tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN March 25, 2015 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
doing. but do we make mistakes? yes, we do. we make mistakes. and we follow up on them. our mistakes, compared to the number of visits that we have throughout a year, 5,700 sites in one year, we've got a pretty good track record. it doesn't mean that we've got a problem here, we definitely have a problem. we're going to fix it. but, it's not that all of our practices, or all our foundation is bad, we've just got to get -- do a better job of training our people and responding quicker to some of these events. i could list several very positive events where we've saved lives, where we've responded very quickly to individuals who wanted to climb the fence. i could cite numerous examples of that. but i know that today we are looking at the negative incident. but i'm confident that because of the good work that's being done by the vast majority of our
people, that the president is safe, the first family's safe, and the white house is safe. but it's not an easy task. it's a challenge in an urban environment. >> a little earlier i said that when i looked at the memo, the e-mail, the anonymous e-mail, that it made me realize that -- or believe that we had an agency in war with itself. >> yes, sir. >> do you understand why i say that? >> yes. there's conflict within the agency. >> the idea -- the idea that someone would even create the e-mail, would create it put it out there, let's assume it's not true. that makes it even worse. to put it out there, you know --
when i was a kid, there was a saying that said when two elephants fight, the ground suffers. and the point is that when people are involved in conflict and that's distracting -- i know that's -- from the mission, that's a problem. would you agree? >> absolutely. >> just the idea that somebody would put that out there. >> it's a reflection on all of us. there's not enough trust within the agency that you can't bring things up through the agency. somehow we've got to redeem that trust. instead of going out and doing an anonymous e-mail, bring it to somebody's attention. there are so many avenues we've created so they can do that. even outside of the chain of command. or call me directly. i've had people directly contact me with issues that they have.
and i've followed up on them. but to the work force who's listening today, if you're not getting results, contact me so we can get results. >> what is the -- you know i think one of the things that becomes frustrating for a lot of us up here is something i said to you a little bit earlier. it's one thing when you have one incident here, and maybe two years go by and you have an incident there, but they just keep coming, keep coming keep coming. that's when we move into that zone of culture. >> yes. >> and it seems like the problems, because they keep coming it seems like we're not maybe digging down deep enough to try to get to that ongoing situation.
hold that point. let me go to number two with that. one of the things you also talked about andwas this overtime, and the fact that people can't even get a day off and all that. i'm sure that plays a role. but help us try to understand how you see it. i mean, you've got to be sitting there scratching your head saying, okay it's one thing after another. am i digging deep enough to get to the problems? what else do i have to do? i mean when you look at all that you've seen, what -- i'm sure you see some daylight at the end. the question is how do you see yourself getting to that daylight? when i say that daylight, i mean bringing your agency back to the level of integrity that it once
held. how do you do that? how do you see yourself doing it? and can you see yourself accomplishing that? ? i'm trying to stay the course. i'm trying to stay the course of what we've started 30 days ago when i was the -- named the director. as an acting director you do some things you make some changes. but you're not the permanent director. to be honest with you, i thought if they brought in someone else, bring in their own team bring in their own restructuring, i didn't want to step too far out until i was the director. and now that -- in the last 30 days you know i want to stay this course of trying to do all we can to hire this staff. that's the biggest issue we have. i admit there are other issues we've got to work on with the way we've handled this incident. but if we handle this staffing problem, i honestly believe it's going to help the morale a little bit. when people start to get days
off, then they're more excited to work as a team, and get back into the business. but that is something we've just got to fix, the staffing. and the communication. i can't say it enough. and i know it doesn't mean maybe a lot here, as i speak to the committee, but we've been stressing with all of our officials in the uniform division, as well as my executive staff, and i have personally tried to engage people engage them and make them feel comfortable to talk to us, and try to make this agency better, you know it's that 1%. i've said that to our roll call. it's the 1% tearing down the 99%. it's the 99% that has to stand up to that 1%. that's what i'm asking our work force to do. if you start seeing someone start to go south on their professional or personal conduct, then that 99% has got to straighten it out. that person in that vicinity has got to grab that individual and
say, hey that's not what we do. and somehow i need to help with the work force too. i need to help the work force to stand up for that agency and make it the way it was so many years ago. i know i'm talking too much here, but we're talking about very negative things here, but there are so many wonderful wonderful agents and officers. >> you know, i -- >> they're professional people. i'm sorry. >> no. i agree with you there are great agents. i've talked to a number of them. as a matter of fact, i had one visit with me not long ago. and this was an agent who has been around for a good while. as a matter of fact, he's about to retire. but he really wanted to make sure that the agency got back to
that place that i just talked about. the reason why i ask you these questions is because, you know, i'm trying to figure out can we -- i mean, it seems as if some people probably have to go. do you understand that? that there may be some people who maybe this is not where they need to be. >> right. >> or maybe they're good people, but it doesn't mean that they're necessarily good for this agency. >> right. >> and so, i mean, how do you make those determinations? how do you come to those kind of decisions? and do you feel that you can make those decisions? i mean, if somebody -- you know somebody, you've known them for 20 years, i mean it's -- >> i've made that decision with some people. that we did offer some other
positions in dhs. again, good people. but i wanted this fresh look and this aggressive work that we need to have done on the upper levels. if we can set a tone, if we can set a tone at the upper levels, that's going to filter down. not only the work ethic but the professionalism, but also the -- this idea of trust. i'm a great believer in trust. you know you've got to try to through your actions through your actions, gain trust of people. and i think we just have to -- it's going to take time. but i'm not giving up. it's going to take time, but we're just going to have to keep working through it. >> now, chief lanier told the committee that 30 minutes was a quick time response. do you see that as quick, 30 minutes? >> i don't know. i can't evaluate the chief's force. ideally, you know, we want them
as soon as possible. we have our own people on the complex. >> is there a bomb expert inside? >> inside the complex but not for the metropolitan streets. not for the district. >> but inside the white house? >> it's actually in the -- i believe it's in the new executive office building. so they can respond within minutes. >> now, a question also came up with regard to the ig. and according to the code the ig does have the -- the ig is authorized to require by subpoena the production of all information, documents reports, answers, records accounts papers, and other data. did you know that? were you aware of that? >> i made an assumption. in answer to an earlier question, i thought they could,
yes. they're 1811s. >> i just wanted to make sure we were clear on that. tell me describe your relationship between the -- the relationship between the secret service and the metropolitan police department. >> well, with our washington field office the agent in charge of the washington field office, they work very closely with the metropolitan police department. and i can see it myself as i walk around the white house, as we have protesters, and incidents at the white house, they're very responsive. i can see them in force. it's actually very comforting. as just maybe a week ago, two weeks ago i walked down -- st. patrick's sunday, i think, or that weekend and we had a st. patrick's day parade, and there was a syrian protest group, and a large crowd on the north fence line. the metropolitan police was there offering a lot of support. i remember talking to the
officers as i walked around. in my view, it's much better than it was from years ago. i think that -- the relationship is very strong. but their support has been very helpful to us. i think there's a very good relationship. >> how have their communications between, between your agency and theirs? >> at the level of the washington field office it's been very good. but to the chairman's point, i should have made more of an effort to meet with commissioner lanier. >> do you plan to do that? >> it's scheduled for maybe next week. i know that it had been canceled then we had another event that we were going to have a tabletop exercise and that had to be canceled. we've missed a couple of opportunities. but that's on me. i should have made more of an effort to reach out to the chief. >> now, going back to the incident of march 4th, i
understand what you were saying when you said that you were concerned -- you turned this investigation over to the ig. do you think your agency -- if you had the authority -- could have done the investigation? >> absolutely. i think we could have done it much faster. i think we would have -- we would have worked -- again, i don't want to cast judgment on the oig, i'm sure they're doing a very good thorough job, and that's why we gave it to them. but we would have worked on this very quickly. but i didn't want that view -- the concern was let them take over the investigation of their people, and i didn't want to take that chance. and again, i'm sorry i'm required to give it to the oig. >> yeah, i understand that. i've heard you say this many times about, you know, being concerned about -- first of all, you had a duty to do it, but
putting that aside, this idea of the perception -- >> yes. >> -- talk about that for a minute. the perception that if you had gotten involved. because i've heard you say this now at least five or six times. >> i just wanted to be as transparent -- maybe the best example i can give you, i know many members wanted an outsider in this position. so that outsider could make decisions. so here we have this incident and i've reached to an outsider to investigate it. and now i'm being told it should have been an insider, us to do it. you know, i'm trying to be transparent here. i admit that being new in the role, that there's a lot for me to learn. and i'm going to learn from my mistakes. i did want to be transparent. i just didn't want to have any indication that we were tainting the investigation. and that's why i -- again, right or wrong, i compartmentalize
things, and said the oig's got it, and let me focus on the protection of the white house, today, and tomorrow, and future trips. and the first lady who's making all these -- making a trip overseas. there are so many other issues. and the threats that are coming in. and this is my third hearing. and then i had the closed hearing, too. as you can imagine, that takes a considerable amount of time from some of my other duties that i'm concerned, you know, that are in the future here. i've got to focus on these. like the pope's visit and the campaign. these are things that i should be looking at now in advance to make sure we don't go down the wrong path. again, it's on us. we put ourselves in this position, i realize that. but it's taken a considerable amount of my time to look back when i was intent at this point to let the oig do that investigation. so i could -- i'd hoped to be able to focus on the protection
today and our future events. >> i told you that one of my concerns all along here is that -- and i think you are getting a feel that it's probably the concerns of a number of us is that in the process of waiting for the oig to come back with their findings recommendations and what have you, that the president still has to be safe. >> yes. >> and a lot of the concern went to, if there are things that maybe could be threatening to the safety and welfare of the president and the family, and all the others that you protect whether, while we're waiting something could not be happening. now, let me finish. you had mentioned to me -- you
told us that you were going to go back a few days ago to the ig, and be in contact with them as to things that they could let you know that would allow you, if they deemed it serious enough to be able to act with regard to disciplinary issues. did you have that conversation? >> i did not have a second conversation with the oig. i will say that, as a result of what i do know here, where these agents drove through the secure zone we had our assistant director for training. we gave him the task of going back out and looking at our model for incident commands, of what do we do when we have incidents like this. are we securing the zone properly. is the communication done properly. so that directive has gone out from my office to the training
directive. we're looking at this from where we are now from the outside. and just from that we know there are things we can do better. and we're addressing those. the piece that's missing primarily is the accountability piece. and that comes when we get the definitive facts that come through. >> now you were going to -- you told the chairman that you were going to produce certain witnesses. now, i'm not trying to put words in your mouth now. wait a minute. let me finish. i want to make sure we're all on the same page, and want to make sure you said what i think you said, that you're going to produce certain witnesses for interviews, is that right? is that right? >> i have to go back to the department. that will be my recommendation, that we go back to the department, and not in an open hearing, though. >> right. >> in a closed hearing --
>> right. >> -- and do it in that mode. >> and would that satisfy your concerns with regard to interfering with the ig? and by the way, we told the ig we would work with them to avoid those kind of problems. >> it would satisfy my concerns. in all candor that will go through the work force and they'll know who has been brought in and who hasn't, and it jen prats agenerates a lot of chatter. but it would satisfy my concerns. >> you say it would cause a lot of chatter. a lot of chatter will be caused no matter what. because the ig has to interview the same people we want to interview. you understand that, right? >> if you're going to do all the interviews they're doing yes, sure. >> we probably will do quite a few interviews.
and so what's the difference? >> there may not be congressman, yeah. in a closed hearing. >> yeah. i'm talking about closed. i'm talking about closed. >> yeah, sure. >> so what can you tell us -- so if you were working with the ig, is there -- you said that if you had done the investigation, it would be much faster, is that right? >> that's my view. again, that would be an assumption. but knowing that we would throw all the assets that we have available, we would take investigators -- we'd empty out the internal affairs and we would, 24 hours a day, we would follow through on this to get it done. so we can act on it quicker. >> now, when you have a shortage of manpower how do you deal with that? you talked about all the vacancies and -- i still can't
get over this 45,000 people. >> yes, sir. when we have a shortage of manpower operationally, we pull people in. just as an example. at the white house now, the uniform division as we've discussed is short in terms of manpower. so we have brought in agents to assist in some of these positions. until they get up to staff. and we are working towards building up their staff. in fact this year we should hire approximately 192 officers maybe a little bit more, to bring them on. the key here is, the retention piece of it. it's one thing to bring them on, but if we lose you know if we lose 100, then our increase is not as great as we'd like. so we're looking at both. not just the hiring we're looking at retention matters, too. should there be bonuses available? retention bonuses? we're looking at other options, too.
looking at annuitants those who have retired, can we bring them back in some other role. we're looking at as many options available to try to build up our staff. that's where we are. >> does it surprise you that out of 45,000 people, you can't get a few? does that surprise you? >> it absolutely does. >> you said mainly because of drugs? >> primarily because of drugs, or, you -- >> when you say drugs, do you mean a history of drugs, or they come in for a drug test and they're still on drugs? >> very often it's the polygraph examination, when they're asked questions through the polygraph examinations, there are admissions to possibly selling drugs, or having some kind of a past, crime in the past or something -- >> let's say somebody's asked,
have you ever used marijuana, and they say yeah, i used it in high school, and now they're 27 years old. i mean what happens to that person? in other words, is that the kind of thing that would disqualify them? >> i don't know if i can go into specifics on each one. i'm sorry others may hear that and -- >> i got you. i got you. so it is a major problem, though? >> it's a dilemma. but we've got to go through that in order to get good people. you know we're willing to -- we're not going to compromise our hiring standards. >> right. >> because we've got to get good people. now, the thing i've got to battle with, we've done all this vetting, and it takes seven or eight months to go through the polygraph, and background checks, and they get this top-secret clearance where do we lose them when they get to the 10-year mark 15-year mark
why are they not -- why do they write to the members? why are they disgruntled? why are they not reporting up through the chain of command? that's something i've got to find a solution to that. because we're getting good people on the front end. and again i'm so sorry to keep saying this, but again, we're looking at a smaller element. our work force is saying, this isn't the work force i know but there is an element that we've got to do a better job of reaching. >> do we have to do a better job of making sure that the people in the supervisory roles are well selected? i've told you several times i've been sitting for years on the board of the naval academy. >> yes. >> and one thing i've noticed is that they are very -- the students are very selective
about who has leadership roles up and down the ranks. >> right. >> and it's earned. people earn trust. people have shown good examples. you know it's not a -- you know, i'm going to scratch your back, you scratch mine, none of that. but i'm just wondering, are you looking at how you're elevating people? you can have people at the top, but if you've got folks in supervisory roles, for example who might say to officers rank and file, don't conduct a sobriety test, hypothetically we're still figuring all this out -- >> right. >> -- that's not -- that's pretty bad. because then you've got the person who is trying to do their job, being told not to do their job. >> right. >> you're talking about something that would be harmful to morale. and at the same time, take away
from the mission. i mean that's a dilemma. are you looking at how you promote people and trying to make sure you have the right people in the right positions? >> well, a couple things. i know some things have taken place in the time that i was not in the service, when i had left they -- to make it more objective, there's testing, so you've got to either pass a test or you don't pass the test to go on to the next level. so that prevents someone from just tapping their friend and saying, you're going to be a supervisor. so you've got to get through that test. but beyond that, we've got to do more training with those supervisors we have in place today. we've got to do more ongoing training so that they engage their work force, so that -- they've -- i'm just thinking about the uniform division for example. those officials need to be walking around that complex as much as possible, engaging their
employees, testing our employees. you know, go up to the officers and say, okay if this happens, what are you going to do? i often give the example if you've ever played baseball. you sit out there in right field, and you're thinking about whether it's a ground ball or fly ball what am i going to do with the ball. that's what we have to do in our line of work. i think you've always got to be thinking about, if this happens, what's my reaction. so that you're not slow in reacting. >> yeah. my time is running out. let me say that, first of all to the men and women and of the secret service, i want to thank them for what they do. and i've watched them whenever they are around, and, i mean i've just seen phenomenal professionalism. but when these things happen, you're right it just takes away from all of those folks who are doing a great job. >> right. >> and i'm hoping that they will
accept your directions, and that is that if there are people who are not doing the right things, that they themselves will weed them out. like they do in the naval academy. they will weed them out in a minute. because they want to make sure that they keep this elite organization elite. and maintain that reputation. they want to make sure that the reputation matches the performance. again, i want to thank you. but i've got to tell you, as i've said many times, we've got a high-powered microscope on this agency. >> i understand. >> and we will not rest in a bipartisan way we will not rest until we get back to where we need to be. thank you, mr. chairman. >> i recognize the gentleman from georgia, mr. carter, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. clancy, thank you for being here. we appreciate this very much. i want to reiterate what
representative gowdy said earlier, and that is that we all want to see you succeed. we do. we truly sincerely bipartisanly we want to see you succeed. and we hope that you'll do that. unfortunately, off to a bad start. >> yes, sir. >> and that happens, okay? let me ask you something. when your agency hires a new employee, can you tell me what the process -- or how much time it usually takes when you hire a new employee? the amount of time? >> well, to go through the hiring process, it's approximately seven or eight months. we've cut it down, we cut it down up to about a year ago, but we've cut it down to about seven or eight months. once we get them onboard, they go through training for 8 1/2 months down at the law enforcement training center. >> that's in my district. thank you very much. >> it's a great facility. it's grown quite a bit since i've been down there. they get excellent training down
there. basic law enforcement training. and then they come up to washington for more specific training with the -- related to the secret service laws and investigations and protection, and of course, our cyber mission. so it's about a seven-month training. >> in that seven-month training, i'm not talking specifically about training but what about background investigations, how long does that usually take? >> others can correct the record later if i'm wrong on this, but it was 14 days. >> the entire process -- >> but the background check -- their background check. >> i'm looking specifically to the background check. >> for the background check, the field office, to the best of my knowledge, is they get 14 days to go and -- go to your schools and neighborhoods and do that background check. now, it may have been brought down to ten days. >> but recently, has it been adjusted to be less than even
that? maybe just three days? >> you know, one of the other members had mentioned that. i'm not aware of that, down to three days. i was aware that there was -- it may go down to ten days. i'll research that when i go back to see if it was dropped down to three days. >> whoa, whoa, whoa you weren't aware of it. we got information that says that there was an e-mail sent out saying that because you were trying to fill a class for march, that you wanted to decrease it for three days, you didn't approve that? >> i don't get involved at that level with the candidate, sir. with how they're -- i set the tone with how many classes we want to get. what's the goal. get nine classes or eight classes. and then just fill those classes. i don't know if they've brought it down to three days. i'm not aware of that. >> do you feel like you should get involved? that seems to me that's a pretty high management decision. and that's something that -- >> yeah. >> -- you ought to run by the boss. >> the requirements stay the same, though. there's somewhat of a check box,
make sure you talk to so many neighborhood neighbors, somebody at schools. you still have to do a background check. it's just that your time to do it is condensed. it's not that you can knock off some parts of the background check. >> let me ask you, in the background check, if you find someone who's got a dual nationality, does that impact whether you hire them or not? >> dual nationality? i think you just have to -- you cannot have dual citizenship. >> you cannot have dual citizenship? >> yeah. >> but it's my understanding that that did happen during this time that you had the three-day background check period. >> that someone was brought in with dual citizenship? >> that's my understanding. >> i'll check on that. we'll follow up on that. >> i'm just concerned. it seems to me like when there's an alteration in policy, the one thing that -- look i'm a small business owner okay? the one thing i don't like is surprises. that's all i tell my staff.
i believe you surround yourself with good people and let them go at it i admire it, and i think that's good management practice but at the same time i don't like surprises. and it would appear to me going from a 14 or 10-day background check period to a 3-day, that's a surprise. >> that's a considerable condensing of the -- of hour hiring process. we'll definitely follow up on that. certainly if you would help us with that dual citizenship issue. >> back to the dual citizenship. if you do find out they have dual citizenship, then they're ineligible? they have to renounce one of their citizenships? >> that's my understanding, they have to renounce their citizenship. they have to be american citizens. >> okay. all right. well, again, let me reiterate that we want to see you succeed. >> yes. >> and we don't want to see you here. the less we see you, the better off we are, and the better off you are. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman.
listen, on behalf of all of us please convey to the men and women who do the hard work day in and day out who are holidays, weekends, they got the family lives going on and yet they're asked to continue to perform their duties. i hope they know how much we love them, care for them, and wish them nothing but the best. that's why we go through this process. part of what makes united states of america the greatest country on the face of the planet is we are self-critical. you can't do this type of discussion that we're having in most countries. >> yes sir. >> and as representatives of the people who care about what you do, and how you do it that's the spirit in which we approach that. and i know you share that as well. so we thank you for your personal service. we thank the men and women for all that they do. and the men and women who are behind you supporting you here today. but most importantly, back at the office or at home or on the grounds of the white house, or wherever it might be. we thank them. so this will continue. we do appreciate it.
tomorrow, homeland security secretary jeh johnson testifies before the house appropriations subcommittee about his department's budget request for 2016. we'll have that live 9:00 a.m. eastern, on c-span3. here are some of our featured programs for this weekend on the c-span networks. on c-span2's book tv, saturday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards, peter wallison said the policies caused the
financial crisis. and it could happen again. and director of the earth institute on a development plan to counter global issues like poverty, political skrupgs and environmental decay. and saturday morning at 10:30 eastern, on "american history tv" on c-span3, the discussion on the last major speeches of abraham lincoln and martin luther king jr. and on real america, the 1965 meet the press interview with martin luther king jr. find our complete television schedule at c-span.org, and let us know about the programs you are watching. call us, or e-mail us at c-span.org, or send us a tweet @c-span/comments. like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. several of president obama's cabinet secretaries addressed the ten days in the afternoon session of the national league
of cities conference. homeland security secretary jeh johnson opened up the session with remarks on terrorism and immigration. transportation undersecretary for policy peter rogoff, energy secretary and the epa's administrator followed with a panel-like discussion on each of their respective agencies' budgets and priorities. sally jewel spoke last and stressed the need for children to learn and play in the great outdoors. good afternoon. again, welcome, everyone. [ applause ] we welcome you to this afternoon's general session. thank you to jimmy robbins for entertaining the crowd. and the city of nashville for bringing him to washington. thank you so much. let's give him a round of applause. [ applause ]
this morning we were honored to be a part of a historic event for the national league of cities and its members. i believe this afternoon's session will be memorable in its own right. and very informative as well. we will hear from several representatives from the administration, as well as a thought-provoking panel discussion on infrastructure and climate change. it is now my pleasure to introduce our first speaker this afternoon. secretary of homeland security jeh johnson. [ applause ] >> i know from my experience you'll really enjoy him and we're going to learn a lot. he was sworn in on december 23rd, 2013, as the fourth secretary of homeland security. prior to joining dhs, secretary johnson served as general counsel for the department of defense where he was part of the
senior management team and led more than 10,000 military and civilian lawyers across the department. as general counsel of the defense department, secretary department oversaw the legal aspects of many of our nation's counterterrorism policies. he spearheaded reforms to the military commission system at guantanamo bay in 2009 and co-authored the 250-page report that paved the way for the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" in 2010. secretary johnson's career has included extensive service in national security, in law enforcement, and as an attorney in private corporate law practice. from its role in facilitating legal immigration and enforcing immigration laws, the responsibilities for coordinated responsibilities to natural disasters and other large emergencies, cities recognize the importance of strong leadership in the area of homeland security.
please join me in welcoming secretary jeh johnson. [ applause ] >> thank you mayor. good to be here. good afternoon, everybody. welcome to washington. and 60-degree weather. i know we're really happy about that. as i was in the back waiting to come up here, i had a moment of great trepidation listening to the musical segment. someone said to me well, you know you have to sing. [ laughter ] oh, well, i can't sing. your secretary of homeland security does not know how to carry a tune. i do know a few things about the national league of cities.
i'm here to pay tribute to this organization and to thank you for two very, very major and important positions that you have taken over the last several months. and i have an ask, which i will get to. i have an important ask. first, i have to tell a story. thank you for the wonderful and warm welcome you gave our president this morning. [ applause ] i recall -- this is a lively group. this is a good group. i'm going to enjoy talking to you. i recall eight years ago january 2008, des moines, iowa, introducing senator barack obama for the first time to my 12-year-old daughter then 12. now a college freshman. he walked into the room. there were many cameras.
there was a lot of excitement. and my daughter was standing right behind me. and i said to her, follow me, i'm going to finally introduce you to our next president of the united states, senator barack obama. and we pushed forward through the crowd. and i turn around to introduce my 12-year-old daughter to senator obama, and she is gone. and the reason she is gone is because scarlett johansson has walked into the room. so i found my daughter i scolded her, and she said i'm really sorry, dad. and to my 12-year-old's credit on her own, she pressed forward, through the cameras, through the fans, and introduced herself to senator obama with the words mr. obama i'm really sorry, my dad wanted me to meet you, but i had to meet an important person first.
[ laughter ] i'm sure you all would agree that our president is an important person. all of you are important people for reasons that i am going to discuss today. i was in selma alabama yesterday, and as i sat through the almost four-hour church service listening to the speeches and sermons my mind turned to -- i'm a graduate of morehouse college, class of 1979. my mind turned to our most famous alumnus from the class of 1948, martin luther king jr. one of my favorite quotes from martin luther king is the following. the ultimate measure of a man is
not where he stands in moments of convenience and comfort but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. today, of course we'd have to modify that to say man or woman. today i'd like to say to you, the national league of cities, the ultimate measure of an organization is not where it stands in moments of convenience and comfort but where it stands at times of challenge and controversy. so i want to thank the national league of cities. first, for your stand with the men and women of the department of homeland security as we fought for a four-year appropriation last week. [ applause ] i want to thank you for standing with the 225,000 people in our
organization who are members of the coast guard the secret service, fema, immigration enforcement, citizenship, and immigration services, and i could go on and on for your courageous and unyielding stand in support of the homeland security of this nation, in support of a full year appropriation for our department, and in support of our people. many people have said to me congratulations, you must be happy. and i had to respond, we walked back from a cliff, literally. i would have had to furlough 130 people from our department. mayors, imagine having to tell your own work force you must come to work but i can't pay you during the time that you must come to work. so we avoided the shutdown. and we now have a full year
appropriation for fy '15. it is a good bill. it is a good appropriation. we are now able to fund our vital homeland security missions which includes important grants to states, towns and cities like those represented in this room for purposes of homeland security. it is especially important that in these times we work together on our joint homeland security mission. the reality is that we've evolved to a new phase in the global terrorist threat, which requires that we evolve to a new phase in our counterterrorism efforts. the global terrorist threat today is more decentralized more complex. it includes a phenomenon of foreign fighters, those going to
places like syria, and then returning to their home communities. it involves affected use of the internet to reach into communities, perhaps your own community, in an attempt to recruit and inspire someone to commit an act of violence. we're concerned about the independent actor, the so-called lone wolf who could strike at a moment's notice. for my department and for the u.s. government in general, it makes working with state and local communities governors mayors, police chiefs, commissioners, sheriffs, all the more important. we do this through issuance of joint intelligence bulletins, and through our grant-making activity. the reality is that given how the global terrorist threat has evolved in this country and in other countries, in europe and elsewhere, the cop on the beat
may be the first one to learn about the terrorist attack. in 2015, therefore, homeland security must also mean hometown security. [ applause ] on our end, we're engaged militarily against isil in iraq and syria, along with an international coalition. we're engaged in our law enforcement efforts to interdict and prosecute those who provide materiel support to terrorism. the fbi does a terrific job. i have directed the enhancement of our federal protective service at federal buildings in major cities around the country. we've enhanced aviation security in this country, and at last
points of departure airports into the united states. this, by the way must include working with cities, municipalities on airport security as well. municipalities on airport security as well. we're moving forward with our preclearance capability to establish more security on the front end at airports overseas. every opportunity i have to defend the homeland from the 50 yard line as opposed to the 1 yard line we should take. we're evaluating whether more security is necessary for our visa waiver program. for those who would travel to the united states from countries for which we do not require a visa. we're working with our counterterrorism partners and allies overseas more and more. to deal with the global terrorist threat as it has evolved. we are enhancing the effectiveness of fusion centers.
those are things that many of you in this room are familiar with that exist in every state. we have revamped our if you see something say something campaign. if you see something say something must be more than a slogan. it requires and it calls for public participation in our efforts, in our homeland security efforts. we are engaged in what we call countering violent extremism interactions with communities around the country. i have personally been to places like columbus, ohio, chicago los angeles, boston minneapolis to talk to community leaders in communities where there is a potential for young people to turn to violence. in my view, given how the world situation has evolved, it is all the more important that we do that here in the homeland so
when i go to the cve engagements very often i'm with the police commissioner, the mayor, the city council member the sheriff and so forth. the other thing i want to thank this organization for is for your support of our efforts to reform the immigration system. we would have preferred congressional action, but the president and i identified nine actions we could take within our existing legal authorities to reform our system. we've issued reforms to still tate high skilled workers, something the president talked about this morning. to facilitate the issuance of green cards for high-skilled workers. we've strengthened border security. we've embarked upon a southern border campaign strategy.
i'm pleased to report that this january and february the numbers of total apprehensions on our southern border are an indication of total attempts to cross the border illegally. the numbers month to month are now the lowest they've been in several years. because of seasonal factors and frankly because of our efforts and those of our partners south of the border. last year as many of you know we saw the heartbreaking spectacle of a number of children unaccompanied by any parent attempting to cross the southern border. i personally met with hundreds of children. i'm happy to report that this year, this month, last month there was a 42% decrease in the numbers of unachildren from where we were last year. we are through our executive actions encouraging citizenship through greater public awareness
through permitting people to pay for citizenship applications by credit card. we are embarking upon pay reform for immigration enforcement personnel. and we are revamping what we call prosecutorial discretion. we're focusing the use of our resources to deport and remove people on felons, not families. we want to stop tearing families apart. [ applause ] we're emphasizing national security, public safety, and border security. over tearing families apart. we have created a new deferred action program. for parents. for those who have been in this country for years who've in effect become integrated members of society. there are by most estimates something like 11 million
undocumented immigrants living in this country. the reality is that given our resources they're not going to be deported by any administration, republican or democrat. the most striking thing about that number of people is at least half, perhaps more than half, have been here in excess of ten years. so the president and i in november directed the creation of a new deferred action program for those who have been here five years, who have children who are citizens or lawful permanent residents and who've committed no serious crime. the reality is we have to deal with these people. we have to account for these people. and we should encourage them to come out of the shadows. as all of you know, our actions have been challenged in the courts. and i thank this organization for your support of our position
in that lawsuit in texas. the national league of cities filed an amickus brief that i think says it best. daca and dapa, the deferred action program for parents will fuel economic growth in cities across the country increase public safety and public engagement engagement, and facilitate the full integration of immigrant residents by promoting family unity and limiting family separation. that's from the national league of cities. thank you. [ applause ] from my homeland security point of view, from my homeland security law enforcement point of view we need to encourage people who've been here for years to come out of the shadows, be held accountable. frankly, the litigation and the decision and the injunction puts us in an untenable position.
the judge does not quarrel with the notion that we have the ability to engage in prosecutorial discretion, prioritize. prioritize felons over extremes. prioritize criminals over those who've been here and not committed any serious crimes. i want to take the additional step and encourage them to come out of the shadows so that we know who they are. the injunction basically prevents us from doing that. we're supposed to somehow leave these people in the shadows. we want to take steps to bring them forward, have them pay taxes, apply for deferred action and apply for a work authorization to encourage these people to be participants in society, report crimes, pay taxes and get on the books. the only thing i'll say about the care only thing i'll say more about the case is this is what appeals courts are for.
so what we say what we must say to people in your communities who i've personally met with now, don't lose hope. as martin luther king said, the arc of the moral universe is long but it always bends toward justice. those who in this country struggle for citizen ship struggle to be something more than a second-class person know that history is on your side. now, here's my ask. we have eliminated through our executive actions one of our executive actions, the secure communities program. secure communities, the reality is was controversial legally and politically. and we've replaced it with a new
program called the priority enforcement program. in my view, working together with mayors, governors, sheriffs, police chiefs so that we can focus our resources on convicted criminals is a public safety imperative. that was the goal of the secure communities program. but it had become legally and politically controversial. but the overarching goal in my view is a public safety imperative. in 177 jurisdictions, states cities counties to one degree or another, there were limitations placed on that jurisdiction's ability to cooperate with our immigration personnel in the transfer of criminals for purposes of removal removal. since january 1, 2014 over
12,000 detainers by our enforcement personnel were not honored. frankly, in my view this state of affairs puts public safety at risk. so we've done away with the secure communities program and created a new program in its place, which in my view solves the legal and political controversy. we're no longer placing detainers on individuals except if there's probable cause to solve the legal issue. we're replacing that with request for notification. we're no longer putting detainers on people based simply on an arrest. we're now only seeking the transfer of suspected terrorists, felons, convicted felons, those convicted of aggravated felonies, those active in street gangs those convicted of significant