tv Newsmakers CSPAN January 17, 2016 6:33pm-7:01pm EST
we have been seeing areas where there is heavy activity by isil and other terrorist groups. we are really going to be moving in very short order for the screening of those populations. >> thank you for coming. we appreciate it. a former high-level department of homeland security should know s as part ofusci woman security. you had said that you were not allowed to look for social media postings. my understanding is that was incorrect.
>> and all the time that i have been at dhs, both the secretary and the deputy secretary have been clear that this was a capacity that we need to develop comprehensively and quickly. that is a conversation that he and i have quickly about the importance of us moving quickly. do you now have an authorization from the secretary? >> there are multiple uses. we had that authorization and we had it for a while.
we have been acting under that authorization. you heard me talk about pilots, they have been aggressively expanding and now with iraq and syrian refugees streams we have been working with across the board vetting with those populations. >> i would take it in a quite we differ their court -- direction. as you know the uscis has been working on a program, this is an effort to digitize the u.s. immigration system which is really an important subject because the current system is a must entirely on paper which applicants whom i talked to find incredibly frustrating. initiativeed the which pointed to the fact that will cost much more than it is supposed to.
as of a month or two ago, the uscis and only succeeded in getting one form fully digitized and online out of 95. people who use that form say it does not work very well. secretary johnson issued a response but nobody credits the facts of the story. >> one is that the form you are talking about, the smaller work streams that represent 16% of the overall work volume of uscis. that is a big step forward. this year, you will see the naturalization form go online as well. extremeanother massive but is also our most complex builtthe functionality into that form will become the platform for everything that comes after it. by the end of the year we will be up to about 30% of the work
stream. you will always find one example here and there of dissatisfaction with everything you do. our satisfaction rate has been at the level of 93%. customerho studies satisfaction -- that is a high-level. issues, it the cost is a little bit of an apples and oranges issue. year timever a 33 line that includes maintenance cost. once it is fully deployed, that extra billion that you keep hearing about, a lot of that is maintenance cost. i think that is how we address it. we think we are moving in the right direction. >> you were not there for the false starts. you for this,me
that you do speak for the agency. can you explain, how did this happen? i reported on a lot of examples how this was mismanaged from the their contractor to did not realize how difficult it would be and lots of things. >> i think that the key issue is that we had -- i know you have looked into this, but we had a development methodology. now we have a much more nimble development methodology. people whoeet the are working on this development, those are immigration success stories. many of those people are immigrants who have now become software developers. that's something that excites me. technologyevelopment
which has multiple contractors competing against one another has to develop a system that has shown itself from our perspective to be successful. jerry: so let's talk about the issues we just raised in the context of conference of immigration reform. people often talk about reform. in january 2017, paul ryan has expressed some success in the past. it could be back on the table just like that. uscis is the backbone of the immigration system. when people file for benefits, all 7 million a year go through your agency. when i did the research on this transformation project, a lot of current former employees and others were highly skeptical the uscis would be able to handle a lot applications that would come with comprehensive immigration reform.
i know it depends on what the actual bill is and the assumption of this question is that a final bill would include some path to legalization. we talk about 11.3 million undocumented immigrants. as you also know, the applications for citizenship and green card are equitably complex. 100 to 150 pages. with the online system may be recovering but still behind original schedule, how would you handle it in 2017, and with you in fact have to use the current paper-based system which everybody things would be a disaster? leon: we will have as that process unfolds i think unlike some other work surges you have seen, there will actually be time in terms of legislative process unfolds and the time that will be built into whatever legislation there is, but we have learned a lot in recent
years about how to search our work. the best example is backup. we had 700,000 people, i was talking about 8 million people a year, that is a pretty significant percentage of our overall workflow searched in a short time and it required form changes, required i.t. changes. we learned as an agency, our culture has changed to be that nimble whenever we do have the eventuality. by the way, i believe we will get there. there will be comprehensive immigration reform. at some point soon. i do believe that from an economic perspective, from a humanitarian perspective, it is a necessity. this is not a problem we cannot walk away from for much longer. we learned a lot and i think we will be watching the process as it unfolds we stay ahead of it.
i am blessed with a great workforce who knows how to do exactly that. brian: with different action for childhood arrivals, the working claims from lawmakers that when you have super personnel on processing the applications, the green card applications slowed down. is that reflected in the data? the wait time for other applications slow down. leon: sure. i would not have attributed that to daca. we are busy everywhere else as well. that is an inherent part of the work we do is balancing the workflow. 8 million cases a year. there are 250 offices worldwide. a combination of back office type functions and field office type functions. we are always balancing workloads among those offices in
order to stay close to processing times. one great example is now with respect to naturalization, we are exactly at target at a time we are also trying to urge people to make the choice of naturalization. our target processing time is five months. we are close to target time on those forms. we are always balancing work. brian: another piece your office has is processing refugee asylum claims with in person interviews. there has been a huge surge in migrants from central america over the last year and a half. jerry broke a story a few weeks ago about administrations deciding to increase the number of raids to have final orders of removal. the advocacy communities have said those people who have been arrested recently, that their asylum cases have not been properly heard.
what does that look like? leon: we have it and we continue to. there is no running away from the fact that we have a clear challenge in the asylum ward. it is a workflow that continues to grow, and it is not reasonable to think it may still grow some yet. we have surged in particular at the border where we have a time sensitive need. overall, we are continuing to staff our asylum program who are among the very strong as professionals in our system and a most highly trained and the most specifically trained. brian: are you taking staff away from other processing programs?
leon: refugees do not pay fees. there are programs that finance those. those are relatively small areas in terms of volume compared to the larger mass of what we do. lester we did 70,000 refugee admissions. last year we did 70,000 refugee admissions. it's a relatively small fraction of the cases we see each year. we are at 10 minutes now. >> let me ask a follow-up. in the process, a lot of people if they aretand
coming from three countries in they are justa, wracked by violence. people have a hard time understanding how could someone not have a legitimate claim that they could be persecuted were shot if we send them back? i think the distinction might be that the individual has to show that this specific person has been targeted by a gang or has a credible fear persecution. it's not enough to just say the murder rate is up. it.hat is not every risk someone may face makes them a refugee. there is a specific definition in law the weather have been
persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution based on your race, nationality clinical opinion or your social grouping. if you don't meet that definition, you still may be facing horrible things, but you don't qualify under our laws. laws that most of our allies use. the geneva convention. know that we need to do something at least for a lot of were facing harm. we need to do something. that's why heard secretary kerry announce our expansion of the program to increase the activity. whatw can someone prove might be unprovable.
it's a lot more likely to happen because there's a gang war. what's the burden of proof to show, do they have to introduce evidence? i was shot at five years ago. i have a gang member come to my house. what are some ways that they can prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution? you have actually given some great examples. it's important understand that this applies to refugee work as well. we also do our own research. officerst of how our are prepared for deployments is what we label country conditions. in other words what are the
circumstances at a pretty granular level of what's going on in a particular country. localized inretty that -- ethnic or political environment that may provide the foundation of some sort for a refugee or asylum claim. tells us,the person but it's also based on what we know is going on. it's to test the credibility. is that possible to pull police report in countries like this? will be i was it attacked five years ago and we anw that there was insurgency going on in that area. let's give that sort of knowecific example, we from our research that in fact this makes sense. we know there was certain activity going on in that area at that time.
i once took a little bit about the effort of the obama administration to push more of the refugee and asylum processing out to foreign countries so that people in central america honduras el salvador could come to place their and apply for asylum or refugee status without having to make the dangerous trip into the united states. they're putting more personnel in the field in these countries. there's the activity that we are doing, screening applicants under the central american miners program, one thing we have done over the years and stand ready to do is as other countries develop asylum systems, we have been doing this longer and more than anyone else. anyone who is ready to print -- we are provided -- prepared to
provide support to those countries. the department of homeland security is known for having the lowest employee morale in the federal government. that people all over the world. specific to doing deal with that issue? how are you tackling it? we actually did quite well. i think the reason we did well things, people come in really loving the mission that we do. we makeher things, hundreds of thousands of new americans every day.
we offer relief to refugees and we offer people opportunity. that's something that really does get our people very excited. we have morale issues in certain places, but actually on the whole if you look at whether it's the federal employee viewpoint survey, on the whole we actually score quite well. not being. we are doing things to among other things i'm visiting lots of offices and engaging very directly with a lot of our staff members. to see where opportunities for improvement might be. one of your most criticize programs is the one that areides visas to investors willing to invest 500,000 or million dollars to a program that creates american jobs. lawmakers have criticized his fouram in the past
funneling money into projects that don't live up to their expectations. what if he done since coming to the agency to work on this where is it with this program? >> one of my favorite things is unlike just about anything we do there is but bipartisan dislike him support it's very unusual among other areas. there were a lot of things that my predecessor did to improve the program that we been consolidating during my time as to rector. the most important of those were the actual consolidation was a very specialized unit with economists. also increasing the number of people working on needy five
cases. precisely to go after the kind of issues that you identified. we want to admit people who really are going to create jobs and stimulate our economy. wholek that effort on the has been bearing fruit. we increase the effectiveness of that unit. increased our ability to monitor the economic benefits. whether this is legitimate. what about fraud? curiously, there have even been prosecutions in this area, more the fraud we are seeing are the investors are the victims of fraud. another was your promoter or someone here the united states
whose defrauding the prospective immigrant. regions that are really doing something to promote economic development. we watch for the investment actually doing what it's supposed to do. >> i wanted to follow-up on that. there were allegations that could usetelligence that to get into the country. has that come up recently? >> that was a discussion. there have been historical allegations, none of them specific. it's a vulnerability that could exist. it's looking for exactly those kinds.
>> when you were on the house judiciary committee, they did not have confidence >> in your service. should they? they should. let's take the refugee example. that's one thing people really like to talk about. the most intense security vetting. not just for immigrants but for any kind of public benefit. the degree to which we bet people as refugee is that's just an example of how we monitor national security improper prevention issues. >> please come back. newsmakers is back.
reporters from the l.a. times in the washington post. in going to start where we ended the conversation. based on both of your reporting, should americans be confident? >> there's a lot of frustration out there. in the immigrant community, among immigration. system in 2016 is entirely on paper. it's only for most any agency even in the u.s. government. you file something and i get sent to some lockbox somewhere. you may get a response three months later and you have to fill out one more sentence and send it in again. this is not the directors fault. people speak highly of him.
he seems to be doing as well as decisions were not made effectively five or 10 years ago. from a national security perspective this has been a huge topic. so much criticism of the numbers of people coming in and how well they are vetted. what is your response of the confidence level? the agency is under a lot of scrutiny on a number of fronts. you have both of the refugee status. in personto do interviews and they have to pair with the state department. thee's the risk that islamic state or al qaeda will use it to smuggle people in. this also a lot of scrutiny because of the deferred action program for court review.
issuer they could legally all of these immigration benefits to people here in the country illegally. you must mention the violence that has been happening in three countries and in central america. the borderse again are being rushed for women and children. how the different from last time this happened? >> i think it's fair to say that the administration is more prepared than they were last time. we did a number of stories about how they just ignored a lot of warning signs. my reporting shows they are prepared. they've increase the messaging youaign in central america can get even are killed by smugglers.
raids, that's part of the deterrence effort. it is wide. there seems to be another search coming. there seems to be another search coming and i am not sure they can stop it. a two-pronged approach. not the message that was being sent a year and a half ago. at the same time it is a democratic administration so they are trying to have it both ways. they are also increasing money for refugees vetting. that kind of sense a mixed message to people that yes we want you to calm if you have legitimate asylum claim