tv Senate Judiciary Commitee Hearing on Human Trafficking Along Southern... CSPAN March 10, 2019 4:17am-7:00am EDT
c-span.org/thepresidents or wherever books are sold. >> on wednesday, u.s. customs and border protection officials testified on human smuggling across the u.s.-mexico border. this was a day after customs officials announced more than 76,000 migrants were cut trying to cross the southern border in february, a record number of arrests. this hearing by the senate judiciary committee is two hours and 40 minutes. >> the hearing will come to order and i want to thank the witnesses. i will introduce you in a bit.
i'm going to give a brief opening statement followed by senator feinstein, senator cornyn and senator burr been the chairman of the immigration subcommittee. so, today we are here to have a hearing surrounding the death of seven-year-old jacqueline mcquinn. i hope i said the name right, eight-year-old felipe alonso gomez, and we want to hear about their passing and custody and we will be hearing from mclean, mr. bauer, mr. fisher for vital introduce in a bit. but, to my democratic colleagues, all of us share the desire to find out how to make sure children that we have custody of our well taken care of and that we avoid injury and death to the fullest extent
possible and i promise you if there are things to be changed, we will change them. i have looked at this, listened to the people in charge, and i think that we are here today to make sure that we test that concept. but there's another side of the story and that is the customs and border protection has a job to do to protect our nation, our citizens, our loved ones with a record number of illegal immigrants crossing each year, we are facing a crisis at the southern border. and the cbp agents on the front lines. they are the soldiers in the fight.
there's no doubt that we face unprecedented border security and humanitarian challenges today in the southern border. i want to be direct contrary to what some political opponents and media outlets claim the situation on the border is dangerous and growing worse. it's not a hoax or manufacturing crisis or cable-television ploy. it poses a direct threat to the safety and security of citizens of the united states and to believe otherwise is to deny reality and ignore the facts. and here are the facts from the first five months of 2019. a 55% increase in the number of unaccompanied minors apprehended at the border over the same period of time last year. 340% increase in the number of family units apprehended during the same time last year. the american taxpayers are absorbing the effect of this
crisis. the cost to the american taxpayer of housing of unaccompanied minors is $375 per day on average, and in some circumstances can go up to $850. the cost per year for an unaccompanied minor is $136,875. as of january 4, 2019, there were 11,981 children, making it a $1.6 billion a year obligation. it is no coincidence that the two groups of unaccompanied minors and family units are crossing the border at an alarming rate. our immigration laws require both unaccompanied children and family units be released into the interior of the united states after an apprehension.
why are so many coming? they understand if they get here, they almost always get released. about 45,000 bed spaces. we are on track to apprehend 640,000 illegal immigrants. do the math. if you are an unaccompanied minor and you make it to america after 20 days, the border patrol and you over to hhs and only 2% of unaccompanied minors go back to the country where they come from. imagine being a parent sending them on a journey, but it must be so bad they are willing to accept them because it may get to america and got a 90% chance that your child will be in america forever. if you are a family coming and get apprehended, your chance of staying is really high. i don't blame the people coming as much as i blame us.
we have created a system that is enticing people to do very dangerous things. doing all kinds of horrible things to get here because our laws are megan for people that continue to come. if we don't fix it now, it only gets worse later. there are two real reasons this is happening. decision requires people to be released after 20 days. the trafficking victims protection and reauthorization act also prohibits the united states from repatriating people. if you are a central american unaccompanied minor, we cannot send you back to your home. decision,e is the putting a time limit on how much we can hold them, leads to the
release in the country and we have a law that treats central american, triangle nation children differently if they came from mexico or canada. decade withd over a many of my colleagues on this committee to fix this system. if we do not fix these loopholes then we are only going to continue to fuel the smuggling of persons from the northern triangle countries. these laws have incentives for smugglers and everyone else who benefits from illegal immigration. i know for my own personal experience dealing with this issue, we don't have the necessary buy-in from the american people to deal with the illegal immigration of those in the united states if we cannot convince them there will not be a third wave 20 years from now.
the good news is most americans are ok for the pathway to citizenship for those who are here who are non-felons and are willing to pay a fine for the law they violated. pass an english proficiency exam and go through the criminal background check and wait their turn and the way it could be well over a decade. people are ok with that if you can convince them we are not going to have future waves of illegal immigration. you cannot tell them that there will not be a third wave unless you fix the two and do many other things like e-verify. i am hoping one day we can fix this problem. for those who serve and border patrol and ice, you are the good guys and gals, not the bad ones. i know how hard you work and i can only imagine what it is like to go to work every day and be
handed this problem. not enough beds or capability or capacity. when you bring the problem up to the congress, they turned it on you. i am hoping this hearing will change that. we will hear about the death of these two children and work together to find a way to make sure it does not happen again so they extent possible. i also hope we will take some constructive action and quite frankly listen to what you have to say on how we can help you stop this. bottom line is if this continues, it is like adding a congressional district of illegal immigrants every year. the average congressional district is about 600,000 people. this year alone we are on track to do 640,000. this has to stop. senator feinstein. sen. feinstein: thanks very much, mr. chairman.
i appreciate your remarks and thank you for scheduling today's hearing. commissioner, i very much enjoyed meeting with you. you came across with a straight shooter and very much with experiments. that is very much appreciated on this side of the aisle. as you know, we have short-term assessments, and they are confusing, as to what is happening at the southern border. in the short term, apprehensions at the border are up. the "washington post" and "the new york times" today both report that the crossings were up 30% in the last month from 58,000 in january to 76,000 in february. we know many families seeking asylum were unable to present themselves at the ports of entry because cbp limited the number of asylum applicants who may enter the ports each day and i
hope you will talk about that. in the longer term, i am told total apprehensions at the border last year were actually -- last year -- the fifth-lowest levels over the past 46 years. well below the peak of 1.6 million in the year 2000. so, if you can reconcile the differences, that would be appreciated. i hope you will begin by stating clearly what the figures are. how much these numbers have increased or decreased. i hope you will also address how the changes in the administration policies have impacted these numbers. i hope you'll speak directly to the topic of the hearing which is how immigrant children are being treated. families who come to the united
states are seeking refuge from violence and poverty in their home countries and there must be proper care provided and it is so difficult, but especially the children given that two children died in cbp custody in december. specifically, families need prompt access to the asylum and properur ports pediatric care facilities. if you could comment on that, that would be appreciated. we are here to discuss the separation of families. there will be legislation to prevent this but it is clear that cbp has not investigated this issue enough. it's difficult to get figures. it is difficult to find out where placements are. i hope you will address these policies. identify techniques. and tell us what unification
plans for separated families exist today. with respect to the needs of children at the border, i hope cbp will implement improvements that account for differences between the medical needs of children and those who are adults. and those of adults. children who fall ill are vulnerable in detention. unlike adults, sick children can become severely dehydrated within minutes or hours and rapidly go into shock. i am sure you know this from your experience. children also need good conditions and prompt access to medications and medical facilities. this is especially true for infants who have suffered particular trauma in custody in recent months. in december, a five month old shortlyas hospitalized after release from border patrol custody, where she was held in
freezing cells and denied access for her prescribed antibiotics. if that is wrong, i hope you will correct in your remarks. in light of these tragic events, i hope we can agree that cbp must account for the humanitarian needs of children in its care and look for ways to increase and strengthen that capacity. these recommendations are consistent with the findings of experts from the american academy of pediatrics, including dr. julie layton who will testify today. it is important that the united states maintain the crucial protections for children that exist in our legal system. the building blocks of this humanitarian system are the trafficking victims protection act and the settlement agreement. which the chairman has mentioned. both of which, we must preserve.
the trafficking victims protection act contains provisions which i authored, providing that children must be screened for asylum and transferred out of immigration custody within 72 hours. the settlement provides that children must be held in the least restrictive setting possible. and should not be detained for more than 20 days. it is clear that family separation is harmful to children's health. it onlyes that separates families in order to keep children safe. however, cbp officers do not have the necessary child welfare training to determine when a child's parent poses a danger. the keep families together act, which i reintroduced in january, would require consultation with
beforeld welfare expert any family separation could take place. as refugees international highlighted in a statement that i will submit for the record, if parentshildren and should not be separated without s trainedm professional in child welfare. i hope you will support this today. senator cruz and i are working jointly on immigration legislation which contains the non-separation of children, as -- we have worked on the shortfall of judges, of staff, ,f professionals in the arena going way back. i am very happy that justice has been willing to submit some
figures that they believe are necessary. i look forward to finishing this with senator cruz and being able to make it public for everybody to take a look at. commissioner, again, thank you for coming to testify today. i hope our discussion today will help us agree on ways to protect children's health and safety. just a personal statement, i remember going back to the early ,0's, going down to otay mesa standing up at a place called carl's jr. with binoculars and watching the enormity of what comes across that border. the trucks, after chuck, after chuck, way beyond the horizon. the horizon does not change. the addition of the x-ray devices as well as other things and i have asked my staff
to make visitations on various places where children are housed. suffice it to say that i think i represent -- i know what the chairman does for his side. our side of the aisle is really concerned about this. we look to you for forward thinking action. i don't see any signs where the next few months are going to be any better than the last few months. we must gear up to deal with it in a humane and professional way. thank you for being here. i look forward to the testimony. >> thank you. listening to the opening statements, it sounds like we are ships passing in the night. each has their version of reality but facts are stubborn things. facing that cbp is unprecedented challenges today. and i applaud your efforts as
well as the wind -- men and women who work with you. the initiale premise of this hearing is about the effects of illegal immigration, rather than the causes. i hope to talk about both. i suspect the hearing will not primarily focus on the number of men, women, and children who are robbed, raped, and killed in route from their homes across our southern border. know has visited the checkpoint where one of the biggest problems that county has ofthe number of dead bodies people who died from exposure and the cost of local taxpayers to bury their bodies or their remains. cbp is overwhelmed.
what president obama called a humanitarian crisis in 2014. that callsee hashtags what the president and others have described as a fake emergency at the border. in order to believe there is a fake emergency at the border, you would have to be blind to the facts or simply unwilling to listen. the vague suggestions we are hearing about some of the causes of illegal immigration strike me as discussions we have had in the past about nationbuilding in central america. as thecan empathize, chairman has said, with the plight of families who are subjected to violence and other threats in their home. nationot be that a
simply has open borders to be waves of humanity that come into our country as we have been seeing in recent months. or that border patrol, rather than dealing with the drugs and the human trafficking, are handing out diapers and juice boxes while the drug cartels take advantage of the fact that border patrol is not available to do their main job, which is law enforcement. they are dealing with the humanitarian crisis of these children and these families. i could appeal -- feel particularly strongly about this topic because of the stay i represent. we have 1200 miles of common border with mexico. i wonder how some of my other colleagues would feel if there was a pipeline from central america or mexico directly into had to dealand they at the city, county, and state level with the public safety and humanitarian crisis presented. i bet some of them would feel a
little differently. patrolek, the border arrested more than 1300 immigrants in a single day. announced more than 76,000 people crossed the border in february alone. 76,000 in one month. this is the largest monthly total in more than a decade. my friendnd where says that the number of people -- down toe downed roughly 400,000 people last year. the chairmanlem is has figured out a way to thread the needle and exploit the gaps in our asylum laws and basically win at making their way permanently into the united states, never to be removed.
year -- compared to this time last year, family apprehensions have increased 209% in the rio grande valley sector. apprehensions have increased 497% in the del rio region. most staggering, in the el paso sector, apprehensions have increased 430 force percent -- family apprehensions have increased 1635%. this is not a crisis, people say. this is not an emergency. this is not something that should generate our best efforts and good faith to work together on a bipartisan effort to -- i hear no suggestions from the democrats but rather the focus
seems to be on the hand that you have been dealt, along with your colleagues dealing with people who have made their way a long way from home and have been suffering from exposure and are peoplereatment by the who have no interest in their welfare other than the fact it generates money for them. and their criminal enterprise. my understanding that the actions surrounding the tragic deaths of the two migrant children are under review by multiple agencies. i look forward to seeing the results of these investigations and urge all of us to withhold judgment until they are complete. , mr. commissioner, i don't think that the floor's decision should be preserved. i don't think we should treat --ldren and family unions
-- then we should treat children and family units coming from extra. that is the cause of the humanitarian crisis and the overwhelming capacity of the u.s. government to deal with this, not only from a humanitarian standpoint but from a safety and security standpoint as well. thank you. >> thanks, mr. chairman. commissioner, it is great to see you again. thank you for your service to our country. i would like to say that i believe he comes to this issue with a background that few of us can share and report together. for years on this issue. senator graham is the only republican senator who voted for comprehensive immigration reform. those who were here voted
against it. it goes back to 2013. it was an effort with senator john mccain, chuck schumer, and others. eight of us worked for six months or longer to put together a copper hits a bill to address many of the issues we are facing today. with a bipartisan vote and the republicans refused to bring it up with consideration. the problems we will hear testimony on have been outlined already by my colleagues. there are some aspects of this i would like to highlight. in october of 2017, i asked the commissioner a question as the crisis was starting to unfold. ,f i gave you a blank check what would you spend it on to make our borders safer and more secure? is the answer -- the answer to me is technology and personnel.
specific.m to be these are scanning devices, 90% of the narcotics come through ports of entry and we only scan 18% of the vehicles coming across the border. we should scan them all. trump's at president budget, he asked for $44 million in 2019 that purpose. this came up, as the commissioner knows during the course of our situation room meetings during the shutdown. and the president may be overruled some people at the table and changed his position. the conference committee bill that we passed in the senate has over $500 million. does that make us more secure and safer? i would bet it does. so did the commissioner when he made that recommendation. i would like to address the basic issue that we ought to face here. facts are facts. here are the facts.
the country bordering the united states is mexico. and the city -- in the city of chicago, there are more mexican hispanic americans than any other nationality. mexicans are not gathering at the borders to come into the united states. it is people who live in honduras and el salvador and guatemala. why are they coming? they are coming because the situation they face a home. what they face at home is so worrisome and so dangerous that they are willing to literally list their -- risk their lives to come to the united states. if we want to get down to the root causes of why we are sitting here today, we cannot ignore the reality. the reality is that drug cartels and gangs are terrorizing the people in these three countries. the reality is that climate change and the drought has made agriculture a failure in these countries. the reality is that these people and these countries are willing
to risk everything, sell everything they own, to give to a coyote or smuggler to try to make it to the united states to live and survive. we know what they face in the journey. not just the loss of money but possibly the loss of lives in the lives of their children. they are that desperate to do it. the things weut need to do at the border, can we ignore what is going on in these countries? what is happening in these three countries has to be focused on if we are going to solve this problem. the administration has been a cut in assistance to these countries when they needed the most. who are the drug gangs and cartels? they are seasoned criminals who have overtaken the law enforcement agencies in these countries. how did they get in this position? i will tell you. two reasons. one is drug money from the united states, flowing back to these countries. the second is guns from the united states flowing into these countries.
70% of the crime guns in these countries come from the united states. so, you wonder why these drug gangs and cartels are threatening people and scaring them to the point where they are ready to risk their lives, that is part of the calculation. i want to address two or three things. i have a few minutes left. my colleagues are winning -- waiting patiently. it is extensive to detain families and individuals. i don't dispute what the chairman said in terms of the cost. the detention is for a purpose. the detention is for the purpose of making sure or hoping they return for a hearing as to their eligibility for status under asylum. are there alternatives to detention that cost a fraction of what the chairman quoted. at least three. there are three alternatives to detention which cost three or four dollars a day. let me tell you what they are. thee bracelets, over 95% of
people return to their hearing if there are ankle bracelets. some sort of counseling. over 90% of the people will return for the hearing if they are counseled to what their rights will be. access to an attorney is a guarantee of returning to the hearing. a action of the cost of detention and these things are considered. we are talking about building beds and cells and cages. decision -- the florez decision gives us a choice. after a child has been helper 20 days, they can no longer be treated as detainees or prisoners. they have to be put in some family setting. when you look at this, you can understand why many of us believe that after we have gone through zero-tolerance for inference-- four 2000
2800 infants have been removed, is it any wonder we want to take care of the children we have in our custody? florez guarantees that. those who want to do away with florez are prepared to accept terrible alternatives. let me close by saying this. the situation in central america and these three countries is a serious situation that needs to be addressed directly or we will continue to pay the prices. the notion that we can ignore what is happening in these three countries and what is causing these people to risk their lives to come to the united states is 90 -- naive and wrong. the root causes of this migration to the united states and the treatment of those who come to the border. we can do this. i hope we can do it on a bipartisan basis.
>> how do you say your last name? >> micah linton -- >> kevin. [laughter] >> kevin is the commissioner of the u.s. custom and border since march ofcy 2018. he oversees 60,000 employees, 13 million budget of and ensures the efforts to protect national security while promoting economic prosperity and security. , bordererrorism security, trade enforcement are all in your bailiwick.
360 5 million people travel through ports of entry. you oversee the largest law enforcement agency and the second largest revenue collecting source. i think you do a hell of a job. we are glad to have you. the floor is yours. >> good morning. thank you mr. chairman. it is a privilege to appear before you again today. i appreciate the committee calling this hearing on a critical issue of human smuggling at our borders and cbp's responses to it. since i last appeared almost three months ago, we have seen the challenges of the border increase significantly. yesterday, as both of you noted in your opening statements, cbp released numbers of enforcement actions at our southwest border for in immiscible and rivals -- arrivals. they represent the highest level of illegal apprehensions in over a decade. we saw more than 76,000
apprehensions and inadmissible arrivals. , we saw 40,380 five members and family units and 7250 unaccompanied children. that has been in almost 340% increase. apprehended or encountered more families in just five months and five days than last year's record total. not only are the numbers increasing, the people and percentage of people from countries in the northern triangle of central america is drawing as well. 70% of crossings are from these countries. 63% are vulnerable families and children. while november of this fiscal year marked the first time any other country exceeded the number of mexican nationals apprehended and encountered by cbp, guatemalans and hondurans
are crossing in larger numbers now than mexican nationals. these numbers are significant because unlock -- unlike historical crossing levels which , families and children from central america require increased care and processing and are released into the united states, pending adjudication of the immigration claims. within these numbers, we are seeing challenging new patterns and methods. so-called caravans with 500 or more migrants, mostly in honduras, traveled together through mexico. separately, large groups of mostly family units from guatemala are traveling on buses, through mexico to the u.s. border in a much shorter smuggling cycle. making the journey in as little as 4-7 days. --have seen 70 in cities migrants crossing
the border illegally. that is what we are showing right now. it is stretching from central el .aso abou in one case, agents encountered 334 arriving together. smugglers are abandoning these groups. the availability of these methods means more young children are being brought to the border and we are seeing migrants arrive with illnesses and medical conditions in unprecedented numbers. this reality was realized tragically in december. when two migrant children under in a -- age of 10 died hospitals while under the care of the el paso sector. while i believe our agents did everything they possibly could to save these young lives, reviving jaclyn and transporting her to the nearest possible appropriate facility. and bringing fully play -- fully
pay to the hospital twice, it was not enough. in january, i issued an interim medical directive guiding enhanced medical efforts to mitigate the risk to and improve the care for individuals in cbp custody as a result of these children and families. consultationped in with medical and pediatric experts and is being made publicly available. our interagency partners, including the u.s. coast guard and the public health service commission, certified medical practitioners working alongside our personnel have screened over 12,000 and transported an average of 55 people to the hospital everyday. ensuring central medical care for thousands of migrants over the past two months. we are currently working to expand medicare to all nine sectors and all ports of entry.
work choicesime, on the frontline have rescued over 4300 people at risk during the crossing last year. in addition to the dramatically increasing volume of unlawful crossing between ports of entry, where 87% of our arrivals were last month, we are also seeing unprecedented increases in asylum seekers arriving at the port of entry. after recording a record level of over 38,000 asylum-seekers 100 2% increase from 2017, we have a 90% increase in fiscal year 19 out of ports of entry. we are working hard to find access for asylum at our ports of entry. these have border security consequences. usedly and children are to divert our agents.
we know our capacity to secure that border is reduced as our personnel are tied down. what is causing these trends? as i explained to the committee in december, these increases in demographic changes are direct responses to the vulnerabilities in our legal framework that had become well known to struggle -- smugglers. mostrepresent the significant factors impacting border security and include the inability to keep families together while they complete expeditious and fair immigration proceedings. instead, crossing with a child is a guarantee of a speedy release. the asylum gap, where 80% of individuals -- treatment which
allows for children arriving from mexico and canada to be repatriated, but not from other countries, including central america, regarding the views of those government -- regardless of the views of those governments. it ensures a high likelihood of success. the trends they have invited have significant and dangerous consequences. the believe our system will allow migrants to stay in the u.s., indefinitely, even if they have a valid asylum claim is clearly the factor making the decision. ,long with our push factors migrants are incentivized to put their hands in the smugglers and make the check north. from the experience of the men and women of the u.s. customs and border protection, this is
clearly both a border security and humanitarian crisis. -- there are solutions to the crisis prayed we need to continue to address property and hunger and improve governance and security. the state department announced 5.8 billion dollars in aid and investment commitments to these countries in december. we must work with president lopez to address criminal organizations that are profiting. we must invest in border security. the modern border barrier system , technology at and in between ports of entry and support. we must have a whole of u.s. government approach to address children's unique medical needs and the undeniable challenges we are facing. all the steps will make a significant difference. however, in order to ensure a lasting and meaningful change, -- i look forward to answering the
committees questions. >> if you had a choice between closing or changing the laws, what would be your top priority? >> i believe we need both. the immediate impact, 53% of our traffic at the border would be addressed by a change in the loss. >> change in law affects 63% of the problem. t of the people are coming from three countries, is that what you said? >> correct. >> do you think it would be wise to invest in those countries so we would have less of a problem? >> i do. >> if an unaccompanied minor makes it to the united states, what is the likelihood they will be sent back to their home country if they are not from mexico or canada? theess than 2%, based on statistics. it is very rare. >> if you are a parent and you can get your child to the united
states, the chances are they never leave. >> correct. >> if you're a family working to come to the united states, what signal are we sending to you if we come from someplace other than mexico? >> the smugglers are actively advertising that if they come with a child, they will be released. the smugglinge in business are actively advertising in these three countries that if you can bring a child with you, your chances of staying in the united states almost guaranteed. >> correct. >> that puts us in a bad spot. --we separate families, families,not separate they are released in 20 days? >> if you don't separate families, they are released much more quickly than that. most families are never going to a residential center. they are being released directly into ngo's. >> what percentage of those
people show up for their hearings? i deferred to the immigration court system but less than half are showing up when we do not have an alternative to detention in place. >> senator durbin mentioned things that are interesting to me to make detention cheaper. at the end of the day, don't you also have to address the reason they come? >> you need to do both. no question. what we have seen in immigration courts -- >> if you made it cheaper for the government, that does not affect why they come. >> correct. what you need to do is get immigration court results. which we are not able to do consistently if the migrant is not detained during their process. >> our goal is to deter people from taking this journey. what percentage of people apprehended our apprehended outside of the port of entry? >> 87% of crossings in february
were illegal crossings. other than ace port of entry. >> right. >> that's why we need berries. >> we absolutely need berries. >> 87% of the people apprehended our apprehended outside of the port of entry. >> correct. >> when you tell us you need $5.7 billion for various, you have located the top 10 places that you think that would make a difference, is that correct? >> yes. plan to congress, outlining our top priorities. >> if we invested more in the try angle countries, that could help, do you agree? >> i agree. >> if we build various where berries would make sense, that would help. >> certainly. we could possibly lower the cost of detention by doing the things that senator durbin says. >> i agree.
>> doing nothing is not working, do you agree with that? >> yes. >> as for the children, when will the report, about the care they were given? ig is conducting investigation and reviews, we await those reviews. pasoedical examiners in el are analyzing the cause of death. we are working to find that information so we can apply lessons learned to improve our efforts. >> how long have you been involved in this business? >> 17, 18 years almost. is a brand-new set of phenomena, the trends are going the wrong way. we are far from our historic lows of 2017 or 2011. 750,000eaded toward crossings and arrivals this year. that is a much higher number.
closer to a historical high than a historical low. >> is it fair to say we are facing a crisis? >> absolutely. >> the solution you have outlined, do you think it would make a principal difference? >> i am certain that they would, yes. >> how much reduction do you think would occur if we changed our loss? -- laws? >> the three changes i have outlined -- >> you made it more flexible. >> having appropriate conditions for children is essential and we are committed to that. what we are asking is families be detained together. >> do you think that would deter people from coming in the future? >> most of these claims are not valid for asylum. >> the advertisers have a different story to tell. >> they would have a tougher story to tell. >> it would change the demand,
hopefully. >> yes. >> what percentage of the 640,000 people, how many do we miss? >> we are at the highest levels that we have ever had in our history. we have a ton of capability out there that we are augmenting this year. andly and children are by large turning themselves in. we have about a 100% rate for families and children. it is the single adults, the smugglers that are evading capture. family and children have less resources to deal with the other problems. >> absolutely. >> thank you. >> thanks, mr. chairman. hearld -- was pleased to you said that families should be held together. are you taking any action to make that possible?
and what is that action if you are? now,st to be clear, right families are not held together for very low. most families are actually being released immediately by ice from border patrol custody, either to two transportation hubs. >> can you give me a number of families held? because weiven day, are apprehended almost 1500 families a day, we generally have about 3000 families in our custody that are being processed and transferred to ice. these are short-term holdings. custody,amilies in , now and projected
forward. >> we are projecting potential increases. this is the highest february we have seen in over a decade. over 10,000 a week in february is new territory for us. in march, april, and may, we see higher crossing numbers. if we see seasonal trends applied to this baseline, we could see 75,000 families by april and may. that is an extraordinary concern. dhs separates a child from a parent at the border, hhs is charged with placing the child with a sponsor in the united states. as i understand it, in september, the dhs inspector chairman found no evidence of any central database acceptable to both dhs and hhs. to locate and track separated parents and minors. in january, the hhs found that which not telling hhs
children were separated from their families and why. does cbp keep written records of the reason for each separation of the child from the parent? if so, do you send a copy to hhs? >> yes and yes. not accurate in terms of our current status. in april of last year, the cbp modified our system and share that information with hhs. >> you believe that there is the hhsdination between cbp and that is fluid, flowing -- nothing is absolute. >> there is absolutely coordination but we need to continue to improve our system. there is no one system for immigration right now. we think we can create a better process, whether it is a unified portal that provides access to individual agencies and
databases. reason toind no disagree with you. i think this is really important. i think how we treat families is really important. particularly children. and i think the two young children, age seven and age eight that died in cbp custody in december, it is my understanding that after the first child died, the american academy of pediatrics asked cbp to reach out and talk with pediatricians about how to prevent tragedies like this in the future. could you talk a little bit about those conversations. ? did they take place and what was the result? i talked three times in the last month and a half, she has
made experts on her team available to consult with our chief medical officer. our team is building a new policy. we have added a pediatrician to the advisory council panel that is assessing care of families and children in our country right now. it was requested by me and secretary nielsen. we have an ongoing interaction with doctors and pediatric experts to try to improve our ability to identify medical risks and care for children in our custody. reasonou had to put a for the death of the two children, and i know this is speculation, in december, so that the actions that you take remedially will make a difference, what would that be? what were the changes be? >> i don't want to get in front of the investigation or the medical examiner in terms of the reason for the deaths of two -- the two children.
to have certified practitioners and respond appropriately is critical. we appreciate the 138 million investments and the budget we are putting into effect by increasing our contract capacity. >> would you feel you needed address no -- additional legislation or this is well within your authority to put together and expedite? >> in my opening statement, i think i noted it is a whole u.s. government effort. we would not be in the position we are in now and i believe we have saved thousands of lives, without the help of the commissioned corps. without the help of the u.s. coast guard and women who join us in providing medical checks. it is not something we can do internally. the funding will help dramatically. we need the resources of the whole government to help us identify and address the situation. >> i was looking at tenant vision -- television and i saw a
young chinese girl before a judge in the northern part of our country, on the coast. that is when the big container ships were coming in. perhaps i told you, she was sobbing, she could not understand. we then drafted legislation which has created the hhs part of this. my overall goal was to see a seamless coming together of departments so that within each of their responsibilities, they were able to work out a course of action which gave the best possible situation for families keeping them together. that has not happened in my judgment. if it has, i would like to see it. do you believe it has happened? >> i believe there are opportunities for improvement. i want to make clear that as we recommend changes, it is not to the important role of hhs or
professionals being -- response will for unaccompanied children. it is to handle that from an immigration perspective. >> what would that consistent way be? ando allow for repatriation coronation with central american governments. to make sure that child is in the right situation from an immigration and a welfare and safety perspective. enable would you do to the child and the parents, this is another big problem, as we know. the process to bring them together seems inadequate, to be mild about it. be clear.want to separation is extraordinary were -- extraordinarily rare. it is about one per day per families arriving. ofare doing it because either serious criminal issues, a medical condition, or a child
safety concern. >> how many are held separately now? >> since june, we have had about 250 separated, that is about one per day. inthat's all you have custody, separately? 250 children? >> the chairman noted that hhs has over 11,500 children in custody. those all arrived unaccompanied. >> we will talk more about it. my time is up. like -- moralel like? >> we have incredible people. they showed up for 35 days without pay. they want support for their enforcement objectives. investmentsditional in personnel and the border barrier will make a difference, this part of their mission is a
challenge. there is no question. secretary nielsen recently testified that the cartels currently make about a half $1 billion a year in human smuggling. would you disagree with that? thinkthe extent that i that emerging prices are going up, we are seeing 5-7000 per person. as the numbers go up, those profits will be 2.5 billion. >> this is a big business for the organization? and they are winning, aren't they? >> yes. >> congress has not closed the loopholes, correct? >> i think that is one of the main causes. >> cbp is a law enforcement agency, right? >> yes. >> you are not a child welfare agency, are you? >> no. but we do the best we can to protect the children we encounter. >> let's talk about the guatemalan children, how far
from the u.s. border is guatemala? arrivending on where you in mexico, you are looking at almost 1500 miles. the case that by the time many migrants show up, they are suffering from dehydration? >> it is an arduous journey, even with the new express routes. you're talking about being on a commercial bus for 5-7 days straight with little rest time. traditional smuggling cycles is 25-30 days. held in cramped conditions, not sanitary. not necessarily with appropriate food and water. no matter how the central americans are coming, it will be arduous and challenging for small children. >> aren't many of the migrants subjected to physical and sexual abuse? >> absolutely. horrific levels and horrific stories. >> aren't many of the migrants
suffering from some disease, some infectious disease of some sort? >> yes. you have large numbers of people in close conditions during flu season. to thele were taken hospital everyday. we have seen measles, chickenpox, flu, pneumonia, congenital conditions. a whole series of challenges medically. the know you are waiting on final report from the inspector general. these are -- seven and eight-year-old children had been suffering from exposure, perhaps from physical abuse. perhaps they were having an infectious disease, is it your fault if they happen to die in your custody? >> i believe our agents did everything they could to help these children. >> wouldn't they more likely be
alive today if they had not made the trip in the first place? >> it is speculative but yes. more likely. what role does deterrence fromin discouraging people making that long, dangerous journey in the first place? , if thereexperiences are no consequences, it is going to continue to increasingly be violated. for crossing the border illegally, we have been able to successfully detain and repatriate individuals. we have seen numbers dropped hermetically. as we did in the 2014 crisis, when secretary johnson crated family residential centers and was able to detain families and saferiate them after a immigration proceeding, the numbers dropped immediately. and for some time before the florez court ruled families could be held that way. >> have we seen with our
experience that catch and release is an incentive for people to come, not a deterrent. ? >> unequivocally, yes. the brazilians start showing up at our border until we eliminated catch and release. ,ou mentioned secretary johnson under republican and democratic in menstruation's, we found that when you release a migrant at the border and they are able to make it to the united states, it is a consistent pull factor to encourage more illegal immigration. more millions of dollars earned by the criminal organization. >> absolutely. >> right now, the cartels are winning. and as the chairman pointed out, 98% of the people who are sponsors in the united states and told to come back for court
hearings sometime in the future, they do not come back. it is an iq test, isn't it? the ones that come back have flunked the iq test it seems to me. nowll seriousness, you said , we do not necessarily place these units with sponsors or detain them. they are either released to nongovernmental organizations or they are sent to the bus station , transportation huts? adequate --ot have sponsors.o identify that is correct. the majority of families arriving are released within days by an ice officer from cvp .ustody >> due to the volume of people coming across the border, exploiting our laws, rather than
securing our border and preventing illegal immigration, our law enforcement agencies are basically leaving no alternative. orders prevent us from enforcing the law correctly. that is correct. the department of justice cites statistics of over 800,000 people -- >> 800,000? >> that is all types of cases, including asylum. >> what is the likelihood of being able to work for about 800,000 case law in order to give asylum-seekers the opportunity to present their claims in front of a judge? >> initial hearings are set 2-5 years out from apprehension. we are talking about people that are going to live with uncertainty. the ones that follow the rules are not going to get an immigration colt result valid.
they will not have that certainty to plan a future in the u.s.. the people who do not have valid claims are going to be here indefinitely. >> if you do not show for your court hearing but simply melt in the great american landscape, the chances are you are going to get away with it unless you commit some crime and having to run into law enforcement. >> that is correct. it is good to see you again. i want to say the outset, i respect your service under presidents of both political parties and your career commitment to our government and this critical work when it comes to border security. that is why i am somewhat reluctant to ask at the outset what your position was when it came to the zero-tolerance policy. that policy, which was announced last year by the attorney general and members of the
trumpet menstruation, resulted in the forcible separation of -- trump administration resulted in the forcible separation of families and holding of children in hhs facilities for some period. it resulted in a court order in san diego, california, by a federal judge. that result of it was months and months after separation. most of the children were reunited. only 150 were not. you gave approval to that policy, did you not? the zero-tolerance initiative was a prosecution initiative. to hold adults accountable for violation of law. whether they cross as solo adults or brought children with them. the executive order that came
out on april 6 combines the policy on immigration violations. weing that implementation, prosecuted adults that crossed with children. they were the fourth out of five priorities we sent to the field for increasing prosecution. only about 15% of parents during that timeframe were prosecuted. memorandum which was sent from your office. here is the sentence it reads. dhs can permit the separation of parents and legal guardians of minors held so that the parent or legal guardian can be prosecuted. the separation of children was envisioned in your memo. we have asked the inspector general of hhs to take a look at the result of this.
what the inspector general came back to and reported was that in the year before the announcement of this policy, thousands of children had been separated from their parents as well. tell me how many were separated before the announcement of the zero-tolerance policy? >> i would like to address all three issues. the quote that you cited talks about a policy, this would be anyone arriving that does not have a valid immigration status that can be prosecuted or separated administration lee. no secretary of homeland security has pursued that policy. secretary johnson did not pursue it, secretary kelly did not pursue it, secretary nielsen did not pursue it. no one has done that. that would have meant that during the zero-tolerance period, over 15,000 families were separated. --do you dispute that 20,000
2000 children were separated -- 2800 chosen were separated? separatee asking a question. we had 161 thousand families arrive at our border. that is a different issue. thateferenced hhs claims thousands of families could have been separated. we have no evidence for that whatsoever. both before and after zero-tolerance, we have the same policies in place for safety. >> how can you ignore what the san diego courts found? >> i am not ignoring that. that is the third question. a court order directed hhs to go back without time parameters and find children who may have been separated. hhs did that. >> how many did they find?
>> you have the court orders and responses, that is 2800. that is not the number that cbp was separated for the proper seclusion -- prop -- prosecution of the parents. >> i will bow to your definition but a fact is a fact. that judge was demanding that the federal government of the united states account for 2000 kids, where they were -- 2800 kids, where they were and how they could be reunited with their parents. the president decided to reverse his position publicly after a few weeks of criticism on this approach. let's talk about the word deterrence because i think it gets to the heart of what we are talking about. our hearts go out to the families that lost these two children and others that suffered as a result of their desperate decision to come to the united states, rather than continue to live in these three countries. if we are going to construct a con -- policy of deterrence, we
will have outcomes just as we did with the zero-tolerance policy. it will give no protection to children from being caged or border.ack across the do you believe that is consistent with the values of the united states? >> no one from i understand it -- understanding has proposed a floras. no one thinks those conditions should be rolled back. those conditions are very important. what needs to be overcome so that we have an immigration system with integrity is the ability to detain families together in a safe and appropriate setting so they can finish an immigration proceeding or get -- and get asylum. or be repatriated. that is the part that is being requested. >> i only have 30 seconds left. let just say, thank you
for your opening statement, and acknowledging that just dealing borderr laws and procedure is an important part of this conversation but not nearly the entire conversation. we have to ask the fundamental question of why these three countries are generating so many people coming to the united states and what can be done about that. incorrectly earlier this sunday percent of the firearms confiscated came from the united states, that was in a mexican rate. know we're doing when it comes to monitoring the outflows of these firearms. i hope this administration will reestablish programs that the obama administration had where young people and their families can apply for this status in country without making this dangerous for or five-day
journey. the trump administration eliminated that. now the only alternative if you seek asylum is to present yourself at the ports of entry which has created a backlog of problems. my time has expired. i hope we can do it balanced approach that takes into account all the elements. >> i think the president made the right decision to reach out. we have seen unmitigated increases. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, ranking member. i wanted to talk about to aspects of the crisis on the border that are of particular
concern to missourians. the first is drug smuggling. major drugs ago, a smuggler sentenced to 38 years in prison for distribution over $1 million of amphetamine throughout missouri. last december, officers in missouri arrested one individual who have five pounds of methamphetamine, $10,000 in cash, and eight handguns. officers are finding drug dealers who are caring large amounts of high. he methamphetamine. -- high purity methamphetamine. it is not domestic. it is not made in the states. it is made across the border and moved across the border.
can you tell me about the kinds of drugs cbp has seized in the last year? >> absolutely. we are committed to the counter ourotics effort across border. methamphetamine is one of our biggest challenges. with the opioid crisis, that has been getting a tremendous amount of attention. on the methamphetamine side, we had 60,000 pounds seized last year. it is up from 23,000 pounds in 2014. it has been growing year over year. it is driven by mexican cartels replacing their profit loss from marijuana in the last decade or so. it has been devastating to communities across the country.
the investment that senator durbin and others supported for nonintrusive technology is meant to make a big impact. we will be able to dramatically increase the number of vehicles that are getting scanned. in quarter panels and gas tanks and spare tires as these hundreds of thousands of cars come across our border, we are to get better at it. sureso need to make cartels don't switch to bringing them across ports of entry like they did with marijuana two decades ago. we are committed to this fight and know that the issues affecting missouri and other states are dramatic. >> you mentioned fentanyl. are those up as well? >> in 2012 and 2013, it was unheard of. interdicted 230
pounds of fentanyl. if you think about the. he -- the purity and potency of that, that is phenomenal. it in mail and consignment facilities. millionlaunched a $1.5 challenge to develop screening so that we can try to identify opioids without opening every single package. we are working very diligently. >> as someone who has sat with parents who have lost children to fentanyl overdoses, who have methamphetamine overdoses, i think it is a crisis. i think the surge in drug smuggling is an emergency. do you think the situation is a
crisis? there is no question. we have heard a lot of dialogue about the seizures happening at ports of entry. that is correct. , thefiscal year to date percentage of seizures has gone 21% interdicted by border patrol. cocaine seizure was made last month. this is a serious issue affecting the whole border. >> let me ask you about human trafficking. state, aeing, in my significant spike in problems with human trafficking, trafficking cartels, individuals being moved in the state been through the state. tell me about what you're saying on the border.
almost, cbp makes 400,000 apprehensions. that, 100,000 children these alleged family units coming of their own accord, making the journey alone, or are many of them being trafficked? >> we make a distinction between human smuggling and human trafficking. you cannot make an individual decision to arrive at our border and cross illegally. the cartels control that access. they charge for it. it is a very risky approach. just about everyone that crosses our border illegally is smuggled by some sort of transnational criminal organization. we also see challenges with human trafficking, with women and girls in particular that are brought to the u.s. for exploitation or servitude.
that is something we focus on closely with our partners at homeland security. >> i think you just said something that is extraordinary. you just said individuals and families do not and cannot make the decision on their own to cross the border. access is controlled by cartels. can you elaborate on that? >> that is correct. just south of the rio grande valley in mexico, there is a battle ongoing between elements of the gulf cartel that have broken up to control every yard of access to that river. it is $500 charge just to step into the river. you don't have to own the entire smuggling cycle from guatemala, if you own that last foot, you can charge $500 per person. the murder rate in those cities along the border has skyrocketed in the last two years. it is a dramatic violence issue
for our friends to the south. >> would you say that given , the cartels, for them thousands of women and children they smuggled across the border from they are not concerned about their welfare? they are prophets, this is a moneymaking enterprise. >> that is correct. at least 1000 people are dying each year in the journey between mexico. the numbers are probably much higher. that is what they can validate. we are seeing 300 to 400 per year are dying on the journey. we did 4300 rescues as well. it is extraordinarily dangerous. >> this humanitarian law enforcement situation sounds like a crisis today. is it a crisis? >> it is absolutely a crisis. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
commissioner, i appreciate the extent to which you have made yourself available. on february 5, 2019, nearly 2000 migrants arrived on the other side of the border of eagle pass, texas. despite an increased presence of cbp agents, only about 20 migrants were being processed at the port of entry each day. agents along with soldiers close off that port of entry, leading families trying to apply for asylum in the u.s. to attempt to cross the rio grande river. what you described to my colleague as a dangerous area controlled by cartels with high costs and high risks. that dangerous journey across the river has resulted in at least one death and the engagement of families attempting to enter the country. during the last two years, you and other cbp officials have said the agency cannot immediately process all the migrants that arrive along the
u.s.-mexico border. the growing wait times for people who have reached the border, including asylum-seekers are well documented. cbp has been aware of this issue for a long time. myself, crossed into mexico, try to come over, and see with my own eyes how people are being turned around and was told myself not to go into mexico because it would be too dangerous for me to walk childrent women and are sent back into that environment. my first question is, what specific steps have been taken to facilitate those that are seeking asylum so they are not putting into the situation that i was told as a single don't know not to go into? >> thank you, senator. thank you for going down to the
border and seeing our situation, meeting with our men and women. i think that is critical for members that are working on these challenging issues. in my opening statement, i talked about our efforts to provide safe and lawful access to asylum-seekers. this year, we are up 90% over last year. we are on pace for 65,000 asylum-seekers at ports of entry. we have areas where we have qs, tijuana in particular. >> my time is limited. that eagle pass crossing, 20 migrants is a good that is the capacity? knowing that this is a crisis, do you agree that closing off access, choking it to ports of entry incentivize's people to do those illegal crossings that also drain your resources and that are extraordinarily dangerous to children and families? >> our capacity is a function of
actual space and the poor, other missions without to conduct, and citizen capacity. we need ice to pick people up. in eagle pass, the government of mexico worked to provide shelter capacity and offered residency, work, and transportation to other areas where we had additional capacity to process. >> by not putting more resources at the asylum point, you are creating a need for more resources on the illegal crossings. it would be respectful to the human dignity of people who are trying to follow our laws, by turning them away that ends up doing something dangerous to them, people have died, and as more strain on your resources. isn't this an issue of appropriately applying resources to affirm human dignity, keep
them safe, as well as keep your officers from having more extreme need other time and resources on illegal crossings? >> increase in legal access is essential. it is something the secretary has prioritized, and we have delivered on. with 100% increases two years in a row, that will continue to be a priority. >> you are saying to me when they are pushed back into an area i was told was extraordinarily dangerous, they are not incentivized to do illegal crossings? i heard that directly from individuals who had tried to cross our border legally by presenting them selves for asylum that the danger was too great. are you saying that is not happening? >> for the vast majority of rivals, they are entering the smuggling cycle with the transnational criminal organization from their home country. >> i am asking about the people who are turned away at points of
entry like this all with my own eyes. you are telling me those people are not filtered into illegal crossings? thather than the caravan arrived at to live, we are passing long waits. >> what is a long way to you? >> 24 to 72 hours. in most cases there is no waiting at all. thatwould like to discuss when i have more time. that is not what i heard directly from individuals in terms of weight times in the danger to them in the surrounding areas. these individuals faced significant harm. have you explored alternative the tensions such as parole bond, gps monitoring to allow these asylum-seekers to come to the u.s. and be processed, which we know has 90 plus percentage rates of people coming back?
have we explored using resources to do that, which would allow you to take more people legally present themselves for asylum in creating a system that works? >> i know ice uses all those techniques, and i would defer to them to characterize the efficiency and effectiveness. of confinementns for young children is something that concerns me. seen toncy, we have migrant youth died in cbp custody this past december, underscore the dangers to vulnerable children. i understand you announced a , buts of policy changes what is the cbp doing to ensure children are not being put in if you but i don't know are aware of the concerns of the american academy of pediatrics regarding the border patrol building facilities?
what steps are you taking given on data, research, we were professionals say are being cost? >> i have stated the number of times that control stations are not good places for family and children. fundingg we did ask is to create a central assisting center in el paso, our second soiest processing center now we don't have to bring families into a long custody situation. talked to dr. craft. her team has helped form the development of our medical directive. we are going to continue that engagement with her and her team. >> thank you. time is expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. commissioner you said you have been in this
business for about 17 years. >> yes. >> in your opening statement, did i hear you say fewer than 20% on average of the asylum lanes are ultimately adjudicated to be legitimate? >> those are the statistics i have yes. >> the vast majority of the people tossing the illegally are ofeing we have as a standard legitimate threat to their lives . >> according to the result, they are not meeting the standard. >> have you heard anything that the standard for sound should be changed? do you think the standard for asylum in this country is reasonable? >> yes. consistent national law. >> once they come back in
responding, they are going to not have this legal right to asylum, there come back >> probably not. >> electronic monitoring accents parents is seems finally unlikely in the long-term and you know nearly 80% of the people the border are putting their children at risk from children are dying, and they don't have a legitimate pain based on the standards we have in the country. is that a fair assessment? >> that is a very assessment >> i'm offended by the concept that ,ome of crossing the border almost 300 people died last year. it is horrible what happened to the children in detention. they are dying in hundreds every year, and emma children.
on our side of the border, not to mention the thousands that do not get here because they have been sold down the road by human traffickers and smugglers. we want to have a discussion about whether or not the asylum needs to be changed. is that number steady over the worst of your career? >> this is something i have been tracking the last six years at cbp. my understanding is it is under 20%. >> i completely reject the notion based on the data, adjudicated cases the judicial system of the u.s., the narrative people are trying to create that the vast majority of these are leaving their countries because there is a legitimate threat of their lives
and they have the opportunity to seek asylum in the united states. it is simply not true. what these parents are doing is exposing these children to the risk of death, trafficking, and unspeakable harm. i hear what the doctors are saying about child separation. with the parents chewed is about $.80 of the should never exposed his children to all the other horrible things that are occurring. we have to have a serious discussion about that. i have rested the number of deaths the past couple of years. i have looked at the number of rescues we are talking about the dead. when you have a coyote drive a truck the desert and have people named for life is happening virtually every day. i think it was senator durbin
said if you have a blank check, will you pay for and he said people in technology. intentionally omit infrastructure? >> senator dick durbin's question was the context of what you need for stopping illicit drugs crossing our borders. senator graham his right, we don't figure out a way to reduce ,uture flows across this border making it so easy to go into the countryside, we are aiding and abetting the debts of a lot of people, we have to recognize we have to change the laws to be respectful, to give legitimate claims of asylum and opportunity to be adjudicated. unless we make a change, we are sending the signal thousands of
more children will be traumatized, hundreds of thousands of people will be trafficked, thousands of people will die every year because of action to give you the ability to adjudicated asylum claims. nothing to do with legitimate asylum in this country. if someone wants to change the standard, i would love to see a proposal here. i don't hear anybody talking about that. let's put that down there and have a debate about that. the other thing i think is very important is i believe and support the non-intrusive technology at the border. you know what is going to happen. if we put that there and become impenetrable, you know what is going to happen. those borders are going to come across the borders the way they
did when they were smuggling pot. it is going to continue the flow. i think if we don't recognize people, technology, infrastructure, walls, barriers, technology, all the things border patrol has been telling us for years. the things that were in the packages last year, $25 billion, we are responsible. we are responsible for the loss of life of border control agents acting on are not what is necessary to protect them. i hope these folks will recognize 80% of the problem can be avoided if we can simply tell the families who are putting these children at risk, do it the right way. come to this country based on our laws. don't put your children and family at risk. don't expose them to the horrors
of the cartels at the southern border. >> i want to clarify something. drugs are coming across nonporous of entry? if you want to fight the drug problem, you need the technology and the stuff senator durbin was talking about. >> need technology at the ports and air technology and agents. >> 87% of the people coming legally come across not ports of entry. >> correct. >> senator harris. >> thank you. commissioner, would you agree the vast majority of parents, wherever they are born, have a natural desire to protect their children whatever it takes? >> certainly.
>> in january, the department of defense extended the deployment of active-duty troops across our southern border and additional eight months. multiple requests for my office, we have not received an intelligence based assessment demonstrating a national security threat to our southern border. were you involved in developing the assessment and threat assessment that dhs provided to dod to justify the deployment of these troops? >> the specific requests for assistance made to dod, they are generated by cbp. >> were you involved in the assessment? >> i would approve those. >> send more troops to the border? >> i will be happy to explain the rationale. >> please do. can you do that by the end of next week? >> sure. 4000 allegations of sexual
abuse harassment of immigrant children in their custody between 2014 and 2018. 178 of these allegations were against staff of shelters where the children were placed, including fondling and kissing and watching them shower and rape. last spring and summer, sexual abuse allegations in shelters skyrocketed. this is obviously unacceptable. it is abhorrent. we should all be deeply concerned. i understand dhhs personnel do your 30.under -- authority. were you aware of these reports? >> it is something we taser
seriously in our own custody. >> were you aware of the report before it was published last week? >> i was not. >> you had no sense this was going on? >> i was certainly not aware of those numbers. >> were you aware of any allegations that the children you handed over have been abused? >> i was not aware of any specific allegations i can recall. in my experience, hhs are very committed to children and do a very good job of protecting children. nowo you have any concern that you know over 4000 allegations occurred in four years that is now not the case? >> i would defer to my colleagues at hhs to answer that question. >> what can you do to ensure the children transferred will be safe? >> i believe that is a better question for hhs. >> do you believe you have any
duty or your agency has any duty to ensure that when you transfer these children to the custody of another agency to make sure they are safe? >> i am mandated by law to transfer these children. i don't believe i have a question to transfer these children. >> you don't believe you have a duty to make sure these children are safe? >> i am mandated by statute to hand over these children in 72 hours. >> do you have any duty to raise a flag of concern that when you hand over these children to another agency that they may not be safe? >> i believe that is the duty of the management and leadership of hhs and the white house or congress, not mine. recentlyw york times published a report that there
was an investigation into incidents of sexual violence over the southern border of the last two decades, which found ed casesre 100 document of immigrant women being sexually assaulted across the border, often after they crossed the border by on-duty cbp officers. has cbp conducted an investigation into the selected sexual assaults? >> yes. >> what is the result on these investigations? >> we can bring you a report on these individual cases. isan tell you it unacceptable in any degree in our ranks and needs to be followed up on and held accountable. those cases are very concerning. >> can you please give my office the results of those investigations by the end of next week? >> sure. >> were any of those cases referred for criminal
prosecution? >> i believe several of them. >> what if any duty does cbp personnel have to report any suspicions they may have a sexual abuse being committed by their colleagues? >> it is mandatory by policy. >> can you give me a copy of that policy? >> yes. >> legal declaration on behalf of and grandchildren found limited access to food and water and verbal assault at cbp facilities. my staff visited the el centro border in general. there is a policy of taking away toys from children, and that happens upon their arrival, which means that when the children are in custody, they have no access to toys, books, or any other means of mental stimulus. is this policy unique to el centro or happening in other detention facilities? >> all of our policies are nationally consistent.
we have detention standards that is overseen by our own internal responsibility. >> is the policy of every station that to remove toys and children when they arrive? are you then replacing them with other books and toys and things of that nature? >> we are trying to provide the most appropriate custodial setting for the children with us. it has to be safe. >> do you believe children with toys would create an unsafe condition. >> it depends on the toys. >> could you give an example of an unsafe toys for children? >> we could go to the consumer product safety commission toys and list all the toys that are legal in other countries that are not allowed here. that is something we do carefully. >> i have no further questions.
thank you. >> thank you. thank you so much for appearing in front of us today. i think this has been a beneficial discussion for everyone on this committee. i hope we have others that are able to watch your testimony and some of the answers to these questions. i believe we have a crisis at our southern border. i think it is hard for anyone to argue when you see sexual on the trek tong our southern border, when we have children that are dying, coyotes using any possible means to get people across our border, there isou argue not a crisis? there is a crisis. we need to figure this out. a lot of people would argue i owat is pretty far -- i \ is pretty far from the border
and maybe we should not be interested in this. it does affect every single one of our states. it is about national security. it is about the drugs, the human trafficking. this is a little surprising to 2016, the -- des moines was identified as one of the top 100 human trafficking locations, top 100. iowa, so this does affect all of us. i can talk about the methamphetamine problem we have in iowa. methamphetamine is the number choice in of iowa. most of that is coming from mexico. how is it coming in it is avoiding ports of entry?
it is coming over the rack trails. we call them rack trails in the military. they are rack trails coming into the united states. i'm concerned about it. you have provided some great statistics for us. 2018, nearly 400,000 people were apprehended at the southwest quarter. out of that, nearly 50,000 were made children. -- unaccompanied children. these are children that are here alone. of immigration laws or lack immigration laws encourage family units and unaccompanied children to make the journey from central america to the united states. our laws are encouraging this dangerous journey. people are assaulted on the way. people die along the way. also through our laws
encouraged the use of children as pawns. that is what they are being used as on this journey. it leads to a pattern of abuse -- is almost anyone children,inds these can you talk in your own words about the types of trauma we are seeing as they arrive at the border? we have heard of some of the instances when they are in custody. what are we seeing? >> we are seeing all kinds of trauma. senator tillis mentioned some of the injuries that happen. very dangerous. we have people traveling on freight trains, jumping often breaking ankles. the conditions we are seeing for children, congenital issues
where doctors have advised this child needs surgery in two weeks, and they get on a bus to the u.s. border. we have seen all manner of medical conditions on the emergency side in the last two months. we get daily reports on this. 55 hospital trips. one day last week, we did hundred 35 hospital trips. we spent hours waiting at the hospital with people getting care. that is like losing 30 agents for the year. it is a huge investment to take care of the folks arriving. they are arriving very sick. the sexual assault problem is terrifying. the doctors without borders a its in mexico, 30% of the women that come into those clinics have been sexually assaulted. >> you said 30%? >> yes. that is a devastating number.
last week, we had a woman in rio grande valley report that a person assaulted her on the riverbank as she arrived in the u.s. storiese devastating that are agents here every day that we try to address, see if there is opportunity for investigation or prosecution. usually that have gone south to mexico for we can intervene. these are the kinds of stories we are hearing every day. >> it is an unfortunate situation. a lot of this is happening on the journey here. we know there are some circumstances that have happened. we have had those two deaths that are absolutely horrible and tragic. we have situations, these coyotes are horrible people. these are not good people
helping these folks for a better life in america. they are all about the money and abuse. they are part of these cartels. very bad. laws that address the are pulling people into this country. we need to make sure we have the agents available. people don't feel they have to go to the united states for a better life. there are a lot of issues at stake. i appreciate you are in the position you are in and providing us with the information we need to do our job to make this better. i think we have a crisis. let's figure it out.
you, mr. chairman. join senator durbin in thinking you for your service and your dedication to the cause of making our treatment more humane at the border. it --senator harris and endeded, there is no military threat at the border from these individuals trying to seek asylum, would you agree? >> i not going to question our military leaders. security see is a threat that outstrips current law enforcement resources. >> did you ask for active-duty military at the border? >> we made requests for
assistance based on our operational deficit. dod decides which types of forces are most capable and ready. >> did you make a request for a specific number of active duty or national guard? >> no. , doduld specify functions would decide how many personnel are required. >> what functions and need did you request? >> several, surveillance is a critical issue. military has tremendous capability in that area. engineering to support additional security at our ports of entry. if we are going to have large groups crossing, they have that experience. medical care in extremis to migrants,r agents and and there's a reliance support.
best air surveillance support. >> so essentially surveillance and medical care. >> also civil engineering support for hardening the ports of entry could >> you did not ask for military assistance to build a wall? >> the already work with the army corps of engineers with the appropriated budget. they are highly skilled. they were trying to identify the right u.s. companies to provide a border barrier and build it on schedule and under cost. >> they were working under existing -- >> that is a natural partnership for us. let me ask you, the remaining mexico policy, do you support that policy? that section of the immigration nationality act allows for migrants to wait in mexico pending immigration hearing. it has been in place for some
time, authorized in law. what it is going to allow us to do is increase access to court proceedings and increase access at ports of entry to process more people because we don't have to hold them in the limited space available at the port. , i think iaware that am quoting correctly, the head of the border patrol union has mexicoat this remain in policy is incentivizing illegal immigration and punishing legal immigration? >> i believe that the time he said that it was only being applied at the port of entry at santa cedro. there was concern people would be crossing between ports. now it is effective in the san diego sector as well. if you cross illegally, you are going to have to wait and mexico for your court proceeding. >> in terms of the immigration
process that you were cornyn,out by senator and you said there is a backlog of about 800,000 cases, the solution is more immigration judges, correct? >> that is certainly one of the solutions we support. >> what else do you need to do to adjudicate this case is? >> my experience across five attorneys general is that the detained docket, having somebody in custody enables a fair and efficient proceeding in six to eight weeks, whereas not detained, you have people not showing up for hearings, or you cannot get them showing up in a reasonable amount of time. >> those 800,000 cases that law notnot -- backlogged are
detained cases? how do you clear up that backlog? >> one is more judges. prioritizing recent border entrance so we can get on top of the current border flows. >> you would prioritize more recent cases? you still need more charges to adjudicate those cases that are backlog. >> absolutely. >> do you know how many? >> i do not. did you ask or recommend that the president declare a national emergency? >> we provide the border security requirements that are unmet. forave significant need border security barrier, surveillance, and for ages. backfill that in
certain areas is a real mission enhancement for us. >> did you say to secretary theren or president trump is a national emergency that should be declared at the border? >> that is not my role to interpret duties governing statutes. my role is to revive the white house those border security of our lives we have -- requirements we have. >> have you recommended your superiors ask for an emergency declaration? >> i have recommended we ask for more agents, border security technology, and their ears. >> that has been consistent ask. nothing about that constitutes saying we have a national emergency. >> i would argue it is becoming
more urgent in terms of the ander of crossings narcotics coming across ports of entry. narcotics are primarily coming through the ports of entry. the numbers of border crossings are still at a historic low compared to other times in our nations history. >> no, they are not. 700,000n pace for over crossings this year. that is closer to historic highs. we had one million in 2006. that is a high water mark in the modern era of cbp. we are much closer to that than the 300,000 number. get to is only if we 700,000. >> we have to confront what has happened in these five months. month, 76,000 in february.
we have not had a february like that in over a decade. that was almost all single adults from mexico. this is new, different, and potentially worsening. >> my time has expired. >> here is the plan. we will try to go to 12:30. we will adjourn and come back at 3:15 for the second panel. i have to go to the white house. senator kennedy. we will make sure everybody gets to ask questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you, mr. commissioner. you don't impress me as being much of a politician, which i mean as a compliment. you were appointed by president trump. >> correct. >> before that, you served president obama. how many presidents have you served under? >> three.
>> why do you do this job? >> i believe strongly in the mission of cbp and the men and women who carry it out. >> i want to talk about how we can solve this problem. i think we both recognize there are some important voices in this discussion that made no distinction between legal and illegal immigration and don't believe that there should be. this is america. you are entitled to believe that. i don't think that is what most americans believe. i think there are some other important voices in this this as a that see political issue. this is america. seekre entitled to try to
political advantage. i want to put that point of view aside as well. there have been suggestions that under your watch some of the children who have come across the border legally or illegally have been sexually abused by some of your people, and their toys have been taken away, and they have been otherwise treated inappropriately. i wanted to give you a chance to address that. >> certainly. i am not aware of the allegations of sexual abuse of a child by a cbp official. just to continue the dialogue, this is something that is extraordinarily rare in our custody that there is an incident of sexual abuse. two detainees.
we have policies in place to oversee and prevent and that we have accountability to do independent investigation if there is an incident. these are officers they got into this line of work to protect others. they care deeply about the human challenges they see in enforcing the law. i know they do a tremendous job. children and their families come into the united states, they have to go through mexico, did they not? >> yes. >> why are they not stopped at the mexican border? >> it is complicated. mexico has increased their ability to control their southern border over the last decade. the last administration -- >> may i interrupt you just because of time constraints. could mexico stop it if it
wanted to? partnershipined, with the government of mexico is essential in stopping this crisis. >> so mexico could do a better job. >> working with mexico is essential. >> mexico could do a better job on its own? >> i believe the new administration is working on that in ensuring any migration is safe and orderly. we had thisave problem? of the immediate crisis women being raped, children coming sick, drugs being smuggled, coyotes making billions, drugs coming across, how long has this been going on? >> for decades, obviously. us ought to hide
our heads in a bag. this is unconscionable. wall ored a border barrier? i want the honest answer. if you get fired, you can come to work for me. do we need one? >> thank you, senator. we do. we need to maintain what we have, and we need hundreds of additional miles in critical areas that we have difficulty trolling that the president has requested. >> what would happen if we tore down the barriers and laws we have now? >> parts of our border would be completely ungovernable, san diego, el paso. >> i'm sorry to interrupt. what lawsecifically you would ask the united states
congress to change and how you would change them to help fix this problem? >> the top three from a border security perspective. >> you are talking to a 10th grader. i want to make sure everyone understands this. >> the biggest group crossing our borders illegally our family units. they are doing that because they know they can be released after crossing and allowed to stay in the u.s. indefinitely. many of them do not have an immigration right to stay in the u.s., and at the end of a core proceeding, they would have to be removable. >> what change would you make? >> allow them to be held together an appropriate setting. >> and not be released in the country? >> yes. that is what the less efficient it, and it worked. >> that is what president obama did?
>> correct. trafficking victims protection reauthorization act, very important for the care of children, it treats children from mexico and canada very differently. allow immediate repatriation. number three, we don't need to change the standards for asylum. we need to change the process for assessing whether someone has a valid asylum claim. right now the credible fear bar is so low that over 80% of the people are meeting at while fewer than 20% of people are earning asylum. that 80% is just released pending their immigration court proceeding. >> does the system look to you like anybody designed it on purpose?
>> there have been vulnerabilities that have emerged over time and have been exploited. we did not see people claiming asylum 32013 at the border. pure than 1% of our apprehensions claimed asylum. this year to date it is 60%. you could take the first five names out of the washington, d c, phonebook, and they could develop a better system than what we have. i'm sorry. >> i will let you know if i need that job, senator. >> you are more than welcome. me?'m sorry, did you call >> we have basically a little over tournament.
if we could do five minutes. >> i would like seven minutes. what percentage of these families came through legal ports? >> less than 5%. >> that means the rest of them for probably perfectly understandable reasons will cross illegally, subjecting them to a zero-tolerance policy, which has the effect of separating families. i don't think you can deny that. most of the families coming through, the questions about why can't we provide them safe and lawful access to asylum seekers and to the extent that many of them are asylum seekers, we are not meeting those goals. >> we are going to extraordinary lengths to provide safe and
lawful access. 90% increase so far this year at applications at quarter entries. >> not when 95% of the families are not coming through the legal ports of entry. you also said 80% of asylum-seekers don't succeed in their asylum claims. what percentage of the 80% had lawyers? >> that would be a great question for doj. the folks coming across illegally are in the hands of smugglers from very early in their journey. they are not making this decision to come to a port or not. smugglers notying to. >> yes. the smugglers control where they cross. >> for people that undergo this kind of arduous journey, and to blame the parents for risking their lives and their children for attempting to come to a
country that they hope will provide better opportunities, blaming the parents is next ordinary statement because we should acknowledge parents everywhere want to protect their children. i think we should knowledge that. -- acknowledge that. the percent of asylum-seekers that don't succeed, i think a majority of them do not have lawyers because there is evidence that when they have lawyers, it increases their chances of succeeding in their asylum claims, sometimes five times more, three times more, many times more. they have legitimate asylum claims, but if you don't have a lawyer and don't speak the language, it makes it tough to succeed in your asylum claim. i think that is something we should all technology. -- knowledge. -- we should all acknowledge. they certainly should not have to experience sexual abuse and assault while they are totally
within our custody. you were told there have been thousands of allegations of sexual assault and abuse while they are in our custody. i think you said that was not within your review at your agency. a all have a role to play. is there a correlated response follies people are in our governments custody? it does not matter they are in cvp for doj. they are within government custody. --there an interim trade interagency coordinate a response? absolutely there is a focus on protecting people in our custody and particular from sexual abuse. it is unacceptable.
in terms of interagency approach, i would ask hhs for their approach. >> yours is the first agency the micro to counter -- the migrants encounter. you could ask recorded approach. to see you are asked those policies. if your agency has a policy i would like to reiterate that request. >> i would be happy to share it with you. again allegations of this nature are extremely rare. >> when you came before the committee you said your agency developed the president's plan but you didn't talk about 1100 miles of physical barriers. he wanted a wall. i ask you to submit for the record a copy of the plan and
provide details about how many are on land currently in control of the federal government. you do not respond for the record so i hope you are prepared to answer these questions today. how much of the 1100 miles of all are in federal government control? >> what we are asking for are the top 17 priorities, 700 miles total. 360 of that is new and additional on land that is not currently owned by the federal government. that is mostly in texas in the rio grande valley, going into laredo and el paso. those of the areas we have to work with property owners for the fair market value. >> you must be aware the bush administration spent seven years litigating and negotiating to build border fencing on a
quarter acre of land. 4 square miles. right now the trump administration is in a lawsuit with a catholic church of texas because they want to take the church is land to build a wall and the church is argued, "the border wall is fundamentally inconsistent with catholic and would substantially burden the free exercise of religion by restricting access to the chapel." considering half or one third of the land that you will need to build this wall isn't in your hands, we are looking at a pretty long period of time where chers don't ran want to give up their land so did you allocate the time and the money you would have to spend to deal with these types of challenges? costrtainly part of the
involves real estate planning and the purchasing and engaging of landowners, and where we can't determine who owns the land, litigation. seven years of litigation did not delay the construction of the wall. we can acquire the land and have proceeded with building during litigation. the vast majority are providing for its of injury -- rights of entry. they could reach a fair market value moving forward it is an important part of land acquisition but does not delay the project. >> so these landowners volunteer before you pay them? >> federal law does. often it is just trying to find out who owns the land is the main issue in litigation. >> can you submit the plans and the list of landowners affected? those landowners are researched but yes we submit our
, plans. >> i asked you this in december and here we are in march. >> we already provided it to the senate but i can redirect it to this committee to make sure you have a copy. >> thank you very much especially as i requested that , information it should come to me. >> senator blackburn and white house senator lee will wrap it up. you were almost at the end of the line. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman and commissioner. thank you very much and for your time to be here. it is interesting as we hear from you and other members how the cartels have really become a global business. and your comments about the process it is decades old. i have served in the house before i came over here in my urine the house, 2003, one of
the things we were focusing on was trying to deal with illegal immigration. it just goes to show that if you let a problem get out of control , if you don't get it in the infancy and it grows it is more difficult to handle and this is a good example of that. let me ask you this. when we talk about these cartels business, and big of course they work with these coyotes and develop worldwide smuggling networks, should we be mexico -- from what i understand that is primarily headquartered in mexico? should we be holding mexico responsible for investigating and prosecuting these cartels? >> no question. we have a shared responsibility on this.
members of this administration have acknowledged that our drug demand powers these cartels that creates the violent situation in mexico. but we need mexico to step up and address the enforcement side. especially as they are taking advantage -- >> is it necessary and i know you share these responsibilities , do you have the tools necessary to put the pressure on this? >> we have developed a counter network capability to attack the organizations not just , addressing the individual smuggling attempt. >> are you doing anything with the movement of labor trafficking online? with the movement of gangs and labor trafficking and sex trafficking? are you working in the virtual space? >> our partners at home and security investigation and ice
have the direct expertise but we collaborate with them and follow-up. hopehave to tell you i every member of this committee has been to one of the reception centers. i have done a lot of work on the sex trafficking issues. wasof the things that just so incredibly sad to me was to talk with the caseworkers and hear about the abuse that these children encountered as they are moving from their home country into the u.s. and the fact they have to give every female child who is 10 years of age it over a pregnancy test. i just -- to me that is just devastating. on any given day how many different nationalities do you
have? >> on any given day, dozens. over the course of the year we interact between 130 and 150 different nationalities on the border. we are talking about lawful crossings, pretty much every country in the world. >> another thing i found out from the caseworkers was how -- how thoseantage that are moving children take advantage of the loopholes in verification. they cannot ask if someone is here legally or not when they are picking up a child. i know last april you are entered into the agreement with ice and hhs for that information. is that working? >> i deferred to ice because they have the responsibility in a partnership
with hhs. anything that ensures children are safe when they are delivered to that sponsor, it is important and worthy. >> i have a couple of other questions. i have a couple of things in the drug trade and some of the fentanyl that has been moved into the country but i will submit that. and submit another for the rescue effort you carry out every week to say people coming to the border. thank you for your service. i yield back my time. >> thank you senator. house?. white >> i appreciate you being here. we would like to explore to -- what he said to the president and congress about the importance of solving the issues that areegal framework
inviting these families and children to make this dangerous journey. and i have to say i'm worried about the notion of inviting. me that many of the individuals and families presenting themselves at the southern border are fleeing extraordinarily dangerous and deplorable conditions at home. when you agree with that? >> i think poverty and food insecurity are the top reasons we are encountering. we do see violence and gang activity in some areas. it was worse than the first seven years of this decade it is today. the murder rate is down at all three northern tribal countries but certainly there are factors in this country is driving people to seek a better opportunity and a better life.
>> and clearly the dangers en home from the dangers at are as bad if not worse. the coyotes and the traffickers and all of that are based are narrowly perilous ordeal for these individuals to have to endure. >> i agree strongly. what we are seeing is social media feedback from families that are successful arrivals. that image of success is more powerful than any warnings we can provide on the dangers of the journey. heard that firsthand in guatemala. >> this is what i met by issues in the legal framework. familyd from the separation policy was set up a lot of deterrence talk we will be tough for the families and
separate the kids and that will send a message and they will not bother to come. if you start in a point of view that the way we receive entry people at the border is operating as an invitation and something has to be done about that, it's a short step to say, well, we should actually discourage them. we should make it unpleasant. we should try to deter people from doing that. it strikes me that if that is a policy and we are deliberately using something between discomfort, fear and cruelty as a policy mechanism to try to discourage people from coming to our country, first of all the does not seem very american to me. that is not the way we are, that is not what we do. so, i have that concern.
the second is if you really want to have the deterrent effect on somebody in the way they are treated when they are at the border, when you consider what they are leaving, the ordeal of transit, the idea we could do something that will make an appreciable difference to their calculus by treating them cruelly or unkindly at our borders does not even seem logical. you have to go to such levels of abuse that nobody would tolerate that if you're going to try to make that the rule. so what assurances can you give me that this question of invitation versus deterrence is not part of the foreign policy calculation as we decide how to deal with those at our borders. >> i can assure you unequivocally the way you describe deterrence is not part of our policy nor any part of law enforcement discussion at cbp or elsewhere that i am aware of. that is absolutely not the goal to deter through harsh treatment
, the summarizer point. what we do have is a situation -- >> what did you mean by inviting? >> by telling families in central america and this is , interpreted even more aggressively through smugglers and the messaging, if you come now you will be allowed to stay , you are inviting them to try. >> do you think changing that would affect the decision of somebody willing to face the ordeal of the transit? >> there is no question in my mind. every time there has been an immigration court result and an effective repatriation of those who don't have a lawful right to stay in the u.s., that has reduced the flow. i can show you the data from the the obama team responded to by holding families and how quickly that dropped >> you are talking repatriation
is the signal back as opposed to treatment or absence of care or cruelty or family separation at the border question mark -- at the border? >> yes. >> my time is up. >> thank you mister chairman good to see you again. thank you for your service and please express thank you to all the men and women to border patrol for their service everyday keeping this country safe. i want to start with a simple question. in your judgment and professional experience do walls work? >> unquestionably. >> if i understand correctly, san diego. the law was built in 1982 illegal traffic dropped 88% over 18 years a 95% over 23 years. we saw the same experience in el paso, the wall was built in 1983 -- was built in 1993 illegal
traffic dropped 72% over one yeah, 95% over 22 years the same in tucson built in 2000 illegal traffic dropped 90% over 15 years. yuma built 2005, illegal traffic dropped 95% over 4 years. are those accurate? yes. >> does that reflect your professional experience to put a physical barrier can have a significant impact decreasing to stop illegal immigration? >> yes. >> both for human traffickers and narcotics traffickers? >> no question. >> was talk about the second topic, kids. there has been considerable discussion and senator feinstein mentioned she and i are working on legislation together. i remain hopeful. this ought to be an area of bipartisan support. it seems to me everyone republican and democrat should agree number one that the
families should stay together. the best place with the child as his or her mom and dad. but the rub is number two. what capacity it has the position of some democrats to keep families together what cbp , must do is release both the children and the adults. i think that is a mistake in -- mistaken approach. the legislation i have introduced negotiating with senator feinstein the family stay together in a secure environment and then expedite the proceedings so they have a valid claim for asylum it is adjudicated quickly and granted but if they don't have a valid , claim of asylum, it gets adjudicated quickly, just tonight and they are sent home. in your experience, what is the
effectiveness of a catch and release system? >> it just invites further unlawful behavior. >> what is the differential for the timing for adjudicated cases between the detained documents -- docket where the individual is in custody versus not? >> in my experience between six and eight weeks. the non-detained docket is years. >> one of the significant challenges of our policy is we have now created massive incentives to bring kids with you because we have essentially turned a child into a get out of jail free card. to what extent are you seeing conduct from cartels deliberately bringing
either unaccompanied minors or family units over with the intention of gaming the system? >> i can tell you in the last 10 months, as chief hastings briefed yesterday, we have identified approximately 1700 individuals presented as a feeling th -- as a family unit that were fraudulent claims. even more concerning is attorneys advising people on how to do this in central america to provide fake birth certificates fake indications of relationship , before they depart to enable this process. you are right. if you bring a child, you will be released. you are immune from the enforcement of the law that is not a situation that is sustainable. >> let me underscore that point because it is quite stunning. you have seen in excess of 1700 cases where children are with
adults. you were told they were a family unit. you discovered it was fraudulent similar the adults were for not actual family members of those kids? >> correct. >> if a child is in the custody of the human trafficker or narcotics trafficker, how frequently you encountering physical abuse or sexual abuse of those children in the custody of traffickers? >> unfortunately a very common occurrence. with, if we were concerned , we woulde of kids want to do every thing to prevent little boys and little girls are being in the custody of traffickers who are fraudulently using those kids to game law enforcement? >> of course. >> thank you for your willingness to testify today the -- i will be the last person
asking questions until we recess. america, anytral country other than mexico and i want to come to the united states illegally through our southern border, if i have a child with me, whether it is my own or not and a claim that child is my own, i get released after 20 days? >> 20 days is the maximum a family can be held. most are being held 72 hours or less you to buy cvp and released by ice or in a residential center. >> 20 days is the maximum amount of time? >> which is not long enough for an immigration proceeding. should and has resulted in a lot of bad things? our children occasionally of abducted of ducted --
and paired with those seeking asylum? >> yes. >> are there where those from other countries have paid smugglers money to get across? the flight to mexico or travel to mexico from another country and arrive at the u.s.-mexico border and then paired with a child, not their own, when they have never met and of no relation at the border in order to meaningfully our system? >> within those fraudulent claims there were cases like that included. >> those 1700 are just what you identified?you have >> correct. >> just the fact you have 1700 and the last two months alone, of those you have identified could indicate the overall number is larger than that. >> certainly. >> it's difficult for me to conceive of any policy we could adopt that could do more to
promote human trafficking of -- and child sexual exploitation than this. would i be fair to reach that conclusion? >> i think that is a very legitimate concern. >> people who traffic human as a routine matter understand there are certain signs that might indicate the law enforcement authorities they are engaging in human trafficking? >> yes. >> so they are aware through the port of entry they are more likely to be seen by authorities . where does that push them? >> to the between the ports . granted we don't see families evading apprehension for the most part. they are presenting and allowing the process to start we are overwhelmed at many areas of the boarder.
tryingink of the agents to process hundreds of families at the same time, serve the indicators of concern. they are worried about medical situation and some of you might have a gang record and still trying to move them quickly through the system to ice. that is a lot to ask of our agents and officers. >> the absence of the barrier makes it easier for people to pass undetected through a port of entry weather might be recognized? if you want to move through exas without any barrier at all, you would find it easier to get through there. >> correct. >> the remain in mexico program, tell us how that would help us offset that perverse incentive we ourselves have created through our own policies for human trafficking. >> it would give more and greater access to court proceedings without releasing
people into united states indefinitely. >> for those who want or need to come to the u.s. and have a legitimate basis for doing so, we would be more sympathetic to them? we would be in a better position to offer asylum if we adopted a program? >> correct. >> i was pleased to hear the remain in mexico program will be beyond the san ysidro entry. tell us what we expect to see in the coming months. >> is developing. we are starting in san diego port of entry. we went to extended along the border so we can drive the access to asylum seekers are going to pay a smuggler, who don't want to go to the dangerous cycle but might have a valid asylum claim.
they get to go to a dedicated court docket. the first hearings will start in 10 days. it will be a much more expeditious process to get an immigration court resolved and ideally grant asylum to those who have meritorious claims and have integrity for those that don't. >> the program helps us help asylum seekers. when directed more to lawful ports of entry it is easy for authorities to detect and interfere with human trafficking. >> all of those are correct. it's also critical for stopping smugglers bringing narcotics and adults trying to evade apprehension. >> thank you. we appreciate your testimony today and thank you for your service. you are in our thoughts and prayers as you protect our country. we stand in recess until 3:15.
thank you. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] [crowd talking] >> next, your calls and comments on washington journal. they newsmakers with representative ben ray lujan of new mexico. after that a house hearing with secretary kiersten nilsson. day -- qa on human
nda, the world of first lady sarah polk. >> i was astounded by all the stuff sarah polk did in the way she exercised power. she wrote letters to a supreme court justice and members of congress that were completely confident, 100% about politics, and were not noticeably different from the letters a man would write. they were back to her in the same vein. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on a.pan's q and >> susan hurley discusses the wall street tax act of 2019. bonds, and derivative deals. later, tim carney of the washington examiner talks about his