Skip to main content

tv   Immigrant Investor Visa Program  CSPAN  June 21, 2018 7:26am-9:14am EDT

7:26 am
children. this runs about 1:45 minutes. >> we'll have opening statements by the chairman and ranking member and then the subcommittee chairman and ranking member asked for time, so they will have three minutes apiece. and then we will give oath to mr. sisna and i'll introduce him. and then we'll have his opening statement.
7:27 am
and then we'll have questions and answers. >> i thank director sisna for being here today for a very important hearing on a topic that goes to the very integrity of our nation's lawful immigration system. before i begin my formal remarks, i want to remind both my democratic and republican colleagues that the purpose of oday's hearing is to conduct oversight of eb-5 investor visas our general annual meeting for citizenship and immigration services is a separate hearing which will happen in september. today, we should focus on the very important and persistent issues at hand fixing the beleaguered eb-5 investor immigration program. congress created the investor visa program in 1990 to
7:28 am
stimulate our economy through job creation and capital investment. in 1992, we created a pilot program which allowed petitioners to pull their investments in regional senators designated by customs and immigration service. since the regional center program's creation, interest in the eb-5 program has grown. today almost eb-5 petitioners informs in the 903 approved regional senators. as interest in the eb 5 regional senator has grown, so have cases of fraud, cases of corruption and threats to national security . there are many, many well documented examples of inherent problems in this program. in fact, over the last five years, i along with several of my colleagues have written over 30 oversight letters, highlights
7:29 am
the various abilities of this visa program. because i haven't consistently raised awareness - because i have consistently raised awareness of rampart fraud and abus of this program, i don't need to tell you about the ex-wife of china's third most government official who pled guilty to committing eb-5 fraud by submitting false documents as part of a scheme to escape to the u.s. with stolen funds. i don't need to tell you how homeland security investigations discovered a group of iranian operatives attempting to infiltrate the united states and facility trifment through a procurement network back in 2013. i don't need to detail the concerns with exporting sensitive technology, investment fraud and other criminal
7:30 am
activity. i will only mention some of the moster grejouse and recent cases. some of the most egregious and recent cases. a group of 120 chinese nationals sued in idaho real estate development company and claimed they were coerced and investing over $60 million. the real estate company in question allegedly promised there was zero risks to invest in their specific eb-5 project, a claim that clearly vie lates the program's requirements that capital b at risk. as a result, this specific eb-5 project was terminated by customs immigration service and the investor's immigration status was jeopardized, all because of this project misrepresented themselves in order to gain quick, easy money.
7:31 am
in may, the security and exchange commission, barred two eb-5 companies from selling securities after it was discovered the company's president and manager fraudulently raised $22.5 million in eb-5 capital from chinese investors. according to the security and exchange commission, these two companies were supposed to use to raise money for the development of a condominium complex. instead the company's president and his wife stole more than $12 million in order to purchase homes for themselves. finally and also in may, two maryland residents were charged with defrauding 31 immigrant investors and using money intended to create jobs after hurricane katrina.
7:32 am
for personal gain. he indictment delames the -- claims that the duel contracted with new orleans to get an investment fund but instead use the money to buy themselves vacation and rental property. several months ago, my staff was briefed by officials from the department of fraud detection and national security director ate for a cb-5 assessment. unsurprisingly, the report found that the program is susceptible to ponzi schemes and financial fraud and learned that -- warned that current setting by national enforcement systems may have missed national security concerns due to in
7:33 am
i hope today that we have the opportunity to hear about improvements made as a result of this review. today, in spite of this simple,d corruption, and the concerning national security loopholes, the eb-5 pilot program continues to operate exactly the same way it did 25 years ago, however it is not for a lack of trying. for the past 4.5 years i have worked in a bipartisan fashion with senators leahy, chairman golatte and then ranking member john conyers to reform this program. our staffers have spent countless hours, often working nights, weekends and holidays to pursue reform packages. this has gone on through congresses. threeeach and every time, we
7:34 am
have gotten an agreement at the last minute, really powerful, well-connected, eb-5 rules have torpedoed our compromise efforts, bipartisan efforts. for the last year my staff along with chairman goodlatte, senator cornyn have worked, this is the third congress i'm talking about. everyone made numerous concessions in order to reach a deal and we produced a reform package that was fair and everyone agreed to. our reforms had the unanimous support of invest in the u.s., another organization called the eb-5 rural alliance, a group working to ensure that rural america has a fair shake, by attracting eb-5 money.
7:35 am
these reforms were not acceptable to the big money new york industry stakeholders, who currently dominate the program, and because big money interests were not happy with these reforms, they did not become law. so please let this sink in for a minute. in spite of the fact that reforms were agreed to by congressional offices and have the support of the largest eb-5 trade associations, they did not become law because a few eb-5 businesses with a terrible amount of money, lots of money, used their political connections, using political connections and influence, blocked them. while legislative reforms are absolutely necessary, thankfully there is much the administration can do on its own to end
7:36 am
corruption of this program. since january last year there has been pending regulations, at the department of homeland security, which would modernize the program and ensure capital is flowing to rural and underserved urban areas, just like the original 1990 law intended. as of today, those regulations, still not been implemented. i'm looking forward to a full discussion with the director today on these topics. i hope we can shed light on steps cis has taken to crack down on fraud and abuse in the program. i am also curious to hear about the potential path forward on legislative reforms. finally, and most importantly, i hope the director can provide an update on the status of pending modernization regulations, as i have stated very clearly in several bicameral, bipartisan letters, this administration should finalize the modernization regulations as soon as possible.
7:37 am
that regulation is critical and necessary, toward reforminthis troubled program. before i call on senator feinstein, let me emphasize this last point. i think you know me a little bit because you have been close to me for a while before getting your present position. think about this. a lot of us republicans don't think much about the previous administration but let me tell you in this area, they went down the road of doing the right thing to write regulations that were very strong, to reform this program. i was pleased with that, very much. so then when we have a new president, now chief of staff kelly comes to my office because he is going to be secretary of homeland security, i discussed this with him -- can you move these regulations along? even though they are from the obama administration, they do exactly what needs to be done to reform this program and probably
7:38 am
can do better than legislation, these compromises i talked about in my opening statement might be able to do. he assured me he would. then he becomes chief of staff and then a new secretary comes around, secretary nielsen, and i had the same conversation with her. tell them about it. i write letters, when are these regulations going to be done? 18 months, they aren't done. i don't know how many months they were in the previous administration, so let's say they have been around two years. how long does it take the bureaucracy to move? i've had an opportunity to talk to omb about moving these along. at the same time i talked to kelley, when we going to get these? i mentioned this to the president of the united states -- you only get 15 seconds of conversation with him, maybe he does not know what we're talking about, but i mentioned eb-5 to
7:39 am
him. so how far up the chain of command to you have to go? aren't you in a position to deliver a message to these people that i do not appreciate the slowness, and consider what we're trying to do by legislation, what these regulations would do, would be even better than some of these compromises? can't you get that message to him? senator feinstein. [laughter] >> i trust you are ok, mr. chairman. >> i hope so. i will be better when we get these regulations. >> i can see that. i would like to begin by making a few comments on yesterday. for many of us, it was a day of infamy. the numbers tell us 2000 children have been separated from their parents, over the past 34 days. that is approximately 70 children a day. those of us that watch
7:40 am
television last night i think heard the cries reach out all over america. mr. chairman, i want you to know that we have drafted a bill on this side, all democrats are on the bill, it simply prohibits this separation of mother and child, or parent and child. so i would hope that we could bring that before this committee. i also talked with senator cruz, his office is trying to draft something. i have offered to work with him if it could mean we could bring our sides together. i am very much of the view that we now have every member on this side of the aisle, on a bill and i would like to ask you, most especially, if you would calendar it soon. it seems to me we just can't let this go on the way it is. i would very much appreciate that.
7:41 am
>> if you let me answer that before you go on. i think think we know what needs to be done. i think a hearing and action by this committee will slow things down. i think we're moving on pieces of legislation including yours, bipartisan work going on, there is partisan work going on, your project started out that way, there is discussion going on among republicans, i think we are going to have something put together that we can consider this week. >> good. good. i really appreciate that. thank you very much. yesterday was a particularly hard day for so many people. i've heard from so many people about it. there are really no words for how outrageous this practice is. this is a choice by this president and he could and should amend it immediately. if he does not i hope my republican colleagues -- i am
7:42 am
grateful for the chairs word -- chair's word, because it means we will be able to take some action shortly so thank you very much. >> let me be clear. there have been people, as you have been leading your party to do something about this. there is no justification for families being separated. there is a court agreement of 1997 that is a problem, that we have to deal with. there is a lot of republicans working in the same way to do what we can to keep families together. i cannot give you any more information right now because we have not come together but i think we will get it. >> i want to offer to do that so that we can produce something that hopefully will be unanimous and strong, thank you very much. now to the point of this hearing. program -- eb-5 program. it is no secret i oppose this program. i believe it should be eliminated entirely.
7:43 am
i believe it is wrong to sell american citizenship. this is a special country, although after what happened yesterday, maybe some of us think less of it. citizenship should not be for sale, like a commodity on the stock exchange. there are millions, in fact 4 million individuals who are waiting in line to immigrate lawfully to the united states. they have paid the required fees, they are in line, they wait patiently for a day that a visa becomes available, so they can be reunited with families in this country. however, because they don't have a half million dollars to buy their weight in, they will can in, they will continue to wait, some as long as 24 years. yet under the eb-5 system, the wealthy can cut to the front of the line. this is on its face is fundamentally un-american. further, the program is deeply susceptible to fraud.
7:44 am
the program involves large pools of money, recruited overseas, far from u.s. regulators, example after example demonstrate how flawed the program really is. for instance, in 2013, the fcc charged a couple with stealing funds from foreign investors and diverting them to other businesses for personal use. in 2014, the sec brought charges against a los angeles-based immigration attorney, his wife and law firm partner for conducting an investment scheme to defraud eb-5 investors. the couple fraudulently raised $11.45 million, purportedly for an ethanol plant in kansas. instead, they misappropriated $7.2 million for other projects. in fact, according to the
7:45 am
complaint, "the ethanol plant was never built. no jobs were created. defendants misappropriated and misused most of the $11.5 million raised." in july 2015, fcc brought charges against individuals accused of a $68 million ponzi like scheme. according to the complaint, some money was spent on personal use, misspent on junkets and co-mingled with other funds. in november, 2015, fcc filed a federal complaint in florida, alleging the fraudulent raising of $8.5 million from at least 17 investors. the complaint states that instead of construction projects, substantial funds were used for such things as a $2.5 million home for a defendant to
7:46 am
reside in on a part-time basis, luxury automobiles, a 48 foot boat and money for a defendant's daughter's education. examples of these purchases include bmw and mercedes automobiles. boat and a carnival cruise. these are some examples of fraud we know of and there have been many many more. mr. chairman, i oppose this program and strongly believe it should be eliminated. i appreciate your holding this hearing, to shine a light on it. i am grateful we have together drafted a bill to end the program and i hope we can move forward on this quickly. thank you very much. >> ranking member and chairman
7:47 am
of the committee, two minutes. go ahead senator cornyn. , >> thank you chairman grassley, i appreciate you holding this hearing today on this important topic. as you know we have worked hard on this topic together to reform the eb-5 program and make sure it remains the viable economic vehicle that benefits u.s. businesses and the american economy. after the great recession of 2008, if it were not for creative investment vehicles -5 program, i hate to think the economy would have been much worse, then it was. there are numerous projects in my state that have benefited from revenue created in eb-5. my friend from california wants to eliminate the program and is appalled that people actually are paying money, and creating jobs in order to qualify for the program, the 10,000 green cards that are part of the program.
7:48 am
it strikes me that there are other parts of our immigration system that are even more problematic and that is when we let people into the country for free. without any identifiable skills or making any other concrete contribution to our economy. i agree we need targeted reforms, i've introduced a bill to that effect along with senator flake and others and integrity measures to root out fraud and eliminate bad actors. i will say i was disappointed that after intense negotiations with the industry and other stakeholders, as well as you and chairman goodlatte, we were not able to broker an agreement on reforms earlier this year. i would welcome the chance to get this done and move on to other things. >> we got an agreement we were just not able to get it past the big four. >> we were close and i believe we can finalize the legislative
7:49 am
package, that will preserve eb-5 program and included integrity measures that will address many if not all of the concerns raised today. i thank you for holding the hearing and i look forward to working with you, hopefully we can get this over the finish line. >> senator durbin. >> chairman grassley, this is clearly a chuck grassley moment, your opening statement was classic grassley analysis and i endorse every word of it. i am proud to be the only cosponsor of the grassley-feinstein bill to eliminate this program and i hope others will join on a bipartisan basis. the people who wrote the constitution had a choice and they decided clearly, we would not have royalty in the united states. they left a country where there was such a thing but they said not in this country. it turns out we do have royalty in the united states. people with enough money can buy their way to the front of the line and become citizens of the country. if you think it is for job creation all i ask you to do is to search the following phrase
7:50 am
"eb-5 scandals," be prepared, it will take u while to read them. all of the things that have happened in the name of this program are outrageous and embarrassing to the nation. i want to create jobs as much as the next person, this program is not doing it. here is another thing to appreciate the delicious irony, we are talking about a program that allows rich people to buy legal status in the united states with their wealth, at the same time as poor people are risking their lives and the health of their children to even apply for legal status in the united states. what a contrast. if you are region of, we just the skids.rease if you happen to be poor, we will yank that baby out of the mother's arms to show you what we think about your future in the united states. we have sent the chairman a letter, i hope his statement earlier about a legislative solution being easy to obtain
7:51 am
turns out to be true. i will also tell you, that his front foot to the decision in 1997 gives me pause. -- his reference to the decision in 1997 gives me cause. after 10 years of negotiation, our government reached an agreement with the court on the detainment and protection of children, it took us all those years to come up with the standards. what i hear from the republican side is if we just get away with the standards, no one could accuse us of violating them. that is not an answer to what we are seeing, this outrage at the border. mr. chairman, yesterday we heard from homeland security secretary christian nielsen, falsely claiming "we do not have a policy of separating families at the border." over 2000 infants and children put a lie to the statement. this outrageous conduct can be ended instantly with a phone call from this president. we do not need to pass legislation. the president needs to revoke the policy he created six weeks ago, i hope he does it.
7:52 am
>> before i introduce you, i just thought of something. the president likes to tweet. wouldn't it be nice to have a bipartisan tweet, something that says, i just found out that president obama had a pretty good idea on regulations on eb-5 program and i agree with it and we going through with those regulations. wouldn't it be nice to say that obama had a good idea of reforming a program that has this fraud? the president wants to fight fraud. if you don't mind, i will introduce you. director cissna, director of the citizen and immigration service, last october 5. he received his bs degree from m.i.t., 1988. m.a. from columbia, 1990. j.d., 95.
7:53 am
he joined the citizenship and immigration service in 2005 as an associate counsel with the office of chief counsel. in 2006, he was promoted to deputy director immigration and border security policy. in 2009, he was promoted to director of immigration policy, a position he held prior to his nomination. i would like to administer an oath. do you affirm the testimony you're are about to give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you for that affirmation. go ahead with your opening statement. dir. cissna: chairman grassley, ranking member feinstein and distinguished members, thank you for holding this hearing on the eb-5 immigrant investor program. i appreciate this opportunity to
7:54 am
discuss this program and our efforts at uscis to strengthen its integrity. the program is set to expire on september 30, 2018. in the last decade, the program has been reauthorized by congress without added safeguards or tools before the department to better operate the program. in the absence, i believe congress should allow the program to expire. in 1990 when congress created this category that we now refer to as eb-5, the goal is to stimulate the economy through job creation and capital investment. two years later, with unemployment climbing, congress created the regional center program and set aside eb-5 visas for those who invest in commercial enterprises associated with regional centers. as of 2018, 903 regional centers from 25 in 2008. while this facilitated investment, it opened the door to abuse. as the chairman noted, there are indications the program has been
7:55 am
used to undermine national security, with 19 cases of confirmed national security concerns in five years alone. we have seen cases of fraud take -- taint the program and undermine public trust. unscrupulous operators have preyed on foreign investors and in turn, have harmed communities that rely on economic development dollars. some schemes, have been massive involving hundreds of millions of dollars, where the primary motivation of the operators may not be genuine investment but simply making money off of eb-5. uscis has become more aggressive in terminating noncompliant regional centers. in 2007, 83 of them were terminated. we have already exceeded that number in just the first half of this fiscal year. toward just one step improved integrity. we work with the u.s. security and exchange commission on civil enforcement actions and with the fbi and department of justice on
7:56 am
suspected criminal actions. let me give you one recent example. this february, we terminated the status of a regional center for failing to promote economic growth. through us fbicis, d collaboration, two people were charged with a scheme to defraud eb-5 investors. they were indicted on eight counts, including wire fraud. we collaborate with ice on eb-5 investigations and have an agreement to expand access to the holdings and services of the financial crimes enforcement network. we are working more closely with partners across the intelligence community. this helps fill gaps in law enforcement databases when we national security -- when we conducted national security vetting. we look out for potential terrorists and spies, and technology thieves. we continue to ratchet up efforts to improve administration and address owner ability. we have hired additional fraud
7:57 am
detection and national security officers to conduct eb-5 site visits to do commercial enterprises and entities. we have expanded national security checks to cover regional centers and individuals participating in the program. restructuring the eb-5 office at uscis has led to better training of staff and significant improvement in identifying and resolving national security concerns. we have revised our forms to collect more of the information we need for regional centers. we are seeking to maximize our effectiveness within the bounds of authorities we have. as you know we are still in the process of working through comments to propose rules. these rules would provide for long overdue increases in the minimum investment amount, elimination of state designations to high unemployment areas and significant reform of standards for designating certain high unemployment areas.
7:58 am
these enhancements will modernize the program and ensure the program operates as we believe congress has intended. clearly there are long-standing , problems. congress surely did not intend to create a honeypot for abuse when it created this program three decades ago. i want to assure the committee improving the eb-5 program is a very high priority for me and my agency. our duty to safeguard the nation and the integrity of the system applies to foreign investors and regional centers. two quote from a recent tweet "aricans expect integrity in , the immigration system," i couldn't agree more. i am committed to doing whatever we can do to weed out those who do not belong in this program, including regional centers to -- choosing to act against our best interests and we look forward to working with congress for better legislation solutions. thank you for holding this hearing and i look forward to your questions. >> in case you have not signed we will haveet,
7:59 am
five minute rounds of questions. since 2013, i've written approximately 30 letters highlighting the various vulnerabilities of this program. this committee has consistently expressed concern with the integrity of it. my colleagues and i have repeatedly raised concerns over the last five years. these concerns have seemingly fallen on deaf ears. most recently, may 10, may 24 and april 5, june 4 this year, i sent letters calling on dhs to expeditiously finalize regulations. in your written testimony you stated the department is still, still reviewing comments. but you plan to move forward as expeditiously as possible, those last words are yours. do you have a sense of when the eb-5 modernization regulation will be finalized and how quick
8:00 am
is as "expeditiously as possible." >> it is not soon enough. i want them out as quick as humanly possible. from the moment i was sworn and -- in i've been pushing and october, pushing for the regs to be completed. there is a process they have to go through, often lengthy and i have been doing everything i can from where i sit since october to ensure they get out very fast. >> are you getting the help of the secretary? >> yes. the secretary is aware of the urgency of this and she has committed -- >> everyone that comes to my office before confirmation, i thing,tell them one either you are going to run the department or it will run you. is she running the department? >> yes she is. >> these regulations ought to be out after two years. how long do you study something? do you anticipate the modernization regulations being finalized before the expiration of the regional center program september 30? >> i don't know.
8:01 am
that would be hard to pull off. >> you don't know? >> it might be taught -- tight. >> have you or secretary nielsen received political pressure from anyone to delay or halt the modernization regulations? >> no, i can say with certainty. no one has been pushing as are telling us to drag our feet in any way. >> if anyone ever does that, will you tell this committee? >> oh, yeah. >> if the modernization regulation is not finalized before the expiration of the regional center program, do you support letting the program expire? >> i believe that the program is -- if the program is not fixed in a way that addresses these problems we will talk about today, yes it should expire. , >> it is come to my attention that some investment brokers have devised schemes to defraud
8:02 am
investors, with the lure of green cards. they are promising visas in exchange for investment dollars. they then use this scheme to line their pockets with millions of dollars will simultaneously -- while simultaneously selling our citizenship. and not in the process of doing what the law is meant to do, creating american jobs. i referenced a few of these cases, so i will not repeat them. there is one case, one of the most shocking to me, involved a chicago attorney who pocketed more than $20 million of investment money. in general terms, how prevalent are these fraud schemes? >> far too prevalent. you read about them almost every day. we have all sorts of investigations going on right now, numerous potential schemes, as i said, we have good partnership with sec, fbi, doj. i don't like it anymore than you do and i believe that sort of
8:03 am
corruption and fraud taints the entire program. >> in 2015, gao made recommendations to strengthen fraud detection and mitigation capabilities. in your testimony you noted that your agency has implemented two of those recommendations. what regulations have you implemented and why have you not implemented the remaining two and when, if ever, do you expect them to be implemented? >> i believe we are working on all four. the first one is that we do annual fraud assessment, we are the e we referenced in your opening statement was the most recent. we are working on one now for this year. we've also been collecting more information, gao asked us to do that, we have updated forms. they asked us to interview more people at the end stage and we have been doing that as well. i don't remember what the fourth recommendation was but i'm pretty sure we're working on all
8:04 am
of them. >> senator feinstein. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in 2017, a southern california couple admitted to submitting 130 fraudulent eb-5 visa applications. according to fcc filings, the purported investment project was a half empty warehouse space with one employee. however, the report submitted to uscis indicated the project had created 345 jobs. what is uscis doing to verify the eb-5 visa recipients are actually creating american jobs? >> one thing we're doing, we have started the past couple years, site visits. we are visiting the new commercial entity and the job creating entity.
8:05 am
last year, we undertook 232 site visits. in, what, 38 states across the country. what we discover was, when we did the site visits -- when i do these -- when we do these visits we interview all the people we see there, talk to all sorts of people at the sites to determine if in fact it is a sham. in a lot of cases we discovered, that something is going on. a lot of times it is not clear. we found that in fy'17, 69% were operating as expected by 31% wereot. -- but 31% were not. >> that is a high ratio. >> that does not mean that the 31% were not necessarily compliant. that means we had to follow up with them and ask more questions. that is a large number of cases. >> is jared kushner involved or in any way taking a position on
8:06 am
the government's policy on eb-5? >> i have never talked to him and as far as i know he is not involved in anything we are doing on eb-5 at uscis. >> has any member of the kushner or trump family pushed for any policies relating to eb-5 visas from which they may stand to benefit? >> not that i've seen or heard at my agency, no. >> what internal controls are in place at dhs to prevent self-dealing or conflicts of interest from the president or any senior government official? >> well, a few years ago, two three years- two or ago there were new protocols put in place at the agency to ensure any communications with outside parties that wanted information or special treatnt or access on eb-5 cases, that that was not permitted. if we received any such communication, it had to be
8:07 am
logged, kept track of. we do not allow anyone inside the agency to undertaken any -- undertake in any kind of conversations like that with outside actors without a record , of it being made and put into file. >> what policy measures are in place to prevent abuse of eb-5 by wealthy developers selling visas to wealthy foreign investors? >> with the oversight we have over the program, ensures that, i think, that we are not actually selling the visas, but that we are seeking investment into the enterprises the developers have designated. if we see or determine that there is any kind of, you know, shady dealings with respect to the investments, we will come down on that. then the investment is not legitimate and it is not appropriate. >>ady how mvestments have you found?
8:08 am
>> well, that is the, that is a pretty general question. i would have to come back to you with exact numbers of cases we terminated based on fraud. >> i would appreciate that because there is so much in the press. as you look into this you see, instances that appear to be fraudulent. that is the reason i'm concerned about this program. i think it is rife with fraud. >> i think a lot of the cases involve full on criminal activity as well, fraud in our agency is one thing but it often gets magnified into full on criminal activity. >> i'm happy you admit that. the other question is, what can be done about it? >> what can be done is we have to keep working with the fbi to crack down on fraud and send those people to jail, and they have been going to jail in large numbers recently. >> what luck have you had in that regard of cracking down and eliminating?
8:09 am
>> we have had good luck. >> numbers? >> i cannot -- >> pardon me? >> i cannot at this time give you a st of ses. >> would you provide that in writing to the committee please? >> yes. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator graham. >> thank you, do you support this program? >> it is a lawful program. i believe that if the congress were to reform it to correct some of these problems we are talking about, it can be fixed and saved. >> i think that is sort of where i am at. in terms of fraud in programs, this is not the only program the government has where there is fraudulent misbehavior, is it? >> certainly not. >> i'm glad we're looking at this, i want to look at every government program. if people are taking advantage of this program, one of our after them and put them in jail. if people are taking advantage of the food stamp program, let's
8:10 am
go after them and put them in jail. we should all want to make sure that government programs are run well. under this program, part of the requirement is that you create jobs for americans, is that correct? >> yes. 10 jobs. >> 10 jobs at least. you have to invest in our country? >> that is right. >> we are taking money overseas, enticing it come to america and create jobs for americans? >> yes. >> what we have found from senator grassley and others, is being abused and you are looking to us to help you or can you do this internally? >> there are a number of authorities we would like to have to be able to make this program better and to be able to oversee it better. i can describe those to you if you would like. >> very briefly. >> very quickly, first, we would like to have the authority to terminate regional centers where there is criminal activity. >> along that line, senator grassley makes a good point. rural america is not benefiting as much as they should, do you
8:11 am
agree with that? >> yes. i agree. we are only getting 3% of the cases. >> we will work on that. i'm sorry, go ahead. >> we want to be able to terminate centers where there is criminal activity, we do not have that authority now. second, we want to ensure that people who have criminal records or otherwise undesirable actors are not in principle positions in the centers. we do not want foreign nationals to be governing the centers. thirdly, we would like to enhance reporting and auditing functions in the program. we want more information from the regional centers and authority for ourselves to audit them. lastly, we would like more sanction authority. right now the only authority we have is to kill the progra the regional center. we would like to fine people. >> if we make those changes do you think this would better benefit the american people? >> i think if we made those changes my agency would be , better able to oversee whatever the program is, and i know that this committee and members working on the bill to fix the program might have other
8:12 am
policy changes but those are the things we need to be able to administer the program well. >> thank you very much. >> senator durbin. >> welcome back, it has been over one year since you have been here. we certainly have had a few immigration issues come up within that period of time. the one capturing the attention of the country relates to the so-called zero-tolerance policy that has led to 2000 or 2300 children being separated from their parents at our border. i would like to ask you what role you played in the development of this policy? >> the role i played was, after, attorneyenalessions declared there would be a zero-tolerance policy, and other words, the cases of people who were crossing the border illegally and thus violating, zero-tolerance with that -- the
8:13 am
question for dhs was what cases would we refer to doj for prosecution? i, along with other senior officials at the department recommended to the secretary, gave her options for how to implement the policy. i recommended we refer all amenable cases for prosecution. >> what role did you play in suggesting children be removed from their parents under the circumstances? >> i played no role in that. that is a consequence of the prosecution action. >> this policy started somewhere around april 1? this zero-tolerance policy? >> roughly that time was when the attorney general issued that notice, yes. >> part of that time, these people presenting themselves at the border, for example, seeking asylum, were not considered criminals, were they? >> well, i think that, the law has always been in the immigration act since at least
8:14 am
1952 and anyone who is crossing illegally is committing a misdemeanor criminal offense. >> there was a conscious decision, by this administration to criminalize those presenting themselves at the border, starting with this zero-tolerance policy of april 1, which led to these children, being removed from their parents who came to the border, correct? >> i think, here we are stepping away from my area of expertise but i believe, people were prosecuted in the past for violations of 1325, going back for years. >> there is no question some were. in the area of prosecutorial discretion, if these were treated as asylum-seekers, civil violations, it would not flow from that that they would be criminalized or their children would be removed, correct? >> all i can say is that, in the past, people were prosecuted under 1325.
8:15 am
people who were seeking asylum -- it was a exclusive. >> 2300 children have been separated from their parents because of this change in policy, which you were a part of. i am trying to determine exactly what you recommended. to change a policy, which changed not only the approach of the united states on those who presented themselves at borders, but has resulted in a national if not international scandal over these children. what role did you play in the determination you would change that policy april 1 and criminalize those who presented at border? >> i did not play any role in deciding whether there would be a zero tolerance initiative. what i recommended was if there -- since there is one, well we need to do is decide which cases to refer in fulfillment of the zero-tolerance initiative directed by the attorney general. i suggested, i and the other officials involved suggested we refer all cases. >> all cases? >> yes.
8:16 am
anybody who violates 1325 will be prosecuted. >> presenting themselves illegally at the border without legal authorization, is that what you are saying? >> between ports of entry, yes. >> you're not just limiting this to those who may have committed some other crime, be involved in some other activity dangerous to the united states, but merely presenting themselves at these places, is enough for you to believe, this administration should treat them as criminals and remove their children? >> i believe anyone who crosses the border illegally who is apprehended, they are violating the law. and they should be prosecuted. >> but if a person came to this border seeking asylum, is that person a criminal? >> if they cross illegally, yes. >> the premise was -- they presented themselves. >> if they present themselves a port of entry, no. >> the point is you have taken this to a criminal level and children are being removed from
8:17 am
their parents, 2300. the administration has said this is a policy created by the democrats, long ago. the original law that you referred to, was this signed by a democratic president? >> it was probably signed by harry truman in 1952. >> then there was a law that was signed by president george w. bush was the not in terms of , was there not, in terms of bush was there in terms of what to do with those from contiguous countries and those not contiguous? >> i believe so. >> signed by whom? >> i think in 20 -- 2002, bush. >> i think it was, a republican president, unlike the president's representation in his tweets. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator corn is not here, senator tillis. >> thank you for being here. i will get back to the topic is
8:18 am
-- in this hearing was being held for on eb-5 program. you said, in visits, 69% of sites you visited appeared to be in compliance with eb-5? >> correct. we used the term, they were operatin expected. >> you said, oe remaing 31%, it did not mean they were not operating, but they required a follow-up review. you have a rough approximation of that 31%, how many, your instincts or data would suggest they are not in compliance? >> we have more information on that that we can get you on what the breakdown is, the types of things we saw, very quickly, the types of things that we saw for 31%, the business appeared to be deserted, or there was no evidence of construction. those were the most egregious cases we saw. >> i am in the category of people that think we need reforms for the program, but i don't think we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.
8:19 am
i appreciate the spirit that you presented here to say, let's fix it so it is going back to what the original intent was. it seems to me -- i-4 i get into -- before i get into that -- can you explain to me why this particular rulemaking is taking so long? are they just a lot of people weighing in and you are having to process so much input? i'm trying to understand why because the timeline is not set in stone, but there are different things as you go through the process that could slow it down. >> the problem is i think, there are a lot of other rulemakings happening now. they are all high-priority. >> got it. resource. >> resources and time. >> i think if we sat down and get into the category of reform, we need to look at a lot of things. first, it is a classic example of a government program where no
8:20 am
one takes into account indexing in terms of the investment that should be made over time, if my mental mis right, the half-million dollar investment when the program was instituted about-- would be wort $960,000 today. so it makes sense to move those up an index over time. it makes perfect sense -- in some ways this is analogous to say economic development progress in the states. it makes sense to have a longer-term view of the performance of these investments over time. not necessarily say, thank you, you created 10 jobs, we will see you two years later and then they go defunct. we have to have a look back period that makes sure that we are getting the kind of investment return we need. there are over 20,000 outstanding applications for eb-5, i have got to believe that there is a good number within whatever limits that we would set at any given year that
8:21 am
would be good, valuable, entrepreneurial investments we would want to welcome, but i think we ought to look at these reforms and find out how much of this we need to accelerate to a reform package through congress rather than you continuing to swim with that in whatever lane to need and give you additional authorities on enforcement. you said something about a couple cases identifying, a national security threat. i do not know if you can get into the specifics, but it made me wonder whether or not it is part of the reforms that investments reaching some sort of threshold or any threshold should also be subject to the process. is that something you think would be worth looking at? >> that might be something worth considering. >> rather than creating your own review relying on the process to direct visas, terms for engaging in the program? >> i think, the difficulty with
8:22 am
those national security cases, they are intractable. >> yep. >> we are happy to work with you all in congress to fige out a way to address that. >> i will not go over my time but i completely believe, with over 800 regional centers, it is too many. i completely believe that the governance of the regional centers need to track in the direction you're talking about. i also completely believe eb-5 program can be very valuable, if we deal with the fraud. we get back to the original intent, and we get back to some of the smartest people coming domiciling standing up , businesses in the united states we should look at portfolio priorities for what types of investments we want. there should be an american component to the portfolio eb-5 investments and i look forward to working with you and the chairman on trying to come up with a common sense, bipartisan reform. thank you.
8:23 am
>> senator klobuchar was here -- i would call on her next. senator hirono. senator hirono, do you want to be next? >> sure. >> you would be next. go ahead. >> thank you very much. i would like to get something clarified from you. i'm looking at section 1325, you referred to, my reading of that law says that for the improper crossing for the first time, that it could be treated as a civil matter, not a criminal matter. but with the zero-tolerance policy, this administration is choosing to go the criminal penalty route. there are two ways that 1325 violations can proceed, either as a civil matter, which is what was happening with the obama administration, that did not require separating children from
8:24 am
their parents, or you can go the criminal route and this administration has chosen the criminal route. is that not correct? >> i would have to refer to doj. -- the first two doj on the appropriate terminology. it looks like a misdemeanor to me, therefore criminal. >> i'm reading the statute. it says it can be considered a civil penalty provision, not criminal. that is with the plain meaning of that section says to me that i am reading right now. this administration has chosen to follow the criminal route. that is the excuse. that is the rationale being given for why children are being separated at the border. you did not have to go that route. from her testimony, you sound really proud that this administration has a zero-tolerance policy, that is resulting in children being separated from parents. am i reading you wrong?
8:25 am
you think this is a perfectly, a humane route to go, to implement section 1325? >> it is the law. >> this law allows for a civil process. >> i'm not sure that interpretation is correct. i would defer to doj for final answer. >> the fact of the matter is, the previous administration did not consider this kind of illegal border crossing to be a criminal matter. they may have in certain instances, if they had reason to consider following the criminal route, but generally, they did not. so, that is that. because you, you are an immigration lawyer. you and i, we are both lawyers and we can interpret the plain language of the statute. so when you became director of uscis, i'm looking at the
8:26 am
mission statement of your organization, which was changed by the way from -- what i see is the original statement that was much more oriented toward helping immigrants. you have statements like, uscis secures america's promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers -- which sounds like the customers are immigrants -- granting citizenship benefits, promoting awareness and understanding of citizenship and ensuring the integrity of the immigration system. this was now changed and your takes outn statement that we are a nation of immigrants. safeguarding its integrity and what has been added is that your mission
8:27 am
requires you to make sure that you are protecting americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values. what are these values you are honoring in your statement? >> with respect to the mission statement, when i came into office back in october, i found the old statement to be inadequate and did not think it correctly and precisely described what the agency actually does. and what the people we interact with would expect from us. i just removed the entire old statement altogether and started from scratch. the new mission statement i think it correctly, precisely states what we do. i do not member exact wording now but i recall it says that we will engage in the efficient, effective and fair adjudication of immigration benefit applications. that is what we do.
8:28 am
what can be expected from us by the public is all of those things, that it be done fairly, quickly efficiently, and lawfully. i think the new mission statement is fair. >> your new mission statement does say honoring our values. i'm curious to know what they are. >> it is an echo to the dhs wide mission statement which is also similar. i think the values honored are the ones induced earlier in the mission statement, that is to say, rule of law, fair treatment so everyone gets same treatment, rich or poor, and quick treatment. >> do you think it is honoring our values that we should separate parents from their children, where you hear the children crying for their mothers and fathers, is the honoring our values, in your opinion? >> when you are done on answering that, i will call on senator kennedy. >> i think it is representative of the country's
8:29 am
respect for law and rule of law and that is appropriate. >> senator kennedy. , we welcometor about one million legal immigrants into our country every year, is that correct? >> one million permanent residents, immigrants, yes. >> do you know of any country that welcomes more? >> i do not believe that there is another that has that many, no. >> we have around 500,000 people who jump the line and come into our country illegally every year, is that correct? >> that is my understanding. net inflow is about half a million, i think. that a value,ider a good thing? >> no, that is a bad thing.
8:30 am
illegal immigration is not a good thing. lawhat president truman signed into effect in 1952? the immigration and nationality act of i believe 1952. president truman signed it. the law that generally regulates all of our immigration systems and processes. it has been modified many times since. what does it say about someone coming into our country illegally and is apprehended? >> it says it is a misdemeanor offense. >> what does it say they do it twice? >> they can be fined and sent to jail for two years. it becomes a felony. >> why could we not have a procedure procedure that says we will
8:31 am
treat everyone the same, if you break the same law, you'll be treated equally. if you come into the country, try to jump ahead of the line, we will arrest you but we will not separate you from your children. >> you could do that if some of have beenles we talking about for months now were corrected and if ice had enough money. >> what loopholes? example, the agreement childompels ice to free and family units after 20 days of detention. >> what if our interpretation worries were that it allows us not to separate children from their parents? someone could sue us, right? >> you mean if congress were to pass a law? >> no. what if the administration said tomorrow, we are going to arrest people for breaking the law, but
8:32 am
we are going to separate them from their children? >> i do not know how logistically that would be possible. the parent would have to do it and taken over to the courthouse to be prosecuted. >> right. take their kids with them. >> i did not know that that is possible. we don't do that in regular proceedings. >> you just put them in the van, said the next of -- sit them next to their parents, take them in front of the judge, take them back to a detention facility with the children why can't we do that? >> why don't we do that now in general for any criminal? >> maybe we think immigration -- we can debate that philosophical or metaphysical point later. you make a valid i just want to point.
8:33 am
deal with immigration. but why couldn't we do that? you are arrested. you and your children appear in front of the judge and when you are done, we will bring you back to a detention facility, why can't we do that? >> i would have to defer to the expertise of my colleagues. >> the risk is, it would seem to me is under the consent decree, someone says you are violating that. >> probably. it mandates, weour think it mandates doing what is in the best interest of the child. so we are to keep them together and if you disagree, that is why god made federal court. problem solved. >> maybe. i would have to deed -- defer to do g2 give you a better answer than i could. >> maybe you could go back and talk to doj and suggest to them that we should take the position of we're going to follow the law
8:34 am
equal justice under the law is a value all of us hold. we will do what is in the best interest of the children and let them stay with their parents. to litigatewants that, that is why god made federal judges. >> understood. >> thank you. >> you are a lawyer, please define for me the concept of prosecutorial discretion. >> i believe and again, we are stepping outside of my world of thertise, but it is decision by a prosecutor to not go after to not prosecute somebody either because of lack of resources or other legal policies they are following. >> for instance, this administration widely exercises policy discretion and not making
8:35 am
arrests for marijuana possession, correct? >> i do not know anything about that. >> you do not? .xam not an expert >> as far as you know, the department of justice is prosecuting marijuana defendants with the same rigor that they are the border crossers in terms of prosecutorial discretion? you do not know that is not a true statement? >> i do not know what the discretion policy of the doj is respect -- with respect to marijuana. >> you know they do exercise prosecutorial discretion. don't you know that as a human being? >> it is not 100%. >> there you go. it is not necessary to be because the laws in place setting aside your conversation over the civil measures, it is not necessary to prosecute every
8:36 am
single asylum seeker who crosses the border in the wrong place. you could simply not do that in the proper exercise of prosecutorial discretion. >> i suppose you could but i do not think that would be a good idea. >> i understand. my point is that you could. asylum seekers, they are often refugees, correct? >> asylum-seekers fall into the same definition of refugee. >> yes, and they often have very little in the way of resources, they are often frightened, correct? >> yes. >> very few have legal degrees or familiar with u.s. immigration law, correct? >> yes. >> if you are frightened and lost refugee and you see the u.s. border and you think this is my chance to get across to safety, which has long been something that our country has been associated with, there could be a perfectly innocent reason for crossing the border in that location and what it not be perfect the reasonable for
8:37 am
immigration officials to intercept them to say, he seemed to be a legitimate asylum seeker, you are in the wrong place. we will take you to the port of entry into can join the oer asylum-seekers at the port of entry but to arrest them and separate them from their children is a different choice, correct? were making their case known, they have already crossed illegally. if they have already crossed the border and made their asylum claim, they have violated the law, they finally did 1325. >> because they crossed in the wrong place. >> correct. >> they may not know it is illegal to cross in the wrong they may be coming here because they are poor and frightened in seeking safety and for a long time, that is what the u.s. has been a symbol of, hasn't not question my >> i cannot get into the minds of people who are crossing illegally. >> it is a clear possibility that there could be an innocent explanation for crossing the border as an asylum seeker at a
8:38 am
place other than an established board of entry. >> that might be. >> we're getting there. what activities are underway within your department to try to discourage asylum-seekers from showing up at the proper ports of entry? we have heard reports that immigration officials are trying to prevent asylum-seekers from getting to those ports of entry either by working with officials to stop them or stopping them before they could show up and present themselves. is that going on? >> nobody is coming up with ways to prevent asylum-seekers from coming to the ports of entry. >> you are sure of that? >> no one in my agency is doing that and i would not tolerate that. it is not unlawful to request asylum. >> how good do you think it is for that united states of america for the world to see us keeping children in chicken wire
8:39 am
cages and to hear the tapes of crying children who have been taken away from their parents, how do you think that works for a city on hill? >> i am note expert in -- no ipert in public relations, cannot speculate. >> you could not possibly reach a conclusion that might be a bad thing for our country to have that image in the world? >> it depends on the image and what is the portrayed about what we are doing. >> in meetings you have had, have you heard people say that this policy has been imposed in an effort to send a message to asylum-seekers to discourage them or have you heard anybody say that this policy has been imposed to try to gain bargaining and negotiations? >> no to both things. --t i have heard said is >> we have administration folks saying that publicly. it seems strange that would not
8:40 am
come up in a meeting when it is being said publicly. >> no one is trying to deter asylum-seekers, they can do that at the port of entry. no one is telling them not to do that. .> my time is expired keep going.appy to senator flake looked like he was ready to go. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i am sorry if i am plowing old ground. you mentioned in your testimony that usa is is working on various regulatory policy changes, operational changes to db5.nce the integrity of the developer and faces, where are we here? >> they are not done yet. we are still working on them. there are other enhancements we
8:41 am
have made to the program to improve integrity that are not the regulations. >> i introduced legislation that would provide of the reforms to the program to include some of the accountability and transparency measures, measures would have it engages in a proper and non-preferential way with any person or entity involved in the program. what measures do you take to currently insured treatment of participants is nonbiased? something about this earlier but i am happy to talk about it more. that is a problem and it has been in the past. we have strict protocols regarding the way that our civil servants who run, operate the program interact with outside advocates or petitioners or regional center managers.
8:42 am
everything has to be recorded, logged, all these contact taken note of. >> thank you. under the existing structure, alien investors who may qualify inthese numbers were set 1990. do you think that it would encourage more investment in the u.s. if the numbers were adjusted upward at least for inflation? >> the numbers have to be isusted upward because that what is required. we have not touched those numbers in 20 plus years. >> the program is popular as you know. 2015, 870 three investment pieces were invested by the program state, there were 24,000 applications pending. there is a heavy demand for the program. that investorsy would be willing to invest more if you raise the standard? >> i -- because the standard in
8:43 am
reg is according to cpi, it should not be a problem. the amount of the investment should be manageable by the types of people that are participating in the program. 1990, 97% of investments were made in these targeted employment areas. very little of this was in rural areas. of found that only 10% targeted employment area investments were in rural areas. is there something that we could do to increase investment in rural areas? found afterast year looking for a randomized sample of cases, it was 3%, it might smaller. there are a number of things you could do, you could have a special carveout for investment in rural areas specifically set
8:44 am
aside basis for that, you could incentivize investment by making the levels of investment different to induce people to put money into rural areas, there are a number of policy levers you could pull to incentivize investment in those areas. -- only 3% were only outside targeted areas. thank you. for --want to thank you you were not here but i talked about the compromise that we and earlierast fall this year and i want to thank you for your cooperation. you were very much an important part of that. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you for being here. my understanding of the history here is that you are asked for your recommendation about
8:45 am
whether or not to undertake criminal prosecution that resulted in the separation of these families, correct? what happened was the attorney general announced there would be a zero-tolerance of violations of illegal entry at the border. the question for dhs, the sister agency was which cases should we refer for prosecution pursuant to that zero-tolerance initiative. >> you recommended prosecuting all of them. >> i offered options, i and operate options. >> you are the head of the agency. >> i am the head of my agency but there were others. >> for 13 years you worked in the agency. have ever said to anyone the law requires us to prosecute criminally all these cases, in those 13 years you have been in that agency? >> i was not involved in what i was doing at dhs headquarters.
8:46 am
>> the law requires your agency allefer for prosecution these cases, correct? >> i was never involved in any discussions that related to that subject. >> are you a father? >> i am. >> are you not shaken by the voices and faces of these children torn away from their families? >> of course i am but i am shaken by the stories i hear about parents dragging their kids through the desert. >> are you aware of the cartels destructive effect on these children's lives from that separation? a distressingt is situation for all but i also think -- are you not shaken as a father by the profoundly destructive effect on these children's lives?
8:47 am
>> i am just as shaken by the practice that got them there in the first place by dragging them through the central part of the continent into dangerous territory and speaking through through.g throug snaking >> you have no qualms about this policy. no reservations? as a father and a human being, you have no question, no doubt, no qualms? >> i believe that what we need to do is stop illegal immigration between the ports of entry. the way to do that is to prosecute people who violate that law. a law congress passed, that is what we need to do. >> you agree then with general , "a big name said , familye is deterrence separation could be a tough deterrent, would he a tough deterrent." essentially the goal is to deter
8:48 am
these families from seeking asylum. >> no. there should be consequences for illegal activity at the border. , thehe consequence appropriate consequence is prosecution because that is the crime that is being committed. there needs to be consequence for that violation. >> and so your position is that caring families apart is a necessary conquence of people coming to the border seeking to gang violence, terror, persecution within their own countries and that the destructive effect on those children and our image around the world is worth that price. to >> i think and this has been said a million times before, no
8:49 am
one seems to have a response come of this happens every single day. every single day, families are torn apart. it is no different on the border. secondly, not all these people are asylum-seekers. some of them are just entering without any kind of claim. it is not all a bunch of asylum-seekers. that is what i say to that. >> we can agree on a lot of bipartisan goals here and i support the compromise that is being worked out on that issue. i think we have a moral obligation, not just a legal duty to do better, and i am profoundly disappointed with a response that says we are just enforcing the law when in fact, there is nothing in the law and
8:50 am
itothing in the law in the 13 years you were with that agency that required this profoundly immoral, cruel, inhumane approach and i think at some point in your core, you are troubled by it. i hope so. thank you. >> we're wrapping up, we do not seem to have any other witnesses. i wanted to put into the record the conclusion by the american college of physicians, "a policy of universally separating children from their parents at our u.s. borders will do great harm to children and their parents and their families and more specifically, the american academy of pediatrics which says separating children from their , "contradicts anything
8:51 am
we stand for as pediatricians, protecting and promoting children's health, in fact, highly stressful experience can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's brain architecture and affecting his or her short and long-term health." be included. i will also put in the record a list of fraudulent or it is fair to say fraudulent or violating and the list i had my staff accumulate. i did not want to interrupt the meeting on this issue that most of you on that side of the aisle have been talking about. i do want to say something on that. since you are the acting ranking member, i ought to tell you about it and let you have a chance to respond. if you want to respond for the other side.
8:52 am
a be this is basically five, i did not want to interrupt anybody saying anything they wanted to say. take a moment and respond to some of the comments my colleagues have been making about family separation. wrong to suggest that republicans support the idea of separating families. i do not think that is true. trying to paint that picture ignores a complex legal reality and the situation. theight colleagues know, florez versus reno seligman -- settlement prohibits the department of homeland security from maintaining custody of immigrant children in any context. florez is applied, dhs cannot keep immigrant children even if they are with their parents and a family facility.
8:53 am
that is exactly what florez means, effectively prohibiting the federal government from keeping families together in dhs custody. because of the decision, dhs is faced with the hobson's choice on one hand because of the settlement, they can choose to release any group of undocumented people that appear to be a family and the phrase , thats to be, is key here catch and release policy not only results in the mass release intoauthorized immigrants american communities, but also encourages smugglers, coyotes, and human traffickers to exploit the system. written several letters to the department on this terrible reality as even the obama administration noticed, human traffickers were quick to exploit the release of family exportation
8:54 am
resulted in dangerous trafficking of thousands of children across the mexican countryside to be placed where their makeshift families near the borders, what is worse, dhs has no way to verify if unauthorized immigrants are the family units they claim to be. is equallyt that as concerning to my colleagues. the other side of this coin is because of florez, if dhs and doj seek to enforce the law, they must separate parents and children, 4s will not allow them to be kept together, pending the outcome of
8:55 am
8:56 am
. . .
8:57 am
8:58 am
8:59 am
9:00 am
>> so the likelihood of this proposal seeing the light of day on the senate floor seem somewhat remote. >> welhat? i'm sorry. >> the likelihood of this proposal outline succeeding seems remote or at least questionable. >> well, at this point, all i can say is, i don't dispute anything that senator whitehouse says about what people in the branch have said. i can only say what i've said since this has become an issue. i don't want to se families, and i would see the path to do that is the repeal of the floor's agreement. >> would the chairman agree with me, and i'm just suggesting this idea, that our nation would be well-served if the president simply made a phone call, stopped this policy, put it on pause, so that we could come
9:01 am
together and arrive at a humane solution? because right now -- and i know the chairman is hardly supportive of separating children from their families. but right now, that's what our great nation is doing. and we are destroying our image around the world, as well as the individual lives of these families and children. and so perhaps the chairman could join us in calling on the president, simply to call a cease-fire and a moratorium. >> if i agreed with you on that, it would be like my saying that i want to encourage people in other countries to go to the extreme difficulty of going through very dangerous situations to put their children at risk. and i'm not sure i want to encourage it when we're faced with it, we have to deal with
9:02 am
it. and my proposal for dealing with it is do away with the floor's agreement. i would like to ask you, mr. cissna, do you think the administration would support repeal of flores? >> that is indeed one of the things that secretary nielsen spoke about yesterday. repeal flores, but also you need to give i.c.e. enough funds to be able to hold the family units once you've repealed flores. >> but if i may ask a followup question. >> you may ask. >> is it not true, mr. cissna, that secretary nielsen and all of the administration spokespeople on this topic and most prominently the president himself, has said there have to be other parts of the proposal, including building a wall, stopping family reunification, essentially a variety of proposals that will be unacceptable to the majority of the united states congress? it's not just repeal of flores. >> right.
9:03 am
the repeal of flores is one of several of the so-called loopholes that we want to be able to fix to address that situation on the border. including with the funding of i.c.e. for detention. all the other rest of it is part of a bigger picture. i'm in no positn to comment on what the administration would say about doing something specific, you know, on flores, or these other loophole issues. >> but that is the reason why the chairman's proposal made in total good faith is unlikely to be adopted, because the administration has said it will not simply repeal flores, even if we were to adopt it. even if there were bipartisan support for it. this destroying of families will proceed inexorably because of the administration's position. >> i couldn't comment. i don't know what the administration's position would be on any specific legislation.
9:04 am
>> for anybody that's still here, i have just two things i want to do. one, i have one question of mr. cissna, and number two, i have a tlosing stementike to make. and this is about eb-5. i wrote to your secretary, our secretary, about a statement made by the ceo of an australia-based company participating in the eb-5. the ceo stated that, quote, opening saddleback resort is not the primary concern for me. the eb-5 program is the same -- is the reason we're buying saddleback. the mountain and opening the mountain is something we would like to achieve. but if we don't, we're going to lose -- we're not going to lose any sleep over it, end of quote. based on that statement, it's quite clear thahe intent of
9:05 am
this investor is not consistent with the intent of eb-5 program, and quite frankly, borders on fraud. this sounds to me like the promoters of these visas are gaming the system. does your agency have the authority to decertify saddleback resort as a qualifying regional center? is your agency investigating this regional center, and if not, why not? >> with respect to that specific region center, i don't know. but we can look into that. i think that the more general point, do we have the authority if we know that somebody is intentionally not going to be promoting economic growth, i think so. we have terminated some regional centers where there was, for example, rampant criminal activity going on. and we determined if there is that much criminal activity going on, clearly, nobody is interested in promoting economic growth. that regional center needs to be terminated. so if that statement is true, and if the facts turn out that they really have no intent to
9:06 am
promote economic growth, that should be the end of that regional center. >> so a general question about how prevalent is this type of scheme. how many regional centers do you estimate are engaged in simply brokeraging of american citizenship as opposed to economic development and job creation? >> i don't have any numbers for u right now. but i think that it is a problem that -- i mean, the whole point of the eb-5 program and in particular the regional center program, is to get capital money into places where it is hard to obtain. like rural areas or targeted employment areas. that's the goal. to get capital into those places. and a lot of people, i think, are ung eb-5 program, yes, nominally, they set up a regional center for that purpose, but they make a lot of money in the process. they exact fees from the petitioners. they exact fees from the entities that receive funds. they make money off the loans to
9:07 am
the foreigners who invest the money. a lot of people are making money off of the eb-5 program, and that's separate from the investments that are allegedly going into the projects. >> thank you for being here. i think our hearing has demonstrated that the program, particularly the regional center program, has a great deal of corr. there are certain deficiencies in existing law, which allow bad acrs to game the system, pocket money meant for job creation and economic development. the original purposes of the 1990 program and in the process sell our citizenship. thankfully, your agency is taking steps to end the problems. we've heard about several measures today, and i'll look forward to an update from you in september on what additional efforts have been made. however, the most important step that can be taken is the finalization of these
9:08 am
modernization regulations. we've been told today that regulatory an should be expected soon, but soon ought to have been a year ago, as far as i'm concerned, since it came in the previous administration. i don't know why it takes so long. i've heard that for the last year-and-a-half, i think ian eak for several members of this committee, and say we're tired of the delay. and we expect this rule to be implemented. but even if this regulation was implemented tomorrow, there's still measures that congress needs to take to reform this program. we have to pass integrity and national security reforms to ensure this program isn't being exploited by those who seek to harm our country. we must pass financial measures that protect the investors and make it harder for regional centers to defraud them. we've been trying to pass these reforms for years, and each and
9:09 am
every time we get close, those big money political well-connected new york interests groups blocked them. my patnce is thin. the choice seems to be clear to me. they should stop blocking reforms and come to the table in good faith to end the scandals. that they ought to be ashamed to be a part of. e reco will remain open for a week for submissions, questions, and hopefully we'll get definitive answers from you, mr. cissna. meeting adjourned.
9:10 am
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
9:11 am
this weekend on "american history tv, c-span3," live coverage from the annual summer conference, starting saturday morning at 8:30 eastern with villanova university's judith giesberg on union troops and pornography followed by kent masterson brown and george gordon mead at the battle of gettysburg. and later, historical park director, wilson greene, on the battle of the crater during the
9:12 am
siege of petersburg. our coverage continues sunday at 9:00 a.m. eastern with new york historical society's jonathan landy on desertion of african-american troops during the civil war. at 10:15, arizona state university's brook simpson on president abraham lincoln and his relationship with his commanding generals, george mcclellan and euless s. grant. and elizabeth varon on elizabeth van lou who operated a spy ring out of richmond. watch this weekend on american history tv on c-span3. the c-span bus is in alaska this week for the 38th stop of our 50 capitals tour. we're in juno with the help of our cable partner, gci. >> we're thrilled that c-span, one of the long-time programming partners, has chosen to visit alaska for the first time in 22 years. as part of its 50 capital and
9:13 am
cities tour. so big shoutout to c-span. [ cheers and applause ] so for decades, gci has offered c-span to our customers, because we believe in the network's mission to open to unfiltered, trusted media resource. and gci proudly supports c-span'sffort to help inform and educate the nation on policy, politics, history and current events. now gci and the cable companies around the nation make c-span possible. there's no government mandate, there's no public funding, there's no advertising. c-span is truly a public service through a wholly funded by fees paid by gci and other companies. c-span kindly calls itself cable's gift to america. so -- and now thanks to our long standing special partnership with c-span's bus nationwide 50 capitals tour, we get to shca our state, the largest in the nation, by the way, to the rest of the country via
9:14 am
c-span. well, they're here! finally! thank goodness. >> we're ecstatic. it is a huge deal for us. it gives a chance to showcase our city nationwide, and just to have the idea that somebody wants to come in and sample what we have to offer herend hopefully take it back. and we're open for business, and we like the idea that you're here. it's like having visitors in the summertime. >> be sure to join us july 21st and 22nd when we'll feature our visit to alaska. watch "alaska weekend" on c-span, or listen on the c-span radio app. at the u. global leadership coalition summit, a panel, including senator chris coons, talked about u.s. public and private lending programs in the developing world. this is just under an hour.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on