McAleenan slammed with border questions during budget hearing

Channel: Fox Business
Published: 05/22/2019 05:09 PM

House Homeland Security Committee holds hearing on "A Review of the FY20 Budget Request for the Dept of Homeland Security." Acting DHS Secy McAleenan testifies. FOX Business Network (FBN) is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main St...

On a review of the fiscal year, 2020 budget requests for the department of homeland security. Today the committee is meeting to examine the president's budget. This hearing was originally scheduled for earlier this month with secretary of nilsen, who resigned before the hearing was held. I'D like to welcome our acting secretary of homeland security secretary, kevin michaleen, the acting secretary ...
s being axed to defend the budget before us. In my estimation, is very difficult. The president, that secretary is wearing two hats, as you know, he's been a career employee here in federal service and, in my mind, has done a good job. I thank him on a number of occasions for his work and i lookforward to seeing him and working with him even more in this role. So we welcome you here today, president trump's budget prioritizes construction of a border wall at the expense of critical homeland security priorities. Such as first responder and homeland security grants cyber security programs to defend against foreign spying and initiatives to secure our transportation systems from terrorist attack. The acting secretary has prepared testimony states doing more, with less is an acceptable method for achieving mission goals. Yet this is exactly what the president's budget requests would force. Key parts of the department to do.

The president would squander eight point: six billion dollars in taxpayers, money on a wall that will do nothing to addressthe current situation on the border. I suspect the acting secretary knows that, even if he cannot say it for fear of being the next department official to be dismissed by the white house and make no mistake, it will be the american people picking up the tab for the wall, not mexico, as president Promised congress is preparing to provide additional funding to address the humanitarian crisis on the border, but we cannot allow the president to compromise the rest of the department or our nation's homeland security. In the meantime, unfortunately, rather than engaging with congress to address the humanitarian crisis and implement sound border policy, the white house only continues to make matters worse. The president firedepartment officials, who tried to offer a voice of reason, cut off aid to central america intended to help address the root causes of migration and it's sending essential dhs personnel to the border, potentially undermining department's other critical missions. Frankly, between the vacancies at the department and the reports of the infighting coming out of the white house, it's difficult to know who's, calling the shots when it comes to the border, the president, the acting secretary or stephen miller. Meanwhile, the number of people in cbp's custody continues to rise. We also continue to see shocking photos of families being held in inhumane conditions and children sleeping on the bare ground covered by nothing more than for blanketsand, tragically just this week. Yet another child died in the department's custody, but what can we expect from an administration? That'S separated at least 5,000 children from their parents at the border. To the extent this administration has a border policy, it has been an abject failure. It is part it is past time to implement a strategy of common-sense solutions to address the humanitarian crisis at the border, while ensuring security and upholding our values. First, we need to ensure humanitarian conditions for people in custody and particularly vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women. The surge in families at our borders does not excuse any humane treatment or relieve us of an obligation to treat people.

Withbasic decency, as i mentioned congress, is engaging with this administration to provide supplemental funding. Second, we need more immigration, judges and asylum officers to increase capacity to handle asylum claims and address the long-standing immigration court backlog. Third, we need to expand, proven, cost-effective alternatives to detention to ensure people show up for their court dates as scheduled, while their cases proceed. Finally, we need to help address the root causes, prompting people to come north by restoring a to central american countries acting as partners in addressing this crisis, we can protect our borders in our homeland, while also protecting our american values. The president and the white house have not proven up to that task, but ihope the acting secretary will partner with congress in that effort. In closing, i want to thank the over two thousand two hundred and forty thousand men and women in the department of homeland security for the work they do to secure our nation air. Every day from the coast guard personnel patrolling our coasts and waterways to the customs and border protection officers at our land borders to the transportation security officers. I see as i fly to and from jackson, mississippi every week and everywhere in between. We appreciate the work you do. I thank the members for joining us and i look forward to our discussion. I now recognize the ranking member of the full committee thegentleman from alabama mr. rogers, for an opening statement.

Thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you secretary of my cleaning for being here with us today. I look forward to your testimony and discussion that we're gon na have there is a national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. That is why i supported the presidents of february national emergency declaration. The facts on the border proving cbp detained more than a hundred and nine thousand immigrants along the southwest border just last month. That'S a 591 percent increase over the same month. Two years ago, on may 4th of this year, cbp have apprehended fifty two hundred and thirty five migrants at the southwest border. That'S the highest numberever recorded in the first six months of fy 19 over 150 groups of a hundred or more migrants reach the southwest border. That'S a seventy four hundred percent increase over the entirety of fy 17 cbp apprehension between the ports of entry are on track to reach. A 12-year high cbp has already uncovered more than 3,000 fraudulent cases. This year alone were adults posing as biological, parent or legal guardian of a minor child. If this isn't a crisis, i'm not sure what this committee deems to be one.

Actually we do. Yesterday the transportation subcommittee held a hearing entitled quote the tsa workforce crisis, a homeland security risk. I appreciate the tsa workforce has issues but iwould say that thousands of migrants per day over running and breaking our immigration system is the actual crisis and the true homeland security risk. This will be the committee's sixth hearing in five months, focused on the border. How many hearings before we see solutions coming from this majority? Six hearings: zero solutions. This committee has heard testimony that transnational criminal organizations are exploiting our immigration laws for financial gains worse, these tcos abuse women and children during their journey here they dumped them at the death. In the desert and poor health, without food or water, men and women and children are dying because of this dangerous journey. Human smugglers profit from. I know that no one onthis committee finds us acceptable. So why won't this committee address it? In april dhs requested legislation to address this aberrant practice, yet there are in, and yet here we are in another hearing - and i don't understand why this committee won't act. Maybe it's because this committee is spending too much of his time on twitter. Since the democrats were sworn into office in january, they have tweeted 316 times about the border.

Six hearings: 316 tweets zero solutions on may 1st. The administration sent to congress a request for emergency humanitarian appropriations to address this crisis at the southwest border. The request for four and a half billion dollars would feed and shelter migrant families and unaccompanied childrenit would provide urgent medical care and transportation services to sick migrants. It also would have supported the men and women of dhs who are working overtime on the front lines of a crisis. Yet the majority of this committee sent out press release, refusing to reconsider, refusing to consider the request when i drafted this emergency humanitarian request. As an amendment to the supplemental, the democrat majority on the rules committee voted it down nine to four. When representative lesko offered it at markup six hearings, 316 tweets, one amendment denied zero results. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will use this opportunity day to ask secretary mclean and what resources his department needsto fulfill its lawful mission at the southwest border. The republicans on this committee are ready to work with anyone on the other side to solve the growing humanitarian crisis. Earrings tweets releases won't solve it. Hatred for the president won't solve it either. We can't wait two more years to address the southwest border crisis.

We must act now. Thank you. Mr. chairman, i yield back. Other members of the committee are reminded that under the committee rules, opening statements may be submitted for the record welcome our witness today. Mr. mclennan, i was sworn in as the acting secretary of homeland security on april 10th, 2019, proud of being named acting secretary. He served as commissioner of theus customs and border protection acting secretary previously held several leadership positions at cbp and the former us customs service. Without objection, the witnesses full statement will be inserted in a record. I now act the acting secretary to summarize his statement for five minutes. Thank you, mr. chairman, good morning, ranking member rodgers and the distinguished members of the committee.

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today: it's a sincere honor to serve as the acting secretary of the department, homeland security. In my view, dhs has the most compelling mission in government to safeguard the american people, our homeland and our values. As acting secretary, i intend to work with this committee and serve as anadvocate for the department to ensure our people have the resources and the authorities they need to carry out their critical missions. On behalf of the american people. Today i have the privilege of sharing the president's fiscal year 2020 budget request for the department of homeland security with this committee. The request would strengthen the security of our nation through enhanced border security, immigration enforcement, cyber security, transportation, security, counterterrorism and resilience to disasters. Dhs is a multi mission department and before i talk about the urgent border security and humanitarian crisis that we're facing, i want to ensure this committee that dhs will not lose momentum across any of our numerous responsibilities. The president's budget request funding forcritical missions across the department for our cyber security and infrastructure security agency, the budget requests 1. 3 billion dollars to assess evolving cyber security risks, protect federal government information systems and critical infrastructure. The budget also supports the launch of protect 2020, a new initiative designed to get all states to a baseline level of election infrastructure, cyber security well before the national elections of 2020. While dhs does not control state and local election infrastructure and does not think we should, we can provide much-needed technical assistance and support to willing partners. The budget supports additional transportation security officers to enhance security effectiveness and stay ahead of increasing cost and growth in air travel.

Within the united states, the3. 3 billion dollars for tsa also includes funding for an additional 700 screeners and 350 computed tomography. X-Ray units for fema the budget provides a significant increase in the disaster. Relief fund begins implementation of new requirements in the disaster, recovery, reform act and funds. Critical operational positions identified in the 2017 hurricane season, after-action report for the us coast guard the budget continues efforts to fund the offshore patrol cutter and advances of polar security cutter program, a lot there for a cross across the department and all of our missions, but for Border security and emigrate enforcement, as you are all aware, we are in the midst of an ongoing security and humanitarian crisis at our southwest borderthe department. At the request of our frontline officers and agents has repeatedly made clear that we need additional resources and additional authorities to respond to this crisis, to put the situation in context in april cbp apprehended and encountered almost 110,000 migrants attempting to cross without legal status. The most in a single month in over a decade and over a third of the total crossings we saw in all of fiscal year 17 over 65 percent of those crossing were families with over 40,000 children entering our immigration system in a single month, and the crisis Continues in three separate days in may, we have encountered 5500 people crossing our border without authorization. Our immigration system is fulland. We are well beyond our capacity at every stage of the process. This means that new waves of vulnerable populations arriving at our border are exacerbating the already urgent humanitarian and security crisis. We were facing through surging resources from dhs and federal partners, with medical teams from the coast guard and hhs military and national guard troops over 1,000 cbp and hsi detailees and dhs volunteers, along with working with state and local governments and non-governmental organizations. We are working to do everything we possibly can to address the immediate and dire humanitarian crisis, but it is not enough.

We continue to face tragedies at the border, particularly with regard to the safety of children. This month, borpatrol agents have rescued dozens of children in the rio grande, but several have been known to have drowned, including a ten month old baby. Two weeks ago, we've lost two teenagers to illness in federal custody, one with hhs and one in cbp custody. Just yesterday, a two year old, encountered in april and taken to the hospital by border patrol agents and released with her mother also passed away this month after weeks of critical medical care, these tragedies are devastating to us and they are avoidable. The problem we face is unprecedented and challenging. It requires working together from a shared set of facts to solve it. We need sustained investment, additional emergency support, but also changesto our immigration laws to overcome humanitarian and security crisis at the border. On the resources front, the president's budget will help first, it request five hundred and twenty three million to address the humanitarian crisis. This will allow us to provide better care for those who we come into contact with through apprehension, custody, detention and eventually removal. They request five billion dollars for border security, funding for the construction of approximately two hundred miles of new border wall system, a proven deterrent requested by our frontline agents. It also calls for seven hundred and fifty additional bore patrol agents, two hundred and seventy-five customs and border protection officers, and over sixteen hundred and sixty iess, frontline and supportpersonnel. The budget request will make much needed upgrade the sensors command and control systems and aircraft that help our men and women combat criminals who are profiting from human suffering, and while our 2020 budget will help address this crisis, we will need additional funding sooner given the scale We will exhaust our resources well before the end of this fiscal year, which is why the administration sent a supplemental funding request at congress three weeks ago, in addition to the three billion for health and human services to care for unaccompanied children, the request includes 1.

1 billion For the department of homeland security, 391 million for humanitarian assistance, including for temporary processing facilities, 530 million for border operationsto include our surge personnel as well as increased attention capacity and 178 million for operations and support costs, including pay retention, incentives for our overworked men and women. On the frontline, the supplemental request is critical, but unless congress addresses the pull factors, namely our vulnerable legal framework for immigration, children will continue to be put at risk in this dangerous journey. The administration has been working in a bipartisan fashion to outline the important reforms that can get to the root of the problem, providing language to multiple congressional committees that would, in this humanitarian crisis. This includes allowing dhs to detain families together during the immigration hearings allowing children to safely apply for refugee protections in theirhome or neighboring countries, while also providing authority for dhs to repatriate children to central america, as we do with canada and mexico today and reforming an asylum Process that has become overwhelmed by claims that do not meet the standard. Without these resources and authority, the situation will remain untenable and, while dhs will continue to do all it can to manage the crisis and an operationally effective, humane, safe and secure manner. Every day, congress does not act, put some more lives at risk and increases the burden on an over tasks system. I want to close by reiterating the strength of dhs is its people. I am humbled and inspired by their selfless dedication, two of thefront line agents, officers and personnel confronting this crisis. Despite the challenges they face, the men and women of dhs continue to act to stop criminals, exploiting our border and to help those in need they're remarkable people. They deserve our support and i respectfully ask this committee to continue to support them with the resources and authorities they need. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to your questions.

Thank you. Mr. secretary, i remind each member that he or she will have five minutes to question the panel. I now recognize myself for questions. This is a hearing to talk about your overall budget for the department. One of the question thatcomes to mind is the relief that went to puerto rico and i want to make sure the record reflects that and a president says that porto rico got 91 billion dollars. Is that true or false? I'M certain? That'S that's correct. Mr. chairman, i can get you the actual figures from fema. If that's helpful, how long would it take you to get to cook that number? We can get back to you very shortly today i'll check with the team at fema on that calculation, but we'll get it back to you, mr. chairman. Well, yes, right, i've been to puerto rico a couple of time.

Looking at it, i talked to the governor talked to a lotof, the mayor's and they're very concerned that the number that's been put out is in actuality, not the real number, and so i think we need to, as we look at this budget, to make sure that The numbers we have before us reflect an accurate amount, and so that's the spirit and which is given mr. chairman. Just very briefly. I'Ve met with the active administrator for fema who's, briefed me that we're spending or per week and per month and in in puerto rico than we do for the usual disaster for the entire repayment and that's higher assistance. So that's an extensive effort by fema and across the department. Well, is that because we've never hada disaster like that before, i think it is one of the most devastating national injury now so after dinner. So you would agree that we need to spend more. I think there's a lot of support going to puerto rico and work. I make the preparing for the new season. I understand, but i think the amount of money should go to the the disaster. So, in addition to that, the secretary you have acts for volunteers to go to the border to address the crisis. Can you tell me how many people are being deployed from the northern border to go to the southern border? So we have a mix of law enforcement resources from both cbp andhsi over dice already deployed.

These are td wide law enforcement professionals. We do this routinely to address situations on the border. We'Ve got about 200 of our agents from the northern border border patrol agents deployed down now, and we have solicited, as you noted mr. chairman for volunteers, just like we do in any crisis across the department to come, help deal with the situation as well. So your testimony is that the volunteers that are being deployed does not compromise security in any way. So this is something we look at from a risk manager spective. When we respond to a natural disaster like the harvey or maria we had over 2,000 volunteers deployed. So right, nowour, volunteer numbers are really in the 200 range, so that's a much smaller response than a normal natural disaster already, but this is something we asked our leaders and our management to assess for risk and make sure we're not you know, taking people that are Critical to other missions, but also responding to an existing crisis. At the same time, so we've had testimony before the committee this week from the head of one of the larger airports, who indicated that he was very concerned that, with the loss of personnel, that the potential to put the traveling public at risk existed and that he Was concerned about it, have you heard concerns like that from airports? Sowe'Re not gon na put the traveling public at risk, we're not going to reduce our security posture in any way, do you haven't, but you have who that concern coming from the airport directors? So that's a concern that the leaders at tsa will manage as they identify volunteers to support us. We have not said i just want to know. Have you heard from airport directors that they are concerned about it? Yes, i've seen the press reporting and certainly that's something we'll manage carefully, and it is hope that you will allay their concerns, but you have heard them. Yes, thank you.

So the question about vacancies in the department we've had discussions about that. How are youaddressing the vacancies at senior management level within the department? Well we're very happy earlier this month to submit a nomination for a permanent administrator at fema. I think that's an important role to fill very quickly in this hurricane season which jeff fired, but our top eight operand components. Four out of eight have have confirmed or permanent heads, two of them tsa and cbp we're serving as acting secretary and acting deputy, but were confirmed, heads as well back filled by very talented career professionals and then at ice. We have a 25-year veteran of service, matt albans leading ice effectively, and this is something that i think were very good position to maintain a role. Men andinter-department, thank you, but based on a chart that your staff provided me, the management directorate is vacant. Your science and technology directorate is vacant, the office of strategy policy and plans is vacant, the office of public, his vacant office of inspector general is vacant, the chief financial officer is vacant and we go on and on now. This is, and i understand it, but at what point do you plan to fill the vacancies with these senior positions? Well, a number of those positions already have nominees, either on the hill or identified and in process and we've taken steps to make sure we're back filling with talented professionals. Right now, director tech solace from the secret servicewho just moved to a position as deputy acting deputy undersecretary for management. He brings a wealth of experience. Having been the deputy at cvp, the head of secret service he's helping make sure that we're maintaining momentum with management. We have a tremendous team in the cfo shop that hasn't lost any momentum, so we're going to continue to get the job done for the american people.

We have many more permanent folks in place and you usually do at the transition of an administration, for example. So is this the secret service director they got fired by the president. We he's been moved to a key role for me and, as did he was my father's secretary andyou. Were you brought him back? There was a transition. He served admirably for two years at secret service, and now we have a tremendous secret. I don't have like in that problem with it, but he's the one that was fired. Am i correct? It he's been moved to a new role at dhs, okay yield to the ranking member. I think the chairman before i get my questions i just want to make the point. I think it's unconscionable that relief to deal with this humanitarian crisis at the borders being held hostage. Oh puerto rico: to get more money when already we're having massive amounts of aid going to foreign to puerto rico have been and continueto have and will continue to take care of auto rico. But we have an enormous crisis at the border. Families, children that are in desperate situation and we're not getting aid to them.

It'S just unconscionable, but having said that of the 4. 5 billion dollars, that's been requested in the secretary. I understand three point: three of that would go to humanitarian aid. What would you do with that money if it was made available to you in a timely fashion, so the three billion itself is going to health and human services to manage their statutorily required responsibility to care for unaccompanied children arriving at the border and they're arriving in Record numbers right now that that thatseems very straightforward, they need more money to provide beds so that kids can be kept in safe environments and not left at the border in border fuel stations. So that's very straightforward. The additional 1. 1 billion for dhs is directly to address this crisis, we're talking about humanitarian support for processing centers for cbp, we're talking about additional security for those centers, we're talking about consumables, really just food blankets, the basic supplies that you use to care for people and For border operations, as we noted, we are sending people temporarily to the border to help address this crisis, that that costs a lot of money. Not to do that and to sustain that we need support, forthe, volunteer surge. We need additional ice detention for the single adults that are arriving in record numbers as well. So we've got a lot of work to do across the department to manage this crisis, both to take care of people in our custody and to ensure that we're maintaining border security. While we do that now, you chairman and i had a chance to meet with you yesterday afternoon and we talked a little bit about the flores decision and what, if the impact has been on you? Can you describe that for the full committee and and what a possible solution would be? I can so so. What we're seeing now is about 65 % of those crossingsare either family units or unaccompanied children.

Family units have reached a record level, 59 percent. So far this month of our total crossings on the border, that is a direct response to the vulnerability and our legal framework caused by a decision in a district court in late 2015 upheld in 2016 that prevented dhs from keeping families together during their immigration proceedings. That'S what we did under president obama in secretary johnson. They built family residential centers, where families were kept together for their immigration proceedings. It took on average about 45 days and at the end of that process, and these are appropriate settings that have school houses. They have recreational facilities, they have medical, centers, theyhave courtrooms on-site after those proceedings, families would know whether they had a valid asylum claim and be allowed to stay in the us, or they would be repatriated as soon as those repatriation started happening. The flow dropped dramatically from our first border crisis in 2014, with families and kids. We no longer have that tool. We no longer have that authority, and now we have twice the flow coming in a direct response to that lack of our authority. What could we do to alleviate that problem, for you simply return to the status that we had in 2014-2015, allowing families to be kept together in appropriate settings during their immigration proceedings? Well, my understanding from our meetingyesterday is that you're going to provide us language. That would do that and it's my hope that the chairman and i can bring that before this committee for a vote as soon as possible. So we can get you some relief now.

In addition to that legislative remedy, what other legislative remedies would you like to see us move? So the the second issue that that's really concerning is the unaccompanied children putting themselves in the hands of smugglers generally. These are our teenage boys and girls that are that are being smuggled, five to seven thousand dollars per person, all the way from central america to our border right now, they're coming because they're certain they'll be allowedto, stay they're generally released to sponsors here in the us. Generally, parents who are already already here unlawfully, so it's a very challenging cycle that we're facing what what the administration is proposing, i think, is very balanced and very appropriate to protect children offering in-country refugee processing so that they can. They can access protections if they have a valid claim at home, without making this journey without being in the hands of smugglers, but to make that effective, we also need the ability to repatriate children just like we do for canada and mexico who arrived in the u. s. , Who do not avail themselves of this opportunity or have not been found to have a valid refugeeclaim? I think that's a balanced proposal that we'd like to work with congress on and enacting those those two changes in law will make a dramatic impact in this humanitarian crisis. Great, i appreciate you and my times expired i yield back. I can share that recognize the old lady from texas for five minutes chairman thank you and thank the ranking member for this very important oversight, hearing secretary and have a very short period of time. So forgive me, but let me first of all say that you are a very fine public servant and we've had the opportunity of working over the years and i would hesitate to say decade because we all are very youngso. Thank you for your service. Let me ask you, in the president's budget, is five billion dollars for the wall? Are you here today to defend the five billion dollar request for the wall, i'm defending the the entire budget request, and that is a request that comes from our frontline agents. It'S not something we need everywhere on the border, but we need hundreds of miles to control critical areas where there's infrastructure on both sides and high-traffic.

The five billion dollars, as you well know, was represented to be coming from mexico. Is it coming from mexico? No, who do be, is requested for appropriation, so the representation was untrue. I'M not not characterizing reputation. The rightrepresentation is untrue. It'S in the numbers from the border persons come at the exact number of five billion so that that's the amount that we can effectively apply in a given year with contracts is the president's request. Yes, we actually need about eighteen billion his request in his budget as well. Let me indicate that he has cut six hundred million dollars from first responder homeland security grants and what my firefighters to hear this very clearly, because i will oppose it extensively. The us coast guard has cut 864 million surface transportation programs, a fifty seven million or forty four percent, and cyber security, which is known to have impacted the 2016 2018 elections, been cut. Byforty million dollars. Are you here to defend those cuts on the secretary so on the side of the grants congresswoman? What i've understood is that we've deployed fifty billion dollars in homeland security grants over the past decade, you're here to pin the six hundred million dollar cuts to our firefighters and other first responders across the nation. So i'm defending the president's budget and explaining that we've had a number of grants, go to build up capability across the country and they were thank you. My time is shorter secretary and i appreciate it.

I appreciate your service. We now have a list of a numbers of children that have died in custody. We should all be outragedsixteen-year-old boy, mr. hernandez vasquez, juan de leon, 16 7 year old 8 year old, two year old, and there may be others. These are the conditions that individuals, human beings are living in, and i understand the crisis, and might i say, i've been to the border many many times and as well understand that it's not tweets, it really is going and seeing it for yourself. I have seen it i've spoken to people, i've spoken to a mother who gave birth 45 days and had not been to the hospital, and your cbp staff agreed with me to take her to the hospital. But my question is: i believe there should be an internal task force setup dealing with children dealing with children's death. My question to you is: will you set up an internal in-house task force to deal with? Not you know the individuals that are there now and, as you know, you have nobody hardly there to deal with these death to find what solution should be put in place. My second question would be what you're doing about added medical staff there at the border and if you would do that quickly, because i have another question - please sir verges set up an internal task force to deal with this crisis. Very quick children's death - i agree comes from those conditions are not acceptable. That'S why we've asked for additional support fromcongress to address it in el paso alone, we have 55 medical professionals on board. Did you agree to add more, please, sir? It'S a constant focus.

That is the primary focus of, and would you agree for the internal task force? We already have internal task force's working these issues, i, who are they when you give us the names of those individuals, please i will absolutely provide those to the any that is called an internal task force dealing with children's death. The american people are outraged sure they're outraged. Let me finish my other question. First of all, i hope you look into the case of laura elizabeth manda manda dia alvarado, who was deported as an11 year old. In my congressional district we saved her family of seeking asylum. They have reason from el salvador and we believe that the dhs and your turning status can help her with that. My last thing is: aviation is important. Tsa needs jobs needs personnel, they are the frontline of aviation security, not safety. Mr. secretary, your position on making sure that the transportation security agency has all the staff they need to protect the aviation system in this nation and internationally absolutely required, and that's why i support the budget and the increase of tso is that it contains. I yield back. Thank you.

Chair recognizes gentleman from new york. Mr. chairman, at the outset, let meshare the chairman's thought of what a privilege has been to work with you secretary in my dealings with you, you've been extremely responsive and courteous, and thank you for that, and also for your years of service. I'M gon na focus on two issues. One is i keep trying to remind everyone that this committee began after 9/11. It was originated mainly of the purpose of counterterrorism. Obviously, immigration is vital and i support what you're trying to do on the issue of counterterrorism now. The fact is beginning under the obama administration and the first three budgets of the trump administration. There have been dramatic cuts in the money going to police and fire like a new york. Alonethere were over 1,000 police officers working full-time on counterterrorism. To me, there's no way we can absorb those cuts and in each of these years the money has been restored, both in the obama administration and under the trump administration. And again i'm hopeful that that money will be restored again.

But i hope that that doesn't indicate any diminution of interest by the department as far as cooperating and working to stop a terrorist attack. My district lost over a hundred 150 people in 9/11. We still have people dying from 9/11 illnesses and to see that kind of money being cut out which would really undercut the police count and counterterrorism intelligence units in new york i'mgonna try to make this parochial, but that was why the department, so i just again, i Don'T mean this in a pandering way, but you could just acknowledge that this is still a prime focus of the department. After the money is restored, the money will be spent properly by the department. I can confirm both of those things i mean i congressman. We appreciate your long expertise in support on the counterterrorism mission. My second trip was acting secretary was to new york to highlight the cte issues visited the 9/11 museum again just to get refreshed and focused on our mission and requirements. It does not reflect any lack of priority for the department and this missionsaid. It remains why we created our top priority for the american people and we're gon na continue to stay focused on it and be effective at it. Thank you secretary on the issue of ms-13. This was particularly vital in my district from the fall of 2015. Until april of 2017, we had 25 murders carried out by ms-13.

These were most polluting types of murderers, people being hacked to death beheaded. It was absolutely horrible, since the administration got actively involved. There'S not been one murder in the last two years. It'S a story, that's not really reported, but the increase in hsi the increased number of prosecutors by the administration, the new technology going to the police, hasbeen extremely effective. Now ms-13 is down but they're not out and there's still a very potent force and on the use of unaccompanied minors. It was the suffolk county police, commissioner, who, by the way, was appointed by you know. Democratic administrations is not a partisan issue, he was the one who first came to me to show the direct correlation between unaccompanied minors and ms-13 there. Many of these young people - maybe it's only three four percent, but three four percent of a big number were either sent across by ms-13 or the sponsoring. Families were either ms-13 families or families who had relatives back in el salvador who were being threatened in a recent murder indictment sevenof. The eleven who indicted for the murder were unaccompanied minors. They come across the border in just the last four years as unaccompanied minors. Schools like in brentwood and central islip, these students were put in there and they were never told by dhs or by orr or hhs that these children were unaccompanied minors.

They were not given any background on their criminal history of them or their families that have taken them in. I know there's a memorandum of understanding with you and hhs. I guess andorra here you'd say whether or not as a result of the investigations. The vetting will be carried out of the miners and the families will the local police and schooldistricts be made. You know that info be made available to them. So thank you. First for your comments on the work of ice and hsi to address public safety threats in our country and specifically in communities affected by ms-13. That'S going to continue to be a priority and focus for the department. We'Re very worried about gangs exploiting this crisis to send unaccompanied children, teenagers, who they've already recruited into the u. s. that they can go through our process and be released to sponsor here in the us, with an intent to join a gang. That'S a serious concern.

We also see families bringing children who are not their own. Thirty, five hundred cases of fraud. This yearwe have an hsi team. That'S been on the border for two weeks working these issues and oh paso, an rgb alone they've found 500 interviews. They found 165 cases of fraud, they're getting prosecutions of these adults that are bringing families in and we're seeing, unfortunately, even child recycling children being brought across across twice. You mentioned the critical partnership with hhs. We did have an moa on information. Sharing that's been suspended by a rider in the appropriations bill that diminishes our ability to provide security. It diminishes our ability to share information on the sponsors who are picking up children on their immigration status on their potential criminal history and that's a barrier that should not bethere, because it's critical last point i'll make is the attorney general just went to central america to Focus on the anti gang initiatives and the collaboration between the department of justice and authorities in el salvador and elsewhere. That'S been a very effective tool because we're getting additional information on criminal records and gang history in central america that we can then apply at the border and in concert with our doj counterparts, and we need to keep that up and when time is expired. Just emphasize that a number of those murders, brutal brutal murders were carried out by unaccompanied minors. Thank you.

Chair recognizes gentlelady from new mexico, mr. small secretary mclean, and thank you for yourservice and for stepping up at a time that is challenging all of us. I only have five minutes and we have a lot of work to do so. I appreciate you and seeing your responses so far and ask that you continue. Rio grande sector has the largest number of apprehensions for families and unaccompanied minors, correct and and they'll pass. What sector a second correct, yuma's, third, correct? Okay, so we've received notification that cbp is working with is to provide aircraft flights and bus transportation for unprocessed families and migrants in from rio, grande valley and yuma sectors to other lower level sectors. Right right, why isn't el paso receiving the same service? They are on thelist there there's gon na be a flight from el paso this week. So we receive clarification this morning that that flight was only a stopover for refueling. Is that inaccurate, i'm told by cbp that they have a flight going to san diego sector, where we have some additional capacity? That'S what i'll follow up on that card would be amazing. If there's any way, we can do that. I deeply appreciate that. It'S something you note is important, yes, great, so passive, seeing the starkest increase in family units, as you know absolutely, and thank you for recognizing that and responding to it pivoting quickly to border patrol.

Oh our releases after border patrol processes, family units, what arethe steps that cbp takes to decide when and where large groups are released yeah. So this is something we have to work closely with local communities with nongovernmental organizations. We want to make sure, there's capacity in the transportation system or in the ngos to house people effectively so that we're not leaving them in situations that are that are uncomfortable unacceptable. Thank you so much for saying that. I truly believe that you understand the challenges that the communities i represent are experiencing. Is there a requirement to do that, consultation with ngos and local governments, that is cbp policy? That'S our expectation of our field leadership. Thank you and it and is it a requirement or justexpectation? It'S it's a stated direction from the chief of the border patrol and and the executive assistant commissioner for field operations great, and is there a time a time amount for advance notice? That'S provided in that direction. As much as could be provided so that it can be effectively coordinated, sometimes a situation of the numbers in custody mandate, a quicker action were also sometimes not having the right point of contact. I'Ve got some feedback from new mexico senator yesterday on these issues and we're gon na be tightening that coordination great any extent if you could set a minimum amount of time of notice. That would be very helpful. I think we can set an expectation, butwe wouldn't want to direct from washington all field situations operationally. So speaking to that who ultimately makes the decisions of when and where release occurs, those would be the sector chief locally and are there directives that come from washington advising on when and where? Yes, as i mentioned, we've given guidance to the field on our expectations for coordination.

Thank you so now to migrant processing. In conversations with both ison and cbp, it's apparent that both agents believe that neither of them should be responsible for processing asylum seekers. Border patrol says that ice has the better resources for processing cbp. Our ice believes that board of parole has the responsibility, because they're the first to encountermigrants. This disconnect seems to exacerbate scarcity in resources and it seems to stem from a lack of leadership, saying simply who's responsible, mr. mikulina, and what agency is responsible for processing asylum seekers. So actually that see is if you're talking about doing an asylum officer interview, but just just to clarify. I think i want to get at the point of your question as i'm acting secretary, we're going to handle this as a team. This is a mission. That'S overtaxed cbp ice, cis, hhs and the department of justice immigration course we are no element of that system is adequately resourced for the flow that we're seeing. So we have to address as a team we're seeingthat with our transportation. You know paso sector which you're most familiar with, because it covers new mexico.

The transportation is done exclusively by cbp. Originally, the intent was for i cro to handle transportation, we're filling gaps working together and that's my expectation - and i appreciate that. But clarity is also helpful for working as a team. So is there a clear directive of who is responsible for putting together the paperwork on the notice to appear so depending on the local area? The available resources we're gon na try to apply the best effort to that board role is supposed to be on, the board, are doing. Interdictions ice is supposed to be doing, processing and removal or interiorenforcement right now, they're there well generally. Yes, right now, they're both handling the processing of family units, depending on the station or sector. There'S no directive right now about who, even to specific areas, there's no specific. The directive is to work together to get this mission done as efficiently and as effectively as possible. Thank you. Thank you, chair, recognized gentleman from louisiana mr. higgins for five minutes. Thank you, mr.

chairman, mr. secretary, thank you for your service, sir, and thank you for maintaining your professional, bearing despite some of the tone you face today. My colleagues across the aisle mentioned the word squander regarding the president's budget. Well, the american treasure certainly subject to close scrutinyby the american people that provided the american people, certainly do recognize. The well-established fact that politicians and bureaucrats in dc squander the money seized from the paychecks of working americans. However, the citizenry does not consider national security homeland security to be a waste of money. I can name scores of federal expenditures that squander the people's treasure, but securing our borders and maintaining our very sovereignty is perhaps the single most important mission the federal government should accomplish, and it's certainly not squandering decisions regarding the essential needs of law enforcement to secure our Homeland should be determined by the department of homeland security law enforcement professionals, not by career politicians in dc and unknown. Unelected bureaucrats sothank you, sir, for representing those law enforcement professionals and their needs. Today, i ask you: is the department of homeland security making progress towards achieving operational control of our southwest border? We are through a combination of the investments in 18, the received funding in 19. The border barrier is going to make a big impact, and large of that with the president's budget, as submitted, if approved by this congress, would help you to accomplish your mission absolutely to accelerate our efforts. Thank you, sir. Since president trump entered office, how many replacement miles secondary miles or new linear miles of enhanced physical barriers system have been funded on the southwest border and how many have been completedor currently being built? Give us an idea of that.

Please sure. So. Out of the three point: six billion dollars in fy, 17, 1819 funding and money from the treasury forfeiture fund we're applying that currently to fund a total of three hundred thirty six miles of border wall, getting the job done, sir. Yes, the money that's been provided we're gon na get part of the job done. How do that and you need, as a law enforcement professional as a secretary of department of homeland security in charge of securing our southern border and the sovereignty of our nation? Do you concur with the budget requests as it's been submitted? I absolutely do in this request comes frommen and women on the ground. They were capable, as it should the approximately 300 miles for the fiscal year 2020 budget to be prioritized along the southwest border. That'S my understanding. Can you explain why? Why would be pride that money will be prioritized for enhanced physical barrier along the southwest border, particularly explain to the american people? Why please? Yes, alvis border has two dynamics on the border security front. We'Ve got thirty to forty thousand people a month trying to evade capture crossing that border, and we have increasing amounts of drug smuggling and we're talking about hard narcotics, potent opioids like fentanyl synthetic opioids that are killing americans and communities all over the country. Many americansare dying from from this poison point across our border. I would concur in will e.

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