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tv   Senate Homeland Security Committee Holds Confirmations Hearing  CSPAN  November 16, 2018 3:40pm-5:03pm EST

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lawfulness of the proceedings he got, his state-appointed attorney, his agent, has no place substituting his own view that his client should simply cede and go off to prison. thank you. chief justice roberts: thank you, counsel. the case is submitted. >> join us this weekend for live coverage of the miami book fair. on sunday, at 11:15 a.m., uardian columnist melissa on her book "squeezed." and chris discusses his book "every man a king," and at 6:00 p.m., former secretary of state john kerry with his memoir, "every day is extra." watch the miami book fair live this weekend on c-span2's "book tv." >> two of president trump's nominees had their confirmation hearing this week, including ronald to head immigration and
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customs enforcement, known as i.c.e. the senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee hearing is about 0 minutes. >> i've introduced both nominees in my opening statement so we'll just turn right to you for your testimony. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ranking member peters, and distinguished members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. as a career law enforcement officer who has served the nation for more than 30 years, i'm honored and humbled to be nominated by the president to be the director of u.s. immigration and customs enforcement. i also want to thank secretary nielsen for her support and confidence in me. mr. vitiello: i'm blessed to have the support of my wife and our children who have supported me and i'm grateful for their appearance here today as well as all the sacrifices that they've made over my long career.
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protecting children from online predators -- this is a mission i understand well. after more than three decades of experience in the border patrol. in 1985 i started as an agent patrolling the front lines of our border. i worked in the interior and on both the northern and southern borders. te are i took on greater leadership. most recently as acting deputy at u.s. customs and border protection. i understand the laws and policies governing our immigration system and i am well prepared to lead i.c.e. my experience includes working to maintain professional standards and sustain morale while the border patrol agent experienced rapid growth. i helped strengthen accountability for the use of force which resulted in a significant decrease in the use of force. working with congress, the office of personnel management,
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and fellow senior leaders at c.b.p., we implemented a new pay and compencompen sayings statute that saved taxpayers more than $110 million the first year and added capacity to the agency. throughout my career at border patrol, i worked closely with partners at i.c.e. which has a complex but critical role in our immigration system. my appreciation and understanding of the men and women who serve at i.c.e. has only deepened since i became acting director in june. despite adverse conditions that would cripple many other workplaces, i.c.e. employees carry out their important mission with integrity, courage, and excellence. since my start at i.c.e., i made it a top pry to mean with frontline personnel to make sure their voice is heard and supported. to uphold the rule of law both in the united states and around the world is undeniable. during fiscal year 2018, for example, arrest of illegal aliens increased by 50% with
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criminal history. and removals increased over 13%. i. cremplet seized nearly $900,000 of narcotics and 23 pounds of fentanyl which is fueling the deadly opioid crisis. we identified and rescued more than 850 children who were victims of child exploitation and over 300 victims of human trafficking. we made 11,000 arrests of known or suspected gang members, including more than 2,000 linked to ms-13 and removed nearly 6,000 gang members from the country. these successes and the dedicated men and women who achieve them are all too often drowned out or wrongly maligned by misleading rhetoric and misinformation in the public sphere. this kind of rhetoric needlessly escalates the risk in our operational environment, making an already challenging job more difficult and dangerous. it also harms the morale of our workforce which is composed of people just like you who go to work each and every day to make the country and the communities they serve in safer. like you, we are employees of
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public servants. they should not be threatened by violence or taggetted in their homes -- targeted in their homes. they should not have to bear the burden of attacks motivated largely by policy disagreements. if confirmed, one of my highest priorities will be demonstrate to the public, congress, media, the critcalt to protect the homeland and improve public safety and why our agency's existence should not be up for debate. it is to remember why i.c.e. was created in the first place. following the attacks on september 11, the 9/11 commission identified critical gaps in our national security, including the need for stronger interior immigration enforcement and border security. to address those needs and prevent future attacks on our meland, the government created i. cremplet and the department of homeland security. this is important today as it was when the commission's report was published. i believe congress shares the goal of a strong border and an immigration system that has
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integrity. i look forward to working closely with the committee to address this and many other challenges the agency faces as we seek to ensure the continued security of the american people. i also appreciate the committee's important oversight role and i'm committed to ensuring that the agency remains accountable to congress and the taxpayers. the men and women of i.c.e. are among the nation's finest and most hardworking public servants. it's a privilege to serve alongside them. i'm grateful for them, their loved ones, and the sacrifices they make in service to america. should i be confirmed, i will be -- it will be a tremendous honor to support them and advocate for them as they carry out this vital mission. thank you and i look forward to your questions. senator johnson: thank you, mr. vitiello. >> i thank you, chairman johnson, and serving ranking member peters and members of the committee. i'm grateful for your holding this hearing today to consider my nomination. i am truly honored by the nomination and if confirmed i stand ready to work alongside
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other leaders in the district of columbia criminal justice system to continue enhancing public safety in the nation's capital. i wish to acknowledge also a number of the leadership is behind me today and i thank them for being here. it plays a critical role in providing public safety for those who live, work, and visit the district of columbia. it strives to reduce recidivism for those ervision after a period of incarceration. if those rephoned, communication with criminal justice partners is key. if confirmed i look forward to achieve these goals. i would also be honored to continue my more than 30 years not only in public service but in the pursuit of public safety. as a career prosecutor i've always done my best to fairly and effectively address violations of the law, to hold offenders accountable and obtain justice for those in the
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district of columbia. i'm especially proud of my service where i am responsible for leading largettest division in the investigation and prosecution of most local crimes committed by adults in the district of columbia. i'm honored to work with hundreds of dedicated assistant united states attorneys, paralegals and other staff members as we address a wide range of issues and offenses. these range from misdemeanor offenses that affect the quality of life in the district to complicated violent offenses including sexual assaults and homicides. the division handles between 17,000 and 20,000 cases on an annual basis and employs problem solving approach rather than simply processing cases through the system. under my leadership, it works very closely with its law enforcement partners and the community to identify public safety issues and to craft pragmatic solutions. having spent most of my career working on strictly local criminal justice issues, i'm keenly aware of the challenges faced by the entities obligated
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to provide public safety for this community. i've not only been a prosecutor in the traditional sense but worked as a community prosecutor where i was tasked solving police indicated sometimes sort of noncriminal problems and issues impacting residents and neighborhoods throughout the district of columbia. additionally, my service and participation in the d.c. superior court's drug court and mental health court has given me a broader perspective of the problems faced by those in the criminal justice system. timely, my relationships with -- finally, my relationships with serve the citizens of the district of columbia well if confirmed. i thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today and for your continued support of public safety efforts in the district of columbia. i also want to express my gratitude to the staff of this committee for their work in considering my nomination and i look forward to your questions. mr. johnson: well, thank you, mr. tischner, i want to thank the support for these nomineeses. these are important issues. almost 24/7, 365 days a year,
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there is a sacrifice on family members as well offering their support. i want to thank them. there are three questions the committee asks of every nominee for the record so i'll ask the questions and ask each of you to answer, give me your response. first, is there anything you are aware of in your background that might present a conflict of interest with the duties of the office to which you have been nominated, mr. vitiello? mr. vitiello: no. mr. tischner: no. do you agree n: to comply with any request or summons to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of congress if you are confirmed. mr. vitiello: i do. mr. sischner: yes. senator johnson: mr. vitiello, i appreciate in your testimony you eye heighted that i.c.e. identified and rescued more than 850 children, 300 victims of human trafficking. you made 11,000 arrests of known and suspected gang
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members. including 2,000 linked to ms-13, removed nearly 16,000 gang members. that's an incredibly important part of your testimony i wanted to highlight. i think you are also aware, because the committee let you know and i think you have a copy of the letter sent by a number of unit officials for the national i.c.e. counsel, i just want to give you -- i.c.e. council, i just want to give-on-opportunity to quickly respond to really that live. mr. vitiello: i am aware of the letter. if confirmed as director i will have a contractal obligation to work with i.c.e. counsel on all matters that affect employees. i spent a quite a bit of time since i've been there since june meeting with employees. i had several town halls. san antonio, haring dharlingen, very interested in what is driving morale, how i can improve and articulate in this setting, in the media, public, amongst themselves, and so it's
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very important for me to understand where the employees are coming from. we share that mission in protecting the employees. and so i met with the president of the union, chris crane, in august. i think the second -- we had a substantive discussion on the things i think we can most do beneficially together and i look forward to continuing that relationship and do productive things on behalf of the workforce. senator johnson: again, i appreciate that kind of general response. what about some of the specific charges about potential retaliation, not allowing union members to regain full-time employment within i.c.e.? can you respond to those? mr. vitiello: it's technical, most what was outlined in that letter was before i became acting director. there are a number of conversations i want to have around it. as it relates to union officials, their role is to represent the workforce. they are paid by the government 100% of their time to represent the union. they do that, again, i have
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responsibilities to meet and adjudicate their issues and so we'll continue to keep the dialogue open and i look forward to working with them on specific things. i think the pay issue, as you helped us with in my previous career with border patrol, is the thing that is the most urgent as it relates to that workforce. and chris crane, the president, has specific suggestions on how to get to where we need to be on that and i look forward to a productive conversation around that. senator johnson: can you speak directly to the prolonged problem in the portland i.c.e. office? mr. vitiello: the portland is an example -- again, that happened before i started, but portland is an example where local authorities refusing to help or assist law enforcement officers and i.c.e., protesters essentially took over the block around the federal building, prevented -- tried to prevent people from leaving the building and then prevented over the days our employees getting to work. and so we didn't have the
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sufficient -- local authorities don't act in a situation like that -- when you call 911 and the local police don't show up, what do you do? so that thing got out of hand very quickly because of the lack of response locally. and it took us a number of days, a week or two, to get the correct federal forces on the ground, the federal protective service, they are great partners. they did a great job for us there. we had to mass forces to get back into the building. then several weeks on, the protest continued. and so our employees were subject to the protests and having to walk by that on their way to work every day. it wasn't something we predicted. since then we put steps in place to monitor social media and get better at sort of protective intelligence as it relates to our spaces. there's a regular reporting regime. i get a report every day that talks about what threats are out there on the internet, on social media, what we get from informants and other agencies. we've gotten better about our
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response. but what was critical at the time when it was needed was the local response that didn't come. we were behind the curve. the whole community was behind the curve until we got the resources there. senator johnson: the charge and letters that i.c.e. didn't respond adequately -- to get the time right. this began before you were installed as acting? mr. vitiello: with a contingency and situation we didn't predict before, we didn't expect they wouldn't clear the streets and allow people to get in and out of the building. it took us a while. the e.r.o. went and visited the workforce twice. i spoke to people who had damage to their own properties, i spoke to them. the secretary participated with me in a virtual teleconference, on video, with the entire portland office. senator johnson: you came in in the middle of this, right? mr. vitiello: correct. senator johnson: and then responded? mr. vitiello: correct.
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senator johnson: thank you. senator peters. senator peters: mr. vitiello, according to the f.b.i., hate crimes in america have risen 17% just last year alone, i believe this is three consecutive years in a row we've seen hate crimes increase in this country. i think that's why it's imperative that certainly our immigrant community but minority communities all across this country have confidence in the u.s. government and in our leaders, particularly in key positions like the one that you have been nominated for. so my question is, are you familiar with the group federation for american immigration reform? mr. vitiello: yes, i am aware of that group. senator peters:: aware the group is classified as a hate group by the southern poverty law center? mr. vitiello: did i not know that. senator peters: somebody in your position, should you know groups that are classified as hate groups? mr. vitiello: obviously, agents and officers are -- swear an
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oath to the constitution and uphold law, public safety, community -- homeland security. obviously if we're referred cases for hate crime, we would work with local authorities, the f.b.i., etc., to get those cases prosecuted. senator peters: i ask that question because my understanding is that you attended a fair -- which is the federation for american immigration reform group, media event that was held, is that correct? that you were at an event that they held? mr. vitiello: correct. at a local hotel they sponsored opportunity for local radio stations to come to d.c. and broadcast from this area and i did a number of interviews with local stations about i.c.e.'s mission, about the employees, about our critical support to homeland security and local communities. i did three -- i think i did three separate interviews in that setting. senator peters: so you were at their event. you attended their event. in that situation, do you think you should do some background checking as to the organization
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and whether or not they're classified as a hate group before you show up? mr. vitiello: the opportunity that we were trying to avail ourselves of in the press sense was to talk to these local communities. there is a couple on the northern border. i think there is one in ohio. people that aren't familiar as it relates to what happens in washington, what happens as it relates to border enforcement, immigration -- border security and immigration and enforcement. it's an opportunity to reach into those communities in that setting. senator peters: it's supported by a group that's classified as a hate group. would you in the future avoid those kind of situations if confirmed? mr. vitiello: obviously having more information would be better. senator peters: you would commit seeking that out prior to making public appearances? mr. vitiello: we can add that to our protocol, yes, sir. senator peters: that's significant. words have consequences, as you know. just a few weeks ago an individual sent over a dozen pipe bombs to political figures across the country and in this
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hyperpartisan charged political environment, i am certainly a strong believer anyone holding positions of responsibility need to lead by example and need to behave with civility and understand we need to be bringing this country together, not dividing this country. so i have a question for you is, in response to a tweet from mark levin on september 12, 2012, you suggested the democratic party should be renamed the liberalcratic you party or the neeo-klanist party. what did you mean by that sweet? mr. vitiello: it was a mistake. i was trying to make a joke. i thought it was a direct message. i was not familiar with how the platform worked as it relate to that. i did not mean to suggest that the party is somehow against american values. i deeply cre -- regret i did it. it was a momentary lapse of judgment and i apologize. senator peters: you don't believe that's good for someone
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charged with significant responsibilities? mr. vitiello: it's important. i understand the gravity of it. it was meant as a joke. it wasn't trollery, it wasn't trying to do anything other than, you know, make a joke. again, i regret it. senator peters: why is that funny to you? those terms? neo-klanist mr. vitello: i was trying to respond in that context. i don't remember exactly what the premise was. but again, i realized that it caused offense and i'm sorry. senator peters: you will commit you will not use that language going forward? mr. vitello: absolutely commit to that. senator peters: you acknowledge being involved in discussions and operational protocols regarding the administration's most controversial immigration policy that led to family separations. why didn't you or anyone
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recognize that family separations that would occur could cause a massive outcry from the public? mr. vitello: it was not perceived in the moment. what we were trying to do in the department was not separate families, but apply consequences as the justice department leaned forward and offered up additional prosecutorial resources. we tried to take advantage of that capacity. since 2011, the border patrol has been tracking very closely -- c.d.p. has been tracking the arrests they make, the consequences that the government is involved in after each and every arrest. what we saw over time, if you prosecuted people where those capacities were available or if you sent people for removal hearings and got removed, you would see less activity at the border and the rate would go down after we started tracking
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in 2011. when they said they would step up and do more prosecutions, we took plans. senator peters: clear that families would have been separated. mr. vitello: when we refer people for their federal crime of illegal entry, a lot of them only go for the hearing long enough to be out of our custody for less than a day and then returned to us. and so, the separations was contemplated but never meant to be permanent. senator peters: in many cases, it didn't happen and appears there wasn't any planning done to reunite families as i looked into families. there was a significant lack of planning. why was that the case?
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mr. vitello: we never contemplated having the system work backwards. they arefication piece in care and custody of the children. and so, there was a significant recognition that they were going to need more capacity. but nobody in the discussions that i was involved in were contemplating that these people would be separated forever. senator peters: if not separated forever, this is a question that i have been trying to get answered by d.h.s. officials is we know that children were separated. how long is too long for a child to be separated from their family? mr. vitello: separations occur when in most cases before zero tolerance when the guardian or the pattern is not suitable to be a parent.
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they have a violent history or other crimes that need to be addressed in federal prosecution. so that requires a separation. we would like to be in a place where lots of people didn't bring their kids to the border and try to cross illegally. but that's the situation we are aced with. senator: thank you to both of our nominees this morning. we are grateful for your public service and grateful to your families for sharing that service with you. and we are grateful for your presence here today. mr. vitello, i thank you for visiting in my office last month. we discussed many things including new hampshire's inneician community. they fled religious persecutions and have become members of the
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community and worked jobs and paid taxes and raised their families in the sea coast area. many years after living in the could put c.e. has their lives where persecution against religious minorities remains a serious issue. you committed to looking into this matter. could you tell me what the product of that review was and whether you would reconsider deporting these members of the community? mr. vitello: in the past, people were made to believe that the immigration laws or people subject to removal wouldn't be arrested. i have done this -- senator: did you do a review of that situation? mr. vitello: we looked into it. and the situation involves people who have had time orders of removal and had their due process rights and not subject
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to release under the asylum laws. and so they are removeable. the direction we got from the president early on was no -- es of jailens would be senator: even though they sought asylum and in legitimate fear of religious persecution even though they are tax paying and built businesses and their families are here and even though there are many more people who are actually engaged in criminal behavior who i.c.e. could be prosecuting, you will target granite staters who sought justice from us? mr. vitello: we are not going to prioritize people from where they from. we prioritize like we always have -- senator: but you haven't. these people relied on behavior
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and statements from the united states government that gave them the belief they would be able to stay here and build families here and lives here. and they relied on those representations by the united states government whether they were technically correct under the law or not. the concept of justice does not just lie in technicalities but lies in the way we treat people and our core values. why, when there are people violating our core values without documentation, we are not priority ising them and prioritizing law abiding indonesians who have been living in our country. mr. vitello: we are prioritizing threats to public safety and homeland security. senator: you are telling me you have done all that work and nobody else to go after than these law-abiding people? mr. vitello: i can tell you as a country and agency and an
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individual, sometimes the law doesn't want to do. these people have gone through their constitutional due process rights and not subject to release. when encountered by an immigration officer they are subblet to arrest and removal. senator: i do want to say i don't think that's an accurate representation of what has happened. it isn't that people just happened upon them. they have been given reliances by the united states government that they were in compliance and could stay here. and so, and they showed up for their regular check-in and the behavior of the united states government changed towards them. let's move on to another subject because i want to follow up on something that senator peters talked to you about, also during our meeting we talked about indefinite detention of families and separating children from the families and we discussed the
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long-term mental health implications. at the end of that meeting i provided you with a copy of a report issued by the american academy of pediatrics that stated that detention and this is a quote, can cause psychological trauma and long-term health risks for children. i ask that that report be entered into the record. senator: without objection tfment senator: you promised you would read the report. do you agree that detention can cause long-term mental health issues for children. mr. vitello: i did read it and i understand the american pediatric's association's comments and direction and import of the report. i understand what it means. i would like as i said earlier, that we weren't in a situation where large numbers of families with children are approaching the border.
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but that's not the situation that we're in. senator: you are accepting the findings of the american academy of pediatrics that detention results in long-term sychological harm to children. earlier in response to senator peters, you referred to children as if they were tools to impose consequences on their parents. they are not. they are children. mr. vitello: that's not the premise. senator: what i'm asking you now s will you accept the findings of pediatricians in the united states of america that detaining children provides long-term psychological harm to those children? mr. vitello: i understand the report, yes. senator: one of the most basic qualifications we ask of nominees is that they use their judgment to the best of their ability to protect our core
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american values. could you please tell me how you are going to advocate so children will not be detained and children will not be separated from their families? mr. vitello: the president stopped the zero tolerance program. any family that comes into custody referred from other means are either kept together or elised. senator: what i would like to understand as well, what the alternatives to detention are. i would like a commitment that you will stop pursuing permission to detain children and to change the settlement and you will stand up for american values which says we don't bully children. mr. vitello: i would like to be in a place where large numbers of people weren't bringing their children to the border. senator: we are the united states of america. you did an excellent job in your
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testimony of standing up for the men and women who work for i.c.e. i have visited with them and visited with our border patrol officials who are wonderful public servants and here's the thing. we have the capacity in the united states of america to control our borders without harming children. what i would like to do is move from a situation where you and some of your colleagues are trying to defend what happened or trying to talk about the difficulty of families on the border as an excuse and i would like you to start moving forward with solutions that protect children while securing our borders. we are the united states. we do hard things. will you commit to working with us to do that? mr. vitello: i will work on changes in the law to enforce the border and have an immigration system that has integrity.
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i thank you for your commitment to the i.c.e. work force. senator johnson: we need a history lesson here. i.c.e. enforces the laws that we ve allowed this reality to blossom. back in 2012, 11,116 individuals came to this country illegally as a family unit. 2015, 18,000 256. i put up the other chart and not going to do it but filed after president obama's daca 684 in 2014.68,000 the obama administration found it quite troubling and instituted a policy of detaining those family units which led to a lawsuit and included the fact
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that -- by the way, i agree with secretary johnson it was never contemplated that his decision included children. but the re-interpretation said no. you cannot detain a child. in order to enforce our law and not engage in total catch and release which is ended up happening, you were forced into a family separation. what we are trying to fix in with the family's act. what has happened since then? the detention with families intact under the obama administration actually had an effect from 68,000 to 40,000. after the flores re-interpretation in 2016, the number of people coming in as family units, they catch us, elease us and we get to say.
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77,257. are seeing a pattern here? st month, 23,121 individuals came to this country illegally. i don't think anyone projects that level is going to stay at that level but it would be 276,000 people. we have a problem on our hands. but i.c.e. is trying to enforce the laws. that's what we have to fix. so, again, i'm trying to lay out that reality and this is about a nomination hearing and served with c.b.p. and now with i.c.e. we need to change the law. general kelly in his nomination hearing said we have to have the courage to change the law.
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senator: mr. chair, i appreciate that very much. however, my suggestion is we have heard a lot of testimony about ways we could change our practices and law that would tighten up our border, would have people appear for their hearings. we need more lawyers. we need more alternatives to detention and we need more judges. but we do not need to detain children or separate them from their families in order to be secure. and it concerns me greatly that the greatest country on earth is not standing up for children wherever they are. senator: this is about the perspective and qualifications and resilience of the nominee.
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so that being said, i think -- i think you would agree that law enforcement germly speaking and certainly would be the case with i.c.e. officers and agents that a great deal of your power is discretionary. you have limited resources and make decisions about what you are going to do but you exercise a great deal of discretion in terms of how you are going to use the limited resources and prioritize them. understanding that, i think you would agree that one's perspective and their bias, if they have bias, will influence their exercise of discretion in terms of the power they have and how it will be used and implemented. i want to return to the question that senator peters about the statement you described the mocratic as liberalcratic, i
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think the assumption was that ou were comparing it to the ku klux klan. you said you are sorry that the words caused offense. would you not be sorry if no one as offended by your words? mr. vitello: they are offensive words. r. harris: why are they. senator: what is the history that would make those words wrong? mr. vitello: the kl arch n what we would call today a domestic terrorist group. senator: why would we call them that? mr. vitello: they tried to use fear and force to change political environment. >> what was the motivation?
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mr. vitello: based on race and ethnicity. senator: are you aware of the perception of how the power and discretion at i.c.e. is being used to enforce the laws? and do you see any parallel? mr. vitello: i do not see parallel between officers and agents. senator: i'm talking about perception. mr. vitello: i don't. senator: are you aware -- r. vitello: putting k.k.k. and i.c.e. senator: are you aware that there is a perception that i.c.e. is add ministering its power that is causing fear and intemperature dation,
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particularly among immigrants and specifically among immigrants coming from mexico and central america? are you aware of that perception? mr. vitello: i do not see a parallel between the power and the authority that i.c.e. has to do its jobs and the officers and agents who do it with lots of compassion. senator: how can you be the head of an agency and unaware of how your agency is perceived? mr. vitello: there is a lot of perceptions in the media that is incorrect. senator: the perception exists, would you agree whether or not it is correct? whether or not that perception dosts there might be need to work? mr. vitello: i want to advocate for the work force and the safety mission they have to protect the homeland and how valuable they are to society. i agree with you on that.
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senator: you want to defend the honor of the good men and women who work in the agency. and i appreciate that point and i know the vast majority of those doing noble and good jobs. i'm not talking about that. i'm talking about the perception. and it seems to me that you would understand that when you use words such as the words you used three short years ago that would contribute to that perception and it is harmful. harmful in terms of the mission of the agency and the work of the individuals there and it is harmful in terms of leading those who are innocent people arisk at our border, fleeing harm. it is harmful to them if they feel they will not be treated by the united states government with dignity and fairness. do you see that? mr. vitello: all the people we
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encounter deserve respect and honor. senator: in august there was a complaint filed with d.h.s. and the complaint alleges verbal and physical threats, denial of food and withholding of feminine hygiene products from parents and these are the parents that were separated from their children and also were about to be and these parents were falsely told that their children would be permanently taken from them. following a hearing, i submitted questions for the record to your associate director asking about these allegations but have not received a response. i'm going to ask you, i'm assuming you are aware of the allegations and what actions have you taken to investigate the veer asity of these allegations. mr. vitello: i don't have the specifics on your request. if you sent a letter to the office on the deputy's testimony that we will put it back on the
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record. the oversight role that i have with our detention centers and what happens when people are in custody is something -- senator: my question is very specific, are you aware of these allegations and if so what action have you taken as the acting director to investigate the veer asity of these complaints? mr. vitello: i don't have have chapter and verse. senator: do you have any information about what you have ordered to do in the agency to determine whether these allegations which are serious on their face is true? mr. vitello: there is a specific protocol when allegations come to light through the office of inspector general. senator: what did you do to follow up on these allegations? my question is about you? mr. vitello: it will be followed up -- senator: you have not done it yet?
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mr. vitello: i will make sure it is followed up in a way that is meaningful with the resources that i have.
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>> in order to keep all americans safe. last june, 19 special agents in charge of the field office sent a letter to the secretary asking i.c.e. be split out. the reasons their missions have been against the backlash and because d.h.s. and i.c.e. are have consistently money to pay for the detention and deportation force at i.c.e. i have two parts of this question. have you or will you take money from h.s.i. and undermine their counterterrorism and national security capability in order to provide additional funding to i. c.e.'s deportation force? mr. vitello: i appreciate the question. we would never take money from one part of the organization to the other if it might increase risk to national security.
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senator: is it acceptable or not iment ble from h.s.i. to c.e.? mr. vitello: it's a big agency. and when i was at c.b.p., the budget was like $3.4 billion. you have to fund what's necessary. you have to meet the obligations that we have. you do so in a risk-based way and do the same with i.c.e. i would love to be in a place to cover the needs and mandatory authorities that we have to exercise. in every enterprise, you have to make choices and weigh the risk. senator: i understand that. there are those of us who think that the agency is not making appropriate risk-based judgments when we look at the h.s.i. concerns expressed in any number of ways. i look forward to continuing that conversation.
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the other part of this is going senior he letter 19 members of h.s.i. will you consider moving it out of i.c.e. and making its a separate component from i.c.e.? mr. vitello: i have read the letter and i don't think we should take any steps in that direction. what h.s.i. brings to the table in terms of money laundering and work against ms-13 relies on the agency's resources to prosecute gang members, clean up communities like we did in long sland and having those two complementary missions is better for america than isn't it. senator: i think there is a way of integrating those missions while making sure that people understand that h.s.i. can be
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trusted within the community so they can do their law enforcement. mr. vitello: jurisdictions should not be reluctant to work with a law enforcement agency that is constituted to protect the homeland. senator: thank you for your ourtesy. senator: you are lost in this shuffle here today. i wanted to make sure you are still awake. i really don't have any questions, but i want to congratulate you on a very distinguished career. i'm a former assist ant u.s. attorney and form he u.s. attorney. and but various administrations. so i wanted to congratulate you on that and thank you for your service and willingness to serve in this new capacity and make sure you were awake during this
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hearing. i have a couple of questions. i have heard a lot recently. you have done a lot of work in this field on the border through various administrations and now leaving over to i.c.e. i have a simple question. i assume in your various capacities you have had discussions with members of congress over the years on both sides of the aisle, would that be fair? mr. vitello: yes. senator: have you ever heard anyone on either side of the aisle, republican or democrat who said i want you to know i'm for open borders. has anyone ever said that to you? mr. vitello: not to me. senator: did you ever get the sense that they are for open borders? mr. vitello: not in this
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setting. senator: one of the things i want to make sure we understand that everyone is wanting secure borders. we may have different agreements and different views on how to get there, but no one despite what we have heard the that no one is for open borders. i do want to go back a little bit to what senator harris was come from a -- i state in which words had serious consequences and i think this is where senator harris was certainly going. perceptions can become realities for so many people out there when we hear certain words and we call certain people enemies. we create a culture of fear, of people who are just seeking a better life.
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you know, who are barefoot and poor and trying to get away from a very difficult situation. and i want to make sure that as a member of i.c.e., that you are going to commit to help tone down the rhetoric that we see in our immigration debate, because i don't think it is healthy. in fact, i think it is incredibly destructive. and as we have seen, it can be dangerous. we have only seen things recently where 11 people were killed in a jewish synagogue and explosive devices were sent to prominent members of the administration and especially given comments that you acknowledged were inappropriate and a mistake, i would like you to talk a little bit and a commitment from you that you will do what you can if you are confirmed as the head of i.c.e. to make sure that the rhetoric
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is toned down and that you as an agency head and your directors, all those that work for you, understand -- that the perception can be reality sometimes. and i can attest to you, there are four little girls that were murdered in birmingham in a bomb blast that were a direct result of a governor and a police commissioner's words that empowered people to do bad things. i need that commitment from you? . mr. vitello: i'm committed to working with this committee and working with the larger legislative branch so people in the need yeah understand how vital the work force is and absolutely committed to doing it in a respectful way. senator: i'm troubled by the answer, because you don't need to work with this committee. you hear it coming out of the administration. and i want you to make sure that
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you stand up and do the right thing and say, wait a minute, this is not who we are. that's the commitment i'm asking from you, sir. you don't need to work with this committee. this committee is all on board to make sure we keep things in a certain level. i want you to work with the folks above, the secretary or the president and the vice president. can i get that commitment, even if it's behind closed doors and get a commitment to stand up to do the right thing and tell people that they need to be careful with what they say? mr. vitello: i strive to always do the right thing and i'm committed to do the right thing. senator johnson: senator peters is willing to stand in as ranking member. you have another question before you need to go? senator peters: thank you, mr. chairman. couple more questions for you.
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first off, the "new york times" reported on october 22 of this year, 2018, that the administration is weighing some new policies to deter migrant families from journeying north including a new form of family separation. news reports indicate that there is a b inch nmp arch ry choice policy, parents would be forced to choose between voluntarily relinquishing their kids to foster care or remain in prison together as a family. the latter option would require the child's right to be released . so my question to you are you involved in the policy planning that would allow parents to separationeen family remaining in detention as a family? mr. vitello: the idea came out
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of the judge's order to the agencies and the plaintiffs and so that that option or discussion is under way. is a way for us to meet the requirement of the settlement agreement while giving people an opportunity of due process. senator peters: do you support the policy? what are your thoughts? mr. vitello: it is a way for people to have a due process opportunity and remain in custody. what i have seen, if people are allowed relief under the law, we should do that. that is the opportunity for i.c.e. to do that opportunity. if they are not, after the due process and the safeguard back to their home, we will get less traffic. that is illustrated in the chairman's chart. if we can close the loop on
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proceedings with due process, we will get less people bringing their children. so it is an option. right now is -- it would be in conflict with the president's direction to keep families together. senator peters: the administration is discussing it. mr. vitello: there is discussions after the judge gave information toll both sides in the litigation. senator peters: we want to expedite any of the hearing that folks have. that is a universal agreement that they have their right. but i'm not sure the fact that you give folks a choice between being separated from their children or being detained and asking them to waive the 20-day period where the children can't stay in detention how that is going to accelerate that. there are other issues that we need to talk about. i'm not sure how this policy does that. and it leads to the question, in
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addition to how long folks could be separated, the other question shall how long should a child be detained. you responded to senator harris' question that you read the information related to how detrimental a child -- or effect on a child. ow long a triled should be detained? what's the view of i.c.e.? mr. vitello: eas a matter before the court. in other context when people are seeking relief or going in front of immigration proceedings, for instance, an adult male from gault malla, they are out of our custody in two months. they get their complete due process rights. and so, when we hold people and remove them after their due process opportunity, it will
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abate the traffic. senator peters: the answer is pretty straightforward. is there an upper limit how long a child should be daped, in your iew?
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>> great to see you as well again. for over three decades you have served our country. thank you for your service. thank you for protecting our country in this incredibly important role. i believe you have the leadership and experience necessary to be most effective in this position. i.c.e. is one of our most critical measures and essential in protecting its citizens. pounds eize the 9,500 rescuing children who are victims and arrested 11,000 known or suspected gang members and that was in f.y. 2018.
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in protecting america's security and upholding the rule of law cannot be overstated. the fact that some members of congress have called for the abolishment of i.c.e. is outrageous. it is long past due we confirm you. in montana, we are facing a meth epidemic. i just came from a meeting with some individuals in montana who deal with our foster care system. the numbers in our foster care system have tripled according to this group most recently as a direct result of meth. the vast majority of this devastating drug comes from mexico. the meth today is coming via cartels coming up through mexico
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and destroying our communities in montana, destroying families. these effects are very personal. while i.c.e. homeland security investigations seized pounds of meth, families and communities are being destroyed. my question is, how will you ensure that rural states like montana remain a top priority for i.c.e.? and do you have the necessary resources to control the meth epidemic that we are seeing in montana. mr. vitello: we need more resources. i appreciate your kind words as well. .c.e. seizes methamphetamine $465 million. we have a number of those teams along the border working with partners and colleagues in canada and state and local and
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tribal partners, providing task force funding overtime, working complex pathways, identification, how are these things coming into the country and reaching markets in the u.s. either across the border, imported, but people search for these products and h.s.i. has a great capability to combat the transactional nature of that and also to follow the money in the money of this methamphetamine into the united states. senator: i would like to talk about sank tu area jurisdictions, encourage illegal immigration and compromise law-abiding citizens. an illegal immigrant was charged
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with triple murder after being released from a jail in new jersey. i.c.e. required notification in order to place him in removal proceedings. the detainer was not honored. this illegal immigrant made his way to missouri where he took three innocent lives. sanctuary jurisdictions to protect illegal immigrants while refusing to cooperate with federal law enforcement are a direct afront to this country's rule of law. the question is how can i.c.e. sanctuary cities so no more lives are lost. mr. vitello: i would like to be in a place where jurisdictions can understand the risks they take. what we can do is be responsive to the calls for detainers for those jurisdictions that do do
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that and working with state and local individual jurisdictions to get them to understand what risk they are placing on the homeland and in their individual communities. i think what you will hear from ome jurisdictions, that do cooperate, there is some liability on their part they would like to have addressed by legislation. we have specifics on that and get with you and your staff on. but i'm old enough to remember, you could hand a detainer to a deputy at a road stop and they would honor that detainer. that's where we need to be as a country. we need the federal law to be enforced with the cooperation. it's a risk that the country shouldn't have to take. senator: you talked about the northern border and served 30 years with border patrol and part of that was spent on the northern border. while the great majority is
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focused on the southern border and if you look at the mexican meth coming into the united states, our border with canada is the longest land boundary. 545 miles of which is montana. the threat on the northern border pales. but drug smuggling and terror threats are still present. d.h.s. released its northern border strategy. in light of these findings and your own personal experience, can you speak how the northern border can best be secured and how i.c.e. will assist? mr. vitello: we understand the pathways. criminal investigations as powerful as they are when they cross the border. so we will continue to do is integrate into those communities and understand what the discrete
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threat is in each of the communities and apply our resources to hold to account. enator: thank you. senator: senator carper is a racious gentleman. mr. sri tella in december of reversed a i.c.e. policy that pregnant women should not be detained. i asked this question before, since -- and i have not received a response. since i.c.e. issued this response, how many pregnant women have been in i.c.e. custody? mr. vitello: all females of age
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are tested as they come into our custody. sometimes we are not aware until they are in our custody. the number is very small. but within 12 hours, they are tested and then once we are aware of the pregnancy, they are referred to medical care immediately and that care -- senator: my question is very specific. since i.c.e. issued the directive in december of last year, how many pregnant women to your knowledge have been etained in i.c.e. custody? mr. vitello: we can get you that by the end of the day. senator: i would like to know how many pregnant women are currently detained and i would like a breakdown which i asked for before, by trimester. how many of those are in their
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first, second or third trimester. and since i.c.e. issued this policy, there has also been a question about what is exactly the policy regarding women and their third trimester. hat is the policy? is that the policy? what is the policy? mr. vitello: the policy recognizes that that is the highest risk to the individual. all safeguards are taken and all medical advice rules the day. if someone is removable and we have the opportunity to remove them, then they will be removed. senator: what exactly is the i.c.e. policy on detaining women in their third trimester of pregnancy? mr. vitello: the policy is that special care is taken in the
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third trimester and presumed that we would not keep anyone in custody. but if we have the ability to remove them, we would do that. it's the highest level of risk. senator: that i'm clear about in terms of risk, but waste the policy mr. vitello: follow the doctor's orders and follow the lives that are at stake. senator johnson: we let you do one question and there has been series of them. senator: mr. chairman, i would like to finish this line of questioning about pregnant women being detained. senator johnson: you can do it in written. enator carper. senator: regarding secretary when she was here before she
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promised there would be be an assessment of medical treatment of pregnant women. i have not received a response to that. has i.c.e. conducted an assessment of the treatment of pregnant women in its detention facilities? mr. vitello: if the secretary ordered that, we'll make sure you get that as well. senator: when you follow up. i asked for that in may of this year. and then what outside medical i.c.e. if any has engaged and i would like documentation who has been consulted and what they recommended. and a letter that your agency received in march of this year from the academy of pediatrics and the american academy of family physicians that said the conditions in d.h.s. facilities are not appropriate for pregnant
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women. thank you. senator johnson: senator carper. senator carper: you have not been asked a lot of questions, mr. tischner. mr. vitello, thank you for spending time with us and being here today. we may want to talk with you further if that's possible. i think i mentioned to you, i'm a former governor and still think like a governor and when -- the idea that i.c.e. has a person of interest in delaware or some other state, that person is detained by state and local officials. i.c.e. is notified and my understanding is that i.c.e. asks -- there is an expectation for i.c.e. to take custody
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within a short period of time. we spend a lot of money in delaware corrections. when there is -- give us some idea of the period of time after a jurisdiction, we have a person that is of interest to you. what period of time elapses before i.c.e. picks that person up? the local jurisdiction has to pay for security and feeding that person, medical, meals and all. and they want to get that person out of their custody back to where it be longs to i.c.e.. mr. vitello: the detainers asks tore us in i.c.e. to get a 48-hour notice that they are getting ready to release. within that time frame, we would not respond. but given resources, we would do this as quickly as we could. as fast as we can get someone
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there. it depends on the circumstances, how far things are apart. whether we have adequate detention space to take another individual into custody. senator carper: when we talk again, i will ask you to revisit that. we talked a bit yesterday about why in mexico, why there are more mexicans going back into mexico than there are mexicans trying to get into the united states? we agreed that the reason why, in mexico there is more hope and opportunity. it is more safer place than guatemala and honduras. and has turned it around. i said yesterday, given what they face in terms of danger, ack of opportunity and hope,
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[indiscernible] senator carper: give us one minute on what we ought to be doing to improve the quality of life, to reduce the need for folks who live in those countries to abandon everything they have to make this long journey. talk to us about that. what's going on there and what we can do better. mr. vitello: what we are doing, we have these transnational criminal investigative units and an opportunity to work with local authorities in those countries to try and vet their law enforcement officers and help them guide and direct and use their law enforcement resources to improve the rule of law. that's an important facet. the secretary and secretary kelly before her also is engaged in the security and prosperity
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plan which allows for our government to understand the resources we are putting downrange to help improve investment opportunities and encourage foreign investment. senator carper: part of the alliance for prosperity? mr. vitello: yes, sir. senator carper: how important do you think it is? mr. vitello: people have to have expectations that their property and safety is well cared for in those locations and then you have to have economic opportunity and hope in those locations as well. senator carper: mr. chairman, we have had a lot of interest in that part of the world and because of our leadership with the committee, one time or the other. and we are asked to spend a ole lot of money on the wall and it makes sense in a few places. when you are looking at
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colombia, it has turned the country turned around and same thing could happen in the northern triangle. last question i have, concern, not appear to think through the consequences of president trump's family separation policy. when president trump appears to what may to implement be legally questionable immigration policies without making us any safer. if confirmed, how would you avoid repeating the errors in judgment in planning to allow the family separation policy to occur and we don't have a lot of time but the question is, if confirmed, how would you avoid repeating the errors in judgment of family separation policy to
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occur? mr. vitello: it was increased level of prosecutions. the department of justice said we would involve resources to give zero tolerance who crossed the border illegally. the lesson learned, we did spend a lot of time urging congress to close loopholes and let people have due process rights and then remove. so we would like to have that opportunity. but in the case of what did happen, we should have been leaning forward to explain the whole process and being ready for the public outcry that occurred. senator carper: you and i have had conversations about this, but the idea that folks are focused on the northern triangle would like to get out of there and apply for asylum, there is legislation that was introduced that would allow folks to do it
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in their native country and not have to get on a 1,000 mile journey with an uncertain future. that has a lot of merit. thamp you very much. senator johnson: again, i think the goal we all share is to make that legal process. don't feel bad about being left out. just real quick. i understand what your position is, incredibly important. we have a project in milwaukee called the joseph project working with an inner city church. we have a pastor, pastor smith, invites people that have reached a staming in life they want to turn around and able to transform their life through work. it's a four-day three-hour a day
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training program that instills the necessity toll commit themselves to turn themselves around and have the right kind of attitude. so i'm going to throw it out there to you. if you want to see that in action, i think it would be valuable to you and always welcome to look at one of our projects and talk to people in terms of how it has worked and give you the opportunity how to respond to that or say something in this hearing. mr. tischner: i would appreciate the opportunity to do that. i know locally there are faith-bested organizations that are also helpful in giving opportunities to individuals incarcerated in the past who have tough lives. removing the impediment of unemployment is one of many that does make individuals succeed
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and are able to come back and be contributing members to the local community. and i appreciate the offer. senator johnson: hard to replace in terms of people transforming their lives. i thank the nominees and your service and your families. the nominees have made financial disclosures and answered questions. without objection, this information will be made part tft hearing record, with the exception of the financial data which are on file and available for inspection. the hearing record will remain until noon tomorrow for submission statements. this hearing is adjourned. thank you. . [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] >> the midterm election of 2018 changed the balance of power in congress, with democrats taking control of the house and republicans holding the majority in the senate. members now prepare for the new congress in january.
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new congress, new leaders. watch the process unfold on -span. >> in the view of the warren commission, they described fully the circumstances of the assassination of president kennedy. but is there more to this story than the warren report ever discovered? >> this weekend on real america, on american history tv. the 1967 special news series, a cbs news inquiry, the warren report. anchored by walter con cite, investigating unanswered questions into president john f. ken dip's asass pace in, saturday, at 10:00 p.m. eastern. lee harveys to warled and whether he acted alone to assassinate president kennedy. >> it seemed evident that we should try to establish the ease or the difficulty of that rapid fire performance.
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hence, our next question. how fast could that rifle be fired? >> watch real america, saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on american history tv, on c-span3. >> retiring utah senator orrin hatches a a-- was awarded the medal of freedom today at the white house. the utah republican sat down for an interview with c-span. in just over 30 minutes we'll bring you today's medal of freedom ceremony.


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