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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  July 29, 2014 11:00pm-1:01am EDT

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unsalted. >> the majority? >> yes, over 50% of the girls , yet more girls are coming than ever before. that >> do many of them come with an adult? they grandparents, extended family member, cousin, older sibling. under the current law, those children -- those adult caregivers we separated because they are not parents. traffickers have used a statement saying that sister, the uncle,
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brother, whatever of the child and have used that to try to traffic the children into the country for labor and sex trafficking. right now, the policy is to separate extended policy. c.'s.u separate the u.a. >> they do not have a parent or guardian available to them. this is not often cash but debt that the child is expected to work up upon arrival. many of these children if they are not trafficked yet, they are on the road to be trafficked here in the united states where they are vulnerable with the people whom they are with or the smugglers they have paid to have their families back home at the but of a gun. >> questions and comments?
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>> i understand the supplemental that is being proposed by the republicans in the house is $900 million, two thirds of the money dedicated to border security. the other portion to services to children. i understand it is not free and clear money. we have to cut other places in the budget and one area we are cutting our state department programs which would assist these three countries for economic development and that makes no sense to me. could you comment on that? ahave heard some reports but lot of americans have searched for sources, the causes. journalists have not written a lot about it and that's part of the problem. americans are reluctant to call
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these young people refugees because they do not see a war. it's a less visible violence to them. don't have a lot of independent journalistic information about any contractions of these gangs. what does it say about the deportations for these countries that have criminal justice systems? before there is a response, we are on and a little bit of a -- >> we have to turn the room over quickly. if anyone wants to respond? mention, i think it's very important to recognize that unless we address the original factors that have driven these children to flee their communities and their homes,
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they're likely to attempt to return again. it's very important in any supplemental approved that we address the root causes of the violence and there are very clear examples of things that have worked. there are a number of community level violence prevention programs that have been effect example.to draw an a suburb of san salvador, in 2003, the mayor implemented a community-level violence program and managed to reduce the homicide level by 40%. we have very clear examples that have worked and it's very important to address the root causes of violence. to the second question, we look at the nature of the central american gangs and one fact are important to take into account then the 90's with some of new partition policies of the u.s., many central americans particularly from the northern gangsle that had joined
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in california brought that culture back to their home countries. these were individuals and kids that did not speak the language, did not have any family. >> these people who were deported? >> they grew up in the u.s. americans think understand this connection. when this began to surface, we were searching for information and we could not find anything about the connection. >> one question, i hope it is a yes or no? the'm sensitive to responsibilities that we must be out of the room but i felt it was very important very quickly, as you know, the bill will put them through border patrol and
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straight to a court, in a minimum of seven days. put on theat's been border patrol agent, there are many who are caring and concerned. i think we're really going to make a difference in the message will go about. would you just say what will happen when they seven-day time frame imposed for any particular challenges dealing with children, what will happen as a lawyer? i thank the witnesses very much for their testimony. for theare unprepared legal gauntlet they will be pushed through. with the proper preparation and counsel, many would succeed in their claims and they will be denied and ship tom to face the same violence, quite simply. >> we will not be a nation of mercy. >> not at all. it will be remembered.
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>> i thank the palestinians that are here. trying to provide some balance to this whole issue, i appreciate that. lee in her role has been making sure that due process continues to be at the core of what this law is. thank you very much. i just want to make the point about the american people not getting it. i think the american people are beginning to get it. it is not a simple political convenience where we expedite in order to provide political coverage or exploit a situation for electoral purposes. about usundamentally as americans, fundamentally about our way of life, our tradition, our values. i appreciate you reminding us of
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that as a group, as a people. whatever audience we have, thank you. to the kids here today, i think no more powerful statement can be made than this. i think you need to put a face to the reality out and i was so abouto that we don't talk these children in abstract forms. we do not continue to demonize and marginalize them without them having a voice. they had a voice today and i thought it was very powerful. with that, i conclude the meeting and thank you all very much. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> more now on congressional plans for an emergency spending
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bill for border security. we spoke to a reporter covering the issue. >> house republicans weighed in with the proposal to deal with the crisis on the u.s.-mexico border. covering the spending process for cq roll call, what will the focus of this republican bill be like? where's is the money being allocated in this? of the money going to border security, the department of homeland security. they are looking to beef up which transports the migrants once they are apprehended at the border and also deports the immigrants after their case. also a lot of money going to putting more judges on the border including teleconferencing technology to allow for quicker immigration hearings before a judge which they hope to get done within
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seven days after migrants are apprehended at the border. >> your article pointed out that this is far less what the redsident proposed but pa back from what hal rogers introduced. what was cut out? why was that not acceptable? thehairman rogers floated initial $1.5 billion proposal ended it not seem like it was getting enough support. in order to shore up as much support as possible, they really had to pare down the spending. they were worried that the money was not necessary. >> what about the reaction when it was released today? pretty seem to get decent support although there was a group of conservative republicans who said they were still concerned the money did not include changes to an came out inder that 20 12 that deferred action on immigrants who arrived in the u.s. as children.
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they were concerned that issue was not addressed. theyare concerned that will turn around and jam them with overhaul they are fundamentally opposed to. no money at all. the president can deal with it. no money is needed. >> one of the headlines referring to the money going to the israeli missile defense program. and why were those figures not included in the house bill? the iron dome was included in the senate proposal. senate proposal gave 615 million dollars to fighting wildfires out west and about domemillion for the iron suppression system in israel. he wanted to address the iron dome separately, something they think they can get taken care of pretty easily. the wildfires are something they been grappling for a long time and they want to fundamentally
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change the way wildfires are funded, currently not considered a natural disaster and under fema, but house budget chairman paul ryan is against the approach proposed by the administration. chairman rogers and leadership just upped off and figured it was something they could deal with later. >> last week you tweeted out a potential bargaining chip as they hope to move the supplemental. what is that all about? is it included in the house proposal? how does it affect the overall debate with the senate? it easily passed as an anti-trafficking bill, but conservatives say that it encourages immigrants to come across the border and give them their day in court, but they say a lot of immigrants never show up at the immigration hearing. democrats are scared that if you do include changes to the law which means you allow all
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children, theyns sorry, you allow central american children to self-support immediately and they are concerned that it's not giving those children due process. right now, mexican and canadian immigrants are allowed to choose to self deport. process forhe debate in the house. they have only a few days left. take looks like they will up the measure thursday under a closed rule which means there are no amendments and it looks like they will send it off to the senate really quickly and run away for five weeks. cq rollamar holloman, call, cq.com. thanks for the up a. >> on the next "washington journal, co-immigration policy with republican representative
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steve pearce of new mexico. border issues with representative diana degette as well as the status of the highway spending bill and cq weekly staff writer focusing on how the 1974 budget act effect legislative debate today. "washington journal" live on c-span everyday at 7:00 a.m. eastern and you can join the discussion on facebook and twitter. in a few moments, a house judiciary committee oversight hearing looking at the citizenship and immigration service. it's two and a half hours. president obama announces new sanctions against russia. then secretary of state john kerry speaks with the ukrainian foreign minister. >> american artifacts on "american history tv."
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classified documents about the gulf of tonkin 50 years ago this week, congress passed the gulf of tonkin resolution giving president bush johnson broad powers to wage war in southeast asia. american artifacts. watch more american history tv next week. while congress is in recess, we are in prime time monday through friday featuring events from watergate on its 40th anniversary. american history tv on c-span 3. committeese judiciary heard from the head of citizenship and immigration services. the agency that oversees petition for immigration benefits such as green cars, naturalization, asylum. this oversight hearing is two and a half hours. issile defense system. senator wicker, i'll let you
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respond. >> that last item dome -- good morning. the judiciary committee will come to order, without objection the chair is authorized to declare recesses of the committee at anytime. we welcome everyone to this morning's hearing on oversight of the u.s. citizenship and immigration services. i'll begin by recognizing myself for an opening statement. welcome to the house judiciary commit, director rodriguez. i understand this is your first time testifying in front of congress as the director of uscis. your appearance comes at a time when americans are feeling the repercussions of the illegal immigration crisis on the southwest-west border. of course if president obama took seriously his duty to secure the u.s. border and enforce laws against illegal immigration there would be no such crisis. u.s. custom its and border protection is the dhs agency getting most of the attention during this southwest border crisis, but there is no doubt
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that policies implemented by uscis are a major source of the problem. by that i mean policies such as deferred action for child arriv arrivals. and fears of persecution claims and even higher asylum grant rates by uscis officers. daca is a major reason for the influx of illegal immigrants to the united states. and discussion of the program is pertinent since uscis recently announced the renewal of an initial tough of two-year grants of daca will be process. ed. uscis made changes to the original daca guidelines and requirements including gutting the education requirements. i previously expressed concern about the lack of any constitutional authority to implement daca. the cost of the program increased weight times for
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illegal immigration from daca processing and fraud in the program. fraud is of paramount concern since an immigration system subject to rampant fraud is a national security risk. so i was particularly astounded in may when the uscis added question and answer number 21 to its existing daca guidance. it's an absolute invitation for fraud in which the uscis virtually admits it will not verify the validity of documents as evidenced by daca eligibility. i understand when uscis leadership was asked about question 21, congressional staff members were assured that, quote, generally, the majority of documents received are valid, end quote. but forgive me if such an assurance is not comforting, especially now that uscis is broadcasting its lack of attention to even attempt
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validation. the uscia processes over six million applications per year. i understand the magnitude of that responsibility and the enormous volume of work should make anti-fraud measures all the more important. unfortuna unfortunately, what we've been hearing for years from sources at uscis and even the uscis union is the existence of culture getting to question. yes. unrelentless adjudicators who are routinely overwithin that they deny applications or petitions. there are documented instances of employees at leadership at uscis taking control of applications or petitions that have been brought to their attention by immigration lawyers or other outside forces. and i understand that there are ongoing investigations of such illegitimate interference in the
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adjudication process. the very notion that an application can be approved, despite fraud on the part of the applicant, and that uscis leadership will intervene if they get a call or e-mail from an outside party interested in a certain visa application is disturbing, to say the least. we know that the president has promised more administrative action to allow unlawful immigrants to remain in the united states and receive quasilegal status and the right to work. in fact, some of the different tactics he may try to take were even outlined in a set of 2010 leaked uscis memos regarding administrative alternatives to comprehensive immigration reform and immigration administrative relief options. however, let's be clear. such policies of this administration including many implemented at uscis, as well as promises about future
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administrative legal administrations continue to encourage unlawful immigrant parents to smuggle their children into the united states. these policies are putting money directly into the pockets of human smuggling and drug cartels. and they're undermining the fundamental principles that congress creates the laws and the president is bound to enforce them. i'm interested in hearing how under director rodriguez's leadership the uscis will no longer contribute to this state of affairs and i look forward to the director's testimony. it's now my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the committee, mr. conyers for his statement. >> thank you chairman goodlatte and members of the committee. in a nutshell, the united states citizenship and immigration service services are vital in examining
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the young people that are coming across our southern border. and i want to suggest that before we leave for five weeks that we try to ease the deportation of children and appropriate emergency funds. bus we have too few judges, too few asylum offices. we have 243 immigration judges. for 375,000 cases. we're talking about a more than
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four-year backlog, my colleagues. and, so, youngsters with valid claim should have a speedier way to have that determined. now, more -- those without valid claims, i'm sorry to say, should be sent back. but that determination is what democracy is all about. and it's our responsibility. to be careful in how we do this. i know the strong feelings about these youngsters pouring over here. but the question is how do we dispose of it consistent with democratic principles that will guide us. and nowhere should this be more
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keenly felt than the house judiciary committee itself. so, we must determine even though there may be violence, persecution, trafficking. we're at a recess, and we still don't know. throughout this session of congress, there have been too many of us that have had but one theme. the president isn't enforcing immigration law. and this is a myth. a myth that has been debunked in hearing after hearing where we have heard about record-breaking detentions, removals and prosecutions.
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still, the majority is not persuaded by facts and continue to blame the president for their inaction on immigration reform. many of them have argued that the president's use of prosecutorial discretion is unconstitutional. and they should be removing young people seek the opportunity, if they qualify to live, work and study in the united states. they said that our laws protecting people fleeing prosecution and torture in their home countries should be rolled back and more of them should be detained for longer periods of time. and most recently, some is have used a humanitarian crisis
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affecting women and young children in central america to say that we can't fix our broken immigration system and provide relief to millions of undocumented americans living within our borders. and that begins right in this important committee. so, today, let's listen carefully. over a year ago, the united states senate passed a comprehensive reform bill allowing millions of individuals to apply for earned legal status. the house majority has refused to bring the bill, or its companion bill, h.r. 15 for a vote. the congressional budget office
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tells us that we would reduce our deficit by $900 billion over 20 years through these proposals. and so this refusal to bring a bill to the floor, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of americans support comprehensive immigration reform is something that i feel very badly about. if such a bill were brought to the floor, i'm confident that it would pass, even the house of representatives in the 113th congress. and unfortunately, i'm beginning to think that the only immigration bill that we might ever see in this congress will be a bill to strip protections that all of us unanimously agreed to extend to child victims of trafficking,
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persecution and torture and abuse. and i don't feel or believe that merely -- i feel that we can do better than this. we were sent here to solve problems that demand action on comprehensive immigration reform. and so i urge my colleagues, majority and minority, in the house to end the delay and to start acting. and i join the chairman in welcoming our distinguished witness. and i yield back the balance of my time. thank you. >> thank you, ranking member. it's my understanding that the ranking member of the immigration subcommittee would like to make an opening statement.
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ordinarily, we could ask at this time that members put their statements in the record. however, noting her request and noting that the chairman of the subcommittee is not present, the chair will turn to the gentleman from utah, mr. chavets for an opening statement. the gentleman from utah, mr. chaffetz recognized for his opening statement. >> i thank the chairman. this is obviously a vital issue to the united states and it is something that is exploding on our borders and exploding in this country. as somebody who represents good hard-working americans who are doing the right thing. they're paying their taxes, they're working hard, they're trying to take care of their kids. they may be an individual who has just graduated trying to get their feet on the ground. there's a whole other wave of people coming here. i happen to believe, mr. chairman, there is a proper place for asylum, for those people who are truly in harm's way whose life is in danger.
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this is a country who's had open arms but we're being taken advantage of and by great numbers. the flow coming across our border is absolutely unbelievable. by every metric, every account, everything i've seen, people who are coming here and trying to take advantage of the united states of america and our generosity are overwhelming the system and the consequences, we have people who are legally and lawfully trying to come to this country, we've been ignoring those people. the people who are legally and lawfully getting in line, doing it the right way, trying to come in in the front door, what about those people? because the resources that we've had to take for people who aren't willing to play by the rules have put a huge strain on the system. that's why i think this hearing today is so vital today. we have to address some very important topics. those people that are coming across and claiming asylum. and they're not just coming from one or two countries.
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when i went and visited the border and i went to the detent center in phoenix, there were representatives from 60 countries trying to come across the border. they were overwhelming the district. when i visited the phoenix i.c.e. office and what's going on in the system, you had people literally knocking on the door saying please arrest me because i want to get in the system. and the system generally works like this. you come in, you make your claim. you're going to get some sort of court date. now in phoenix, when i was there, what they told me in 2013, you would get a court date in 2020. in the meantime, what are you going to do? you're going to say, because my court date is so far in the future, i need to be able to work. and then we grant these people a work permit. so, now, they get free education, free health care, and they have a work permit to compete against somebody who is legally, lawfully here.
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whether they're on a green card or maybe they're maybe a united states citizen, competing for those jobs. again, we can be compassionate. but the reality is, president obama and this administration has created a magnet. and the magnet says this, come step foot in the united states of america and nothing's going to happen to you. there's not going to be a consequence to this. it's unfair. it's not right. the president owns this issue. the president has created this situation. there's a reason why, particularly the unaccompanied minors are flowing across the border. because they don't feel like anything's going to happen to them. we're going to take care of them. we're going to actually -- oh, we'll go ahead and take you. then we'll pass you off to somebody else. if you had a note in your pocket, we'll pass you off to somebody else, do we do any background checks on who we're passing these minors to? no, we don't. do we check the legal status of the person we're handing them
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off to? no, this administration doesn't do that. it's fund mentally to its core wrong. and a key part of this system is what the united states citizenship and immigration service does along with this process. we've got a lot of good men and women. patriotic, working hard, trying to do the right thing for their country. but i worry about the direction that they're giving. the direction that they're being given by their management. and i worry what this administration is telling them to do. or not to do. and that's a deep concern. so, mr. chairman, i appreciate you holding this hearing. a lot of members have good questions. i look forward to hearing. and i yield back. >> chair thanks the chairman and welcome miss lofgren for the opening statement. >> thank you. let me begin by opening the hearing by welcoming him to his
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new position. i think it's fair to say that uscis doesn't get the attention that the rest of the components of dhs do. but its mission is very important. as we know, uscis adjudicates a wide array of immigrant and nonimmigrant petitions. families hoping to reunite. businesses searching for talent. persons fleeing torture, all to become american citizens all go through your agency and it's critically important to our country that your agency perform well. it's also important to point out that the uscis is responsible for all of these important activities without taxpayer money. it's entirely fee-driven except for a minor amount used for e-verify. all of the applicants pay for the services that they receive. our country? i sometimes mention my
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grandfather who came to the united states in the early 20th century. got on a boat, got off the boat, and i'm in congress today because he had the courage to want the american dream. the director's own story of his family fleeing turkey and poland to escape anti-semitism and to cuba, then fleeing cuba to escape communism. and here he is today part of the rich american fabric. i've always admired immigrants who have enough get up and go to get up and go. they made our country. we here have inherited that rich history, and we're now in a position to help shape the future for those who come after us and it's incumbent we preserve that legacy. there are many topics that will be discussed today, but i want to touch on the issue because it's already been mentioned about the children, the
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unaccompanied children who have been apprehended at the southwest border. as we know, these individuals are under law placed in the safe keeping of the department of health and human services, but it is uscis, asylum officers who determine whether there is a well-rounded fear of persecution and in the director's written testimony he explains that almost 65% of the asylum applications filed by unaccompanied children that have been adjudicated this fiscal year have been approved. some argue this somehow means that there is a rubber stamp of these applications or that the asylum system is vulnerable to fraud and abuse. i look at that statistic and think these are vulnerable children who are fleeing persecution and extreme violence, and they are thankful that they are receiving the protection to which they are entitled under domestic and international law. i think it's worth pointing out
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that an application for asylum isn't illegal. that's part of our immigration laws and it has been since after world war ii. now, children who have been abandoned, abused or neglected and who obtain a state court order can apply to uscis for special immigrant status. the director notes over 3,900 applications for this sij status have been received this fiscal year. those of us who went to south texas this month know that these applications require a finding by a state court that these children have been abandoned. state court makes that determination that's only then that the uscis will proceed. now, children who have been victims of severe forms of human trafficking are eligible for a t-visa. it's important we maintain and defend this procedure.
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as mr. conyers pointed out, we had a nearly unanimous vote in 2008 that put the congress and america on record saying we will fight human trafficking and we will make sure that the victims of human trafficking are given safe haven in the united states. much of this discussion in the congress and in the country has overlooked the fact that the wi wilbur force act is about human trafficking. if we eliminate the protections in that act what we will be saying is we win countenance the victims of trafficking being returned to their traffickers. i will say this, that we did make an exception for the children from contiguous countries and we have learned much to our sorrow that those exemptions need to be revisited because the united nations at our request has reviewed our processes and found that children from contiguous
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countries who have been trafficked are, in fact, being returned to their traffickers. with that, mr. chairman, i look forward to this hearing and i yield back. >> without objection all other opening statements will be made part of the record. we thank our only witness for joining us today. director rodriguez, if you would please rise, i will begin swearing you in. do you swear that the testimony that you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> i do. >> thank you. let the record reflect director rodriguez responded in the affirmative. mr. rodriguez serves as the director of the united states citizenship and immigration services, the department of homeland security agency responsible for administering and processing immigration benefits including asylum, naturalization and visa petition. prior to joining uscis, mr.
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rodriguez was first an assistant u.s. attorney in pittsburgh, led the department of labor's wage and hour division, and served as the head of the office of civil rights within the department of health and human services respectively. he attended brown university where he earned a bachelor of arts in history in 1984. mr. rodriguez received his jd from boston college in 19 88. thank you very much for coming and we look forward to your testimony. your written statement will be entered into the record in its entirety. i ask you to state your record. there is a timing light on the table. when it turns yellow, you have one minute left to summarize your testimony. thank you and thank you for being here today. you may again. >> thank you, chairman goodlatte. good morning, ranking member conyers, congressman chaffetz and other members of the
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committee. i am extremely honored to be the new director of the united states citizenship and immigration services and to be before you today. i hope that today is the beginning of a long and fruitful and constructive relationship that i will have with this committee as a whole and with its members in particular. i am also honored to be the leader of more than 18,000 extremely dedicated men and women who are the employees of the united states citizenship and immigration services. i have worked in many different government positions. i have worked in the private sector. and i can say even after the short time in office that as a country, we really should be pleased to have the extreme level of talent, commitment and work ethic that characterizes so many of the people that i had the opportunity to meet in these
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last three weeks. i accepted this job because i am a patriot. i am a patriot who believes that america is indeed unique in its freedom, its equality, its energy and its enterprise. and those qualities are the product of the kind of people who are in this country and who come to this country. they are people who work hard, they are people who take risks, they are people who are dedicated to making a better life for their family. and those kinds of people come from all over and do all kinds of things. they can be tomato pickers, they can be physicists, they can be captains of industry, they can be plumbers. and for me, the challenge as director of citizenship and immigration services, the reason i am embracing this challenge, is to create a fair and efficient system for those individuals to find a place in our society.
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i am the son and grandson of immigrants. my grandparents did flee communism in cuba and both fled anti-semitism and hardship in both turkey and poland. these are motivators for my work here, as well. like so many, my parents hoped for a better future for me and for my sister, as well. i have spent the majority of my career as a law enforcement officer. i don't need to have done that to know that there are many people who wish the united states harm. and so i do view it as a very solemn and important part of my work to safe guard the security and safety of the united states. i'd like to relate two particular experiences that i've had during my few days as director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services. i had the honor of attending a
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naturalization ceremony where 53 different countries were represented. showing the remarkable energy and talent that continue to pursue the dream of becoming new americans every day. and i had the opportunity recently to meet with the recently-returned refugee processing team from our refugee asylum international operations division that had recently come back from iraq. these are incredibly dedicated and talented public servants who i can say with great confidence inspired me when i heard the stories of the work that they do. and we have some challenging issues to talk about today. i have no doubt that we'll be talking about the deferred action for childhood arrivals program. i can say as a former prosecutor, i have exercised discretion, i have worked for leaders who exercised that discretion. that is not anything novel in the various an enforcement enterprises in our country. it is my view that daca provides
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an opportunity to exercise pros cue torl discretion. for an individual i met about to receive her degree in harvard or another individual in medical school trying to decide to be a dermatologist or obgyn. i imagine we will also speak about the crisis at the border. i think that has been noted, the president has recognized this as a very serious problem, as has my agency and has secretary johnson. i would like this morning to talk in more detail about how our asylum process works, and the degree to which these asylum claims actually play a role in this crisis. i look forward to our continuing conversation this morning, thank you.
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>> thank you. i would like to take a few minutes away from this hearing to talk about someone who was a dear friend of mine, a mentor and a member of the house judiciary committee, my predecessor representing the sixth district of virginia congressman m. caldwell butler passed away last night around midnight. he served with a special election in 1972 until his retirement at the beginning of 1983 he served on this committee that entire time, and he served here with great distinction at a time when this committee went through some very difficult issues, including his being very actively involved in the watergate investigation and in the impeachment proceedings relating to former president richard nixon. he was a public servant in the truest sense of the word. he has given immeasurably to his
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country, his state and his community roanoke, virginia, where he lived his entire life and to which he was extremely dedicated. he attended the roanoke public schools and was undergraduate degree at the university of richmond and law degree from the university of virginia. he was admitted to the virginia bar in 1950 and commenced practice in roanoke. he also served in the united states navy. he served in the virginia house of delegates from roanoke from 1962 to 1971. and served as the minority leader from 1966 to 1971. he was a friend of everyone who knew him and someone who i had great respect. he will be badly missed. his wife june passed on just a month ago. it is a great loss for the roanoke community and for our country. and i thank the committee for allowing me to remember him for
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a few moments here. the gentleman from michigan served in the house of representatives and on this committee with congressman butler. i would love to recognize him for a few words. >> i thank you very much. so did zoe lofgren serve with him. i remember him very well. there are very few conservatives that i remember, going back that far, as clearly as i remember him because he was an impressive member of the congress. we exchanged views on a almost regular basis, but our friendship was never impaired by the different perspectives that
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we had on how government should run. so i join you, mr. chairman in observing and remembering a distinguished member of the house judiciary committee. i would like to yield to the gentle lady from california for any comments she might have. >> i appreciate you yielding, mr. chairman. i was a young law student working for congressman don edwards, also a member of the committee. i remember mr. butler very well. he was a person who we all admired. even if we didn't agree on everything that he thought, he was a man of tremendous principle, totally honest and totally brave in standing up for what he thought was right and the constitution, and he will be greatly missed. i count myself as one of his
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many admirers and i remember him quite fondly of my days as a young staffer, and i thank the gentleman for yielding. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i thank the gentleman from michigan and gentlewoman from california for their remarks. we offer our sincere condolences to the butler family. they are in our thoughts and prayers in this difficult time. it was a great honor to know and to have the privilege of working for caldwell butler. i learned a great deal from him over the years. his guidance and wisdom will be missed by me and many others. i thank you all for allowing me to say a few words. we'll now turn to the questioning of director rodriguez. director, i know you are new to the job. i would like to get your perspective on things that
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concern us greatly and if there is an opportunity to correct some things or clarify what the uscis is doing in certain areas. as i mentioned in my opening statement, question 21 of the revised deferred action for childhood arrivals or daca, frequently asked questions states, will uscis verify documents or statements that i provide in support of a request for daca? and uscis answer is, "uscis has the authority to verify documents, facts and statements that are provided in support of requests for daca. uscis may contact education institutions, other government agencies, employers or other entities in order to verify information." this answer seems to put applicants on notice that uscis in most cases will not, in fact, verify the validity of documents submitted to satisfy eligibility
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requirements. and thus, the frequently asked questions invites fraud. if uscis takes seriously its stated anti-fraud commitment, why is it a good step to basically notify potential applicants that documents will not be verified? you may want to pull that microphone closer to you. i don't think it's turned on either. there we go. >> i really appreciate the opportunity to work with you and this committee on various concerns that they may have. as i understand the concern here is the suggestion that there will not be a systemic verification of the authenticity of documents presented at the time of daca renewals.
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it is my understanding that there is scrutiny of these documents. certainly at the time of initial application. we have a robust fraud detection and national security directorate that includes law enforcement and military officials among its ranks that engages in a variety of systemic checks of any individual who seeks any sort of benefit from uscis as to criminal history, terrorist behavior, possibly other threats to the united states. and our adjudicators also receive training so they can in appropriate instances, flag applications for benefits that appear to present fraud. it is for that reason that the agency felt comfortable in saying that in the ordinary course of business, while there would not be a specific attempt to authentic particular documents that, there is an
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ability our adjudicators have to look at documents. if they do present concerns at the time of the review during the adjudication process to flag those applications for further review. >> a great many applications contain fraudulent documents. it would seem to me a better policy would be to say that the documents are going to be reviewed and to leave applicants with the impression that they should not submit fraudulent documents, that they will be checked, and if they are found to be fraudulent that there are severe consequences that would befall someone submitting fraudulent documents to your organization. >> chairman,ing i appreciate the concern that you have raised. i am in the process right now reviewing all the agency's processes, and certainly one of the things i will be dedicating special attention to are any issues related to national security or fraud. those are high priorities to me. >> thank you. the president indicated his
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intention to continue to act administratively to change u.s. immigration policy when and if congress does not do so in a manner to the president's liking. he has previously acted on daca, expansion of parole, reducing the issuance of notices to appear for unlawful immigrants, prosecutorial discretion regarding removal of unlawful and deportable aliens and several other means. as you entered the agency a few weeks ago, you must have received a briefing on the status of the next administrative action. would you please tell us what is next on the president's agenda? >> let me be clear. i think the administration has also been clear about this. no decisions have been made. the directive that we have received is too examine possibilities for different avenues to exercising that prosecutorial discretion. i know that our secretary is in a process of engaging with
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frontline employees at dhs. members of congress from both sides of the aisle and stakeholders from a broad spectrum of american society. that process is ongoing. no decisions have yet been made in that process. >> the speakers border crisis working group, which i'm a member, recently met with secretary johnson. during that meeting i asked the secretary what would be needed in order to address the surge in those claiming credible fear? secretary johnson indicated that a change in law to strengthen the credible fear standard would be necessary to fix the current six. do you agree that such a fix is needed? secretary johnson then said that while a fix is needed, now is not the appropriate time to fix the credible fear standard. when claims have gone from 5,000 to an estimated 50,000 in a short number of years, and your testimony indicates that those claiming credible fear are part of the surge, why is this not the time to fix this weak
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standard? >> i'd like to put this issue in a little bit of perspective. at this point, roughly 15% of individuals being apprehended at the border are presenting credible fear claims. we have searched our own capacity to address these claims. we moved personnel to the various border processing areas to process those claims we accelerated our review time to a period of eight days so as to ensu ensure -- >> well, thank you. >> i'm sorry. >> go ahead. >> to ensure we adjudicate those claims as efficiently as possible. at least uscis has been able to surge in that manner. i think that is the basis for which the secretary may have suggested now may not be the time to address this particular issue.
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>> point of fact, the initial credible fear hearing is now resulting in 92% of those cases being approved to move on to the next status in the process, which involves the detention of people or releasing those people into the united states, and as we know a great percentage of those do not return for their subsequent hearing. so it seems to me that increasing that standard and doing it now would send worth to people if they truly are seeking political asylum in the united states, they should state that when they come to this country and be prepared to show that it at least is more likely than not that they have a case that deserves to go on to that final hearing rather than being rubber stamped through, as i would argue, they are being now. >> congressman, i would not necessarily adopt the view these claims are being rubber stamped through. on my third day in office, i sat
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in on a credible interview. i am a former prosecutor. i conducted probably thousands of interrogations myself. i was very favorably impressed actually by the quality of the interrogation that i saw, by the probing nature of the interrogation i saw. i do think these interviews are being conducted in an effective manner. that said, the legal standard to establish credible fear is obviously a threshold standard that only then qualifies the individual for later adjudication. >> those later adjudications are now riser to approval rates that approach 70%, which is, to my knowledge, much higher than it has been in previous years. >> and in acknowledging that concern, chairman, i look forward to a continuing conversation about this issue. >> the chair thanks the gentleman. time has expired and the chair
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recognizes the gentleman from michigan, mr. conyers for his questions. >> thank you, mr. chairman. would you discuss director rodriguez, the sheer numbers we are talking about? how many young people have come across our southwest border so far this year and last year and the year before? >> congressman, i apologize that as i sit before you, i can't tell you the specific numbers. certainly those numbers have grown over time. they remain essentially in the tens of thousands, but it is the fact that those numbers continue to grow. >> well, i have 50,000 for 2013, 25,000 for 2012, and even lesser
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number for 2011. does that figure in agreeably with your thoughts on this? >> my general understanding is that the trend until very recently was an upward trend. i think that trend has begun to level off. one thing i would notice i actually started reading latin american newspapers in honduras, guatemala and el salvador. spanish is actually my first language. there are increasingly stories in the media, one about individuals being returned, two about the fact daca offers no benefit to these individuals. and i think that and the marshalling of efforts by the government, specifically by my agency, appears possibly to have
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started to take some effect with individuals in central america. >> now, what about personnel? i mentioned just a handful of judges and so forth here. i don't think we can realistically on your 15th day in office ask you why we aren't doing more when i have some pretty low figures of personnel that you have. >> well, this is actually my fifth transition, congressman, into a new agency. and one of the key aspects of doing that is you need to be ready to drink from a fire hose, jump on 100 mile-an-hour train, chew gum and rub your head all at the same time. so i've been busy trying to do
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exactly that. what i do know is the agency has recognized this additional burden. it has added 150 asylum officers or is in the process of adding 150 asylum officers, noting the additional demands being placed on it, at least in part by the situation at the border. >> you were the lead attorney in united states versus flores, which involved enslavement of mexican and guatemalan nationals who had been smuggled from border areas in arizona to farms in south carolina and florida. what, if you can recall, did you get out of that experience and working with vulnerable populations, and how do you think it may positively affect
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your work as the direct or of this very important office that you hold now? united states citizenship and immigration services? >> thank you, congressman conyers for that question. customs was a career highlight for me. on many levels i have to tell you i was inspired by the stories of the victims that i met in that case. these were individuals very often from indigenous areas of guatemala. for many of them, spanish was a second language. their first language were indigenous dialects in those countries. these were strong, hard-working, really amazing individuals. the opportunity to vindicate their rights and to fight the victimization that had occurred to them was really an important
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career opportunity for me. it sensitized me to the fact human trafficking and labor exploitation are serious problems that particularly befall individuals who work in our shadow economy, as these individuals did. that certainly will influence, it will sensitize me to certain issues that uscis faces. >> i think your experiences have prepared you well for your responsibili responsibility. we want to work as closely as we can. this committee has a great concern about this challenge at our southwest border, and we'd like to stay in touch with you for your past two weeks and one day on the job. >> i look forward to a very fruitful relationship, congressman. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. conyers. the gentleman from north carolina is recognized for his
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questions. >> pleasure, mr. chairman. director rodriguez, good to have you with us this morning. mr. rodriguez, the bush administration required that certain employers such as federal contraries, those employing foreign students in the optical practical training program and others use e-verify. what plans do you have to expand mandatory e-verify use? >> right now there are obviously very limited segment of employers subject to mandatory e-verify. i have been pleased to say that the accuracy rate for e-verify is at a high level. and our ability to adjudicate temporary nonconfirmations appears to be very effective. employers who utilize e-verify report high level satisfaction with that system.
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our agency has prepared a report to this body which was delivered some time ago that talked about what would be required to move to universal mandatory e-verify as a capability that we could achieve. i look forward to a continuing conversation with how we get there. >> i thank you for that. how do you ensure that employers -- strike that. how do you ensure those employers required to use e-verify such as federal contractors and employers of students in the optical practical training program are, in fact, using the system? >> congressman, i will acknowledge that as part of the many things i'm trying to learn as i come on to the agency, i have not yet had the opportunity to brief on that specific issue. i certainly would look forward to following up with your office about the steps that we take to
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verify utilization by that particular portion of employers. >> if you would keep us current on that, i would appreciate. >> you can count on it, congressman. >> when will the uscis implement its programs to allow individuals to lock their social security numbers for work authorization purposes in an effort to prevent the number being used fraudulently to obtain employment or a job? >> i understand we have the capacity to lock social security numbers in those instances where we believe a social security number is being used fraudulently. i am not familiar with the ability of specific individuals to lock their own social security numbers. i imagine they can ask us to do it. again, that is an area i look forward to working with your office to get you the answers you need. >> thank you, sir. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the gentleman from virginia,
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mr. scott, is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. rodriguez. about the present process. if we are going to shorten the wait period for determining status, obviously we have to hire more personnel. who do we need to hire and how much would it cost to significantly reduce the time for hearings? >> i am in the process right now of reviewing various issues related to wait time. i do know that there was a time when, for example, the family petiti petition where the wait times for those had been unacceptably long. the agency has been able to restore the wait times to five months, a more acceptable time frame. i am going to continue as part of my transition into the agency to look at this issue of wait times to ensure that we are
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moving as efficiently as possible. it's important to note that we are a fee-funded agency. there are pressures on us from all sides to do all kinds of things with our fees. we need to live within our budget is the bottom line. we are going to continue to look at how we operate most efficiently, deliver the highest level of customer service within the fee structure that we have. >> you mentioned five months. what is your goal? is there any way you can get down to a couple of days? >> the goal for those is about five months. i'm not sure we would ever be in a position to get it down to a couple of days for those family petition. there are other categories we are able to process far more quickly. in some cases we are required by law, actually, to process benefits more quickly. that is, that goal really represents over time what has been seen as the target time for
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adjudication of those particular benefits. >> the people are entitled to attorneys at their own expense, i understand in many cases there are pro bono attorneys available, is that true? >> i have no doubt that there are pro bono attorneys who are available to assist people with various aspects, various immigration issues. >> what do lawyers typically charge for these cases when they are payed? >> i don't know, congressman. i imagine actually that there is probably just having been a former private practice lawyer myself, i imagine there is a wide variety of what lawyers may cost in this particular field. >> if someone is deported, where do they go? >> i'm sorry? >> where do they go?
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[ no audio ] >> your mic is not on. director rodriguez, your mic is not on. you might want to repeat that last sentence. >> sorry. my agency, of course, congressman, does not handle deportations and an enforcement and removal. i did have some bit of experience as a private practice lawyer with the removal process. this can vary a lot. my understanding generally is people are in detention in some cases, and at some point they are sent back generally flown back to their country of origin. honestly, because it's not what my agency does, i'm not fully familiar with that process. >> we had an influx of young children coming to our borders. have other countries experienced similar influxes? >> i am at least aware that mexico has had its own influx
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driven by many of the same factors as the individuals coming to our country. i am not fully familiar where else those individuals might be going. >> mr. chairman, i yield the balance of my time to the gentle lady of california. >> thank you, mr. scott. i have just a couple of -- i have many questions, but i wanted to address the issue of in absentia rates. oftentimes we hear compliance that the unaccompanied children don't show up for the immigration hearings. in fact, i heard some of my colleagues across the aisle say 90% of the kids do not show up. politifact ruled that claim false. most recently the department of justice testified before the senate that a little bit of half the kids show up, but we now have a complete picture because the american immigration council
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analyzed the raw immigration court data made public by the transactional records access clearinghouse. they looked at every single case of juveniles appearing in immigration court beginning in 2005 through june of this year. looking at only closed cases of children not detained, over 60% of the children appeared in immigration court. here is an important data point. when the child has a lawyer, 92. >> paula: 5% of those children appeared in court. it never dipped below 89% in any fiscal year. i would like to ask unanimous consent to put into the record the analysis prepared by the immigration policy center indicating this very high appearance rate. >> without objection, the analysis will be made a part of the record. the gentleman from virginia's time is expired. i recognize myself for questions. director rodriguez, last thursday "the new york times"
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reported on a leaked dhs memo laying out a program to allow individuals in honduras who are not eligible for refugee status to be paroled in the united states. as you know, historically parole has been used in very rare instances on a case by case basis for temporary admittance for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. your own website notices that parole, "is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the united states for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency." since the uscis grants parole, would you tell the committee how such a program intended for a large group of individuals would not be an illegitimate expansion of authority. we use parole for individuals not being persecuted. why isn't that a violation of current law? >> first of all, i think it's important to underscore in this area, as well, no decisions have
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been made. secretary johnson, my colleagues throughout dhs recognize the significance, the importance of dealing -- >> would you agree that if such were to occur it would be unprecedented? >> i would not be able to say. >> give me an example where there is a precedent for such type of action. >> again, i think the main thing is any parole program or any other sort of program would need to be of certain criteria. >> assuming the leaked memo is accurate, we never had a program where individuals in another country have been able to take advantage of the system as the president presumably or you have proposed. i can't think of any president. again, can you think of any president? >> i could not specifically tell you whether there is or is not a precedent at this point. i underscore no decisions have been made. i will say we are working very
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hard throughout dhs to find solutions to what we all agree is a significant issue being presented at our border. >> if there is a precedent, we would like to know it. i assume since you can't think of one there is not. even the uscis union has stated that uscis adjudicators are being pressured to, quote, get to yes, on petition and applications for immigration benefits. don't you agree that any uscis emphasis on adjudicators having to meet quotas, numbers of applications add ju s adjudicat day undermine the integrity about the issues you seem concerned in your opening testimony? >> interestingly enough, as many individuals told me there is a culture of getting to yes, i heard other individuals saying there is a culture getting to no. let me suggest that the culture we need to have and the culture i have observed is a culture of getting to the right answer.
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>> are you aware of any pressure on the adjudicators to try to get to an affirmative answer? >> i am aware those allegations have been made. >> i know, but are you aware of any incidents where that occurred? >> i am not aware of any specific incidents where that occurred. >> let me go to the program already mentioned several times today that was unilaterally instituted by the president two years ago, that has allowed almost 600,000 individuals to stay in this country who were previously in an illegal status. among the documents that could be proffered by these individuals to show they were eligible for the program or educational records, employment records and military records. what i would like to ask you is how often does uscis actually verify whether the educational records or military records or employment records submitted are actually valid and are not an
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indication of fraud? >> congressman, i would not be able to give you a specific percentage as to when that occurs. what i would be able to tell you is that it is my understand based on my initial review of how our agency operates that extensive training is given to our adjudicators. >> i understand that. if you are not going to verify the record and just take them at face value, that's an open invitation to a lot of individuals to apply for the legalization program, and have pretty good confidence they are going to be approved whether eligible or not. >> well, our people are trained to look for indicators of fraud. >> right. why wouldn't you be able to give us an estimate as to how many out of 100 applications would be verified? >> i'm not able to. i'm not sure we studied that in that way. it is the sense that i get from the staff that does this work
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that their judgment is that most of these documents are, in fact, valid and authentic. >> thank you, director rodriguez. that cone includes my questions. the gentleman from california, miss lofgren is recognized for hers. >> thank you. i want to ask a little bit about how we are doing the credible fear interviews for families detained? it is my understanding the committee staff requested data involving the positive and negative and we don't have that yet. you don't have it either, but we are looking forward to receiving that. here are some of the concerns that have been relayed to me. recent news reports indicate there was a 9-year-old boy from guatemala who threatened to commit suicide while he was there if he was deported, but
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that he was sent back any how. that there are other instances where families were put on a plane and actually then were taken off when staff were able to provide information they would be killed if they were returned. here is my question. it is my understanding from attorneys who have represented some of the older children that the credible fear interviews are being held in groups. for example, a mother would be interviewed with her children present. i think that's problematic because if that mother has been the victim of rape or other kinds of serious matters, she may be reluctant to discuss that in front of her children. similarly, older children who might have been subject to
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sexual abuse might be reluctant to say that in front of a parent. so i'm looking to you to see, is it possible to have these credible fear interviews done with the necessary privacy to elicit actual truth from some of these individuals? if they don't have a fear matter, they will be removed, but if they are, in fact, a victim of trafficking, we want to find that out. >> thank you, congresswoman for that question. it is my understanding that our staff is trained first to interview children specifically in techniques required for interviewing children. i'm a former sex crimes special victims prosecutor, and i know full well that is a different process than interviewing adults. generally for interviewing people who have endured some sort of trauma. i am aware of the concern that
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you raise. as part of my transition, i will look into these particular concerns as soon as i can and to determine whether there is anything we need to do differently. >> i appreciate that. we'll look forward to receiving further information from you. i wanted to address the issue just briefly of the data that was recently transmitted by the department about the number of unaccompanied children applying for asylum. i would ask unanimous consent to put my analysis in the record, but i think it is flawed data because it does not include the children who receive special immigrant juvenile status because a state court has found them to be abandoned and certain trafficking victim visas and the like. so i would ask that you review that analysis, mr. director, and see if you concur in the
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analysis. i also want to talk about the need for efficiency in the agency. it's tough to do, but coming from silicon valley, it's important we do it once, do it right and not come back. for example, i recently had a situation that came to my attention from a business case where there was request for evidence and notice of intent to deny that don't make any sense. for example, one case where there was an allegation that the business person had departed the country but he hadn't. he had been able to disapprove that, but he had to prove it over and over and over again the same point. i'm looking for you prospectively, how do we get technology deployed so that these matters aren't relitigated, wasting the time not only of the government but
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the businesses and families that rely on quick resolution? then a final question on the five-month delay. on the business side, we allow individuals to pay an additional fee for rapid adjudication of a matter. we haven't really gotten into that on the family side, but i'm wondering if we could look at that. for example, if you are an american citizen and you marry someone from another country, the five months might be fine. you have no plans to leave the united states, whatever. but if the spouse is a technology business guy in the valley, he's got to travel all over. it might be worth a substantial fee to get it resolved because of the need to travel. so could you take a look at that opportunity to see if the different family circumstances could be accommodated in that
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way? >> thank you for both those questions. i would like to share that for me one of my top challenges and top priorities is tackling the, our agency's information system. in many cases the systems we have are paper systems or legacy electronic systems that really are not enabling us to operate -- we are operating very well as much as anything else because the ingenuity and work ethic of our people, but we could be operating bet fter modn systems. we have to make sure at a minimum before i conclude my tenure that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for those challenges will be a top priority. i think your second question was whether we can look at the possibility of premium processing for other benefits
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for the business fees premium processing is utilized. i will certainly look into that and communicate with this committee about those possibilities. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> thanks. the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for your service, mr. director. my first question would be this. my district is basically most of the city of cincinnati, most of the greater cincinnati area. we are down in the southwestern portion of ohio. they oftentimes refer to our area as the tri-state area because we have kentucky across the ohio river and indiana is right next to my district, as well. they call it the tri-state area. there was an article recently printed in the "cincinnati inquirer" that indicated there have been 842 of these unaccompanied children that were -- let me ask you a question about that, first of all.
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should we keep referring to them as children? i've seen an article recently that pointed out actually something like 91% of them are teenagers. to your knowledge, is that accurate? i understand there is a big difference between a teenage their was 12 and just 13 and one that is 19 and just turned 20. your understanding would 90% or so of these folks be teenager rather than little 5 or 6-year-old kids? >> i spent a lot of time in your district. i had a case as a federal prosecutor in cincinnati and really enjoyed my time there. the question really for us is a legal question. under the law these are children in terms of what their rights are under the law. >> i understand. we call them infants even if they are under 21 years of age, age of majority which in ohio has come down to 18. we call them infants.
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when people think of infants they are talking about a baby. my only question really thus far is, do you know, is it accurate to say 90%, the article said 91%, 90% are teenagers, meaning they are from 13 to 19? >> i don't know specifically. >> that's fine. >> thank you. so getting on to the question that i put the question within. so 842 are apparently going to the tri-state area. i think 360 of those are to ohio, the state i happen to have one of the districts. in exactly how many are in the greater cincinnati area, didn't point out. but my question is this. it says that they're going to families, for example, going to individuals, trying to farm them out to different people. they are going to watch them until their hearings are ultimately held or whatever happens happens. how much of an effort is
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determined, to determine the legal status of the people that they're going to? >> so congressman, what i have to share is i'm a little bit outside my lane here in the sense that the actual placement of these young people, these children is conducted by the administration with children of family age. i don't know what they do to deal with it. >> it would seem to me that would be -- i don't want to put you on the spot -- it would seem to me that would be an important thing to be determined by the executive branch of the government and probably legislative branch ought to know that, as well. if we are taking folks that are here and i hesitate to say illegally because the way the law was written, which was supposed to deal with trafficking issues, where people were criminally trafficked and so legislation was passed back in 2008, as we know, and so there are some questions whether
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they are here legally or illegally. if people don't really have legal status and a lot of americans are concerned about are here, and we are putting them with people that are also here illegally, maybe under different circumstances, that doesn't seem like a very good idea to me. would you agree with that? >> again, i'm outside my lane. i don't want to substitute my judgment. i legally refer policy matter to the individuals responsible for that placement. >> i have one other question i wanted to get to. as you are probably aware, carnivals and fair industries rely on laborers, seasonal guest workers to substitute their work force. these fairs are important to americaning aagriculture and fund-raising which supports youth and civic programs, beginning in early december
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2013, a significant portion of mobile amusement industry paid premium processing fees for handling of their h2b petition. apparently there is a long delay to getting approval of these and setting back a bunch of businesses across america. because i'm running out of time here, if i could have my staff follow up with you to see if we can't determine why that delay is happening and expedite that matter so we can get folks hired here who we do want to come legally. could we work together on that? >> yes. >> i see a thumbs up. i appreciate that. your staffer in the background also nodding in the affirmative. thank you very much. >> thank you, congressman. >> chair recognizes. gentlewoman from texas ms. jackson lee for five minutes. >> i thank the chair very much. mr. rodriguez, congratulations on your prior service to this
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nation. now a new start in your service to this nation. president befitted himself well as he always does in your appointment. i think it is important to take note of what i heard as i came in, as you were explaining to mr. conyers an extensive background where you understand your responsibilities of enforcing the law, but you also understand the plight of people. so let me start, first of all, by asking about the plight of people and the ability of this government to balance, particularly under immigration services following the law, those surges that may come for reasons of fleeing. i know that there is an office of refugee resettlement that has dual hats in state and homeland security, as well. why don't you give me a brief philosophy. i have more pointed questions,
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but just how do we balance that? you've been a prosecutor. we are on a judiciary committee. we are not calling for the violation of laws, but we are trying to find a balance. how do you see that balance? >> congresswoman, i appreciate you pointing to my experience as a prosecutor. every chief prosecutor i ever worked for has exercised prosecutorial discretion in some way. they have determined priorities. when i was a street prosecutor, we knew that we needed to dedicate more prosecutorial resources to murderers than to individuals who are trying to get on the subway for free. so similar principles apply in our immigration processing, as well. i think your question is how do we deal with surges? one of the things i am pleased to see as the new director of cis is with surges in our work for different reasons at
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many different times. in one respect, the first surge was actually the birth of our agency. our agency was created in the early part of the bush administration. it was separated away from the former ins. that required a huge lift by leadership and staff in order to make this now an independent, fully functioning agency. when daca came along, we had a surge as well. and we learned a number of very useful lessons from that experience, which we can apply for whatever surges we may face in the future. >> let me thank you for that. you made a very valid point. i just want to take a moment of personal privilege to acknowledge the late lionel castillo, who was a neighbor of mine, a constituent of mine, who was on the immigration services under jimmy carter. just came to mind. i only say that because he seemed to have had that same philosophy. that was many, many years ago. as i look at the work that you
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all have to do, 10 million applications, over 50 different types of petitions applications. a prosecutor always lays out his or her case. to win, i think you have to be orderly. from your perspective, a comprehensive immigration reform structure, obviously it is a work of the executive and congress. but an ordering of the responsibility that you have which would then see an enhancement of staffing. it would see more resources because one of the proposals, of course, are the fines that individuals would pay to get in an orderly line. no, not in front of those who have been in line. what's your assessment on getting order to the immigration system in america? >> so of course, thank goodness we're not charging fines. we're actually charging fees because these are -- >> and i stand corrected. they are fees. there will be a multiple of fees. >> -- that individuals are paying.
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i think order is sort of the core business -- one of our core business objectives. >> would you add to that we can deal with the question of dealing with humanitarian crises in your whole answer? thank you. >> yeah, and we have to, of course, address those aggressively when they occur. i think that's the nature of your question. >> well, the nature of my question is that if we pass comprehensive immigration reform, you sort of put in order all that you're dealing with now. you have the ability through laws to address these questions. would it be better to have an order that allows you now to get your hands around the many disparate aspects of immigration in this country, one of which are individuals here to work that are already here in this country. >> that is what we've done. that's what we'll always do, is balance different lines of business for most -- the most efficient processing across our lines of business. >> and the eb-5 petitions, are
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they something you can work with as well that generates jobs and other aspects of economic opportunity? >> yes, the eb-5 petitions are. we are in the process right now of affecting some important changes that were started by now deputy secretary. among other things, centralizing our eb-5 petitions and fully staffing the office to enable us to very efficiently and correctly process those applications. >> i think -- let me just say, the chairman and i have looked at this issue. i think we had some legislation that was moving at one point in time. so i'm looking forward to the ordering of that because i think there is merit to the eb-5 in terms of its investment. if it is an orderly process and as well the benefits that come. but i want to make sure the
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benefits are not overly excessive for the investment in the job creation that is so very important. i'll just finish on this note. is it important for a nation that has shown itself to have been built on immigration and laws to have a humanitarian element to continuing in this process of immigration even in the 21st century? we know what we did in the 1800s, the 1900s, the 20th century in terms of the flow of immigration. do we still have that role now in the 21st century? >> time of the gentlewoman has expired. chair recognizes the gentleman from alabama, mr. backus, for his questions. >> thank you. we've had several words that have been used time and time again here this morning. i've heard the word discretion. i've heard the term humanitarian. you use the word freedom and enterprise. you stress the pillars of our
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democracy. but i've heard discretion, discretion, discretion. i've heard you say that six times. what i hadn't heard you say is rule of law. you're a prosecutor. you enforce the law. my parents, your parents are immigrants. they came here legally. you know, they followed a rule of law. what i'm seeing here is when a rule of law, there's a reason. and you may exercise discretion toward someone that violates that law, but there's also the victim. we also -- you know, you dealt with a lot of victims. you met with those who survived their death, a lot of times. i want to talk about -- and someone on the democratic side said plight of the people. i'd like to talk about those
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that are suffering from the president's actions on encouraging -- and i think it's encouraging. he admitted that daca has incentivized unauthorized immigration, particularly with respect for children. he said that's a problem. that's why people are sending people here. "the new york times" -- i'm going to talk about a very conservative paper. and that's the cameron smith, who's general council for the alabama policy institute. very conservative organization. "the new york times," they agreed on one thing. they said the program, talking about daca, is benefitting some immigrants but it extends the visa wait for others. he talks about daca and the lengthy backlogs on visa and
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citizenship applications where people are following the law. you mentioned all the people that have been transferred to the border from immigration to deal with these children. what "the new york times" said -- and this is an article i'd like you to read maybe when you get back. february the 8th, 2014. the long waits came when the agency, your agency, shifted attention and resources to a program president obama started in 2012 to give deportation deferrals to young, undocumented immigrants according to administration officials. not me. they go on and talk about u.s. citizens petitions for green cards for immediate relatives are at a high, if not the highest, priority in the way congress sets up the immigration system. but there's nightmare story after nightmare story of a man
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coming back from czechoslovakia, his wife a citizen having to wait eight months and still not hearing. a family in australia, he's american, she's australian. they have children. he's been back for six months. they're still there. i don't think it was intended. in fact, the congress also passed a resolution here just july the 8th saying there are now 900 children in tcongo waiting with their adopted parents in the united states because immigration quit processing these applications and assigned it to the state department. the state department has slowed
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down on it. i don't know why you did that. but there's a resolution. i'm going to submit for the record a letter signed by about 20 democratic senators, elizabeth warren, mitch mcconnell, republican, but on both sides, and about 90 of us from the house that said, please process these claims, please pay attention to the democratic republic of congo and quit slowing these things up. so the victims, just like "the new york times" said, the program benefits -- daca is benefitting some. you're having children coming here. you're offering humanitarian thing, but we've got a lot of relatives and families that are being separated because you have taken resources. even the administration in this letter said because of this
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plight on the border, some immigrants extending a visa wait for others. these are people that go through the process. let me close with what cameron smith said in "the birmingham business journal." the governance by rule of law is being challenged as it may be in times crucially important to the american system. by circumventing immigration law, the president has encouraged even more unlawful immigration. in response, america has a choice to either create yet another incentive for unlawful activity by caring for immigrant children and attending to their health needs or processing those who are going through the system. i'd just like to submit this to you and say, please, don't sacrifice families in asia,
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families in europe and deploy all your resources about these children. you know, it tugs at our heart strings, but what you're not seeing is all these examples of people who are suffering. and rule of law, you're a prosecutor. rule of law is what it country is built on. >> the gentleman is very eloquent, but his time has expired. is there a question there to the secretary? if he wants to respond. >> i don't know if you're aware of the resolution for congress on the children. >> yeah, i look forward to reviewing these materials. i am aware of the congo situation. i look forward to discussing that with you. i am committed to the rule of law. that's why when i mentioned to congressman smith the question about the culture of getting to the right answer. under the facts and under the law. and absolutely we need -- we
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have an obligation of stewardship to the people you describe to run an efficient and fair system. >> all right. thank you. >> chair recognizes the gentlewoman from california, ms. chu, for five minutes. >> thank you. first i would like to put into the record this document for the humane immigration rights of los angeles pertaining to oversight. >> without objection, it will be made a part of the record. >> thank you. director rodriguez, i am grat y gratified to hear that you are a prosecutor and that you were in a strong position to challenge false claims to tell truth from fact. and what i want to know is whether the current credible fear system works. i understand the current credible fear asylum system is a robust process that requires an asylum seeker to demonstrate a significant possibility of succeeding in demonstrating a past persecution or well-founded
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fear of future persecution to an immigration judge. so, mr. rodriguez, could you please walk us through what an asylum officer does when conducting a credible fear interview and how does the officer test the correct of an applicant, and how does the officer determine whether there's a significant possibility the individual could be eligible for asylum? >> sure. thank you, congresswoman. i appreciate that question. i don't mind sharing one of the most important sort of transitional activities that i've conducted was actually sitting in on a credible fear interview. it's important to note that the credible fear standard is a threshold standard. in other words, it is not the final determination of whether somebody gets asylum. it's simply a threshold determination to determine whether that individual who otherwise is in an expedited removal proceeding can fully assert those claims.
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i observed the credible fear interview. i understood it to be based on a basic rubric that's used by the asylum office to evaluate those claims. it asks questions specifically targeted to determine whether, in fact, the individual could potentially show a credible fear of persecution or torture on various bases. race, national origin, membership in a particular social group. from that interview, i was satisfied that there is an appropriate matrix of question and appropriate training to our asylum officers to assess those individuals given what is the threshold standard that applies under credible fear. i'll be continuing to look into that to satisfy myself that my initial assessment correct. >> well, in fact, i would like to know about that training. it's my understanding that asylum officers receive
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extensive training to detect fraud and make credibility determinations such as through the u.s. cis academy. can you elaborate on how they are trained to detect such fear? and would you say that u.s. cis officials are effective in detecting such legitimate cases of credible fear? >> thank you, because i realize i hadn't answered that portion of your initial question. and yes, the manner in which the questioning was done did ask questions that go to the question of whether the individual presenting the credible fear claim is themselves a credible person, in a sense whether their story hangs together, whether it makes sense given both the general facts, the country conditions, and the applicable legal standard in that case. now, i am not fully familiar with the exact training curriculum. that's something i'll look into and make a judgment about. >> and are they effective? >> and whether they're
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effective. my sense is that the interviews are effective. my initial assessment is that they are effective in determining whether that threshold standard is actually met. >> there are those in the public who are saying the increase in asylum applications are evidence of fraud in and of itself. i'm struck by the fact that not only has the recent increase in credible fear claims been driven largely by an increase in claims from el salvador, honduras, and guatemala, but the percentage of cases in those countries of finding credible fear have also been increasing. is there a reason to believe that deteriorating conditions in those countries explain the increase in credible fear claims and the increase in credible fear findings? >> congresswoman, the deteriorating conditions in those countries are, in fact, well documented in terms of violent crime, human rights abuses. those sorts of concerns are, in fact, well documented. in fact, there is reason to
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believe that they play a role in the situation we're seeing at our border. >> and are they to be distinguished from the other countries in central america? >> i am most familiar right now with the northern triangle because it's really where a lot of our workload is coming from. i know that similar concerns have emerged from other countries in latin america and frankly throughout the world. >> finally, temporary protective status for filipinos. this is very important to individuals in my district since the devastation of the earthquake. we have been constantly asking for that protective status so filipinos could send remittances and get protective status. what is the status of that? >> i appreciate that question. there is, as you know, ongoing consideration as part of an interagency review process to
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determine whether temporary protective status should be granted in the case of the philippines. that process is ongoing. i do know that prior to my arrival, the agency expedited a number of other benefit categories for which various filipino nationals or filipino immigrants might be eligible in order to afford relief to those individuals in that area. we'll continue to work on concluding the evaluation of the tps process. >> i hope it is soon, mr. rodriguez. >> thank you. i appreciate that. >> thank you. i yield back. >> chair recognizes the gentleman from virginia, mr. forbes, for five minutes. >> mr. chairman, thank you. mr. director, thank you so much for being here today. let's cut to the chase. the president is not enforcing the immigration laws because any time you issue an order for the massive unilateral nonprosecution of individuals who are breaking the law, that's
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by definition not enforcing the law. and what bothers me even more than that, because i recognize some people in this committee don't want him to enforce the law, other people that want him to enforce the law. but when we have the head of the i.c.e. agent unions sitting right beside you and the head of the border patrol agents union, who unlike you have been on the job much longer than three weeks who have conducted literally thousands of interviews with these individuals coming across the border and they say unequivocally that the reason we're having this crisis is because of the president's policies and they've told the president that through their agents, that's what concerns this committee. but one of the other concerns we have is this. they're concerned about gang members that are being released and coming through because their efforts are being take somewhere else. in that probing interrogation you talked about earlier that you were so impressed with, if during the background check or
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other information that's uncovered during the review of a request for deferred action an individual's presence in the united states threatens the public safety or national security, is it not true that that individual will not be able to receive deferred action? >> that is correct. >> all right. do you -- does gang membership qualify as a threat to public safety or national security? >> without a doubt. >> does former gang membership qualify? >> in general, yes. former gang membership would also be a potentially disqualifying -- >> if an individual renounces their membership in a violent criminal gang, are they eligible for asylum or withholding from removal, or are they continued to be recognized as a potential public safety or national security threat? >> generally they would be seen as a threat and denied a
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benefit. again, these things depend on facts and circumstances. >> i'm talking about -- so your testimony earlier was that if they were a member of a gang, then they would be viewed as a public safety -- >> that's correct. if they're a current member of a gang, they would be denied. >> my question is this. how do you know -- i don't think they have i.d. badges or membership cards that they have. if it comes up that they have -- are you asking them in the interview if they were ever a member of a gang? >> among the things that i've prosecuted in the past is organized crime, specifically -- >> i just want to know. i don't question -- >> i want to tell you about my ability to judge what i'm seeing. >> i appreciate that. what i want to know is what your agency is doing in their interviews. are they asking the question, are you a gang member or are you not a gang member when they're doing these interviews. >> the agency through the fraud detection and national security director is doing a robust series of checks to determine whether an individual has a
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disqualifying criminal history. >> are they asking the individuals if they've ever been a member of a violent criminal gang? >> i'm not able to speak to that specific question. >> that's what just absolutely frightens me, when you come in here and you can testify about the broad comprehensive nature we need to review and change this process. when that's asked to you by the other side of the aisle. but when we ask you a simple question on the fact you have testified that gang membership constitutes a public safety or national security threat and we don't even know if we're asking that question. that gives me pause for concern. if you don't know if we're asking the question, do you know what an individual would have to do to renounce that gang membership? do they just have to say, i'm no longer a member? >> congressman, i'm looking into those issues right now. it is my understanding that we have generally been very effective at screening out individuals who pose some sort of national security or criminal justice threat.
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>> you know, mr. director, i don't want to be harsh on you. it's just, can you understand why the american people are so frustrated with this administration? when you come in here and say gang membership is a threat to national security, it's a threat to public safety, and you as the director don't even know on the interviews if you're asking the question if they were a member of a gang and you don't know whether or not they can just say, oh, yes, i was a member, but i'm no longer a member. that is concerning. i'll finish with this and let you respond. when the border agents who are having to do this are saying they're worried because we're letting gang members in the country, then we find you don't even know if we're asking that question, that's a big concern to us. i'll let you respond because my time is up. >> sure. what i do know is where we have cause to believe that an individual has been -- >> cause -- the question should be asked every single time in every single interview if you think it's a public threat and national security issue, which
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you testified it was. to say if you have cause, if somebody shows up and they make the allegation, you ought to be at least asking that question if the border agents are saying this is a big concern. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back with a great deal of frustration. >> the chair thanks the gentleman and recognizes the gentleman from illinois, mr. gutierrez, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm looking forward to writing my letter to leader pelosi. i want to come back to this committee in the next congress of the united states. nothing is more interesting than coming to this committee each and every time. well, guess what? welcome, mr. rodriguez. >> good to be here. >> you finally heard the republicans say they love a union. one union. one union only. of course, it's the union that helps them promote the kind of sent phobic attitude towards immigrants they like to promote in the congress of the united states. that's unfortunate, but they do like a union. finally there's one.
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i don't know if the members of the aflcio or what they are. just so we get clear, he keeps talking about the testimony about the i.c.e. union. are there i.c.e. members on the border stopping people from crossing the border? >> my understanding is the responsibility of u.s. customs and border patrol. >> there we go. so there's one union you should stop talking about at the border since i.c.e. agents aren't at the border of the united states. but why let the facts get in the way of a good story? so here once again we talk about gang members, gang members. do you ask 5-year-olds whether they're in gangs? >> again, i'm looking into -- >> because you got to ask them all, right? 3, 4, 5, 6, 7-year-olds. >> it is my understanding when we believe someone presents a national security or criminal justice threat, based on the biometric data we collect, we follow up. i don't imagine we often do that with 5-year-olds or probably never. >> that's what i thought. but they're probably going to want you to ask 5-year-olds if

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