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tv   ICE Acting Director Testifies on Presidents 2023 Budget Request - Part 2  CSPAN  May 20, 2022 5:01am-6:19am EDT

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other virtual platforms are well underway now at most of our facilities and we're going to continue to roll it out through the rest of the fiscal year. >> mr. fleischman? >> thank you, madam chair. i will be deferential to you, but would you prefer to recess before we go to vote, or should i go ahead and ask? >> i will leave that up to you. >> i have got some proxies did you, i'd feel a little more comfortable if we could recess now and then reconvene after the two votes. mr. director, we have two votes on the floor. one is about ready to conclude and and want to make sure we
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give you the opportunity to address this. would you be willing to adjourn? >> this subcommittee is now in recess. >> this committee will now come to order. acting director, thank you your patience -- for your patience. i will now turn to the ranking member. >> thank you, i thank the distinguished chair. acting director johnson recently, the administration has released several policy memos under the guise of prosecutorial discretion that reduces the ability of officers to enforce the law except for three narrow categories citing limited resources. my first question, sir. acting director, if the premise of these memos is to focus limited resources on the most
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pressing categories of offenders, why are you not asking for more resources, sir? mr. johnson: good question, congressman. i guess i would start with, detaining individuals in this covid environment has been extremely challenging. as i mentioned in my opening remarks, just given the lack of medical personnel, and the ability to hire garden services or some of the ancillary services, bringing on additional detention capacity all it is something the agency has looked at, it just is not seem -- does not seem to be a viable situation given the current covid-19 environment. given the lack of detention
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resources, the inability to detain a lot of individuals just because of the mounds of litigation surrounding covid-19, and the fact that many people with risk factors can't be taken into ice custody to begin with. we are going to have to focus our resources only on those individuals we can actually remove, then those individuals that are public safety and national security threats. that is in line with the current priorities. >> the administration proposes removal operations around 9%, how many individuals will that allow ice to detain with the current covid restrictions? mr. johnson: as you mentioned, and i am assuming this is accurate, the cut is largely related to detention beds.
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it is an acknowledgment of how truly difficult it is to detain individuals in this covid-19 environment. we're focusing on alternatives to detention, on much more humane and effective, and is significantly less costly options for monitoring individuals who don't pose a public safety or national security threat. >> one final question in this round. in addition to limiting the categories of aliens who ero can take action against, the administration also released a memo seeking the administered enclosure of cases currently on the docket that do not meet the administration's narrow enforcement priorities. how does that affect the enforcement of our nations immigration laws? mr. johnson: we think it makes
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the most sense to use not only our okla attorneys' of fices. the court resources in a much more targeted way. we are hopeful that once we remove some of these non-priority cases, it will allow us to get through these individuals that are public safety and national security threats that are on the docket much more quickly. and hopefully, those cases that would typically take five years or longer to adjudicate, can be adjudicated much more quickly. >> thank you, mr. director. madam chair, i will yield back. >> mr. price. >> thank you, madam chair. welcome, mr. director. glad to have you with us and appreciate your testimony.
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i want to address cooperation between ice and local law enforcement, particularly the status of the [indiscernible] program. when i first became chair of this subcommittee, we had a hearing with ice with one of your predecessors, and we were talking about what seemed to me to be indiscriminate all over the place. at the same time, we realized there were hundreds of thousands of people who should be deported coming out of our prison systems every day and we did not even know who they were. what ensued were a series of efforts to deal with this. the priority enforcement program back and forth with various efforts to focus this program appropriately. and in the process, the 287g program where law enforcement
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makes an agreement came under a lot of scrutiny. the trump administration i think it is fair to say, weaponized that program. they expanded it, that included 16 in my home state. so, i am glad to see that president biden has rolled that back. he has expressed his commitment to quote force local law enforcement to take on the role of immigration and or cement. -- enforcement. i want to ask about that. we all know that our local law enforcement can't to the long arm of ice. that compromises so many things essential to local law enforcement. the question is what is the appropriate kind of cooperation? what about the 287g program, first of all?
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i know you are reviewing that program, what is the result so far, and you anticipate some agreements made in the last administration that will not be continued? what will become of that program. you have announced the end of workplace, and we are going to take a more targeted approach for people who pose more danger to the community. perhaps coming out of the legal system as opposed to the front end of the process. but what is your vision of how a local law enforcement cooperates with ice, and the areas where ice chooses to use other methods and does not rely on local law enforcement? mr. johnson: very good question, mr. price. it's certainly an area we have given a lot of thought to over
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the last several months as you indicate, the 287g program is currently under review. there are currently about 70 287g programs, and about another 70 warrant service officer programs. these are two different programs. one where folks are empowered to enforce immigration laws under 287g programs with some training and an officer is supposed to have the ability to serve arrests and deportations. the 287g program is just one example of the cooperation with state and locals. we believe that cooperation with the local authorities is key, but we also believe there just has to be appropriate checks and balances to make sure that folks
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are coloring within the lines and are acting responsibly with that authority. in the 22 congressional language, there was a requirement that opr and crco go out and take a close look at some of our 287g partners and raise any concerns as it might relate to civil rights and liberties. so we were aware of that requirement, it's something that is underway. as a general matter, we believe the cooperation of the state and local governments and the enforcement of our immigration laws or some of our criminal cases is absolutely key. it is a force multiplier, and we cannot perform our mission without the partnerships with
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our local government agencies. >> thank you. >> thank you, madam chair. and ranking member, thank you mr. johnson for your remarks. i'd like to thank the men and women in your agency who do their best to maintain law and order when this administration has not made that an easy task. you have an incredibly difficult and complex duty to this country, and i hope you are aware of the support you have. this invasion of foreign nationals at our southern orders should be the top priority of this administration and congress. as the acting director for ice, i look forward to hearing how we can help you clean up this disaster. the historic crisis is set to worsen greatly due to the announced rescission of title 42
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which will bring a tidal wave of immigrants across our southern border, and overwhelm an already overworked and understaffed immigrations and custom enforcement. while cartels and gang members will exploit this crisis to further endanger american citizens. you testified that the u.s. had a record number of deportations, you said a contributing factor was being able to expel individuals who were not in a position to be arrayed via title 42. the recent announcement of the rescission, can you tell me how this will affect ice's to deport individuals, and do you believe the number of deportations will increase once this goes into effect? mr. johnson: some really good questions. i think the number of ice deportations will increase once title 42 goes away, because we
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are expending a good number of ice resources currently on the expulsion of individuals via the title 42 authority. since title 42 has been in effect, we have removed about 85,000 individuals with ice air resources to countries. if and when 42 goes away, that will free up some of those airframes and resources for us to increase our typical standard title 8 removals / deportations. >> several weeks ago, the secretary explained he feels the agency is ready for the mass influx of immigrants.
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i hope we have a strategy to deal with the influxes to come. what will ice be ready to do differently as of may 24? mr. johnson: it's something we have been planning for the better part of the year, for the end of title 42. we will continue to deploy resources down to the southern border as we have for at least the last 12 or 16 months to assist with the orderly and humane processing of individuals, mainly scheduling an appointment for them to show up to the interior to receive their charging documents, etc. we are continuing to beef up our transportation networks, whether it is ground or airframes. in preparation for the end of
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title 42, that work has been underway for a while, and it's going to be really important that we have the ground transportation and airframes to move folks where the beds are, or where the support structures are. >> as the head of ice, what amount of advice have you given to secretory mayorkas in the white house, concerning the tidal wave of immigrants coming our way. you said you have been her parent for this for over a year, and i am assuming that is building hospitality at medical centers and receiving centers, when you think we would have been setting up to everyone not have this tidal wave of immigrants and encouraged people to stay at home, instead of taking this dangerous journey to the border.
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who is the president even listening to his secretary, and is the secretary listening to the people under his command such as yourself? >> i can only speak to my conversations with the department and the secretary, and absolutely, they are taking our input. and all the input from the career professionals within the organization. again, we're pushing be -- the resources and we are devoting a lot of resources to new mexico, as well as the northern triangle , and really trying to stem the flow and target some of these transnational criminal organizations well before they make it to our southern border. that work will continue. we continue to have discussions with x ago and -- mexico and
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guatemala doing their part to stop the flow. there are certainly a lot of efforts underway to sort of reduce the flow of migrants to our southern border. >> thank you, director. madam chair, i yield back. >> ms. underwood? >> thank you, mr. johnson for being with us today. i want to talk about some big picture of reputational challenges facing ice. the washington post reported that an internal group of agents developed a proposal to separate from ice, because of the degree to which ice's negative reputation impedes their work. they cited examples of how their affiliation with ice erodes their partnership and their ability to fulfill their
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mission. and reported that the situation is getting worse. they feel like they're affiliation and dangers their personal safety. the dhs investigative agency cannot do their job because ice 's reputation is getting in the way. that is clearly a problem. mr. johnson, how are you working to address the behavior and action that leads to these reputational challenges within ice, so the agency can do its job? mr. johnson: very good question. we appreciate that. it starts with educating the public and the community on the great work that hsi does each and every day. we recognize how polarizing the emigration enforcement portfolio
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is. it's nothing new. it's been like that for the better part of several decades. and it's likely never going to change. this is not a new phenomenon. but it does create challenges for our special agents that are out here in the communities trying to partner with state and local governments, and they have to come up with workarounds in certain areas. we certainly understand the issue. we are continuing to try to do some capacity building with state and local governments. while there are some folks that will never agree with any immigration enforcement whatsoever, there are lots of communities that stand behind rescuing kids from child exploitation, and rescuing
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trafficking victims. and just getting that message out that we are a resource and a tool that can be available to assist them with some of those investigations will go a long way. >> mr. johnson, as the director of an agency that has that kind of reputation where your own staff is feeling like the agency is a drag on their ability to execute their critical national security mission is a problem. i think while that reputation may be long-standing, as the acting director, you have the ability to change the culture in the organization. it is unacceptable to say boops, this is just how it is. we ask that you consider the ongoing challenge for hiring staff, retaining those staff, and making sure we are earning the trust of the communities. recognizing how imperative that is to ice to do its work.
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i understand how challenging it is right now. i hope that ice is focused on addressing the root causes of this level of discontent within the workforce. dhs agencies must do more to address the behavior throughout the agency that tarnishes the whole department's reputation and undermines its mission. i want you to know that this is not just being directed to you. this is a problem within the whole department. i will stop there, and yield back, madam chair, thank you. mr. johnson: if i could respond. i think a key piece to get everyone educated. it's not just on the hsi portfolio, it's also on the
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changes that we made in terms of our enforcement priorities for immigration. everyone won't be a supporter of the new changes in our enforcement priorities, i do think there are a number of jurisdictions out there who can actually support this more work is approach where we are targeting the worst of the worst , and not so much people that are just in the country illegally who have extensive ties in the united states. we are confident that with all the work that is underway, it will take time to change minds, but eventually we are going to get to a much better place. we appreciate your concerns. >> mr. rutherford. >> ranking member, director johnson, i thank you for being here. i have to tell you a few weeks
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ago i had a conversation about the low ice deportation numbers and how that concerns me. it actually makes me believe quite frankly that what is going on at the southern border is not a failed immigration policy. it is not lack of resources. this is your policy. this is what you want. this number of people coming across the border illegally and not being deported. the evidence of that is, i look at i.c.e. deportations last year, down to 59,000 from 359,000 in fy 19. 359,000 down to 59,000. the secretary mayorkas tried to convince me he was really putting out the more serious offenders because he said 46% of
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the folks you all were deporting were felons. the previous administration, only 18%. i push back on that. if you know the overall numbers, that is where it matters. look at the numbers. 46% of 59,000 is 27,000 people. 18% of 185,000 is 33,000 people. even that year we deported more felons than this administration did last year. what makes no sense to me is when i look at your detention beds. it cannot be an asset problem. you had 34,000 beds funded last year, 19,000 were actually in use. of the 34,000 that we funded.
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now this year you actually had 9% less in the budget request for that. so that concerns me. what concerns me most of all and the reason i think this is by design and nothing to do with failed immigration policy is when i listen to you all talk about prosecutorial discretion. prosecutorial discretion does not mean you get to pick and choose what laws you will enforce. you get to pick and choose what order you will enforce them. that is your prosecutorial discretion. director mayorkas -- secretary mayorkas brought the same issue up. detention beds in this year's budget, you have 5000 more beds for adults, another 2400
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eliminated for family detention. so i cannot understand that. it is not a benefit -- not an asset problem. now, detention, that is what you are using -- detention facilities, i'm ok with that, but here is the thing. 200,000 immigrants, you say 85% check in on time. that 85% checked in on time the first time because they get benefits. they get the benefits and they never show back up. but even that 15% is not compliant the first time. 35,000 absconders are going into our community. and yet they are only using 19 of the 34,000 detention beds we have made available.
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that makes no sense to me. when i see the influx coming down the line, when you raise title 42, the six pillars secretary mayorkas talked about, those six pillars have absolutely nothing to do with stopping illegal immigration. do you know what they do? they speed up processing. we are not going to stop anybody from illegally coming into this country. we are simply going to try to process some more quickly so we do not wind up with 10,000 people housed under a bridge on the border. i guess my first question would be -- >> mr. rutherford, you are way over time. i will let you ask one question. i will give you that courtesy. >> i would just like to hear his response why. why aren't we stopping and deporting people out of this
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country? >> the best way, just taking some of your earlier points, the 59,000 you mentioned that i.c.e. removed in fy 21, you also have to take into account the 85,000 expulsions that i.c.e. removed by air. take that number up specifically. you compared fy 19 removal numbers, which was prior to covid. it was during a time where we did not have the limitations on who we could put in an i.c.e. detention bed or how they use rate you could actually get out of a facility, i'm not sure it is a real apples to apples
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comparison just looking at removal numbers. the covid environment has changed how we can detain individuals, which individuals we can actually detain, and certainly have a significant impact on the number. >> i yield back. >> mr. aguilar. >> thank you, madam chair. i share my colleagues' commitment to wanting to speed up the processing. of individuals. that is one way we can deliver justice is to ensure individuals receive their day in court. advocating for lawful asylum. i would encourage my colleagues to work with us to ensure access to legal counsel.
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to make sure that we process individuals and that they have rights associated with seeking lawful asylum. i also wanted to ring up a topic . -- bring up a topic from last year. detention of u.s. citizens. i.c.e. communicated they do not detain u.s. citizens. they cannot track data on detention of u.s. citizens. fiscal year 22, the agency failed to provide a report to this committee. is this the same report you committed to sharing in your last hearing before congress. we have received reports of another u.s. citizen detained in pennsylvania just this year. my question is, why has i.c.e.
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continue to fail to track or report this information the committee has requested for multiple fiscal years? >> very good questions, congressman. i will note that the information -- the reporting of u.s. citizen data is now on our public website as of about a month or so ago. we have been trying to get that official congressional report out the building. we are hoping to have it done before this hearing, but it was not successful. i assure you that will be out the door in short order. hopefully by the end of this week. the number -- compared to prior fiscal years, the number of u.s. citizens that were actually arrested are significantly less than what they have been.
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i think over the last two years, the number of arrests were somewhere around five or seven individuals. the number of individuals that were actually detained was like one individual over the last two fiscal years. none of those individuals were removed from the country. what that illustrates is that the process and the safeguards we actually have in place to quickly review claims of u.s. citizenship is actually working. i cannot stress enough how terribly complicated it is to determine whether an individual has citizenship or they adjusted their status and the like. we do have the appropriate policies and safeguards in place to make sure we are not sending people out of the country who
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are in fact u.s. citizens. >> you talked about the difference between arrest and detain. do you also suggest the length that which individuals are detained? >> i do not know offhand. i do not think so. we can circle back with your office. >> have there been any changes in i.c.e. intake procedures to prevent this from happening? what steps does i.c.e. take today? what steps can you take today to reduce that number of detained u.s. citizens? >> again, i do not know -- in my perfect world, we would never arrest a u.s. citizen. but just given the complexity of the situation and the fact that oftentimes people claim to be u.s. citizens when they are not
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in an effort to avoid immigration proceedings, i think what you see now where a relatively small number of people were actually arrested and basically zero or one being removed is probably as good as it is going to get. just with how often we are dealing with people who actually make false claims to being a u.s. citizen, there are certain consequences. i'm not saying we are not going to strive to try to do this even better, but just given the dynamic of u.s. citizenship and how complicated it is to determine whether someone has citizenship, i do not think we are ever going to get to zero quite frankly.
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>> thank you director johnson, good to see you again and i want to say thank you for appearing before the committee. thank you for your years of service. you have a very critical mission within dhs to keep americans safe. i want to let you know i particularly support the work hsi does to crackdown on child exportation, human trafficking, top priority is for the most vulnerable among us at i want to applaud the work your agents are doing to carry out that mission. i just met in small-town iowa about how we can work to prevent those kinds of challenges in our community and you are on the front line of that fight. thank you for that work there. i also want to flag something i'm very concerned about for my district and my constituents. in march i.c.e. released its
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fiscal year report three months late after republican members of the subcommittee joined me in introducing a resolution of inquiry requiring you to release this information to the american people. it did reveal some major concerns regarding levels of enforcement. notably a 68% decrease in deportation. the lowest level of deportation in 26 years. my question to you is how do you justify this historic decrease in deportation? >> very good question congresswoman. it is a combination of the covid 19 pandemic first and foremost, it is all the litigation that has impacted who we can actually detain and requiring individuals with certain risk factors be immediately reduced -- released from custody. i also think you have to take into account the 85,000 expulsions that our officers
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carried out. it is consistent with title 42 authorization. you have to factor that in as well. i think if you look back at the last six months of fy 20 and actually compare it to the month over month removal for fy 21, you would notice that the numbers are not all that different. it is sort of indicative of the pandemic and how difficult it was to house people in custody for any extended period of time. and to effectuate removals when you are only able to use such a small percentage of your beds. >> i would ask that you follow-up with us on specific numbers. and i'm seeing a 68% decrease, that is alarming. i know we have had a number of
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conversations about the memo that was released shortly before the conversation last year about changes in priorities, and to me there is a direct priority between the memo that went out last february and the 60% decrease in deportations. you look at the year prior, we were experiencing covid in 2020 as well and we did not see that decrease. in the memo, you talked about limited resources. i find it disingenuous because you are claiming this while the budget is requesting a cut to the agency's enforcement operations. so how you reconcile the ask for a cut for enforcement while we are having this historic low deportations. >> the request to cut the bed number is just a reflection of the administration's position that alternatives to detention
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is the more appropriate and humane way of dealing with segments of the population that do not pose a public safety or national security threat. >> but that alternative is to release them into the country, correct? >> with monitoring. the idea is that we will use that funding we would be spending on detention to hire individuals to more closely monitor folks in a non-detained setting or gps monitor. the reality is we cannot detain -- there are not enough beds in the private sector to detain our way out of this situation. >> the point being that once title 42 goes away we are going to have an increased number of these people coming across and instead of detaining them you are cutting that and releasing those people into our country. that is what americans are concerned about right now. we are seeing the surge at our southern border.
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we want to see that stopped, not increased, which unfortunately when you are asking for a decrease, that is my main concern. i see i am out of time so i yelled back. >> thank you for being here today. i have to say right off the bat that you have an incredibly tough job. i do not envy the position you are in. while i have serious concerns regarding certain standards and tactics, i have always been impressed with your agency's work dealing with transnational gangs, especially the crime syndicates importing fentanyl from mexico into the country. a homeland security investigation of shipping is doing amazing things. you do not have to look further than baltimore field office, which is part of my district,
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who were gracious enough to recently host my team for a tour. last year homeland security baltimore alone seized 2.6 million in currency, 630 firearms, 2000 pounds of cocaine , and 17 pounds of fentanyl. that is enough fentanyl to kill roughly 3.7 million. baltimore has been a great success. it is like a team coming together to focus on these issues. i have always said the federal, state, and local governments work together bringing synergy and action. with drug overdoses hitting a record high in 2021, there is much more we can do throughout the country. my question to you, number one,
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do you believe the ocd s strikeforce model can be replicated? what are the operational challenges when investigating drug trafficking cases? and also of interest to me, as i 95 run through the heart of my district, what are some of the operational challenges when investigating human trafficking cases? did you get all that? >> i did. >> ok good. really good questions. i will start with -- just so you know, there are 19 of those taskforces throughout the country.
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hsi is an active participant and is fully engaged in each one of those. just for context. there have been 335 total investigations initiated in fy 22 so far this year. hsi has sponsored 150 six of those investigations. so we are at the forefront of the spear in those taskforces. we are extremely proud of the great work are hsi special agents and folks are doing each and every day. so i think what will continue to be supportive of -- that we will continue to be supportive of expansion to combat these tco's and others who wish to bring dangerous narcotics to u.s. soil.
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>> i want to say that years ago i was an investigative prosecutor doing a lot of gang work and drug work. i can tell you i think that is the best way to focus on the gang problem, the international gang problem, the feds and locals and the state working together. it really helps us get the bad guys. >> could not agree more, congressman. on the gang front, hsi is really leading the charge on that. just last year alone we arrested 3574 known gang members which has a direct impact on public safety and making our community safe. so we are extremely proud of that great work. you asked about what challenges we have. investigating human trafficking -- human trafficking is a labor-intensive sort of bucket.
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right now about 10% of our cases we initiate are related to human trafficking, and because these cases tend to need to be investigated for at least a year , often times much longer, we just need to make sure we have -- we continue to sort of, you know, deploy the resources. any assistance you can provide with additional resources as well as criminal analysis would be critical. as you may know we only have 750 criminal analysts assigned to hsi, about one analyst for every 10 special agents and we really have to do a better job of getting that ratio down to about one analyst to every five
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agents. we will continue to work our estimate that we need 900 criminal analysts to get to a more comfortable ratio. just so you know, our current staffing only allows a criminal analysts to be assigned to 14% of cases. that is a very small number. whenever we assign a criminal analyst to a case, that resulted in 30% of the total arrests. it speaks volumes to how important and critically necessary it is to have more criminal analysts to support these complex investigations. >> that completes our first round. we will now have a second round of questions.
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>> thank you director johnson. this body has provided funding to support detention of -- so that i.c.e. can more quickly identify systemic issues and problems at specific facilities. what is the current status and is the office meeting hiring targets? >> very good question, congresswoman. just so you know for numbers that fy 19, the office was able to inspect 48 facilities. in fy 20 we were able to increase that to 121. in fy 21 and has increased to 208. so far in fy 22 we have conducted 85 inspections. we are on target to do the two
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inspections per year as you put in the appropriations language. last i checked i think we were -- do not hold me to this, but we will circle back -- i think we hired at least 85% of the folks we were scheduled to bring on board. recognizing there was a request in fy 23 for additional staff to continue that effort. >> the changes in nice policy and requirements that have resulted from these inspections? >> the program is still sort of in its infancy. there is a ramping up of inspection capability, as i highlighted. they still have a ways to go. they have a really good
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inspectional tool that they developed that really focuses on, you know, the aspects of a detention operation that mean the most to an individual that is detained. between odo as well as numerous other oversight bodies, the office of detention -- there are numerous oversight entities that are responsible for ensuring conditions are appropriate for i.c.e.'s detained population. >> are you receiving regular updates from these agencies? >> we are. every time there is a new inspection, we get the report within a couple weeks. we typically have staff to
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participate in the out briefing so we are immediately aware if there are any significant issues that need to be addressed immediately before the report is finalized. there's a lot of coordination amongst the various inspectional components. >> let me ask you about one of the facilities. the inspector general issued an alert after the inspection of the torrance county facility calling for the immediate transfer of all detainees from that facility. yet i.c.e. disagreed with oig's conclusions. also the contracting office modified contract because the facility was unable to maintain sufficient staffing. can you explain i.c.e.'s position and why i.c.e. continues to use this facility
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given the multiple issues at this location over the past several years? >> just prior to that management alert, odo had done an inspection of the facility and they were rated superior. so we had that. >> i'm sorry, i need some clarification. you are saying the oig came to the conclusion that they should be immediately removed -- many times they will say certain things need to be corrected, but in this case it was the immediate removal. you are telling me odo came out with a rating of mr. johnson: just before the visit, odo had done a review and
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those findings were excellent, or the equivalent, whatever the nomenclature is. also, we had a team of folks that were on site at the facility, and were intimately aware of the conditions at the facility. where their issues, sure. where they be same sort of issues that all of our facilities have been experiencing in this covid and bargain with difficulty hiring staff, and getting certain medical folks, absolutely. but based on the population levels that we had at the facility, which was only 20% of the total beds, they was our view. and we looked at this pretty extensively, that it was more than sufficient staff to accommodate the small number of individuals that were being detained at the time.
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there were a number of other issues we took exception with with that report that i would prefer not to go into detail here. but we did take a really hard look at the findings. we did not agree with the recommendation. that's not totally uncommon, sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. this was one we felt strongly, that got it from. >> sorry, my time is going past. but i would like to follow up on this with you. mr. fleischman? >> thank you, madam chair. acting director johnson, sir, as the number of encounters along the border continues to increase, ice has decided to rely on the alternatives to detention program. this program has seen a massive
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increase in enrollment. is it your plan simply to continue to put all these people on atd, a program which ice itself has said in the past has little value, but is of significant expense, and if so, how do you ensure that it is used as an enforcement tool? mr. johnson: very good question. i will start by saying while the atd program might be to some extent costly, it's not nearly as expensive as it is for detentions. we think it's really important that it you're going to use alternatives to detention, then you actually do have to have the staff to monitor these cases and respond to alerts, and the like,
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and put the agency in a spot where they can provide the robust monitoring that is required. recognizing that there is not an endless supply of funding, and you typically can't just -- there are some limits on what you can ask for. the expectation is we will use some of the funding that we would be saving from fewer detention beds to buy some additional staff to treat the monitoring of those individuals. >> yes, sir. follow-up question. atd has a compliance right now of 86%. right now, there are over 230,000 people on atd and reports say that could go to 600,000 people.
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are you committed to rapidly removing the tens of thousands of individuals who undoubtedly abscond from atd, which if your compliance rate holds, could be nearly 100,000 individuals? mr. johnson: compliance rates have actually increased in fy 21. the 16% or 14% you are noting is an fy 21 stat. the fy 22 stat is actually a 91% compliance rate. and yes, sir, we are absolutely committed to locating and removing any individual that has absconded from the program. >> thank you, sir. i appreciate the answer to our questions. madam chair, i will yield back so others can ask. >> ms. underwood? >> in july, the biden
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administration implemented a policy that exempts nursing women from immigration detention. this is a reversal of the previous administration policy that led to a 52% increase in the number of people detained who are pregnant. what trends do you expect to see this year in terms of frightened people? -- pregnant people. mr. johnson: as long as you're going to have new cases coming across the southwest border there are going to be individuals who either one, do not know they are pregnant when they had ice custody and learn about it after their medical screening. or two, they are a recent border crosser who comes across that is pregnant, and can't be immediately released at the moment because there is no stage release plan and they would have to go to an ice detention
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fed or a period of time. if someone is determined to be pregnant, they will generally be released fairly quickly, and only in very rare occasions would anyone stay in custody for an extended period of time. >> those who are pregnant and in ice care, what procedures are in place to make sure they receive maternal health care services of social support? mr. johnson: our immigration health services core does a phenomenal job at providing medical care. they have a program to deal with individuals who are pregnant or postpartum. it's in their medical orders, and there is a process in place to deal with that segment of the population should there be a.
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need. the guidance is pretty clear, we have instructed our folks that we are not to detain individuals absent extraordinary circumstances. >> i am going to ask for the record that you share with us the procedures for medical maternal health care for individuals who are pregnant. what is ice doing to make sure that pregnant women are offered the covid vaccine? mr. johnson: so, i can run down. i have no idea whether the vaccine is even acceptable for those that are pregnant? >> it is. mr. johnson: i don't want to speak out of turn. >> it is, unequivocally. mr. johnson: let us run that down and we will get that back to you. >> last, i want to talk about family separation. the trump administration family
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separation policy puts a moral stain on our country's immigration history. a report from 2021 stated that ice removed over 300,000 parents without the necessary documentation, and in some cases removed parents even after they told ice officers they wanted their children to accompany them upon removal. the lack of documentation is catastrophic for even a fine families. one of our recommendations was for ice staff to document and obtain acknowledgment for each parents ' preference on whether their child should remain in the u.s. or stay with the parent. as of last tuesday, may 10, ice has not demonstrated any new guidance for obtaining supervisory acknowledgment. mr. johnson, one well ice implement a new procedure to
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obtain and record parents' preference for their children to remain in the u.s. or be removed with them? mr. johnson: as you are aware, there is very little family separation occurring right now. there is a family reunification task force that has been working diligently to reunite a lot of the folks that had been separated under the prior administration. i don't know that my policy shop is currently working on a reunification policy, because it is totally contrary to the current administration and the agency's position to do any family separation. >> we will be following up with you all. i don't see how in the face of this, action has not been taken to avoid it. and it is horrifying for us not
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to heed the recommendation of an inspector general's report describing the policy even if the separation is occurring. without proper procedures, we can put that into practice, so it would be my hope that with communication from my office, you should take action. >> thank you, madam chair. as i mentioned last year, at the beginning of the biden administration, our southern border has seen an invasion of migrants trying to come to our country illegally. porta patrol has remained overwhelmed. we have heard that facilities are quickly filled up, making it difficult to process illegal immigrants. when we spoke last year, he stated that if we increase the number of ages i agents to stop individuals from coming to u.s. ports.
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as a secretory americas stated, the southern border cannot become the first line of defense. what resources can ice use prevent people coming to be u.s., and tell us about pushing that u.s. border further south? mr. johnson: i think we need the ability to deploy more resources to prevent human trafficking and smuggling. as i mentioned, only 10% of our investigations are targeting that line of effort. any additional resources would be helpful. and again, the need for additional criminal analysts to support these investigations which, as i mentioned, are typically long-term investigations and require lots of combing through data. increasing our international footprint, whether that is getting more special agents down
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in mexico and the northern triangle. one other thing that would be extremely helpful is the stipend, the authority to pay a stipend to some of our international partners, which is an authority some of our other fellow law enforcement components like dea have to incentivize some of these partnerships with our international partners. being able to have the authority to provide a stipend i think will also enhance our investigative work abroad and help target some of these transnational criminal organizations, and break up of the human trafficking, smuggling and narcotics trafficking. mr. palazzo: we have some of
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the brightest intel analysts in the world. we should be able to disrupt these transnational criminal organizations a lot easier. it is about you telling us what resources you need to do your job, and you have a very hard and difficult job, and we appreciate what you do. we know ice has seen an overwhelming amount of their resources personnel to the southern border, how has this affected morale within your agency? mr. johnson: i think morale is in a pretty good spot. they are recognizing how important the mental health and well-being of our staff is. we're certainly required to send a good number of folks to the southern border. but we are keeping and i on -- an eye on folks and trying to
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make sure it is as voluntary as possible, so as not to impact individuals and their families. we have no reason to believe that morale is down. and our workforce is resilient, and they certainly will step up to the plate and take on the task at hand. mr. palazzo: that's good to hear. reviewing your annual report for this goal year 2021, i noticed there is a lot of discussion about seized currency. real quick. what do you do with that seized her and see -- currency? doesn't go back to your department or the u.s. treasury? we mentioned almost over 900,000 pounds of hard narcotics that were seized at the border. i'm sure you all have mathematicians.
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if that was what was seized, and only 20 or 30% of the cargo is scanned and detected, what would be your estimate of hard narcotics that makes its way to the country that we don't see is , that is destroying to beauties of color, it does not matter geography or boundaries, that's basically targeting all of our communities in america? mr. johnson: and i will confirm that this is accurate. i'm pretty certain that all seizures of funds gets into the treasury forfeiture accounts, whereby these federal agencies can use those funds for other investigations or efforts in the future. i'm pretty certain that is the way that works. whether we have any stats on exactly how much narcotics is
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actually slipping through, i don't know that we have a way to quantify that. as you noted, hsi seized over 14,000 pounds of fentanyl in fy 21, which is a significant amount of seizures. we will circle back and let you know if there is a way to quantify what got away, but i'm not sure that there is. >> thank you again, and thank you for your hard work and that of your team. >> thank you, madam chair. thank you acting director. secretary mayorkas previously
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made a commitment to review detention facilities. i heard about a detention facility that had a profound history of mistreating emigrants, and the chairwoman pointed your attention to the facility in new mexico as well. can you provide an update on the status of the review of ice detention architecture? what was the criteria for the review and termination of contracts, and how many facilities have been reviewed? mr. johnson: very good question. there's been at least a handful of closures since the administration took office. i don't have the exact number in front of me. we did recently close a facility in alabama, or are in the process of getting out of that facility if i remember correctly, as well as a facility in florida.
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the review is ongoing. we continue to assess our detention facilities each and every day. and we will continue to do so, if we become aware of a facility that is not meeting our high standards, then we will take appropriate action to either fix the problem. and if the problem can't be fixed, then we have no issues with discontinuing the use of a particular facility. to answer your question directly, they're in view is ongoing. it has resulted in the closure of some facilities, but i cannot speak what's on the horizon. >> can you tell us what that review process looks like? is it site visits, do you look at capacity and in addition to the physical infrastructure of the facilities, what are the criteria that goes into the? mr. johnson: going back seven
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years, all of the various inspectional reports of the different entities that are responsible for providing oversight of facilities, whether it is oig, crcl, office of detention oversight, there is a number of folks that issue inspectional reports. it would include a review of the historical inspectional reports, as well as some visits to certain facilities or data calls to certain facilities to her rest additional -- request additional information. >> i know a lot of that process started during covid, but to the extent physical cyber reviews can be part of that, i think i would encourage you to think
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through that. there are some things a paper just can't show you clearly. that's just something i think can be added as well. i also wanted to bring your attention, california obviously, made some news related to private detention contracts. the state passed a law banning or profit prisons and attention -- detention centers. so, i wanted to ask the status of those contracts with for-profit companies before that law went into effect. mr. johnson: no facility is off
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the table for review. we've been looking at a few facilities in california, and you're absolutely right. when we were about to be in a situation where we could no longer secure any detention space, in california forever, we did go out and enter some contracts so we could have them in our back pocket if we needed them in the future. it has been at least three or so years since that law was enacted, and we have not. maybe there has been one small facility that we activated, but we have not expanded our detention population in california as a result of these contracts today. >> and often times you pay for that capacity whether we use it
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or don't, so that is important to the committee as well. thank you, director. i yield back. >> microphone. >> i was told that mr. williford is on his way back, but i don't see him. i don't know if there is any other students -- questions that anyone has? with that, i will adjourn the hearing. director johnson, i went to thank you very much for your time, and for your service.
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