we'll get to those. let me start with asking some questions based on your remarks. you mentioned the catch and release is going to end. what does that mean for family
units crossing the border and unaccompanied minors? what will happen? what will we see different? mr. mcaleenan: the main benefit will be the smuggling cycle, the confirmed release if you cross with a child, we will take that away. we will not be encouraging people to come with a child even if it is not their own. we have had 5000 plus instances of fraudulent families. -- presenting at the border so far this year we have been investigating. several human trafficking cases coming up of the work -- coming out of the work patrol. in terms of what happens to those arriving, there are two potential results. one is, if there is not an asylum claim made, we do a more streamlined repatriation. second, for those that do have a claim of fear of their home country, they can wait in mexico during adjudication of their case and protocols. frances: you mentioned several times the weaknesses in the immigration process. i'm not sure people really appreciate it. you only owned one small piece of that. can you explain what the pieces are, and who is the owner?
mr. mcaleenan: short. -- sure. i had a very engaging conversation with the former ins commissioner, talking about some of the challenges in the 90's and how she owns 4/5 of the immigration cycle, but the department of justice together had all five parts. now, we are in five different agencies in three departments of government. i went to know having three of the components of the acting secretary. it makes those handoffs, joint operations, joint budgeting a lot more challenging. if we have unaccompanied children of the border, 2700 kids waiting at border stations, that depended on the department of homeland security having the funding. we needed congress for the emergency supplemental. out of that $4.5 billion, $2.6 -- $3.6 billion of it went to health and human services.
simply for additional but kids. -- additional bed space for kids. the main cause that i have alluded to was failing to get immigration results. that requires adequate numbers of judges in the right places to handle the right cases. so we have done a lot of innovative things. we had articles talking about tent courts, they are temporary. prioritizing their recent border arrivals so we have greater integrity in the process. so judges are controlled by the justice department. that is part of the backlog. there are insufficient numbers of immigration judges. my understanding -- i was quite is, one, immigration judges have unionized, two, they can't be asked to work weekends or evenings or additional shifts, and they can't be required to go through those
those places where you need them the most. are we seeking legislative change, the administration, to get that fixed? sec. mcaleenan: i will defer to the attorney general in terms of the management of immigration judges, but we have been working to increase the number of judges. we are giving them an accurate estimate of how many will be required at the border arrival, but also, the ability to work remotely. that has been critical. we have created facilities at the border where the judges can beam in and hear the cases of those arriving, those acute asylum cases. unfortunately, it will lengthen the time of those waiting for their cases to be adjudicated, and hopefully we can handle the challenge at the border and increase the integrity of the system, reduce the flow, so we are not constantly digging a deeper hole. frances: the attorney general has the authority to appoint
immigration judges and frankly, could take, presumably, assistant u.s. attorneys in the region and have them temporarily assigned there to adjudicate these cases, right? sec. mcaleenan: the are a lot of competing priorities and probably critical persecutions to support. you know more about the doj then i do -- than i do. but we are trying to work in partnership. d.h.s. provides a significant number of assistant u.s. attorneys to support court proceedings in article three courts, as well, but it has to be a shared responsibility. frances: you talked about the criticality of working partnerships with the other escending -- descending countries in central america, i will ask you the more difficult question, the president recently cut aid to those countries. how do you strengthen that partnership while you are also cutting aid? sec. mcaleenan: i think what the president has asked, how he -- he has been clear about how
he views the partnership with our central american partners, in particular, is through the lens of collaboration in migration. as we are starting to see government step forward, and we have a strong leadership commitment in the outgoing administration of guatemala, the incoming president elect, as well as president hernandez in honduras, and the new president, who has really stepped up in the last three months with a whole series of initiatives, that that commitment is being demonstrated. in my meetings with ministers, which we are doing every single month, having engagement on how to deal with security and migration issues in the hemisphere, i am seeing a real sense of ownership, of innovation, which is new, frankly, in the last year from the region. what we can do then is look at, how do we start programs that -- aid programs that are working, that are supporting our interests, and the administration interests? we have already done that on the law enforcement side. with attorney general barr, we
have gone back, doj and d.h.s. programs have been turned back on. the next step is to look at which of those aid programs are helping on the economic side and helping to reduce migration? which of the international narcotics and law enforcement bureau departments are helping -- are critical in helping to reduce the crime and violence in these communities? i think that is the process we are undertaking right now. but this is not completely stalled. you can look at the overseas private investment corporation, they just announced major support for projects in el salvador. -- for the new lng project in el salvador. energy is one of the issues driving migration, the price of energy, textile concerns, it is dramatic and affects competitiveness, even though they have a great free-trade agreement. we have things moving forward, but it is really about taking the next steps, where we have accountable partners, who will be supporting our joint interests.
frances: immigration is a top priority, but you have others. countering terrorism, and election security. let us talk about election security for a moment. in 2018, there were temporary task forces set up by the d.h.s. that were then made permanent, because the fbi director said that 2018 was a dress rehearsal for 2020. can you talk about what the iswhy is a priority and what department's role is in ensuring election security? mr. mcaleenan: you just outlined my top three priorities at dhs, border immigration issues, but andly counterterrorism, cyber and election security, no question, those are my top three. we have a tremendous deputy and acting deputy, he is helping us cover all the many responsibilities of the department.
we did have a hurricane in between, with dorian, which, i think, was a great response by f.e.m.a. and partners. in terms of cyber election security, chris has accurately described, we are using the terms that 2018 was a playoff game, against maybe not the toughest opponent in the league, and 2020 will be a super bowl. we have to be ready. there will be more than one opponent. we are concerned. on the field with us. what we have done is just maintain the momentum. we never took our foot off the gas after 2018, in fact, we institutionalized those frameworks and built a partnership with state and local organizations. -- local jurisdictions. the threat to our democracy is fundamental, if we have disrupted election or a foreign influence of that changes the perception of the voting public, so we have to address both sides of the coin. we are engaged with all 50 states in their election infrastructure and voter registration, in about 1800
jurisdictions among the 8800. locally administered, state administered elections. we have put out best practices globally to the states and counties. we have had national tabletop exercises, which have tremendous participation and really run through real-world scenarios that we can expect. we have worked with vendors of voting machines. we are really taking a comprehensive approach. it is of the top priority for our cyber security and the top priority for our cyber security and infrastructure security agency run by chris krebs, who you saw in aspen. we are in close partnership with the n.s.a., looking at cyber threats from foreign, and the f.b.i. leading on that side as -- on the foreign influence side, as well. frances: so each of the departments and agencies, just like d.h.s., have their own task force and strategy. in the counterterrorism world, there is a national strategy, then each agency has a
supporting strategy. is there a national strategy focused on election security and integrity, or is it individual agencies working together? sec. mcaleenan: good question. in july, we had the opportunity as a team, that d.n.i., the fbi director, the general, myself, and chris krebs to go and brief the senate. probably 70% of the senate came out for the briefing. we do have a coherent strategy. everybody knows their roles, and there is plenty of information sharing across the scene. -- across the scenes. n.s.a. and cyber command articulated a clear strategy on detecting, and ideally, deterring cyber attempts to impact our elections. the f.b.i. talked extensively about their foreign influence efforts. and really, the d.h.s. role is supporting the states and locals on building that resilience, as well as supporting the f.b.i., along with building the
resilience of the voter. and set of trying to counter every potential element of foreign disinformation, it is about having voters who are armed and understanding that they will be bombarded with misinformation, and how to get past that and make their own decisions. i think it is a coherent strategy amongst all the three major players. we have a manager focused on cyber threats to the election writ large, and communicating with all of our departments aggressively. frances: one more before i open it up, to touch on terrorism, you released a domestic terrorism and targeted violence strategy last week. and you talk about that a little -- can you talk about that a little bit, and explain what you mean by targeted violence? sec. mcaleenan: it was a significant step and statement for us to release a counterterrorism strategic framework that d.h.s., and we did some new things in it.
as you noted, fran, first of all, we explicitly rebalanced between our foreign counterterrorism responsibilities, which are operationally the focus of d.h.s. historically, the reason we were created, and also where our direct impact authorities lie, but we are rebalancing that with renewed focus on domestic terrorism, especially racially motivated and violent extremism. we also added targeted violence as something that the d.h.s. equities can impact. that was intentional. because we do see a significant number of increased attacks, with significant lethality coming from actors that don't necessarily have a clear ideological motivation, or are shopping for an ideology. in the chat rooms and in the internet sphere, to then apply. for us, the capabilities we have
through helping identify threats and vulnerabilities in public spaces across the board, and supporting with the u.s. secret service national threat assessment center and state and local communities understand as risk factors, factors that somebody has noticed on their path to violence, we share them at all additional intervention points along the way. these equities apply whether it is international terrorism motivation, whether it is domestic terrorism motivation, or simply a disaffected young individual who wants to take a violent act. we can help prepare a community effort to try to find an off ramp for that violence or be able to respond more effectively with the multitude of resources at the department in an integrated and galvanized way. frances: one more. sorry. what role does gun control play
in this? and why don't we seem to be able to get even the enhanced background check legislation through? sec. mcaleenan: the administration has taken action to reduce lethality of gun violence, with the bump stock regulation and very urgently after the las vegas shooting. i don't want to get in front of the white house discussions with -- on capitol hill on this issue, but it is definitely something we need to work through. but on the d.h.s. side, we want to help prepare state and local jurisdictions, whether it is first responders, mental health professionals, school resource officers to be able to prevent and respond regardless of the means or the motivations. frances: at this time, i invite members to join the conversation. a reminder that this meeting is on the record. please stand and state your name and affiliation, a limit yourself to one question, and keep it concise to allow as many members as possible to speak. i will start at the front and
work my way around. >> thank you. steve from george washington university. thanks for those remarks. you gave a very detailed, concise consideration of what you are doing with an existing problem. but you also said that key legislative fixes were necessary, and that fundamental laws need to be changed. could you outline what the administration would like to achieve and legislation in the u.s.? and you also mentioned the concept of asylum abuse. are there changes needed in international treaties? sec. mcaleenan: thank you for the question. so, yes, i can give you hopefully more concise than my remarks, a response on the legislative changes we are looking for that would address the key drivers of this crisis. the first deals with how we are able to manage families at the border. we have now taken a regulatory
step that would also achieve this aim if it is ultimately allowed to go forward by the federal courts. but the idea is to keep families together in an appropriate setting through an escalated and -- expedited and fair immigration proceeding. that is what we did in 2014 under the obama administration. then-secretary jay johnson made the decision to establish family residential centers in the first major crisis in our border, and it worked successfully. we were able to adjudicate family asylum claims between 40-50 days, on average. again, these are facilities with educational, recreational, medical, dining, a campus like setting, that obviously is not ideal, but is better than a situation where families are released and incentivized to come in large numbers. that would be even more durable and consistent than just a the regulatory efforts we have undertaken.
we still have that request outstanding to congress. secondly, it is a key one, modifying the act which establishes something we agree strongly with, high standards of care for children in custody, but also has a double standard embedded in it. we are not empowered to repatriate unaccompanied children arriving from noncontinuous countries -- noncontiguous countries. you can return a child into mexico working with mexican authorities, but you cannot do so for central america. that is something that the mexican government does not like. they want some say in what is happening with the minors, and two, it is providing an incentive to smugglers to bring people to the border. what we proposed to the hill was to have asylum protections for children in the country or a neighboring country, but in response, if a child did not meet those requirements and
still came to the border or of -- or avoided the process, we would be it were to repatriate to ensure that we have integrity in the cycle and that they are kept close to home as possible. and a third would be to modify the initial asylum standards. there are two parts to the asylum consideration when an individual crosses. if they are put into a removal proceeding, they can claim fear to return. we can assess whether the present a credible fear. you probably know, the courts have interpreted that as the possibility of proving an asylum case, and it is a very low bar. we are seeing 85% of migrants whereas whenbar, they actually see an immigration judge, we are only seeing 10% to 13% being granted asylum by an immigration judge.
that gap incentivizes people to come in and claim fear and await a court proceeding in the u.s., which could be five years into the future. those are three things we are asking for in terms of the immigration law. in terms of the asylum commitments, i think we are articulating a strategy that is the best way to honor those commitments, and you see this happening in europe, as well, supporting transit countries and source countries in building their own capacity to provide those protections. that is the kind of strategy with a shared responsibility that we are trying to take in the hemisphere. thank you. frances: ok, the lady in the back. sec. mcaleenan: i don't know if i achieved the concise objective. frances: ok, let me just say, we will try to get as many questions in as we can. >> i from u.s.a. today. amnicole. i was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on families being detained and no longer released into the interior of the u.s.
what practically would that mean? what particular facilities will they be detained in, and with -- would that require first constructing the facilities, and where would the funding come from? and also, what might happen when border apprehension go up in the fall when the weather goes -- gets cooler, as has happened historically? sec. mcaleenan: i will try to be concise and build off my answer to fran a moment ago on a similar question. on your seasonal point, we have not seen flows to our border, tracked by a historical seasonal patterns around the agricultural cycle, that has not been the case in recent months. for instance, from july to august, we have seen the numbers increase each of the past six years, but not last month. traditional spring to summer cycle has not followed the pattern either. we see the flow responding more to anticipated success or
failure than simple seasonal results. but what we are doing with central american families now, that is ending the catch and release process, is that if they don't have a fear claim, they will be repatriated in a streamlined fashion, or if they do have a fear claim, they have to wait at a center in mexico. they were not currently be held in the u.s. side of the border even in the family residential centers, because we are not able right now to complete an immigration proceeding in the 21 days we have by court order. after the force regulations are finally adjudicated and put in place, that timeline will be alleviated, and there will be a third option in managing cases of families, being able to hold them together during an immigration proceeding. thank you. frances: over here in the blue shirt. >> thank you.
mr. secretary, i am george, with the los angeles piper. my question concerns a number of senior gulf arabs who were attempting to get into the united states, who were major investors in the country, many of whom have businesses here that employ americans. we are finding many of them now in administrative processing, which can take 10 months to two years, whereas they had previously received five-year multiple entry visas. is there a policy in place to give extra scrutiny to arab businesspeople, and it seems that a number of them who need medical attention here are not getting visas or any kind of humanitarian consideration. i was wondering if there is a policy decision in that regard? sec. mcaleenan: i am not aware of any policy decision. good question for our partners over at the department of state. we will certainly convey that to them. thank you.
frances: right here, up front. >> jim jones with monarch gold strategies. sec. mcaleenan: good to see you, ambassador. >> good to see you, i think you are doing a good job under the circumstances. i think everybody in all the dhs leadership is in an acting position. i believe that this is your efficiency of management, it further allows white house staff to be the controlling interest in policy decisions. do you see any improvement in making these acting positions permanent? in policy at d.h.s.. do you see any improvement in making these acting positions permanent? sec. mcaleenan: to answer your question, ambassador, i will just highlight a few that are not acting -- director of secret comandant, our key leadership components are in for
confirmed capacities. but it is something that in d.h.s., we do have a number of actings, i guess if you count me and the deputy twice, we do have a number of actings, especially on the immigration side of the department. that said, what we do have is tremendous career professionals throughout. a number of these leaders, i have known for almost two decades, coming up in the system alongside each other in the department of homeland security, and we have not missed a beat operationally. i do think it can impact us in our dialogue on the hill sometimes, to have that vote of confidence, literally, in the senate and in those engagements, but it is something that we are not worried about. we are trying to solve problems and keep our forward momentum. that is certainly my charge and my goal. thank you. host: all the way in the back. >> teresa welsh, i am a reporter with -- [indiscernible]
i wanted to ask you about the agreement signed last week with el salvador. i know that it is different from the one signed with guatemala this summer. could you tell us how the two agreements with el salvador and with guatemala are different from the one signed with el salvador last week? thank you. sec. mcaleenan: the situations are very different in guatemala and el salvador. guatemala has been the largest sending country to the u.s. border this year, almost 40% of the flow in some months. and about 80% of those arriving at the border transit in guatemala. el salvador is in a different position. about 10% of the arrivals from el salvador, a very negligible percentage are actually transiting el salvador to the u.s. border. so it is a different structure and situation in terms of how we collaborate on asylum. guatemala has a functioning asylum process. they are granting asylum. it is nascent, it needs to be further developed. i was pleased to reference the
significant investment from the department of state to support guatemala in building their asylum capacity. we see a similar but smaller -scale effort by el salvador to support their own decisions to join u.n. high commission for refugees program in a latin america, to build their own commitments. we think it is important. they could apply in the future with personnel from neighboring countries, for instance. but it is really to show that this is a shared responsibility regionally. that there is access to protections if you are being persecuted for the core conditions of asylum -- social group, religious, all those considerations. so we want to meet each partner where they are and each of these would be operationally very different in application. thank you for the question. frances: back here, yep.
>> i am alex, i am a proud cfr term member, and i am also a proud refugee. so this is very personal thing for me. i usually very have very eloquent and insightful questions, but when i hear you using terms like family units, catch and release, arrivals, demographics, conveyor belt, those are people. so, had my mom come here today, tried to come here today like she did 35 years ago with my sister and i, i don't think i would be here. i want to know how you are challenging the assumptions upon which our entire immigration system is based. are you challenging the assumptions? maybe is not a crisis, maybe it is a opportunity. are those basic conversations happening? sec. mcaleenan: i think what we are trying to do is make our immigration system work under existing law but also recommend improvements that are responsive to the changes in patterns around the world. i do recognize in a deeply personal way that those patterns
are people. what i would like to say in response is that the u.s. is and will remain the most generous country in the world for refugees and asylum-seekers. the combined processing and access for both refugees and asylum-seekers in the united states is the highest in the world, it will be again next this year. and it will be next year. we're also managing a lawful immigration system that hit a record last year with almost 750,000 naturalizations, one every 42 seconds for new , citizens. but that is the responsibility for the united states and the d.h.s. i appreciate your heartfelt question. frances: there was another one at that table. >> hi. thank you. i am the acting deputy director for human rights watch in washington.
i was a bit concerned about your description of the migrant protection protocol as something that maintains the integrity of the process, when you're on asylum officers have filed an amicus brief in the federal court claiming that the program itself violates u.s. obligations, when the over 40 thousand people now waiting in mexico for their hearings are less than 2% represented by attorneys. i am interested in what you are whether investigate fact the commitments you refer to in terms of humanitarian conditions, work visas, are actually providing safety for the migrants who are in this program, and whether you are at all concerned about a 2% your -- 2% representation right,
serious due process concerns raised by attorneys and advocacy organizations in the actual court proceedings. i am wondering what you are doing to address that. sec. mcaleenan: thank you for the question. a couple of examples. i will be meeting later today with the mexican ambassador to the united states, something we do pretty much biweekly, to talk about the progress of our partnership on a whole series of issues, but specifically on the migrant protocol. we are constantly discussing ways to ensure the safety of migrants waiting in mexico on under this program. we have offered financial support, which has been received by the government of mexico. they opened a new shelter in juarez in the last few weeks. i have been down there talking with partners on the ngo side on that have connections on both sides of the border, on how the situation is working. we are hearing positive things about the government of mexico granting not only work authorizations, but temporary permits to be in mexico, as well as social security numbers to access social services in mexico while they are waiting.
this is a shared commitment of both governments. this is the approach mexico agreed to with the united states. so, looking at ways that we can make sure they have shelter, they have care when they are waiting for their hearings, it is something that is important to me and something that i am engaging the mexicans on every week. i would like to see the numbers increase. we are providing everyone in the protocols with a list of legal service providers as they are processed under mpp, and we would like to see those numbers increase. we are talking with government to make sure they have access. thank you. frances: right here. >> thank you so much for your remarks. i am a pediatrician here in washington, d.c. and a member of the american academy of pediatrics. i would like to hear you speak on your decision to not provide the flu vaccine at the facilities. flu season is here, and just out
of concern for people coming through, but also for your own staff having contact with people who may have a contagious illness. thank you. sec. mcaleenan: sure. not to go back into our layers of complexity in the immigration just to give you a sense of how we're looking at the problems, first of all, we put in place procedures at the border after the tragedies last september of two children dying in custody for the first time in anywhere in our process, over 10 years. we talked to the doctors that month about the challenges of what we could do better. under the guidance of our chief medical officer, in consultation with h.h.s., and the public health service team, we are looking at ways to adjust our screening for more permanent medical procedures, that is due by the end of the year. we are looking at the flu vaccine issue very specifically. to be clear, when children are transferred to h.h.s., they get the vaccine. when families and adults are transferred by i.c.e., they get
the vaccine. the time at the border is intended to be very short processing and then movements to a more appropriate setting for a longer-term detention. we got away from that doing the best during the crisis last -- we got away from the jury the crisis last spring. if we did that again, we would certainly look at applying a more broad flu vaccine protocol. you might not be aware, but we did that in south texas, where we had significant numbers of people waiting in border patrol stations. and we also had a flu outbreak. we stepped up vaccinations after matt in an operational response in the case. but i just wanted to assure you that we are looking at it very carefully, and we want to preserve the health of the arriving migrant populations and prevent outbreaks not only of the flu, but of critical -- communicable diseases that we are seeing like measles, mumps
chickenpox, in significant , numbers of those arriving. frances: mr. secretary, two questions. because we are going to wrap up and let you get back to work. one, there is consideration of moving the secret service, which was moved from treasury into d.h.s. with the establishment of the department. i understand secretary mnuchin is looking to take them back. where is that, and when do you expect it to happen? sec. mcaleenan: i understand the interest to be associated with the finest law enforcement professionals in the world. my eyes have been open further to just how tremendous a group of people they are. of course, this week, they have u.n.g.a., they have the elections swinging into full flower, and of course, doing their regular missions at the same time. there is deep interaction both with treasury on financial investigations and cyber, and across the homeland security enterprise. i will be a huge supporter of them regardless of where they
are housed and funded in the federal government, but we are always looking for opportunities to tighten and align the best possible way. frances: last question. when i was still in government, we established a rule. i understand that there is beta testing. -- we established the three ounce liquid rule. i understand that there is beta testing of technology to be it what to do away with the three ounce rule. how far away are we from that? sec. mcaleenan: some of the to technological developments with computer tomography and a.i. algorithms to better assess substances, i am looking to apply that for countering opioids in the mail environment, significantly fentanyl and carfentanil. i don't think those are science fiction anymore, we are talking years in the cycle from development to application. we are expanding the use of high-end computer tomography
machines at checkpoints for t.s.a., in addition to what they have in the baggage environment. more to come on that. i think we will hopefully be able to develop even better techniques in the coming months and years. frances: mr. secretary, thank you so much for being here. sec. mcaleenan: thank you. i really appreciate it. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy, visit ncicap.org] announcer: c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that you.t coming up to the morning, a discussion on whistleblower laws applying to the intelligence community. and california democratic congressman ro khanna shares the latest on president trump's call with the ukrainian president,
and the second dni whistleblower complaint. we also talk with the director of the family research council center for religious liberty, about the trump administration religious freedom policies. watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern tuesday morning. join the discussion. live tuesday on the c-span networks, president trump makes remarks at the united nations general assembly in new york city. our coverage begins at 10:00 c-span.tern on th at noon, the u.s. house retransfer general speeches. at 2:00 p.m., the house takes up several bills looking at humanitarian aid. a.m., thetwo at 10 u.s. senate continues debate on executive nominations with both expected. on c-span3, a house oversight sub committee examines the outbreak of lung disease among e-cigarette users, with
testimony from a senior cpc cdc official. and later, a senate foreign relations subcommittee looks at u.s. policy toward syria. busc-span coverage 2020 team is traveling across the country, visiting key battleground states and asking voters what issues they want presidential candidates to address during the campaign. >> i wish washington and congress would work on infrastructure. every other generation of american leaders have funded airports or subways or roads and ridges, and we are failing to do our part. this will be the first generation of elected leaders where we left our infrastructure in worse condition than what we got it in. we should work and demand our leaders in d.c. invest in infrastructure and make sure we protect another generation of
americans, and put people to work at the same time. that is the great thing about investing in infrastructure in this country. >> one of the biggest issues across all spans of economic and education, is the use of credit scores being determinant on automotive insurance rates, life insurance, housing, and employment. your insurance has more to do with your credit score than your driving record. if you want to apply for a job, your credit score is told. you want to apply for an apartment, your credit score is told. you are not asking for a loan, you are asking for a place to lay your head at night. if you are a college student or someone with a lot of bills, your credit score will be low. you are denied an apartment not because of your work history, your credit score determines everything, and that is putting everyone out. >> the issue and would like to see discussed more on washington, d.c. is the
importance of bipartisanship. i think we as americans have more in common than we probably have disagreements on, so i would like to see us talking about the importance of reaching across the aisle, and those points we don't disagree on, finding common ground. because the on the nation forward is to work together. ♪ announcer: voices from the campaign trail, part of c-span's battleground states ttour. >> president trump is in new york city to attend the annual united nations general assembly. he announced the u.s. would pledge $25 million in aid to protect religious freedom, sites this event starts with remarks from the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. kelly kraft, and vice president mike pencep [chatter]