tv Immigration Customs Enforcement Budget Request CSPAN April 30, 2018 2:26pm-5:23pm EDT
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c-span 2. next, border security and immigration enforcement. the border protection commissioner and senior immigration officials testify. good morning. we have one more coming in right now and we're going to get started. i want to welcome panel of witnesses. today we have kevin madrigal, the commission of the cbb. we have matthew and garrett bennet. executives director of i.c.e.
and i.c.e. homeland investigations. commissioner, yesterday was a good visit and, while we've known each other for a while, today is the first time you've appeared, i believe, as the confirmed commissioner of cbp, congratulations on your confirmation. as the subcommittee's holding the hearing on the budget request for two dhs components, i.c.e. and cbp for a couple of reasons. first, it's practical. given the late start for the fiscal '19 budget hearing cycle we're operating on a compressed schedule in order to meet this committee's objective of completing the homeland security probation bill in july. second, having i.c.e. and cbp to testify together, how they operate jointly and how those operations confirm the budget
requests. the fiscal year of 2019 budget request for cbp is $14.2 billion. an increase of $218 million above the amount provided in fiscal year 2018. this includes $1.6 billion for new fiscal barriers. there are legitimate questions about the request that requires answers. for example, spending is proposed for various types of barriers that are unclear where they will be located or if they can be executed in fiscal year 2019. likewise, we need to understand how this budget request supports security. fiscal year 2018 budget request
fy is 8.8 billion in discretionary spending. the largest share increase supports the hiring of 2,000 i.c.e. agents and 52,000 detention bats. the subcommittee needs to understand how fiscal year 2018 appropriations might be impacted by these requests. we want to work with you and make sure that the fiscal year '19 funding bills work we will accomplish this year. before i turn to our witnesses for those statements, the -- text which is included in the record, i'd like to recognize my distinguished ranking member for any remarks she may wish to make. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome to the commissioner and social directors. i'll making my opening
statements very brief so that we can maximize the time for questions. commissioner mclennon congratulation on your recent confirmation. we've spoken been the challenges cbp and you face. i want to reaffirm my commitment to helping you. as you know, i disagree with the approach of the current administration in some areas, but there is no disagreement on the need to continue building on the significant progress made over the last decade in border security, both between the ports of entry and at the port. and there's a broad consensus on continuing to invest in the improvements at the ports that will better facilitate the flow of commerce. dr. homer wasn't able to join us this morning but i'm glad to have you both here to answer our questions. the doctor and i have had discussions on disagreements about i.c.e. policies and priorities.
and while we won't resolve those disagreements this morning, i appreciate his willingness to maintain open lines of communication. a high priority for me is insuring that individuals in the custody of your agencies are treated fairly and humanely. no matter the policy disagreements we have, i hope we can work constructively together in that area. thank you, mr. chairman, and i look forward to our discussion this morning. >> thank you. we are joined by the ranking member of the full committee. miss luey's recognized by the statements he wishes to make. >> thank you mr. chairman. i'd like to thank the chairman for holding this hearing and thanks to the witnesses who has
are here this morning. i want to be clear, your agency is critically important to the security of this country. ensuring the integrity of our boarders and forcing immigration laws are difficult and necessary jobs. we appreciate the hard work and dedication of thousands of personnel at both cbp and i.c.e. congress must carefully prioritize efficient use of tax payer dollars to protect our security, grow the economy and facilitate trade and safe travels. politicalization of border security and it's often heartless decisions and priorities on immigration enforcement. longstanding practice has been to prioritize removal efforts on those convicted of serious crimes, not our neighbors who have lived here for decades, working hard, contributing to
our economy and raising families. yet, the cbp, the budget request includes $1.6 billion for 65 miles of border wall and $164 million to hire 750 new border patrol agents and 153 for support personnel. cbp has not yet explained why these funds are needed at a time when apprehensions at the border are still historically low and many of those apprehended are surrendering themselves to border patrol. the president's obsession with fulfilling his campaign promise for a border wall remains deeply concerning. the deployment of a national guard is a misguided and personnel decision that the
department is being forced to justify while the other priorities are being stretched then. for i.c.e., the budget request, an increase of 11,500 beds and hiring of 3300 new personnel. including 2,000 law enforcement positions. those increases have clearly included to support the administrations, overlie aggressive and unacceptable interior enforcement policies. finally, the administration proposes to change the law, to tie the hands of state and local law enforcement and how best to police their communities, and to authorize dhs and doj to condition certain grants on a jurisdiction cooperation with i.c.e. this runs contrary to federal court precedent, could result in victims of crime staying in the shadows, reduces trust between law enforcement and the public. quite simply, it will make our
communities less safe. president trump continues to speak and tweet extensively and inappropriately often outlining his draconian plans to detain and deport as many people as possible. the most prominent increases in this budget are rooted in that ugly sentiment. it's unconscionable and unacceptable. this does not reflect the serious nature of the threats we face. well over a year after the 2016 election, it's time we move on from empty campaign threats and start focusing on what is needed to keep american families safe. thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you again. >> well, thank you. and that -- i think that
concludes our opening statements. we'll allow to hear your testimony at this time. commissioner. >> good morning and thank you, chairman carter, full committee ranking committees and members of the subcommittee. i really appreciate the opportunity to appear before you. i've had a chance to engage with this subcommittee many times in different capacities over the years and appreciated the deep expertise and commitment to support our critical mission from both members and staff. as you noted mr. chairman, this is my first chance to appear as a commissioner of cbp and it's a sincere honor to represent the 60,000 strong men and women of u.s. customs and border protection in that role. cbp carries out three core missions critical to our national security and our economic prosperity. counterterrorism, border security, and securing and facilitating international trade and travel.
the president's fiscal year 2019 budget includes $12.4 billion to enable cbp to secure our mission with the right combination of dedicated personnel, risk-based strategies, collaborative partnerships, advance technology and tactical infrastructure. before discussing the fy19 budget i'd like to address the recently passed consolidated appropriations acts of 2017. we are already putting this funding to work on behalf of the american. cbp has worked closely with this committee in recent years to improve our ability to support our budget request with operate dearrived data-supported requirements. i'll look forward to working with you to ensure the funding we request supports our highest needs. the budget request supports continued investment in key areas.
with regards to border security, the president's budget request of 1.6 billion to ply to construction of 65 miles of border wall systems. and afforded by cbp full process. in conjunction with border wall system technology is the force multiplier in the border environment. it increases situational awareness and decreases risk to our front personnel. the budget requests $222 million of technology to strengthen voice technology. the fy19 budget seeks to build on this momentum by requesting -- excuse me, the budget also recognizes and this is obviously a critical topic for our hearing today that the men and women of cbp are our greatest assets. i'm proud of their intogether
rigs. due to 40 enhancements to cbp's hiring process weave seen improved results. several key indicators are moving in a positive direction. cbp's hiring totals last year surpassed the prior year by 14% and we estimate we will increase the number of border agents hired in fy19. we intend to make progress with digital improving. further, applicants successful higher ratio has improved significantly. we're making improvements to our polygraph process. i'm keenly aware we're not where we need to be in this area. in hiring and sustaining a world class law enforcement workforce will continue to be my highest mission support priorities for
u.s. customs and border protection. there's no area where we're working harder. we want to build on this by requesting $46 million for requirement and application. this will support the requested increase of $164 million to hire, train and equip additional border patrol agents. from the fy18 requested levels. importantly, this budget also include an additional 45 million to continue to support the operational mobility program that helps to reduce border programs. the '19 budget request also support critical investments our agents work in every day, including $33 million to construct a new border patrol station. at our nation's porty of entry, the men and women of cbp prevents dangerous people, facilitating the flow of lawful trade and travel. the budget requests includes $44 million to build upon and recapitalize on nonintrusion
technology. nii helps cbp. additionally the budget proposes an increased of 25 million there are for improved intelligence and targeted capacities. it works to identify travelers and cargo that may pose a threat to the united states. cbp's trade enforcement role is critical to our economic security. the budget request includes $2 million for 26 positions to support cbp's ongoing implementation of the trade enforcement act. it also includes a amount of 5.5 million to develop functionality in our environment, a single window for trade data to the u.s. government. with the ongoing support of congress, cbp will continue
to support our boarders. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i look forward to your questions. >> good morning. chairman carter, ranking members and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the overall president's fiscal year 2019 budget for u.s. immigration and customs enforcement and particularly to discuss enforcement and my role. i.c.e.'s mission is to protect america from the cross-border crime and immigration that threaten national security and immigration. i.c.e. enforces the nation's immigration and customs laws but focuses on immigration enforcement, preventing terrorism and combatting transnational organized crime.
in the face of heightened scrutiny i'm proud our men and women continue to operate with honor and do so at the risk of their own safety and security. the president's fy19 budget include 13.2 million to meet our requirements and make much needed investments in criminal investigations ux workforce training. these requested enhancements continue our efforts to control illegal immigration, enhance interior enforcement, particularly against criminal aliens and offenders, combat opioids and dangerous drug epidemic. i.c.e. appreciates continued support of congress in building a stronger i.c.e. one that can meet the operational responsibilities safety and security of our country. to accomplish this it is imperative that i.c.e. is properly re-sourced to meet these requirements.
that's why our fy19 budget makes a significant downpayment . vital support personnel impacting all of our mission space. in particular, ero operates an incredibly challenging environment. what it does not do is conduct indiscriminate raids or sweeps. we conduct targeted operations across the country every day based on intelligence driven leads -- prioritizing our resources on public safety and national security threats. we also identify fugitives and aliens that have previously been removed from the united states. to be clear, entering the united states illegally is a crime in and of itself. i.c.e.'s congressionally-mandated mission
is to enforce immigration law as enacted by congress. to that end, ero made substantial progress in focusing its limited resources on restoring fidelity to the immigration system. especially for those aliens with orders of removal issued by an immigration judge. in fy2017 89% of the aliens arrested in the interior of the united states had a prior interaction with the criminal justice system. with 74% of them being convicted criminals. in real terms, that means, nearly 11,000 more criminal aliens were removed from the street last fiscal year than in fy16. these trends have continued in fy18 with over all arrests up nearly 30%. also, despite the challenges facing some jurisdictions, ero has continued to strengthen its relationship with the state and local law enforcement community. it has increased from 32 to 76 partnerships.
further, working cooperatively with our tremendous partners, we have established a new process that affords our local partners an additional legal basis to defend themselves when they faithfully execute their public safety duties by detaining aliens at i.c.e.'s request. to continue to build on this progress, ero needs the resource requested in the fy19 budget. required to respond to manage the aliens on the detained and nondetained dockets. and address the over 540,000 immigration fugitives. further, due to the challenges facing some or our law enforcement partners inhibiting their ability to share information, it is necessary to place more i.c.e. officers within state and local jails as
well as augment our fugitive operations teams in order to ensure that dangerous criminals are not reintroduced into american communities where they can further victimize our law-abiding citizens. additionally, more attorneys are needed to support an increasing case load and meet the department of justice's planned expansion. the workforce request also necessitates a commensurate increase in detention beds to process the population and detain cbp apprehensions of illegal border crossers. while the consolidated appropriation act provided i.c.e. with beds, the requirement remains almost 11,000 beds higher in fy19. through the use of the bed model, i.c.e. estimates a need for detention beds at 52,000 for fy19. this is sfophisticated model tht has proven to be highly accurate. the budget also includes an increase in funding for an
expanded transportation cross related to most domestic and international movement of aliens. ero has worked diligently with foreign governments to accept their citizens with those at risk of noncompliance dropping from 55 to 36. however, the cost of removie ii these aliens is extensive. ero requires additional funds to ensure that many violent criminals are removed from our country. overall, the result of the budget request is 5.1 billion to identify, arrest, detain and remove illegal aliens. since its inception 15 years ago, i.c.e. continues to be a preeminent federal law enforcement agency with a unique and critical role in the public safety of the united states, as well as an invaluable partner of the law enforcement community. with a diverse and dedicated workforce and a wealth of experience, we are 20,000 american patriots in proud service to our country. men put their lives on the line every day to protect the nation.
despite the challenges they face. with your support, i believe i.c.e. is well positioned to have an even greater impact on the safety and security of this country and we will continue to execute our sworn duties. i look forward to answering any questions you may have at this time. >> chairman carter, ranking member, full committee ranking member and distinguished member of the subcommittee, i want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to present the president's fiscal year 19 budget for u.s. immigration and customs enforcement. but specifically for homeland security investigations portion of the request. the i.c.e. homeland security investigations or hsi directorate is a critical asset responsible for investigating a wide range of domestic and international activities arising
from the illegal movement of people and goods into, within and out of the united states. hsi uses its legal authority to investigate issues such as smuggling of narcotics, weapons, financial crimes, cyber crime, trade enforcement crime, export enforcement, human rights violations and human smuggling. hsi's special agents also conduct special investigations aimed at protecting critical infrastructure industries that are vulnerable to sabotage, attack or exploitation. in my limited time today, i want to highlight several priorities within hsi's broad mission set that we believe are relevant to the discussion of the fiscal year 19 budget and hsi's contribution to the administration and congress's priorities. hsi's strategy to address the smuggling of fentanyl and other
elicit opioids focused on working at every level of the elicit supply chain. hsi's investigation focus on the point of foreign manufacture, the dark net and elicit marketplaces and the payment mechanisms used by buyers and sellers throughout the smuggling pipeline and most importantly with our state and local partners, tying overdose deaths to smuggling networks that supply the elicit substance. hsi has seen a rapid growth in our fentanyl related investigations and seizures in just the last two years. between fiscal year 15 and fiscal year 17, we anticipate this increase in seizures and investigations will continue in fiscal year 18.
an increase of 30% in fiscal year 17 in response to the president's executive order on transnational criminal organizations, bes leveraged the participation of over 100 law enforcement agencies that target opioid smuggling. hsi's cyber investigations related to fentanyl and other elicit opioids have increased by 400% between those two fiscal years 15 and 17. in response to the executive order and to improve our ability to tie overdose deaths here in
the united states to the smuggling networks, hsi has developed a dark web and crypto currency training program for state and local law enforcement. training for those investigators and officers that are involved in drug and suspicious death investigations. so far in 2018, hsi has delivered training to more than 1200 investigators from state, local, tribal and federal agencies. secondly, combatting ms-13. in addition to protecting the homeland from elicit opioids, hsi further enhances public safety by targeting transnational criminal organizations and criminal street gangs that operate in the united states. hsi has been laser focused on ms-13 for more than a decade and through operation community shield, the primary platform through which hsi executes its anti-gang initiatives.
hsi worked with the u.s. department of treasuries office of foreign assets control to designate ms-13 as the first transnational criminal street gang identified as a tco. as a result, any property or property interests in the united states or in the possession or control of a u.s. person in which ms-13 has an interest are blocked. one of our most important partners in our fight against ms-13 is the government of el salvador, who we partner with daily. i just returned from el salvador last friday. i look forward to discussing that later in my testimony. hsi has established a transnational criminal investigative unit with the government of el salvador national police, which makes it possible to reach our impact
into el salvador, ensuring that gang membership is also held can believe -- accountable for the gang's conduct in the united states. the dhs efforts to secure our border will not be effective unless we simultaneously focus on the magnets and the pull factors drawing people to cross our borders illegally at the same time that we focus on physical border security. acting i.c.e. director has set a high bar for hsi's work site enforcement efforts in 2018 and going forward. consistent with his public statements that i.c.e. will no longer exempt any industry or business sector from
enforcement, hsi focuses on the entire economy and geographic area of the united states. our strategy incorporated a multiprong approach to utilize enforcement, criminal arrests of employers and administrative arrests of employees, compliance, employment verification, inspections, civil fines and debarment. and out reach, the i.c.e. mutual agreement between government and employers to instill a culture of compliance. hsi has developed a plan to expand the employee compliance inspection center. the new center would allow for the centralization of work site audits at one location that would ensure a standardized audit process. we believe that it would also represent an orderly and efficient way to build a culture of compliance with employers and
statement identify the egregious violators for referral to the field offices for criminal investigation. without the proper resources dedicated to these criminal investigations, the ramifications of illegal activity will continue. to ensure enforcement efforts increase, i.c.e. requests over 1.9 billion in discretionary fee funding to support investigations. as my partners have pointed out, our diverse work force remains our priority to ensure that the mission is executed properly. hsi consists of more than 10,000 employees, of which 6500 are special agents assigned to more than 200 cities throughout the united states and 50 countries throughout the world. funding is critical for global
deployment to ensure the safety of our nation. we are extremely appreciative of the additional support that the subcommittee provided in the fiscal year 18 appropriation to invest in i.c.e. infrastructure. critical investments in infrastructure and information technology continue to be necessary to sustain i.c.e. operations and to ensure that we can provide our work force with the necessary tools to complete the mission. hsi also continues to support the executive orders laying the groundwork for i.c.e. to carry out the critical work of ensuring our national security and public safety. hsi welcomes the additional resources requested in the president's fiscal year 19 budget request, including 300 special agents and mission support personnel allowing us to better support our mission. thank you for your continued support of homeland security investigations. i look forward to answering any questions you may have at this time. thank you.
>> we're going to have a five-minute rule. i'm going to start off with something that is very hot topic. border security and physical barriers. in fy 17 congress provided money for a new barrier to include funds for prototypes. congress provides funds for 40 miles of replacement fencing in 17, over 95 miles of wall and fencing in 18. where and when will you begin construction with these funds? congress provide funds for 40 miles of replacement fencing in 17, over 90 miles of wall in 17
and 18. where and -- if fy 19 budget includes 1.6 million for various type barriers, then tell us what your plans are for border infrastructure. what type of structures do you propose with these funds and where will they be located? from the time you get funds, how long before you can start putting steel in the ground with the funds from fy 19? something of very big interest of me as a texan. walk us through the land acquisition process and a timeline. and what are the obstacles of obtaining land? can the entire 1.6 billion be put on contract by september 30th, 2019? please be specific to those projects that will be put on contract and address the situation in texas, where most land is owned by private
landowners. a lot of issues there, but we've got to get a clear picture. we're still not doing 17 yet. so we want to find out how we're going to get this thing moving. >> thank you, mr. chairman. important set of questions. first let me acknowledge our appreciation for the reprogramming approval in 17 to get started to learn some additional lessons with the prototyping process that will put us in good position for execution in 19. very quickly, a summary of that effort. we had some important lessons learned. we built four concrete prototypes and four prototypes with other materials in a section of border in san diego where we have a lot of crossings in that secondary area.
after construction, we performed a test and evaluation, both for issues like breach of the barrier itself, anti-climb features, anti-dig features as well as the construction techniques and space required. so we learned several key things. one, we validated the notion that see-through fencing is the most important factor on primary for our agents' safety. if we're going to have a fence or wall right on the border, our agents need to see through it for security. concrete has some valuable attributes to be used in other areas including potentially in a secondary context. in terms of the key lessons from these eight prototypes, we learned important things about the best combination of materials for anti-breach, both for the bollard wall format as well as a concrete. we add anti-climb configurations. both a flat face and the tube
structure showed significant anti-climb capability for us. we learned a lot about the constructability and speed on the techniques including the footing of concrete barrier and how much space is required and the ability to add sensors. we have 654 miles out there already. we have a lot of experience over 25 years building barriers on the border. these features are going to be added to that design tool kit and then applied to specific geographic areas of the border with different terrain in packages by segment. in terms of your question on 17, 18 and 19, we are building replacement wall as funded in 17 today. in the central sector we started in february. that replacement wall is going up in southern california. we also kicked off monday of this week our el paso sector project with 20 miles of replacement vehicle barrier in
terms of the construction. the notice to proceed was back in february. it required a significant mobilization given the extent of that project. we'll be continuing replacing those 40 miles funded in 17 in el paso with another four-mile segment in rio grande valley and then a replacement project in san diego sector of 14 miles. all of that will begin by summer into early fall. that funding has been obligated and will be applied effectively to start construction. for the 18 border wall program, we've jumped into that fully for the approximately 95 miles we'll be building. that will cover our highest priority sector in the rio grande valley. we've seen both an increase in family units and children and also hard narcotics.
also a significant increase in criminals and hardened smugglers. it's dual traffic there. we'll be building 25 miles of new levy wall system. we've identified four or five sectors of replacement wall that was granted in the 2018 budget. we expect to do awards started again this summer, august 23rd, rio grande valley. we're preparing for that in anticipation of funding in 18. for 19 you asked would we be able to obligate those fund in the fiscal year if appropriated by congress.
yes, we would. our efforts with the army corps of engineers are well underway. the key thing, as you noted, is how do you work through that process of obtaining that property. private property in texas on the border and other states it's a little bit different. that's a multistage process. you mentioned that we do have to go unfortunately to court proceedings in some cases. often that's just to determine and clear title. it's not necessarily that we're having trouble agreeing with a landowner on a fair price for that property. it's often just to find out who owns it. some of these deeds go back to spanish land grants and are very complex to really figure out who owns the land. that's a multistage process. we try to do it in a collaborative and open manner. we've able to reach an appropriate price with most landowners and then we do have to go through courts just to clear title in some cases. that's going to be underway with
the 38 million authorized in 2018. we've got great support from our leadership in the department of homeland security including in management and their procurement expertise. we intend to do it right and expeditiously. >> okay. couple of questions. those gates -- we had an existing border wall fairly substantial but there were no gates. have we got those gates in place now? are there still gaps? >> there are still gaps today. they're going to start going in place on october 5th, 2018. it's not a challenge of actually buying the gates and installing the gates. that's the property acquisition challenge. we're going to be getting installation in october of this year.
>> one of the sales pitches we made to the landowners is the levee is going to protect your other property from flood. with those holes in it, it's not. we could have a lot of egg on our face. those have been up now for about three years and we still have gigantic holes in it. fortunately we haven't had any major flooding down there in that period of time. we are in hurricane alley. when those things come, we will be asking why didn't you get all this construction. we all cooperated. why did our land flood. we don't want to be in that business. i've been warning people since day one. you're dealing with a different world in texas than you're dealing with the rest of the world. it's all private property.
some of it has -- you're right, goes back to the spanish land grants. i've had to pull those titles apart even in my part of the world. i used to try these dang things. i hated them, by the way. but i did. they could be really time consuming. you have to get a lot of lawyers working, or you're going to be forever on doing the rio grande valley. a friendly warning, because i tried way more of those than i ever wanted to try. they're problems. i've used up my time. >> associate director, it currently came to my attention that on august 29th, 2017,
i.c.e. finalized a new detention or removal or parents or legal guardians. this supercedes the directive. just a month earlier the house appropriations committee reported the fiscal year 2018 dhs appropriations act to the house, along with house report 115-239 which included the following language. i.c.e. should ensure that field officers are appropriately trained on the requirements of i.c.e.'s parental interest directive and on mechanisms to reunite family units. i.c.e. shall not rescind or change the policies contained in this directive. it is true that the house report language was not legally binding. can you explain to this committee the following?
i have three questions here. why would i.c.e. take this action just over a month after the committee made it clear its interest in the parental interest directive? second, why would i.c.e. take this step without any kind of notification to the committee? and finally, can you describe the parts of the parental interest directive that were eliminated in the new directive and explain why they were not included? >> thank you for your question. a lot of the policies, obviously when the executive orders were passed, required revision in order to align themselves with the requirements of the executive orders from the president. so we looked at all of our policies on a wholesale basis to determine which ones were in conflict and needed to be rewritten, which ones needed revisions and others which needed to be done away.
with regard to the parental interest directive, what we found during the review was that there was a lot of information in there that was duplicative of information that was in other policies that could cause confusion among our officers out in the field. what we were doing is also ensuring that the guidance we're able to give our employees is clear, concise and able to be followed without confusion or conflict with other existing policies. with regard to the policies, let me say what's the same in those policies. both policies address the initial detention and placement of transfers. both policies address the visitation requirements and the processes for that. both address the coordinating and the care of the minor children pending removal of the alien parent as well as the record keeper requirements through this process. as always, the primary focus will be the safety and well-being of that child. one thing that we added in this policy, which was not there
previously, which we think is important, is how do we handle children and others that we come across during enforcement actions on the interior of the united states when we arrest a parent taking enforcement action? how do we handle those children who may not have a appropriate parent or guardian remaining at the residence to take care of that child? we work very closely and it lays out in that policy the directions that the officers must take to establish alternate accommodations for that child. generally with family members, friends. the parent is involved in that process, telling the officer who they want their children to go with. only as a last resort will we have to go to the department of children and family services when there was no adult with which to place that child.
the immigration nationality act clearly recognizes the heightened role of the parent and the responsibilities and sensitivity surrounding that, which is why the ina provides provisions for relief from removal for individuals that are parents. an immigration judge can fine and can issue a cancellation of removal on an alien parent in proceedings even if that individual has been found removable, to be in violation of immigration laws. we certainly understand and respect the parental rights. we have policies and this policy in particular, we allow parents that have been removed if they need to be paroled back into the united states to attend a court hearing with regard to custody or other child welfare issues. in order to streamline things and make it more user friendly for our officers, that part was taken out.
it was duplicative. didn't take away their ability to have parole to come in for one of these hearings. it's just covered by another policy. >> let me just suggest that perhaps in the future when a decision is being made even if it's a directive from the president and it is not consistent with language and directives from the committee, that i would recommend that you at least contact the chairman of the committee and inform them of decisions that are being made that do not reflect what has been put into report language. just very quickly, as a follow-up to what you were mentioning with regards to the children, there have been several stories in the press lately about the separation of families by both cbp and i.c.e.
and i asked secretary nielson about this during yesterday's hearing and i want to raise it again here today. i understand that one reason for separating minor children from a parent or guardian is concern about the validity of a claim of familial relationship that traffickers may use to enter this country. what i'd like to know is, what is the process for verifying familial relations or debunking these concerns? and what are the weaknesses in the process that have caused unjustified separations of parents from their children, as was the case with the congalese mother that was sent to san diego and the 7-year-old child was sent to chicago. it would be both for you commissioner and mr. albins. >> i can start, matt.
thank you, ranking member. for cvp, a separation of a group that presents as a family unit is as of right now a very rare event. it's about 1.4% of all these groups that show up at our border. the first question you ask is how do you determine family relationship. this is done very carefully based on an interview of the individuals, based on processing with fingerprints, looking at records in our system, coordination with the consulate, coordination with other authorities in the united states. so when we make a determination to separate a family based on the fact that we don't believe there's a familial relationship, it's generally based on admitted or clear fraud from a cvp perspective. the other cases where there's separation when it is a family unit is if there is a criminal issue with the adult parent that needs to go through the doj process for prosecution. that's, again, a very rare
circumstance. we have careful policies, and it doesn't happen very often. >> i'm really more interested in understanding better what are the weaknesses of the process that would cause cases -- this isn't the only case we've heard of of this congalese mother being separated where at the end she was finally given a dna test four months later. what can be done to better ensure that these things do not happen? one of the big concerns is that psychiatrists and psychologists tell us and experts in this field tell us that the trauma that is caused to the child is very often not reversible. and so that is my concern, is what can be done to help ensure
that these things don't happen at the offset? >> thank you. we obviously share your concerns. our concern always is the health and well-being of that child, especially when they're in a position where they themselves did not choose to make that journey. one of the difficulties we experience is that individual don't have any documentation. they've managed to travel around the world with documentation. but by the time they come to us, that documentation has disappeared. there's always concerns that someone is trying to obfuskate the relationship. without getting into anyone case
in particular, a lot of that hinges on the relationship with the consular officers. if there's questions with regard to the relationship and they refuse to speak to a consular officer from their own country, it raises a red flag. if this individual is genuinely this individual's parent, why would they not be taking every affirmative step to make sure they can be reunited with that individual. we are always looking at policies and procedures to ensure they are as efficient and effective as possible. you mentioned dna. that's something we're looking at as to how we can better utilize dna in this proces>> dr
>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. my first question to the commissioner, your agents are sworn law enforcement agents, is that right? they are. so they believe -- every law enforcement officer i've ever talked with, they do believe they're actually -- they exist to make america safe, to make communities safe. i imagine that's the way they feel. so i'm going toe -- to apologize for the left wing attacks that your officers had today on them. you heard today that somehow their law enforcement efforts to make communities less safe. i've got to tell you, that kind of attacks on american law enforcement officers has to stop, because it doesn't lead to good things, as we're experiencing in maryland, where of course some of our police officers have come under attack and where we now have record
murder rates in one of our cities. because honestly, law enforcement officers get discouraged when that's what they hear from public officials. what's really heartless would be letting ms-13 terrorize maryland communities. maryland is the second most common active place for ms-13. literally within 30 miles of where we sit today, ms-13 runs rampant because we have not enforced our immigration laws in the past. we heard there's no need for increased border funding because border crossings are down -- are historic lows. i think that's what we heard today. but actually i think the border crossing in the past, in february and march actually were higher than in two of the last six years. i think we're actually seeing an increase in border crossings above levels that we've seen in the past decade, is that correct?
>> yes. >> so, in fact, we're actually seeing a resurgence in border crossings because i believe we're talking about amnesty once again. i understand the economics of it. if america has open borders, freely cross, you come here, you get citizenship, why wouldn't you cross our border. so i personally feel that we not only need $1.6 billion in the budget. we need far more to do it, including a wall. mr. albens, your agents don't remove people illegally unless they've committed a crime, is that right? you don't go find people here illegally and remove them? i mean, my family is here illegally. i don't think you come knocking on our doors to remove us, do you? >> correct. >> okay. that's what i thought. look, these are simple questions. the fact of the matter is your law enforcement officers enforce the law.
now people may disagree on what the law ought to be. that's fine. we live in a democracy. we disagree and we make changes to the law if we need to. but we have to trust our law enforcement officers and support them when they enforce the law. we heard about an impulsive decision on calling out the national guard. the last president also called them out, but i don't recall the word impulsive being used them. impulsive is a personal attack on our president. i get it. it doesn't belong in the national conversation. do sanctuary policy which is let local jurisdictions release prisoners, knowing there are detainers, i've read that can threaten the safety of your agents. now your agents have to go into the community instead of taking them into custody in a jail. they have to go into the
community. does that endanger your officers? >> it endangers the safety of the officers and the community. >> talk at trauma and who elicits trauma, my understanding is there is a dreamer in colorado last month, killed a 57-year-old. now that's real trauma. then gets held in a denver prison and they don't contact i.c.e. and they release him into the community. that's the potential for trauma. mr. benner, did i hear you right that you've seized 2,000 pound of fentanyl last year? >> that is correct. >> 2,000 pounds. i'm an anesthesiologist. i know what fentanyl is. most people don't realize that one-quarter of a milligram can kill you if it's injected iv. a minuscule amount. i want to thank your agency for doing this, because that amount of fentanyl given incorrectly can kill 4 billion people. that's the amount of fentanyl we're talking about that
potentially crosses our borders. you are the thin blue line that helps separate us from that. this has got to end. one of the ways it ends is through law enforcement. i just want to end by saying, look, thank you all for enforcing the law. in the instance of seizing dangerous drugs like fentanyl, finding where they're coming from, saving potentially thousands of american lives. i yield back, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. one good thing about the committee, we do have different perspectives. i think we're all trying to reach the same thing but we do look at things a little differently. when we talk about crime, everybody points to the border. if you look at the latest fbi statistics, the crime level at the border is lower than the national crime rate.
i don't have the exact number, but i can bet you that my city of laredo has less murders and rapes per 100,000. when you look compared to washington, d.c., the murder rate is much higher here than we have. lately we've had more people jump the white house fence than some of the other fences that we have down there. we do have different perspectives. you just can't blame the whole fault on the border itself. that's the point that we want to make sure that we understand. i appreciate everything that y'all do. i've been very supportive on the work that i.c.e. does. commissioner, again, congratulations on your appointment. but we do disagree on a couple things. happy that we got another, i think, 328 cpb officers. hopefully you put them in the
high traffic areas. we're trying to stop drugs. understand that according to d.e.a. most of the drugs come through ports of entry. so the monies that we added for technology will be good for ports. over 40% of the people came in through legal visaings. the new cbp officers will be good so we can stop the drugs coming in. they don't come in this between the ports of entry. the majority of them will come through the ports of entry. we need to make sure we stop them. if we want to stop people from coming in, keep in mind that over 40% of the people that came in came through legal visas. even if you put the highest wall or fence, they're going to drive through a port, fly on an airplane or come in by ship. so, again, we have to look at this comprehensively and not think that the wall, which is a 14th century solution, is the magical bullet to everything that we're looking at.
the reason i'm against the wall is, one, the cost. it's expensive. one mile of technology compared to one mile of fencing is a big difference. maybe a million dollars to now used to be $6.5 million per mile of fencing. private property rights, i'm amazed how some of our friends have fought for private property rights. but when it comes to the border, it's a different double standard itself. i'm a big believer in standard rights on the private property rights. if you look at the terrain, we know -- i think all of you have been down to the border. it's hard. sometimes you have to put a fence or a wall a mile away from the bank because of the terrain. so you give away that. people have talked about the gates. what are you going to do about cattle and wildlife?
there's a lot of issues we have to look at. one of the most important things we have to look at is what the border patrol chief has said. bush, different chiefs under him, obama and even under trump. how much time does the fence actually buy you? quote, the border patrol chief under trump said, quote, a few minutes or a few seconds. and again, i'd rather have an awareness where you can have cameras, sensors, enough border patrol. we're actually losing more border patrol than we're hiring border patrol. we just put out a $296 million contract. i wish we would have used that to give our men and women a bonus and retention instead of losing our men and women that we're losing right now. we're all trying to do the right thing. we just have different perspectives. we might have a different perspective after the november elections. we just don't know. i just want you all to be flexible. when you talk about those eight
miles in my district or the levee wall, one of the issues that senator cornyn, myself and the county judge, we came up with that compromise you should the brush administration. take local input into consideration. i know we get the wildlife exemption. there's still a benson park that we like to look at. i'm just saying let's just take the local input. last time washington came down marching for a wall back under the bush administration, they were looking at cutting the u.t. university in half. we have to be a little bit considerate of the local population input as we put some of this security. again, i've always said i support security. i've got a border sheriff who's my brother down there in webb county. you've got a lot of good people. all i'm saying is you've got to take some of our communities in consideration as you do this. we just can't have washington, big government come down and
you preached a good sermon. mr. newhouse. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for having this hearing, both you and the ranking member. gentlemen, thank you for being with us here this morning. i've got to say that you are tasked with one of the most difficult and most important jobs that we have in this country, keeping our homeland safe. i just appreciate it very much, all of the efforts that you and the people that you represent that stand behind you make on our behalf. so thank you from the american people. director albens, i represent part of the state of washington in the central part of the state, which is a rich agricultural region. agriculture is the biggest
economic driver in my district. we pride ourselves in the number of different crops that we raise and the variety of things that we raise. just in the last couple weeks i held a farm bill listening tour. tried to touch base with as many of my producers as i could in every single county. the conversation quickly went to one of the issues on the top of their mind. it has to do with our labor force and the severe crisis that it's in. one of the solutions that has been is to utilize the h2a program, the agricultural guest worker program. in the last couple years workers throughout the countries in record numbers -- i think the numbers have nearly quadrupled. i think we're bringing in 30,000 in the state of washington alone. it's still not enough to meet
the needs of the agricultural economy. let me just relate to you some of the things that my producers are telling me. because of the broadening enforcement efforts by i.c.e. targeting -- the word was used many times -- even legal workers and legal farmers, people are in a place where they think they are being targeted. i've continued to work with my colleagues and the house representatives in the senate to try to find solutions to our immigration issues. that's on us. we fully accept that responsibility. we continue to work with the administration and others to fix that. like i said, growers in my district as well as around the country have said that even with a legal work force they're feeling that they are being unfairly targeted and become ground zero for i.c.e. raid because of their work force, which makes it tougher to grow the food and fiber that we need.
with that premise, the continued targeting of agriculture, it's not going to fix a system that's broken. it has truly become a bureaucratic nightmare. it's not going to address the need in farm country. if you added enforcement actions to existing delays in the h 2 a program which is outdated and bureaucratic along with food and labor shortages already, more problems are added. many think i.c.e. is looking for a pretext by targeting agriculture. true or not, i want to express that to you. we can't see another year of crops going unpicked. it's costing agriculture millions of dollars around the country. i fully appreciate the work that you do.
i've listened intently to the comments that you've made as far as your mission. i read with great interest the mission statement that's in your biography to identify, arrest, remove aliens who present a danger to national security or a risk to public safety. i applaud that. we want to give you every single resource that we can to make sure that you can fulfill your duty and mission, but we have scarce resources. can you explain to us what your priority is? and help me understand the dynamic here, the feeling in ag country versus your stated mission of finding those that are a threat to national security and a risk to public safety. could you talk to me about that and maybe your view -- are we fighting against ourselves when we don't have a comprehensive immigration reform system?
>> i'll briefly answer your question. then i'm going to pass it other to mr. benner here. he controls work site enforcement from an ero perspective we do targeted enforcement operations. we don't do raids. when we go out to make an arrest, we know who we're going to arrest. when we have the available intelligence we also know who else might be there with them. we exercise all due diligence to ensure if we're going against an aggravated felon or a pedophile that we make sure that the other individuals that might be present in that residence are not also posing a risk for the safety of our officers as well as the community. we don't engage in raids. we do target enforcement operations. 89% have criminal records.
74% are actually convicted. absent those that are criminals, the other largest bucket of individuals that we arrest are individual that are fugitives, meaning they've been through the immigration court process, have had their day in court, have availed themselves of any appellate process. but at the end of that process, they've been ordered removed by an immigration judge. we're going to have to execute that removal order. those that have been removed and illegally reenter the country, which is a federal felony, and one that we prosecute significantly. >> thank you, sir, for the question. i want to be kind of clear in terms of the fiscal year 18 priorities and the work site efforts that we've had this year. we've said clearly that no industry is off the table by itself. as a matter of fact, the surge
operations that we've done in 18 have not included the agriculture industry at all. we've actually been looking -- in operation backtrack, we've been looking at previous audits where we've had some significant findings at that time. we're working to make sure there's not a culture of elicit employment again. we've looked at some of the building and trade industry in the smaller level in communities. one of our goals in talking about this compliance center to bring a sense of orderliness and efficiency to the audit process and centralize it for the whole country so we're actually able to create more of a culture of compliance through audits and fines as opposed to enforcement action.
what we want to do is have a regularized, reasonable expectation, similar to the irs that people, business owners could feel that we're going to look at their i-9 eligibility documents and we're going to audit them. and then from that at the national level, we'll be able to distill the actual most egregious violators on a national level and not a town by town or industry by industry. we can actually look at the national level like who are the worst. because one of the top priorities for us when it comes to criminal investigations is the exploitation of unauthorized workers. >> you're talking about worst employers versus employees, right? >> the worst employers, that have built a business model on unauthorized workers. i'll tell you my experience is in many criminal investigations with these types of employers, the unauthorized workers are exploited in terrible ways, wage
earnings, safety, improper training, improper equipment. they're treated completely differently than the authorized workers in all of those areas. and many of them will not come forward to report unsafe working conditions or injuries because there would be the fear of being let go and terminated. so that's one of the top priorities for hsi, is the exploitation. i also want to remind -- we have to remind ourselves, i think, is when we talk about work site is the collateral crimes that occur around an elicit employment scheme of tax fraud, identity theft, bank fraud, the exploitation crimes that i just mentioned, the osha violations in terms of unsafe working conditions for employees and the elicit payment methods that the
most egregious employers use to pay the unauthorized work force in cash. our goal is -- having ten years of experience in the work side realm, our goal is to take that work out of the field offices, create a centralized process that uses smart automation and used auditors to execute that audit function on a national level and a risk based model. >> thank you very much. i've gone way over my time. i apologize for that but thank you for your answers. >> mr. price. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me add my welcome to all of you. thank you for appearing before the subcommittee. i want to pick up on mr. newhouse's line of questioning and maybe put it in a broader context.
i've been on this subcommittee a long time. i've worked with other career employees for many years, been chairman, been ranking member. so i'm very familiar with this debate about enforcement priorities. i'm going to turn to you, mr. albens, and ask you to hopefully help me understand what's going on. i have supported efforts like the priority enforcement program in the last administration, the idea being to prioritize the enforcement efforts on dangerous people. it's very straightforward and very simple. the best way to utilize limited law enforcement resources is to prioritize those who truly provide a threat to public safety and national security. now, this isn't providing anybody a free pass, but it does assume that discretion must be exercised, will be exercised by enforcement authorities. now, president trump has claimed
that he focuses on dangerous criminals. in fact, sometimes he seems to regard most immigrants as dangerous criminals. but he's made that claim. but it seems to me his enforcement efforts have been unfocused and sometimes arbitrary. i'll just give you a quick example. inexplicable decisions regarding any understandable exercise of discretion. in january during a regularly scheduled check-in with i.c.e. officials in atlanta one of my constituents was arrested. he'd been in the u.s. for 14 years, had built a life in north carolina, living with hiv, chronic kidney failure and diabetes. his only crime was overstaying his visa because he had a credible fear of political retaliation in his home country. he checked in regularly with
i.c.e. for over eight years, was still fighting to receive asylum. but when he went to his employment in january, he was arrested and now he has been shipped out. he was an outstanding member of the community. now he's been deported. the specific combination of medicine that he need to fight his hiv, his diabetes, his chronic kidney disease is not available, i promise you, in his country of birth. i have said this to -- i contacted the department and talked to someone supposedly in a position to do something about this. i fear i.c.e. gave him a death sentence. that was very clear at the time, i assure you. not something i'm saying in retrospect. this is just one example. i can promise you that nearly all of my 534 colleagues would give you similar stories. now, let's talk about discretion. even at an accelerated rate, deportations are only a fraction of millions of immigrants here illegally. there will always be that situation. therefore, there is always going
to be discretion required in terms of immigration priorities. the president has said there will be priorities. yet, sometimes director holman talks as though there's no alternative, no discretion. he once said he's simply following the law. we've all been around long enough to know that is simply not the situation. there must be discretion. you're always going to be shipping out only a fraction of those who are here illegally. so the question is what kind of discretion are we using, on what principle, on what basis are we doing this? i want to know that. i think we're entitled to know it. isn't it true that discretion is inevitable? what is your order of removal strategy?
>> thank you for your question. i appreciate the opportunity to get some facts out there about how we actually do our business. i think there's a lot of misconception, especially in the press. there's a lot of sensationalization about what we do. >> let me assure you, i'm not relying on press accounts. i'm relying on firsthand experience. i'm relying on an attempt to work with your agency in getting facts brought to attention that i thought warranted attention. so press accounts, whatever they may be, that's not what we're talking about here. >> with regard to how we conduct our operations, as i've mentioned, we do target enforcement operations. that does not mean that those individuals that are here unlawfully in the country that are either encountered during the course of those operations
or at some point in the past were encountered in the border and placed into removal proceedings are not going to have the law enforced equitably against them. the end. when an individual goes through the immigration court process and if he goes through -- if an individual claims credible fear, that's just the first step. they go in front of an immigration judge to determine whether or not an asylum is going to be granted. if the judge grants that asylum, the individual goes and gets their benefit and is never bothered by i.c.e. again unless they commit some sort of criminal activity that they are here lawfully. we respect the decision of the judge in those cases. if that individual is denied asylum and ordered removed by an immigration judge, we also respect that decision. we have to be equitable in the way we do our business. so if yes ear going to respect the decision when an immigration judge finds in the favor of the alien, we also have to respect
the decision when the immigration finds in favor of the government when we prosecute that case, and if we don't execute that order at the end of that process, then we don't have a process. >> all right. there are 11 million people for whom -- who are vulnerable in the respect you're describing. are you or are you not exercising discretion in choosing whom to detain, whom to deport in that large universe of people? are you in fact prioritizing dangerous people? you claim to be doing that, but then turn around and claim you have no discretion. >> we're certainly prioritizing individuals that are national security and public safety threats, repeat immigration violators and immigration fugitives, but we are not doing so at the sole exclusion of other immigration violators. we won't turn a blind eye to somebody we end up in contact with that has violated immigration laws. again, most of these individuals in the cases that have been here for a long time were arrested entering the country el lily in the first place. that's how they ended up in the
immigration continuum, so we're just merely following through on the processes that have been established, and when the process is that an individual receives a removal order and we're required to execute, it we will do so. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. fleischmann. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning, gentlemen. i have a two-part question. yesterday i asked second neilson about the challenges fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are presenting to this country. first off, i would like to ask you, commissioner mcaleenan, how you're planning to utilize the 224 million for observoid and non-intrusive inspection equipment, specifically what investments in technology are you wanting to prioritize? for director benner, i know homeland security investigations
has played an integral role in current interagency efforts for disrupting and dismantling tcos. our intelligence and situational awareness for cocaine is impressive. are our efforts as mature when it comes to the organizations involved in opioid smuggling, and where do further investments need to be made? gentlemen, i'll ask for the most concise answers because i have two other questions. >> we have a robust multi-facetted effort against fentanyl but i'll focus on your question given the time. we really appreciate the boost in funding for non-intrusion inspection technology. fentanyl is coming through poverty entry on our land border as well as through international mail and express consignment facilities so we'll be applying this funding on two types of technology. one, increasing our ability to detect is especially in vehicles or in small backages. we want to increase the amount of vehicles that we're sending through inspection and increase the fidelity with which we can
detect concealed narcotics in those vehicles as well as small packages. the second side is the testing. the good doctor alluded to the high potency and risk of fentanyl. we want to be able to test it carefully to protect our officers but also as soon as we find out what it is prioritizing those for controlled delivery with our investigative partners at hsi, u.s. postal inspection service and state and local so that we can arrest the people on the u.s. side receiving those dangerous drugs and take effective criminal arrest and prosecution action. >> thank you, sir. director benner? >> thank you for the question, sir. so we're grateful for the resources, the special agent resources we got in fiscal year '18 as an addition, and i can tell you that those resources are going directly towards the fight in fentanyl. for example, in certain parts of the country where we have the border enforcement security task force in partnership with the
commissioner's team, ohio border enforcement security task force and the one in memphis at the mail hub were in lock step with cvp in terms of the interdiction piece and then taking that next step, the investigation piece to identify the illicit supply chain and actually the other bad actors that are out there. i mean, some of the investigative techniques we use lead us to additional criminal activity and in certain cases thinking of a case in pennsylvania. one of the largest pill mill manufacturing operations in the state's history synthetic drugs of which the very pure high purity levels of fentanyl coming from china is an ingredient, and i can assure you that these aren't chemists that are making these pills there. the scariest part about this so we fight it on the border front, but we also fight it on the dark web and the illistility
marketplaces. the scariest part about this issue is you don't need to know a drug dealer anymore. you can sit in your home at a computer, download the onion router and get on the illicit marketplace and order these substances, pay for it using cryptocurrency or other forms of money services and transfers and have it shipped to a p.o. box or address and wait for it to show up. the days of knowing a drug dealer on the street in conducting hand-to-hand deals, unfortunately, that's not prevalent in fentanyl, and so we have to be laser focused on the cyber aspect as much as we do the border aspect. i'll tell you that based on our resource prioritization model for fiscal year '19 we plan on dedicating, if the committee sees fit, a substantial number of those 300 special agents to the fentanyl fight and the ms-13 fight. >> thank you.
well, it looks like, mr. chairman, my time is about up. i had a couple other questions, but i will pass. thank you. >> mr. ruppersberger. >> are we having a second round, mr. chairman? >> i hope so. >> okay. well, first thing. i want to make a statement first. it's not going to be a question, and i -- i think it's relevant because it's an issue now. the president has ordered a certain amount of national guards to go to the border. i've been working national security now in congress the last 15 years, and in my opinion that is not -- it's a waste of money for the national guard to go to the border, and there's just going to be backup. that's not really where the issues are. of course, we need enforcement. we need border patrol, and i believe very strongly that securing our borders should be a top priority as a matter of national security. we should know who is coming in our country and who is not, but just as important as who we need to know what is coming in to our
country. as you know, customs and border patrol, border protection plays the lead role in stopping the importation of contraband such as prescription painkillers, opiate analogs. these drugs are pervasive in all of our districts. i want to share with everyone on the committee and you all, and you know these numbers i'm sure, how much worse the problem is getting n.2013, customs and border patrol seized 2.4 pounds of fentanyl, four pounds, whatever. in contrast, just last year cbp diverted over 71,000 pounds throughout the country from the black market, and for this reason our priorities in this budget should be in stemming the flow of illegal narcotics, especially fentanyl. dr. harris stated how serious it is. as we know, it can touch your skin and affect you. very serious, and especially as it relates to our agents.
it's ten times more potent than heroin, so it's something that we have to deal with. my question, and i'll get to the more specifics in the second round if we have it, mr. mcaleenan, and by the way you've had a great future so far and i'm glad you're in your position, and you have -- you all have tough jobs. you've got -- when you made the comment about you have to follow the order of the judge, that's very important and relevant, but we have a lot of issues here with 11 million people and with congressman price was saying was very important, but you have certain jobs, and we understand that. but we also ask for discretion and training to deal with the issue. first, my question is simple in this one, and then i'll get to the facts later. what steps is dhs taking to stop the importation of highly potent, highly concentrated fentanyl? >> thank you, congressman, for an opportunity to elaborate on our strategy.
cbp made our effort more concentrated and integrated across the agency so we're pursuing this along multiple lines. the ports of entry for fentanyl and express mail and consignment facilities. on the mail side, that growth has been explosive with e-commerce, five-fold increase in the last five years in the international mail facility. that means at jfk we can get a million parcels a day coming in through that mail facility. so the first thing we need to start with as we do all of our enforcement and risk manage president at cbp is good data and information on what's in the shipments. we've been partnering with the u.s. post al system to increase the amount of information on mail parcels coming into the u.s., and i'm talking from under 10% to a year and a half ago to 65% plus now thanks to the u.s. postal service engagement with china in particular which is the source -- primary source of fentanyl, and we're putting that to good use. we're already tripled our
fentanyl seizures in the mail environment in this fiscal year from last year, and that's based primarily on these targeted efforts with good data coming in. i mentioned in the response to the last question of technology being able to inspect it and test it better and partner with our investigative partners to actually do that controlled delivery and understand who is receiving it and then target the network and see what else they are trying to order from abroad. so we're trying to hit it from all the information, the information up front, analysis of what's coming in and good technology to increase and inspect a number of vehicles and good partnership with the investigators. >> we know the president made a campaign promise of securing the wall and i think congress understood it that he didn't get the money that he needed, that it's more important to have technology working with the wall and the manpower to deal with it. now, i only have like 20 second so i'm not going to get too far into this. but i started out by talking about having the national guard for whatever reason, you know, and all the support that they --
that they are just going to be support. would it be better to have more dea agents since really drugs and fentanyl now and the problem of opioids is where we are than it would be to have more national guard or would you rather not comment on that? >> both investigative partners hand increasing our surveillance by the national guard is important. hhi is our primary partner for us for seizures on the border and the national guard is a tremendous partner as do. the national guard will bring in aviation surveillance and can close our gap for the piece at the border. it is supportive but tells us what's crossing so we can interdict more effectively. >> i asked the national guard what the duties would be. seemed to me they were more administrative than support than anything. but my -- is my time up or do i have 30 seconds? i'm over. i yield back. i'll get to more detail in the second round. thanks. >> mr. palazzo. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and gentlemen, thank you for being here today.
border security is absolutely national security. thank you for protecting america, keeping our -- trying to keep our communities safe, trying to stop the flow of the drugs, the human trafficking, the gun trafficking, the foreign nationals from coming into our country, and so thank you. thank you for doing your duty. the majority of the american people appreciate you following the rule of law and trying to protect our communities, states and our nation. you know, i had another question. i hope i get to it. i'm a member of the mississippi national guard. chairman of the national guard caucus, and i -- i think the natural, as you mentioned, is going to be a huge multiplying force for your agency and for securing the border. you know, our national defense -- our active duty military cannot do anything without our guard and reserves. i mean, they can, but to sustain operations and so they are great
for plug and play, so be creative on how you use them. don't just, you know, have them, you know, guarding fences, you know, doing fire watch and things of that nature. i participated in joint task force missions on the border in the '90s. doing just surveillance, communications, using our eyes and our ears and brains and reporting back, so feeding you the data to hopefully make intel out of it, so with that i'd like to jump into some quick questions. cbp has two visions, securing the border and facil saiding the powers that increase economic growth and the officers are the most important facility and trade agents that we have. they need to be able to trade cargo, interdict el legal drugs and contraband and make arrests while moving legitimate passengers through our air, land, seaports of entry. we have sat through many of these hearings together and we know for a variety of reason the
officer are in short supply these days which created a national security and economic vulnerability that this congress must address. cvp is critically understaffed and remains well below its standards by 1,000 officers and nearly 2,000 border patrol agents, so i'm curious if you've given any thought to potentially leveraging the private sector to alive ate some of the manpower shortages by allowing private qualified sector screenings and experts to carry out day-to-day scanning and screening functions and image analysis which would free up your officers to concentrate on their law enforcement and oversight missions, and i'll leave that open to whoever wants to answer. >> i'll specifically answer that questioned and obviously happy to talk about many aspects of our hiring effort to get the right workforce out there. we have made progress. last year we hired almost 200 additional cvp officers and expect to increase our performance through a number
offers. in terms of your specific question, how with releveraging private sector assets for functions like reviewing scans from non-intrusion inspection technology? we're actually leveraging the private sector heavily in this area both to provide an ability to do automated analysis of the vast majority of scans. that capability is increasing due to art russia official intelligence techniques, but we've also been able to partner with industry and we're currently rolling out an integrated view their can combine images from a variety of different technologies produced by different manufacturers and present a consistent picture for our officers and analysts. you're right. it doesn't have to be an officers or agent to review that technology. it could be an expert hired for that specific purpose or contracted out in some cases to do a good analysis of that image. that's absolutely something that we're pursuing, and we're going to have -- if we have the appropriate specialties in our national guard partners, we've requested support in some of those areas to help extend our
capabilities as well. >> all right. i mentioned to the secretary of homeland security yesterday that dhs actually has a research and experimental uav facility at camp shelby which is our nation's largest national guard training site in america, and so, you know, this is one fight, multiple agencies are going to be participating. y'all are obviously the lead agency, but we've got the coast guard in soul and central america trying to interdict drugs and bad actors before they make it into mexico and to the drug and whatever -- the highway that will, you know, because if it's still correct, makes it into mexico it's going to make it into america. just the resources that they have are -- are -- are huge, and i'm just glad that this president, this congress and the american people are supporting us and investing in your agency, invested in your resources which are your people and equipment that you need to do your job and to be successful. the american people are with you. good luck and let us know how we
can continue to help you do your job. thank you. >> mr. taylor. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank the three of you, appreciate you being here and what you're doing for the nation and please give us the best for the men and women underneath that are out there every single day for us. i want to focus on the dark web really quickly. you know, with servers and things of that nature, of course, how are you in terms of resources and personnel and technology and training to be able to combat illicit sales on the dark web? are you hiring graduates to the hero program to supplement the cyber workforce and are you piggybacking and partnering are other agencies that may have better expertise in that regard? >> absolutely. we're very proud of the hero program. we've offered positions to over 100 of the graduates of the hero program. we have two classes that will be executing on in '18, and we thank the committee for the ten
positions, additional positions that we received to place the heroes into full-time positions. here's the challenge. these are some of our best and most passionate mission executers that we have in hsi, and it's my belief that working in the child exploitation field is not something that we should expect them to do for a long period of time. we need to develop a career path for them to serve in that cyber world in another function, so what we would propose and what we would like to work with the committee on is positions such as a cyber investigator or a cyber intelligence analyst to continue to use the training that they have which is up here. i mean, they are certified forensic agents at that point and to give them the career path to continue to serve in areas of
high priority which is there's really no other higher priority than fentanyl in terms of the dark web, so that cyber investigator position i think would be a great career path for the hero program. in addition, because of the direct hiring authority that i.c.e. has and the hsi has, we would look to expand our cyber portfolio in terms of the cyber investigator position that's a non-law enforcement, non-succeed position but a full-time dedicated support kind of investigator that could add capacity and value to the ongoing investigations in the field. the second part, sir, which i'm glad you mentioned, was the face of mission support to special agents and criminal investigators has changed. you know, obviously we've gone well beyond the kind of clerk
typist, data entry, technical enforcement officer to some degree. now our agents actually need computer scientists and data scientists to work side by side with them when they are doing these dark web cryptocurrency investigations because of the sheer amount of data, so that would be another area where we'd like to come back and talk to you about what that looks like for our cyber program. >> two things, and i'm -- time constraint. but on that note, are there partnerships with other agencies that may have an expertise already that you can piggyback on? >> so we're continually -- we had a great meeting yesterday with nppd. obviously part of dhs, very, very engaged in the cyber security and the cyber intrusion work. they have a lot to offer our cyber program as well. so we're continually working with assets within the
department. if you talk about working together, we've -- we've launched a training program to take the dark web and cryptocurrency cyber training on the road to our state and local partners, so we've trained over 1,200 state and local officers since the president announced the executive order on the opioid crisis back in october, i believe. that's going to continue throughout the year. we're going to move across the country and keep working with our partners. the goal there is to -- is to build capacity and share expertise in cyber investigations and dark net investigations. >> one other quick thing. a note on that, thank you, and we love to work with you guys if at all possible if there's necessary authorities or the need to be able to help not -- help deal with any silos that might be there and our whole apparatus. last thing. you guys do a great job in places like latin america and going past the poured border, of
course, where the start of some of this stuff is coming as opposed to coming to get it when you here which you do well. on the fentanyl and opioid and, of course, like you said the partnership you've had with the u.s. postal service and what is it three times the increase of seizures, if you will, are you talking and having partnerships, or is it happening at all in china with their authorities as well to be able to deal with the fentanyl and where it's coming in from china like we do in latin america? >> i can comment, and if derek through the attache wants to add a point. i've talked to ambassador branstead about this issue. he's on board with the president's focus on countering fentanyl, one of the top three priorities in engaging the chinese government. we have seen at our level the customs-to-customs collaborations increase given the growth of e-commerce. were sharing information where appropriate on illicit fentanyl distributors so that we can address that with the chinese government. >> so they have been cooperative in. >> increasing.
that data increase, that 65%, that's coming from china post and increased electronic information-sharing. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> okay. we're going to start a second round. we'll be on a pretty tight rein on this, although we'll give everybody a chance to go one more time. just a personal comment. i was sitting here thinking about the comments about when they -- when you run across a raid that has violated the law or failed to appear for a hearing. every criminal day i ever held over a 20-year period of time i offered bonds and issued alien warrants and picked up people who failed to appear and if i ever had heard that up of my officers that answered to our court had failed to stumble across one of those people to
arrest them i would have been extremely unhappy with them. you can't expect people to make a choice as to which laws they are going to obey and not obey, and i think it's not even an argument that the highest no show rate of any courts in america today are at our immigration courts. it's clearly wins the world championships for no shows, so i think it is appropriate when you run across those people who have been a no show for officers to do their duty. i want to talk about i.c.e. detention beds. we've been trying to keep up with i.c.e. detention beds. i totally support i.c.e. on the detention beds. i think it's a death refnlt i think it serves a lot of purposes besides deterrents, but
we look at it right now this would be an increase of what you propose is 11,480-bed increase of adult detention beds, and i support your mission, and i had a number higher than we came up with in the '18 election, but through negotiations that changed. now you've developed i think a pretty good model. you've told us about it. does your model indicate 52,000 beds is still a correct number because we had that number last time as a suggestion number? why are you confident that the associated costs are accurate for the fy-'19 budget? that's important, and we need to know how much this is going to cost us. please explain the assumptions used to develop the operating
numbers and whether they are still valid today, and please explain the policy changes you have or will put in place and the assumptions used to develop this number, and are they still valid today? >> thank you, chairman. appreciate the opportunity to explain our forecasting model. we've worked very hard over the past couple of years with -- with this committee and especially your staffers to help develop a very consistent, logical, transparent model to help protect detention space requirements. that's something your committee made loud and clear to us over the past several years that we need to do a better job of, and our new model i think does that. it was use the extensively during the fy-'18 budget negotiation process where there was a question for additional data. this model is, you know, obviously not getting into the science of this because it's over my head, but it considers all sorts of have variables to include averages, trends,
seasonality effects and looking at historical data as well as what's happening today, so a lot of these models, we obviously built this several years ago which is why your question is so pertinent is that the models and what we forecast back then still holds true today. the impact of both i.c.e. arrests, cvp arrests, the requirements that we have in order to detain these individuals before their hearing so we don't have, you know, another 50,000 fugitives added to our 540,000 backlog, but the best part about the models it allows us to factor in operational changes, things like mandatory patterns and surges, jurisdictional and increase in enforcement. for example, when we had this model years ago we had 72 partners, right now we have 16 and we'll have 79 by the end of the year. right now only 44 of those are
operational because they have been recently approved for membership or for partnership. they have to get trained and do the background investigations on the officers, but that's going to lead to a significant increase in arrests coming out of the criminal alien program because the individuals will be able to schenn 100% of the people that get arrested in those jurisdictions. not only that, it's a force multiplication benefit because our own officers, our deportation officers right now working those jails will be able to redeploy to other facilities to do additional at-large apprehensions, to work on things like the docket to move that docket along faster, and also to take people off the non-detained docket and put them back into custody so we can effectuate removal. yes, we expect that this number is going to be -- to put us right where we need to be for fy-'19. >> thank you.
>> ms. roybal-allard. >> let me begin by saying and i agree with my colleague dr. harris that we should take into the account the lawful officials and respect the dangerous situations that they face every day. however, based on the rhetoric of this administration it seems not to appreciate the concerns that many state and local government and local law enforcement officials have regarding their more direct association with federal immigration enforcement efforts and how it undermines their safety and that of the public which becomes increasingly more fearful of reporting crimes and cooperating with criminal investigations. as you know, california has declared itself as a sanctuary state, and would i like to read the directive from the california department of justice and ask you to highlight where
you see there are weaknesses in that -- that cause you then to go into the interior as i understand it from director holman, to go after criminals as a result of the state being a sanctuary state. the guidance states that california law enforcement agencies can notify i.c.e. and transfer custody of an individual to i.c.e. if the individual has been convicted at any time of a serious or violent felony or a felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison, has been convicted within the past 15 years of certain other types of felonies or within the last five years of crimes punishable as either a felony or a misdemeanor. is a current registrant of the
california sex and arson registry has been convicted of certain federal aggravated felonies under the immigration and nationality act, or has been identified by i.c.e. as the subject of an outstanding federal felony arrest warrant for any federal crime. the guidance also makes clear that california law enforcement officers must be allowed to communicate with federal immigration authorities about the citizenship or immigration status of individuals in their custody as required by federal law, so that is the directive. so my question to you is what -- where are the weaknesses in this that cause you then to -- to say or i.c.e. and director holman to say that because of this directive whatever the weakness
may be, that i'm asking you to identify, that we are -- california is endangering the lives of i.c.e. officials and the community because you are then forced to go into the communities when it clearly states here that felons -- well, i don't want to go through the list again, that the law enforcement should be notifying i.c.e. under these conditions. >> thank you. first, i mean, i think it speaks volumes that the california sheriff's association came out strongly against the policies and laws that were enacted in the state because they felt that it undermined public safety. while there are some categories that you listed where we can get some cooperation, there's a vast more number of categories that we don't get the cooperation.
>> can you highlight. give me a few because i'm running out of time. >> i can say part of the things, when we do our work, as i mentioned it, i don't want to beat a dead hard with targeted enforcement but we don't do random arrests or stops of individuals on the street. we are going after a particular individual, and in order for us to do that and obtain an arrest warrant for somebody we have to determine two things, alienage and removeability. part of that determination in many, many cases is going to require a personal interview, and was very public in the press and in the sheriff was very vocal about it, we got turned away ten days in a row going to the santa clara county jail to talk to people that are incarcerate that had we need to make a determination as to whether or not, one, they are an alien and two if they are removable, so if we can't even get into the the facility to do that -- >> let me stop you there to say on both side we can cite circumstances where laws or
policies haven't been followed. what i'm asking is that what are the weaknesses in the directive that -- what should be added in order to address your concerns in a way that also addresses the concerns of many of our local like the los angeles police department and others who have concerns about a more expanded association with i.c.e. i'm trying to find this out so that i can then talk to them and see if maybe we can find some consensus. >> and we're not asking any law enforcement agency to enforce immigration law. we are asking for the same access to information that any other law enforcement agency should have access to. for example, we used to have access to the california gangs network. we no longer do as a result of this law. that is a huge public safety risk. we arrested over 5,000 gang
members and associates just in the year align not to mention the 5,000 that hsi arrested last year and if we don't have access to the information who is a gang member and where they might reside and be with, that's certain a public safety risk and it's clearly a public safety risk for our officer who used to be able to run background checks on an individual before they go knock on the door and know that he's a gang member and now they are going there flying blind. that is clearly an overs safety risk. >> primarily right now you're talking about the gang. okay. >> we can talk about numerous things. so many loopholes included in that law with regard to what we can access and the type of cooperation that we receive, i would say that the chilling effect has been on the line officers within the law enforcement agency in california that would love to help us get these public safety threats out of their community but are afraid to do so for fear of reprisal from their management
and agencies. that's the chilling effect. >> there's definitely a difference of opinion between different law enforcement agencies in california. >> mr. fleischman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the cpb uses high accuracy license plate readers, lprs, at 650 privately owned vehicle lanes at land ports. is my understanding that the current models are aging and will soon require replacement? this committee has instructed cpb to pursue lpr modernization including in the fiscal 2018 omnibus. what is cpb's plan to finally modernize its lprs at its ports of entry? >> thank you for the question and the committee's support for additional funding to modernize our lprs. it's a critical toot not only to identify potential security threats that we need to target for greater inspection at port
of entry but also potential risk to our overs so we appreciate that support. we received a significant boost in the fy-'18 enacted that's going to allow us to buy new and modernized equipment and also extend the number of lanes we cover, both at ports of entry and at checkpoints, and we've asked for continued investment in the fy-'19 budget to continue that progress. >> thank you, sir. one final question. i've been hearing increasing praise for the mobile surveillance capability. most recently it was brought to my attention that the msc was deployed with incredible success in puerto rico where it was repurposed for coastline surveillance. have you considered further use of mscs for u.s. coastline or employing them against the relocatable surveillance system maritime requirement? >> yes, congressman. you reference a specific successful pilot we had in puerto rico with the msc
identifying potential small boats out to 13 kilometers and beyond. it worked very well for us. we do think it's an important tool as part of our surveillance capability overall. we could use it in other coastal environments in south texas and in california as well, and we do have investment requests in the fy-'19 budget for continued capability. >> thank you, and i want to thank each and every one of you for your outstanding service to the country. you've got a very difficult job, difficult mission, and you've got the support of congress. thank you, sir. >> mr. cuellar. >> thank you, mr. chairman. again, a matter of perspective and then i'll ask some specific questions. as you do your work, i would just ask you to keep everything in perspective in the sense that if we look at, you know, the border, it's not the way people perceive it to be. i know we've got issues and we're working and we want to be supportive, but if you look at
the fbi stats on comparing violent crime rates on the texas border to other cities, the national crime rate is 3886.3 per 100,000. that's the national rate. if you look at mckellan, it's 1451 per 100,000, which is below the border rate. the national rate del rio is below, that loredo is below, that and just to pick a couple of cities. let's say milwaukee, wisconsin, where one of our leaders is from, the violent crime rate there is 1,533, way over the national average, or you look at bakerville, california, it's 480, way over the national rate, or -- and i don't see my colleague from maryland, but if you look at maryland's figures also, let's say baltimore, it is
6,619 violent crimes per 100,000 compared to my city of loredo 362 per 100,000, so it's all a matter of perspective, and to say that this is the fault of immigrants or other issues like that we've got to make sure that we temper that and we don't fall prey to emotion or prejudice that we might have. i just ask you as you do your work just keep that in perspective. i would ask you a couple of things. mr. benner, i really appreciate that when you look at the i-9 it's more of a compliance enforcement important but it's more of a compliance. in fact, my office is working with your office for san antonio, loredo and mccallen, working with the texas association of restaurants and the chambers to bring in restaurants. i think we're setting that in a couple of weeks so i want to thank you for that education so that we can make sure our businesses are in compliance.
if there are bad ales, you go after them, but i think a lot of them are just trying to get, you know, comply with the law so i appreciate what we're doing in san antonio, loredo and mccallen. i appreciate yesterday when we were with the secretary i asked her we added 5,500 immigration judges, 10 last year and is hundred now. one of the things that i've asked and i asked the secretary and she agreed with me yesterday was that we've got to get the judges through the border. you know, sometimes judges want to be in new york. they want to be in it chicago and big cities, but i think if you're going to have the activity at the border, you've got to have the immigration judges. we ask for judge teams to make sure we have them. i agree with you that we've got to have the attorneys from the department of justice to make sure we have everybody there. the last time i talked to mr. holman and james mchenry was we needed to get office spaces for the judges. we're trying to get a couple of
judges in loredo and a couple of mccallen and get them to the border and not away from the border so we can provide justice. if a judge says you stay, you stay. if a judge says you go then you deport them, but we've got to the have the judges, and hopefully we can follow up on that conversation. the last point i would like to bring up, commissioner, is what we talked about in loredo. as you know, the committee added language to make proof of concept the world trade bridgeport of entry loredo which is the largest land port we have, second in the country after l.a. total trade, l.a. and then it's loredo. 14,000 trailers a day, so eve g -- so we've got to make sure that we have the technology and have the latest technology to do that, but it's not only at the port of entry, and this is where my question will come in, commissioner, but also the charlie checkpoint which is
outside loredo. if you will look at that charlie checkpoint, the border patrol checkpoint and just look at the number of trucks, it would be the fourth largest port of entry if you were just looking trucks. my opinion, and i think we talked about this, the border patrol needs some assistance from cvp because they are still doing things that cvp was doing 25 years ago. they are trying to stop every truck. they can't do that every time. they canines. we saw what happened when they had an emt et truck that took 100 migrants and they died. some of them died in san antonio, so we've got to make sure that as we do that proof of concept that we also look at border patrol checkpoints, and i appreciate your thought on that. >> first of all i agree very strongly with the investments and the potential for capability to facilitate truck traffic at our world trade bridge and also through the c-29 checkpoint up the road. i think that's one of the
promises of a unified border security agency that we haven't fully realized, is that collaboration and applying the best advanced techniques from ports of entry to choipts and some of the best advanced techniques from border patrol operations back to the points of entry are. i know the chief in loredo is very focused on that collaboration. we have ideas come forward monitoring at world trade bridge, and i thank you for the question. >> mr. palazzo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when most people think about customs and border protection they think about border security, but i know we would agree that cvp has a tremendous role in the facilitation of trade and for years i've been saying i'm also for free trade and i'm also for fair trade. within my district shrimping and lumber are very important industries impacted by anti-dumping and countervailing duties. many companies that engage nun fair trade practices or attempt to get around the duties operate as shell companies, dumping their goods into the u.s. before
disappearing and reinventing themselves down the road. i'm hoping y'all are prepared to answer this, but i've been told that the cvp's office of trade is working on a troproject with number of leaders to use third-party data and big data analytics to address these challenges as well as others identified within the trade facilitation and trade enforcementage. i know we're in the middle of that pilot now. is it possible that anybody can provide me with an update? >> sure. i appreciate the question. managing 4 million in trade crossing our borders and ensuring we address trade enforcement like dumping and countervailing measures, they are certainly subject to a lot of evasive or fraudulent trade practices that we absolutely need to address as a team, both identifying at cvp and auditing it and coordinating with investigating partners like hsi to take action.
you mentioned the pilot to collect big data. we collect a lot of information from a regulatory perspective and we serve as a single window for other departments and agencies that have enforcement responsibilities for trade crossing our border so cvp is that single window with the automated commercial environment. that the creates a great opportunity to use advanced techniques, advanced analytics, artificial up intelligence to look at that vast array of data to treat it and we're in the very early stages of structuring that data so that can be tested appropriately against the algorithm. s in the big data approach. we'll come back and brief you. it's something that we want to collaborate closely with hsi on as well. >> please do, and thank you for that response. i know up of my colleagues touched on it, and although we know the seizure of drugs is up,
it's also more drugs or trying to find its way into america so it's obvious your seizures will be up. when we ear discussing legal ports of entry, can you tell me what are some of your biggest blind spots and with the funding that we're providing you, how are we going to address trying to, you know, again, my colleague said it well, incorporating technology to help, you know, identify drug smuggling and other things coming through our legal ports of entry. >> so for ports offentry and interdicting narcotics, you know, i'll focus on the land border point of entry. there's four sources, good intelligence or investigative leads from our partners or own targeting units, non-intrusive inspection technology that detects an anomaly in a vehicle. the canines that we have deployed in pre-primary that are very effective tools for us, and then a good officer inspection asking the right questions, looking for something that doesn't make sense. those are the four sources, and
they really find narcotics in roughly equal balance. the place that we think we can make a huge impact with further venchlgts and that's why the '18 enacted is such a big deal for us on the nii, given the benefits and multi-technology portal technology that we can keep a truck driver in a cap in a health safety posture and have a thorough investigation of the trailer and the same thing for passenger vehicles, getting a good clean image that have passenger vehicle without slowing it down and removing the driver through -- through portals that can scan that -- that traffic with the travelers in it. expanding the percentage of traffic that we kin spect through nii is the number one next step that we think that we can take to enhance our drug interdiction at ports of entry and that's why the support of this committee has been very helpful. >> thank you for that response and, again, thank you for what you do and please allow the people who work with you and under you that we appreciate what they do day in and day out
and their families as well. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> mr. ruppersberger. oh, i'm sorry, mr. price. mr. price. >> nice tries. thank you, mr. chairman. let me first clarify this earlier discussion we had about the case i cited and other cases like it. this was not a case of someone not showing up for a scheduled procedure or a required hearing or anything else. this is someone who did show up, and this is increasingly what i'm seeing in cases that come to my attention. these are people who do show up. they check in faithfully with i.c.e. upped an order of supervision and they are picked up at that point. this seems to be something new. that's why i asked about it. it doesn't follow any -- anich
plan or prioritization of danger to the community that i can see. that's why i would appreciate any further clarification anyone can offer on this. the case i cited is -- it's a very dramatic case. just a totally inexcusable case i think but i'm afraid there are others like it. let me turn to the question of border crossings and asylum, mr. mcaleenan. i -- i heard it said earlier that border crossings have begun to rise somewhat in the past two months, but it's true, isn't it, that they reached historic lows in 2017 and are still well under the peaks experienced in proves decades so that needs to be put in perspective, and then i think we need also to ask who are these people who are arriving at the borders? >> lrnlg numbers of them are
seeking refuge from poverty and physical danger in their home countries, especially the triangle countries of central america, and isn't it true that a number of these people are seeking out cvp agents, not trying to eindividual them, turning themselves in and trying to claim asylum so it does raise the question of whether this is a question of border security at all. what does the national guard have to do with this? what for the matter does a fence have to do with this? shunned we be asking ourselves how to best deal with this issue of rising asylum claims? also before he was in this administration general kell used to argue that we needed to pay attention to the conditions in these home countries and what's driving people out of these countries in the first place, but let's just concentrate on what happens when they get here. they are looking for an asylum hearing, and i wonder if we're
dealing with that adequately. we are hearing troubling reports that asylum-seekers are being turned away at the borders. under the law cvp agents are supposed to register asylum requests, are take them into custody and assign them to an asylum officer to assess the solidity of their claim. increased border crossings that dhs reported in march, how many of them are people of the sort i've described, people who voluntarily are turning themselves in to seek humanitarian relief? are you confident that cvp agents have been properly trained to comply about with our laws to ensure the proper and humane processing of all asylum-seekers, and can you clarify what's actually happening? can you offer assurances, for example, that people aren't being turned away or turned back
without or before they receive a credible fierce screening that staebz whether they have a legitimate claim to seek asylum? >> thank you, congressman. i'll address each of those questions. how many? in march we had 50,000 either apprehensions between ports of entry or individuals at ports of entry, two-thirds between and one-third at ports of entry. of those about 18,500 were either family units or children. the bulk of those crossers were from the northern triangle of central america as you not, so it's important to note that the posture of people that we're apprehending are encountering at ports of entry has changed dramatically in the last several years versus the first 13 years of this century. we've received asylum claims or fear claims from fewer than 1% of the people we apprehended
between 2013. now that number is averaging 15% to 20% and then it goes into i.c.e. custody where additional asylum claims or fear claims are made so it's a different population as you note. am i assured that our officers and agents are approaching their responsibilities and following the law to assess fear claims when people present them at the border? yes, i am, and it's something that we're focused on ensuring going forward. this is something that we review very carefully. we have strong policies, strong training. we've accepted over 50,000 asylum claims in the last two years at our ports of entry. we do hear, as you're alluding reports to, where it's not been handled appropriately. those reports are immediately referred to our office of professional responsibility and our inspector general and are followed up and we have exacted discipline in cases where it's been substantiated where a case was not handled appropriately. it's very important to us, something we need to review. people entitled to protections need to be able to claim them
appropriately but it's not a widespread issue. it's not even remotely compared to the numbers that are being processed appropriately for fear. so what's actually happening? you raised some very important points. i heard the chairman note that we have to solve this problem. the current structure of our statute and policy is not encouraging good results. it's inviting asylum seekers to come and make a dangerous journey, to pay hundreds of millions dollars to transnational criminal organizations and pull them selves and their children at risk of assault or worse and really draining the youth and the energy of the northern triangle countries that you note that general kelly and myself, secretary nielsen are committed to supporting to enhance their governance, security and prosperity. so this posture is not achieving good policy results, either for these individuals who are seeking help nor for their countries that need a different approach to governance and security and that's something that dhs is committed with.
i want to work with you and congress in my role supporting the secretary in her role to highlight the statuary changes that we need and to also continue to invest with partners in the region. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. ruppersberger. >> mr. chairman, first, the administration has made it a point to secure the southern border and the president's call for building a 1,000-mile it is wall and a surge in new border patrol agents. however, in my opinion is what is missing is more cvp officers. mr. mcaleenan, i'll be asking you these questions. these cvp officers are essential as there's many drugs moving through our official ports of entry as between them. cvp understands this. their own workload staff model, your agency stated it's in need of 2,516 additional officers, and i have witnessed this first hmptd i represent the port of
baltimore which is consistently short cvp officers, and shippers are being asked to compensate cvp for the costs of additional overtime shifts. furthermore, these officers stationed in baltimore were already working excessive overtime and this is severely impacting the flow of commerce and compromising security throughout the whole country and our ports. the port of baltimore is not the outlier here. i have a chart in front of me which paints a really sad picture. in march 2017 there were 200-plus vacancies in loredo. 250 vacancies in tucson and 350 plus in san diego. now i know the committee understands the gravity of the situation. we funded 328 now cvp officers in our omnibus. however, this still leads a nationwide shortage of 2,200 cvp officers. now, the question is does the administration recognize that
drugs are moving into this country through our official ports of entry, not just between them? if so, does the president's budget proposal request funding for only 60 cvp hires with none assigned to ports, and that's why i raised the issue of the national guard, by the way. managing is a matter of priorities, and, you know, i guess as an example in maryland we have 500 of our national guard in estonia dealing with the russia issue so there's a lot of priorities. i think if you're going to do anything, you need a plan and you need to rely on your experts but to say one day we're going to put the national guard and you have to take orders, whatever it is, you've got to find a way to make sure you do it, and that's why i raised the issue of the national guard. with the administration's favoring of increased border patrol agents over customs officers indicates the president is more concerned with intercepting people instead of drugs and i think that's wrong, and i would like to know whether or not you believe what i just said. also, i understand you're
stretched thin. i need -- but i need a commitment maybe from you or whatever that you'll get back if you could examine this problem of the drugs versus the people. it seems that we have the people thing under control at the borders. it the seems that we have seems than we've ever had, but there's a lot of people there. and we have to pick priorities and we have to have a plan and not just make decisions based on instincts. now, so that's my question if you could try to answer it, and i would like you to get back to me on how you suggest we deal with this issue in the ports. >> great, thank you. i do recognize drugs are coming through ports of entry. i've acknowledged that several times in the testimony and talked about our strategies to address that. are we not asking for or seeking additional cvp officers, no. quite the contrary. i spearheaded the development of that model when i was in the office of field operations. we're submitting it every year
to congress and against that a request for increases to keep up even modestly with inflation for immigration users fee and customs fee -- >> over 2,000 jobs? >> absolutely. just a small increase in each fee of a dollar each would have a significant benefit to additional hiring. we've asked for that every year. there's no intent to not support additional poe hiring, quite the contrary. the agents are not amenable to a fee-based source for their work. we do need the appropriations and that's why you see the emphasis in the president's budget. i'm more than happy to get back in touch with you and examine this problem further. i think the committee's right to highlight the routes for drugs, right to highlight the need for cvp officers for security and facilitation. and we agree. and i believe the budget reflects that agreement. >> i respect you all, but there are a lot of issues out there.
the commander in chief has a different style, but he's the president, so we have to work through that. and whatever your orders, your orders are. but when -- if i disagree with him, i'm not going to attack him unless i disagree with his comments or his policies. but i do respect you all, you have a tough job, you've gotta follow orders, also. thank you. >> thank you, mr. ruppersberger. one thing i want to point out, those fees are not under our jurisdiction, they fall under judiciary and ways and means, i believe. that's a little problem for us. >> thank you. >> mr. culberson? >> thank you, mr. chairman. those fees ought to be under this subcommittee's jurisdiction. i believe anything with a president's portrait under it
ought to be -- >> you have two chairmen here, you ought to make it happen. >> i'm ready. thank you, mr. chairman for your patience. over the years that i've had the privilege of representing the people, i've discovered if i make an unannounced trip to the border, that's the best way to find out what's going on. and the human problem is not solved. it's wide open. in the mccowan section in particular, the border patrol agents that i went into the field this on an unannounced visit, always the best way to do it. we encountered a group of people immediately. within a few minutes. the border patrol said we don't catch them, they catch us. these are individuals with minor children that come up as far as guatemala, or central america. paid thousands of dollars.
immediately they were coached on what to say. they knew what to say to the border patrol agent to say a claim of persecution. difficult for me to believe that some of these were -- parents with children. there was one individual about 25 years old that claimed a 17 or 18-year-old with him was his son and the border patrol agent said this happens all the time. and the human problem is actually one that is particularly heartbreaking. the drug problem is catastrophic and heartbreaking, but human slavery still exists in this country. and trafficking of human beings is a terrible problem. and houston, texas, is one of the hubs of human trafficking in the country. so i wanted to ask commissioner mcaleenan, and congratulate you on your assignment. first of all, what is your department doing to restore the integrity of the asylum system to ensure that legitimate trafficking victims who need our
help are assisted while those who are looking to exploit the system by illegally crossing the border and pretending to be in fear of persecution, are detained swiftly and removed swiftly? what's being done to end the practice of catch and release at the border? >> thank you, congressman. i appreciate your visits to the border and your long-standing knowledge and your emphasis on consequences for illegal activity on the border. on that note, we are the front end of this challenge. we're the border security element catching people crossing the border, and you note sometimes with family units and children they're not evading capture, because they're prepared, coached, in some cases to request protection and claim fear of return to their home country. when that happens, we turn those individua individuals over to i.c.e. and i'll let my colleague speak to that. for children, i.c.e. transports
them to hhs at the start of their proceeding. >> i found out quickly as part of the visit, that every single one of those families that sought out a border patrol agent, they all reached their destination. they were held, 48, 72 hours by i.c.e. every one of them basically made it to chicago. one was going to st. louis, atlanta, miami. they all make it to their destination at u.s. taxpayer expense because of this loophole they found in the system. so what are we doing to close this loophole? because the magnet, it's putting their lives at risk. these poor kids and these young parents had to come from central america and quaut mguatemala, tf assault, rape, murder, in order to get here. they know if they come in and say the right thing, they're going to get to miami at u.s. taxpayer expense. what's being done to stop that? >> we don't have our colleague here, but i'll speak to the department wide efforts. or administration wide. this was one of the key areas
emphasized by the administration in the immigration discussion in the fall through january. one of the main loopholes they sought to close, to strengthen the asylum process, because what we see at the front end, a high percentage of people reaching that initial credible fear bar and waiting for a long time fora judge to resolve that case where there's a much lower result in terms of getting relief and found to have asylum. so that can be years in the u.s. >> and 96% of them never show up for their hearing. they're just gone. they're in the united states illegally. >> the chairman made that point earlier, that's a significant challenge in the system as well. >> so what are you doing to close to loophole? >> the administration is trying to work with congress to modify the statute. also with the trafficking victims, protection re-authorization act, if you're a mexican child or a canadian child and you come across unaccompanied, you can be returned to your country. that's not true for countries further away including central
america. that's a key change the administration sought as well. >> that's exactly the right answer. thank you. >> if you could just add one thing, you know, unfortunately, we're bound by decisions, whether it's a legislative decision or a court decision with regard to our detention of the family unit. based on the flores settlement agreement, we are required to release a family unit within 20 days of them coming into custody. so that's why the individuals that you arrested, apprehended -- probably the wrong term, because they're turning themselves in. we don't have authorize to hold them longer than 20 days and as the commissioner mentioned with the usac, we have no authority. so our role is to get them over to hhs, at which point, we're no
longer involved in that process. >> the key is fixing statute. >> absolutely. >> and we're behind you on that. we could even overturn a settlement, couldn't we, judge, with a statute? >> well, we -- in the bill that we tried to bring to the floor just recently, i have three provisions dealing with all three of these issues, fix all three of those issues. [ inaudible ] -- the number one thing that needs to be fixed, it's not ever going to stop peopif, if we don plug this hole. >> that's right. >> and believe me, a lot of the attractive children are not making it to the border. >> i think i should probably just give the floor to her for the rest of the day. >> we were just trying to figure
out some clarification in terms of the asylum claims and the statistics. because there is a lower threshold with the initial review for an asylum claim. that is, my understanding, it's lower because we want to make sure that we are making it possible for those who had valid claims to be able to go through the process and be protected. and then when it goes through the final determination, which is a higher threshold, that it makes sense then that there would be less people who would actually get asylum. so i guess i would disagree that's a real loophole, there's a reason for the lower threshold
initially and the higher one when they get that second review. so if you have any information on that, statistics, i appreciate you sharing it. nota this time because i know we're running against the clock here, but i would appreciate if we could get more information on that. i also want to clarify with mr. albence, to clarify for the record that my question regarding the directive of california's justice department was really an attempt to find common ground in protecting our communities, because my constituents and californians as a whole also want to make sure that dangerous criminals are removed. and i just believe that it would make a lot of sense and benefit everyone, that instead of fighting with each other, fighting with the state of california, that we work cooperatively to remove individuals who are truly
threats to public safety and to our country. so i just wanted to clarify the intent of those questions. mr. mcaleenan, at the end of march, you traveled with secretary nielsen to mexico to meet with your counterparts in that country, and with president pena nieto. can you briefly describe what you accomplished in that trip, the challenges mexico faces with regard to the influx of refugees from the northern triangle and south america? and can you also comment on areas where you think we are working well with our neighbors to the south and areas where we still need improvement? >> thank you for the question. i was honored to travel and to meet president pena nieto, but it's my sixth trip in the last 12 months to mexico to collaborate with partner. with the mission of cvp, we have stakeholders on the customs side
with their tax authority, their federal police, their intelligence agencies, as well as given the security role that they're military. and we collaborate across -- not to mention the agriculture department, so we collaborate across in mexico. in march, i got to sign three agreements that we had been working on for some period of time. this is an area that's working with will in our collaboration, with mexican customs. we're doing unified cargo processing at the border now. so instead of a situation where a truck would have to stop three times on its way through nothingales, outbound twice and then inbound cvp, we're doing it once together. one of the agreements i signed would allow the unified cargo processing to be formalized from a pilot to a program because
it's really reducing wait times down to 40 minutes or less for the entire process. so it's benefitting trade between our countries. we also signed an agreement, both vcp and hsi on trade enforcement. one of your colleagues mentioned the need to address dumping issues. we have shared manufacturing capabilities, things like steel in north america. we know that countries are trying to avoid our trade enforcement, and seeing data and sharing it, partnering on enforcement activities with mexico is just going to make us more effective in that area. but i want to highlight one piece that you closed on, the partnership with mexican immigration in particular. they have taken great strides in the last five years to enhance the security of their southern border, going from a very small effort to apprehend or return people crossing between ports of ep t entry on their border. it's a big change that's enhanced the security of the
region. the more that we can align our migration policies and collaborate in north america, the more effective we'll be. these people are paying thousands of dollars to transnational criminal organizations that are threatening the security of mexican cities as they cross through their country. we want to shut that down and the only way to do it collaboratively. >> mr. benner, hsi, as you mentioned earlier, as stepped up its audits of businesses to determine whether employees are authorized to work. and i know this because the number of businesses in my district, including one just a few blocks from my district office were visited recently by hsi officials. in at least one case, the officials were accompanied by members of the press which i don't see that as an appropriate thing for i.c.e. to do. and it also concerns me because,
based on the reaction from the community, i believe that it also serves to unnecessarily scare the public and it is often misinterpreted as a raid. and we needed to -- our office needed to clarify, in fact, that it was not a raid, that you were doing what legally that you were authorized to do. and part of it is also, of course, the way sometimes it is reported. and so my question is, does i.c.e. policy permit inviting the press to accompany i.c.e. as it carries out its law enforcement responsibilities? and also, how does hsi determine which states and places of employment to target? >> so thank you for the question. so, again, as mr. albence pointed out, hsi and all of i.c.e. in particular, we certainly do not conduct raids that are indiscriminate or
otherwise. in hsi, we execute criminal investigation activity, you know, pursuant to law, and they're well thought out and well planned. i am aware that there are instances where our public affairs departments are authorize ride-alongs for members of the public or the media. so i would like to take that particular instance back and then come brief you more in depth on that particular instance and which case it was and look into it, in that way. >> okay. one of the reasons that i was given was that it was an effort to show the public that there weren't abuses taking place as a result of that. but let me just suggest there may be a better way of doing that and i'd like to work with you and with i.c.e. on that. >> absolutely. i think it's important to tell
the story many times. i do know that in the course of our i-9 work, in one particular case, it was well documented in the media and hsi agents were congratulated by the business owner for being professional and it was a very low-key process to serve that i-9 inspection, and we're incredibly proud of the men and women of hsi who execute their mission with great care, concern, respect, and with great caution to as many cases that, even in the work site realm, where we have that victim-centered approach, and like i said earlier, the exploitation of unauthorized workers is a top priority for us. those cases go to the top of the pile every time. because those are the most egregious. >> and the second part, how is that determined?
how do you decide either what state or what community is gonna be targeted? >> so we don't pick communities or states. we pick a broad section of businesses operating in a particular area. each part of the country has targets based on the size of their aor and the number of personnel located there. and we let the field, who know their areas of responsibility the best, work through what targets they're going to look at for i-9 inspections, but we also rely on the tip line. we get thousands and thousands of tips coming in from, you'd be surprised, competitors who feel they have an unfair advantage because of their company next door that maintains an illicit
business model, doesn't pay taxes, doesn't pay wages, doesn't pay overtime. and those two companies can't compete. the company that follows the law will lose every time. we get a lot of complaints from the public. so we have a national lead development center where we take a lack at those tips, try to use our intel assets to actually make them good leads before we send them to the field, and then that typically would be the start of the i-9 process would be the start of those leads. >> in the sbf tiinterest of tim would submit the rest of my questions for the record. and let mr. culberson ask his questions. >> thank you for your patience. i wanted to ask mr. mcaleenan about the criminal consequence
initiative, otherwise known as operation streamline, which is designed to fast-track aliens apprehended at the border to the department of justice to be prosecuted for the criminal offense of illegal entry or re-entry. and made certain that the department of justice has an increase of funding to hire additional prosecutors, additional staff, additional personnel at the southern border, because it's a magnet. i don't really see it as a loophole. it's a mag thnet that draws the people in and they're being assaulted and murdered as they come to the united states through mexico. if they're from mexico, the border patrol agents have the authority to return them immediately back to the border, back to mexico, put them back across the river. so i hope you'll be able to start doing that for those coming up from central america and elsewhere. one of my, as i said, i like to make unannounced trips to the border. one of the trips that i did that i learned the most from, i volunteered to work as a law
clerk in the courtroom of judge alia moss in the del rio sector underand assumed name. so no one knew who i was. i worked for several days as a law clerk. and it was fascinating. i learned a great deal. the doj guys didn't find out who i was for about 48 hours. it was when i became chairman of the subcommittee. i learned for example, that one change we need to make, human traffickers, if you're smuggling drugs, your assets can be seized. if you're smuggling human beings, you cannot seize their assetse assets. that needs to be changed. venue needs to be changed. if they're in the united states illegally, you can't prosecute them under the venue statute. we need to fix that as well, judge. but what i discovered also, judge moses and by the way, i hope the trump administration would consider appointing her to the fifth circuit. she enforces the law, 1325,
1326, she gives some consequence to everybody that comes in, whether it be a week, a few days, she's got a conviction and is able to do so in a way that protects everybody's constitutional rights. the illegal crossings in the del rio sector are the lowest they've ever seen because of judge moses' enforcement of the law. so i wanted to ask about operation streamline and how, if you could, update me on records that i have from, i think i'm a couple years out of date on these, the number of people of those that are apprehended in each sector, what percentage of those who are apprehended are actually referred to the department of justice for criminal prosecution. i remember being astounded when i first started looking about a decade ago when judge and i first got on this subcommittee in the tucson sector, only about
4% of those apprehended were being prosecuted. in the mcallen sector, 11%. in judge moses' sector, 70%. anybody that's caught is going to be prosecuted. there's going to be a consequence. as a result, illegal crossings have plummeted. i learned by sitting there and asking questions, the magistrate was asking questions that i was typing to him as a law clerk, that these poor people were paying 5 to $6,000 apiece to get here from guatemala. the drug cartels were charging them to get them across the river and then dumping them in the desert with no food, no water, these people had no idea where they were. you couldn't touch the smugglers. are you doing to expand the streamline and what can i do as chairman to help ensure the department of justice is
deploying resources to support your work in referring these folks for prosecution? >> let me just first thank you, congressman, for your long-standing support for our consequences delivery system and the criminal consequence initiative streamline didn't know you helped judge moses out. but del rio is an area where we have a lot of referrals for prosecution. i don't know if you saw yet a letter issued by the attorney general directing his u.s. attorneys to increase acceptance of immigration violations, zero tolerance memo. we'll be meeting with them this afternoon on opportunities for increased consequences for immigration violations that can create a sufficient deterrent. we have seen a direct correlation between the consequence delivery system and reductions in recidivism and repeat attempts at crossing our border illegally. we know it works, we want to apply it in smart ways,
appropriate for the individual we've apprehended, but i'd be happy to get back to you with in-depth data on this initiative and especially as we continue to engage department of justice in improving your efforts. >> the prosecution rates by sector of those you apprehend, and please ask the department of justice what additional resources they need. because this is a law enforcement issue, judge, it's just a matter of letting the officers enforce the law with compassion and heart and common sense to distinguish between an ms-13 member, or someone smuggling guns or drugs, versus a young woman. law enforcement works and this is a law enforcement issue. respect for the law, that's one thing this president is doing, restoring respect for the law, respect for our military, and respect to the united states around the world is one of the most important things this president is doing and that's why he was elected, and we look forward to helping you. thank you very much.
>> thank you. >> and if you see a guy that looks like culberson in camouflage out in the bushes, it probably is. >> new intern. >> you never know. >> we're going to conclude the hearing now. thank you very much. well done. good answers. remember, we are part of a team. keep us informed. if you have needs, don't hesitate. call me. call lucille. okay? okay, we're recessed.
. coming up on c-span3, a forum on demographics and electoral politics. at 7:30, interview with deputy white house press secretary raj shah. and american history tv begins tonight at 8:00, with programs on supreme court history, including the life and legacy of justice thurg good marshall. the first ever african american to serve on the nation's highest court. >> tonight at 7:00 p.m., james comey will be live on book tv on c-span 2 in primetime with his best selling autobiography "a higher loyalty." he'll discuss several ever the issues he faced as fbi director, including the russia investigation, hillary clinton's e-mails, and his views on president trump. watch james comey live on book tv on c-span 2 in primetime tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
next, a conversation about the changing demographics in the united states, and how they might affect elections and politics. the bipartisan policy center, the center for american progress, the brookings institution, and the american enterprise institute recently released a report on the topic. good evening. welcome to the bipartisan policy center, i'm john fortier, i direct the democracy project here. we are happy to see all of you and all of you viewing from afar here at a very important fourth anniversary of a project going on called the states of change. the states of change is a coalition of a number of think tanks working on election demographic work and includes, we are happy to be part of this, but with the center for american
progress, the brookings institution, now the public research, public religion research institute as well as some other think-tanks that have been involved along the way like aei and others on our advisory board. so really this is a project that covers the political spectrum and really has involved a lot of talents around town. i'm here to welcome you, to introduce you and set up the day. we have two panels for you. the first panel is going to be the release of a report we put out each year and it really is a look at election demographics, how demographic data interact with our political data and what scenarios might look like going forward. again, this is the fourth annual report that we're putting out. especially of note, this report looks at the 2016 election, it's the first one of our series to really incorporate that data. and it really also breaks things down with white college, and
white non-college voters, who were always in our earlier reports but lumped together. and with the other groups we look at what -- we have a pretty good look at what scenarios are going forward including that group. again, the people on the panel here don't need much introduction. i'm going to introduce first we're going to have three commentators at the end, but i'll mention them and won't give long introductions but we've got mark hugo lopez from the pew research center, matt morrison and amy walter. you will hear from them after the initial presentation and then i reserve here for our three key authors of the report that has been released today, rudy teixeira are of the center for american progress, bill frey of the brookings institute, and now at the public religion research institute and they'll make a presentation, take some questions, there will be