tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 17, 2015 5:00am-7:01am EDT
that they had been put in medical isolation. some of these women have been held for six, seven, eight months with their children. we have, and i would ask unanimous consent to put in the record an affidavit from the dean of the school's social work at the university of texas in austin. and in the declaration the dean explains that he's interviewed several families at the kearns detention center and found, quote, detention had serious and long lasting impacts on the health and well being of the families i interviewed at kearns. so i'm just concerned. we don't have a pediatrician on site. nor at the facility in pennsylvania. we have over 100 children. being detained. we have evidence of lasting and serious adverse impacts on the well being of the children that are being held in jail. i want to know what process we're going to use to review that.
obviously the court in d.c. issued an injunction, which i know that you're complying with. but the problem is the bonds have been set so high. if you're from central america being held in prison for six, seven, eight months with your children, you don't have $10,000 to get out. are we taking a look at alternatives to detention for people whose cases, whose credible fear findings have already been made? >> we certainly are looking at alternatives for detention, as you well may know. we have quite a few families on the att program. it's essentially release but with some increased supervision. and we have enjoyed some success with the program. i will say every decision that our officers make, and they use their best judgment, they're trained. they're seasoned.
to try to determine what the appropriate bond is once they say, okay, you should be released. but we need some -- >> well, i would like to follow up with you. we're hearing something quite different and you know, we'll get to the bottom of it off calendar. i would like to use the i would like to use the remainder of my time to let you answer mr. smith's question about who you're releasing and the other circumstances required for you to release. >> as i say, the congress, not this particular congress, but the congress has laid forth due process for any individual, whether they've come into our country illegally or not, with respect to the claims for relief from deportation. so often they go through the proceedings and we comply with those requirements. the considerations, the statute and the regulations themselves contemplate, contemplate the
release of criminals, because it says, as one of the factors to consider in determining is the person's criminal history. how long ago was it? what was the severity of it? how extensive is it? those kinds of considerations. so even the congress has contemplated that some people were released, and it's certainly part of it. >> time of the gentlewoman has expired. >> if i may just have 30 seconds additional. >> without objection. >> if a judge orders the individual release, you comply with that order? >> i do. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. chabot, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, madame director for being here this morning. ice released, as identify heard before, over 36,000 criminal aliens in 2013 and nearly 31,000 in 2014. many of us are really shocked and consider this to be quite an appalling policy.
you mentioned one of the new policies addressing this problem is a, quote, senior manager review of a discretionary release of decisions for criminals convicted of violence. unquote. how is this an improvement? instead of allowing people in the field to make decisions. you have a bureaucratic headquarters, and let's face it. often times the folks out in the field are already micro managed by folks at the headquarters on decisions that agents often times have to make in the field when they're facing a situation, which it's hard to know back at headquarters what they're actually dealing with out there in real life situations. and then ultimately approving the release of a violent criminal alien. shouldn't the policy response to ice releasing violent criminal aliens be not to release violent criminal aliens? >> i have mentioned the due process requirements talked about earlier.
but sir, the policy i initiated is a response to this committee and every member of congress, i believe, to the release of criminal aliens. i myself have a concern. are we making the proper decisions. do we have a process in place to review those decisions? and that's what i exactly announced back last month in march. you will have a local supervisor, including the field office director, the top person in the field, reviewing the decision. you will also have a group -- a small group of very well seasoned managers who will review the decisions. i want to be sure that the process is followed to ensure that we are not putting -- we're not institutionally putting dangerous criminals on the street. so that's why i've asked for the additional review to satisfy myself and you all. >> to the extend possible, i would encourage you to allow the experienced men and women that are actually on the streets and dealing with these life and death decisions to make those
decisions, if at all possible. let me move onto another area. while i appreciate the use of new technologies are potentially useful law enforcement tools, i do have some concerns with the department of homeland security's recent announcement that it's offering up a contract for companies to monitor people's license plates. in particular i'm concerned the government programs that capture images and collect data of innocent americans raises a serious privacy concerns. just a year ago your agency canceled similar plans to a national license plate tracking system. your agency's more recent request comes at a time when your agency has failed to enforce current laws that has resulted in an 18% decrease in criminal alien removals and the release of over 36,000 criminals, as we've already discussed to some degree.
why are we to believe that your agency will properly use this new license plate data and technology, when your agency has a track record of not enforcing u.s. immigration laws, and the collection of a person's location while in public and collected over time is sensitive information and should be treated as such. what assurances can you give that the personal information for the most part innocent people, because that's who will usually be attracted. people that have done nothing wrong, that are citizens. how can we ensure their rights are protected and their civil liberties maintained? >> obviously that's a great concern to the american public and myself, sir, given recent revelations. that is the very reason i wasn't here at the time. the decision was made to withdraw the bid. but it's my understanding that's the very reason it was withdrawn, so they can make sure
there was safety measures in place, that the information is handled properly. that privacy concerns be paramount. as an assistant united states attorney prosecuting attorneys agent, from all federal agencies, the more information you have with respect to a person in the middle of an investigation, not the innocence, but in the middle of the investigation, it's helpful to the investigation to have that. so we're going to be balancing the investigative utility as well as the privacy concerns of individuals. >> thank you. my time is about to expire. let me conclude by stating there's a lot of skepticism about the way the law is being enforced and the way it's not being enforced by this administration, and we certainly hope the administration will reconsider the way it's been enforcing the law, i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the
gentlewoman from texas, miss jackson lee, for five minutes. >> thank you very much to this the ranking member, mrs. saldana, for your leadership to the nation and for being an outstanding texas. we're all very proud of you. delighted to see you standing -- sitting before us today and know that you bring a sense of knowledge and passion to this position. he me indicate my appreciation for ice. i have worked with them over the years, if i might say, and find them to be commendable and to be concerned about the security of this nation. i think that is very important. you will find as you come to congress that there are, the first amendment rights of members allow them to have different perspectives and views, and also representing their constituents. and that is what this house represents, this committee
represents and democracy represents. but we also have an order of three branches of government and the responsibilities of the president and your responsibility in compliance with the guidelines of the administration. and so my first question to you is do you accept the concept of prosecutorial discretion? your mic, please. >> i do. and i have for the last several years as an assistant united states attorney and u.s. attorney, it's vital. i do know there were aspects of the proposed executive action that my department opined about and carefully studded and they made recommendations regarding parts of it that were not appropriate -- >> ultimately -- >> and parts that were. and so, as i said earlier, i could not, as a united states attorney enforce every law in the books. it makes total sense. it is rational to say we need to
focus our resources. >> thank you. my time is short, so i'm going to have to go on. with that premise, then, i think it should be very clear that the present court proceedings deal with the president's executive actions, is that your understanding? >> the ones in south texas have to do with dapa and doca. >> that is correct. so they do not deal with the overall order or action regarding the the use of prosecutorial discretion that ice can utilize. >> that's true. and i made that very clear to the field. >> i think that's a very important point. i asked that you make that point over and over again. i would like to read into the record priority one under the humane enforcement policy deals with terrorists, national security threats, persons apprehended at the border for enumerated felons. priority two would be persons convicted of three or more
misdemeanors other than traffic offenses predicated on immigration status. i'm reading very quickly. and priority three would be persons issued a final order removal after january 1st, 2014. does that give -- comply with the sense that you have? >> absolutely. >> so let me ask these two questions. first of all, i had a gentleman that was not an enforcement priority. yet he was detained in october 2014 and removed to honduras in february 2015. he lived in houston. he had lived here since 2005. he had a voluntary return in 2005 to honduras but came back. he was here. he had no deportation order, to my understanding. he was driven by his wife. when a car was pulled over, put into custody. he was married to a u.s. permanent resident. has a u.s. citizen stepchild, but he was deported. i think there is a disconnect between here in washington and the appropriate procedures that our ice officers need to use. tell me what you're doing to
make sure that they are fully educated. the second question, can you tell me what you're doing to ensure the the detention centers, are hospitable and humane to our families and children? and i would appreciate your answers on those questions. >> yes, let me start with the latter. i personally went to visit the facility outside of san antonio in texas. have not made it to the others yet, but i intend to. i observed for myself, and that's the only way i satisfy myself, that things are as they should be. that our requirements and safety measures and humane treatment of folks are satisfied there. with respect to fully educating -- >> and mr. alberado's case. but go ahead. >> and i cannot comment on a specific case. >> you're staff can take it then. >> i continue to meet personally with field office directors to
make sure that these priorities are being enforced equally and properly. and by the way on our website, we do have a complaint process, that if somebody has, even a detainee, has some concern, that they have a process to go through, even up to -- i don't encourage this every day, but with respect to concerns they can't be satisfied, they start locally and work themselves up. >> lawyers can then adhere to the fact that the discretion -- prosecutorial discretion does exist and they can raise this with the ice officers for their clients? >> yes, that's correct. i've met with the chief counsel to make that clear. >> i yield back. i thank the gentle lady for her service to the nation. >> chair recognizes mr. forbes for five minutes. >> as my colleague mr. gowdy said, we told you in highest
esteem. this committee works a lot on policy and trying to get policy correct. so let me ask you this question. if i have an individual speed on our highways, should they be apprehended and charged differently if they have lived in the country longer than someone else, or if they go to school here, or if they have a job, or if they are pregnant, or if they have a serious health problem? >> should they be treated differently? no. >> should they be apprehended and charged the same whether they have one of those conditions or not? >> that should not be a distinction with respect to an officer pursuing -- >> he should charge and apprehend them the same way? >> recognizing their discretion. police officers have discretion whether to give a ticket or not. >> do they have the discretion based on whether or not someone is pregnant to give them a ticket or not? should they not give a ticket -- >> no one should be treated differently. >> no one should be treated differently. and is that a basic theory of law? >> yes, we try to be very fair, sir.
>> then tell me why that is different when you would suggest that you have prosecutorial discretion, that i could enter a blanket order or regulation that would say that anyone who was in the country longer or went to school here or had a job or pregnant or had a serious health problem would be treated differently if they were speeding on a highway? and i think you would object to that but let me go to another point. we had testimony before this committee that, as in some of our violent criminal gangs, as many as 85% of the members are here illegally. would you agree that if someone was here illegally in this country, and they were a member of a violent criminal gang, that they should be apprehended and deported? >> yes, sir, and that's actually part of priority one. >> so you would agree with that. then with all of the individuals, the criminal aliens that were released in 2013 and 2014, can you tell me how many
of those were members of violent criminal gangs or members of criminal gangs at all? >> i can't off the top of my head. >> do you have that record? do you have that information? >> i am not sure, sir. but i will -- >> but you're just telling me as the director of ice that it is a priority to get violent criminal gang members out of the country. that is one of your top priorities. and yet you're telling me you don't even know if we have records of how many released or did not release. >> there may be a way to do it manually, sir. >> that's not what i'm asking, madame director. you're coming in today telling us one of the top priorities you have is getting criminal gang members out of the country who are here illegally. >> that's correct. >> but yet you can't even tell this committee that you have the data to tell how many of them you released back -- >> i can't give you that number. i suspect manually one can make that search and give you that. >> but you don't know whether you can do it. >> off the top of my head, i can't tell you what the number is, sir. >> madame director, i'm not ask you for the number. i'm asking do you have any way
of telling which of the individuals you released in 2013, 2014, or you're releasing currently are members of criminal gangs? >> i believe so. but it may require a manual search and a little time to come up with that number. >> but right now you can't testify before this committee that as the director of ice you know whether you have a process of determining the criminal gang members that are being released by ice back into the streets of the united states of america? >> i believe that is the case, except i believe it would require a manual search. we don't necessarily have that. >> if you did the manual search, what would you search? how would you find -- >> the files. >> the files wouldn't necessarily be convicted -- >> if i may finish my answer. >> sure, please. >> the files, we refer to them as an a-file. that has all the immigration information of a particular undocumented alien. >> but you're looking back at a criminal record that may not show that they were convicted under a -- being a criminal gang member.
do you have anything where you're asking the criminal aliens before they're released if they were members of criminal gang? >> we don't just rely on the answer of a particular undocumented immigrant. >> but you ask? >> we may ask. and we will rely on our investigative resources to find that out, sir. it's not just accepting the word of a person. >> can you tell this committee that you are at least asking? >> again, i can't tell you in every case. >> madame director, my time is up. it bothers me tremendously when as the director ofitis, you come in here and tell us one of your number one priorities you basically don't have a clue whether you can do it, are doing, and that's something that frightens all of us. >> i believe i answered otherwise, sir. >> i think the record will show differently. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> chair thanks the gentleman. recognizes the gentleman from georgia, mr. johnson, for five minutes. >> thank you. ma'am, the kearns county residential center is actually
a privately run for profit detention center, is that correct? >> i believe so. >> so it's the detention center, not the residential center, which sounds a whole lot nicer. but it's accused of being a place where countless women have been raped by male guards. are you aware of the reports? >> i'm aware of the allegations. >> and also as a residential center, families are held in detention, and when i say families, i basically mean women and their minor children, that's who's housed there, correct? >> yes. i would like to -- >> i'll let you come back in a second. >> when a mother is put in a medical isolation room, the child or her children are assigned to that room with her. isn't that a fact? >> are you talking about a particular case? i'm not aware of that.
>> generally when a woman is assigned to a medical isolation room, her child would be assigned to that room. as per the reports, i'll put into the record at this point, the mothers and children allegedly locked in a dark room for protesting detention conditions, and also that's a think progress article. and also for the record, i would like to tender a "new york times" magazine article entitled a federal judge and a hunger strike take on the government's detention facility. >> without objection. >> and you're aware of those reports of the hunger strike and the woman with the 11-year-old child placed into a medical isolation unit. >> and the assertion in "the new york times" article that there's barbed wires at the facility, which is not the case. >> but in those medical units, those units, this woman who had the 11-year-old child that was
assigned to the room with her is a cell with a bed bolted to the wall. and an open shower and an open toilet in that room. and it's basically a detention jail cell. isn't that correct? >> i'm not aware of that incident, sir. >> you're not aware of that? >> i am not aware of that. >> would it trouble you to know that women and children, because the mother participated in what's called a fast, others call it a hunger strike. but she participated in it and was assigned as a punitive measure to that medical isolation unit. would it trouble you -- >> is that something you also got out of "the new york times" article? >> i've received the information from republican as well as
democratic staff who actually took a visit within the last two weeks to that facility and spoke with the woman and the 11-year-old son. >> congressman, if that's a fact, that disturbs me greatly. i'm happy to visit with you regarding a specific instance. i cannot on the record go into the specific facts of individual cases. >> well, ma'am, you have taken an oath, and i would like to ask you, pursuant to that oath, that would you supply me with the quarterly reports compiled by the detention monitoring council subcommittee per 7.5, subsection 7, of the directive titled review of the segregation for ice detainees that was issued on september 4th, 2013, as well as a list of all facilities designated for heightened review under section 7.5, subsection 5 of that directive. and also all surveys, audits, reviews, memos, and other reports by ice, opr or ice,
odpp, dhs, or dhs-crcl, regarding one, the use of segregation in ice facilities and the use of medical isolation cells in ice facilities. and also the full contents of management system. the data base created by ice to monitor use of segregation following implementation of the directive. would you be willing to supply my office with those copies? and i'll send you a written request. >> thank you very much, sir. because i stopped writing. i couldn't quite keep up. included in that ig report, i just wanted to mention to you. >> you will supply me to those? >> to the extent they exist. i couldn't keep up with the entire list. if you provide it in writing, i will certainly try to run them down. >> okay. >> and included in that sir, i wanted to mention the ig report
on the karnes sexual allegation that made an investigation and decided there was not sufficient evidence to support the allegations. >> i've heard -- >> the gentleman's time is expired. gentleman from iowa, mr. king is recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, thank you director for your testimony. >> thank you, i appreciate the chairman's remarks about cooperating prior to this hearing. i understand that you're in a difficult position in this job. i would note the irony that one side is angry when you enforce a law. the other side is angry when you don't enforce a law. and so i happen to be on the side of the latter. but i'm curious about a few things here. and one of them is, i noticed in your written testimony that you have participated in high level discussions with mexican government officials sdising opportunities to more rapidly repatriate nationals. and i've also met with officials
where each pledged to do our part to stem the tide of citizens of those countries. i think we understand in this committee what all that means. i'm curious on what you learned because we have passed legislation here in the house, i think a couple of times that would require those kind of negotiations to establish -- i think i'll use the term, an expedited return for the unaccompanied alien juveniles to the countries that i mentioned in your testimony. did you see a level of cooperation there? do you think it would be possible to negotiate the terms of return for the unaccompanied alien juveniles to those countries? >> and i think i mentioned in my written statement, if i didn't, i was reminiscent in overlooking it, the pilot initiatives in which we have representatives from those countries here in order to expedite real removal of those people from the country. >> you don't have to wait for
congress to tell you, do we? >> i'm not waiting on it. we're discussing it, as i said. >> whose decision could it be then? could director johnson issue a directive that we complete the negotiations and begin to return the unaccompanied alien juveniles to their home countries? >> well, we're doing that now. we're negotiating. we're talking. we're working hard with them. >> does he have the authority to issue such an order? >> legal authority, sir, i just haven't studied the question. >> then are you aware of an agreement between guatemala and mexico to provide for expedited transit for guatemalans who are on their way to illegally enter the united states, and to grant in mexico the 72-hour transit permit? >> i believe there were discussions when i met in february to that effect. yes. >> and i recall a press release from a press conference from the president of mexico and the president of guatemala who announced the agreement. i recall the president of mexico
saying they hope to be able to complete such agreements, also with el salvador and honduras. has that come to your attention? >> it has, yes. >> then i would ask then how do we consider them to be cooperative countries if they're cooperating with each other to expedite the removal of their own citizens across through mexico and illegally enter the united states? >> actually, sir, the mexican authorities stopping central americans from coming benefits the united states greatly. >> i agree with that. they're giving permits for them to have 72 hours as long as they're in transit to mcallen, texas. i don't call that cooperating with our policy. i call it contravening. are they talking out of both sides of their mouths, or is there something i'm missing? >> i can't say that. i can't say that they're talking -- what i saw were sincere efforts to try to help get their people
back. the first lady looked at me very closely and said please until we do take care of our children. i took that to heart. i think it was a sincere comment. >> we are taking care of the children. we're flying them from places like guatemala city into the united states now, completing the human trafficking. i find it ironic just a year and a half ago. december of 2013, when judge wrote an opinion, that there was a coyote who had smuggled a 10-year-old girl into the united states. they prosecuted the coyote for human trafficking. and ice delived -- delivered the 10-year-old girl to her birth mother in virginia. the quote from the opinion, thus completing the crime of human trafficking by ice. now we're doing it hundreds and thousands of times and buying plane tickets to do that. it's got to be difficult to take an oath to uphold the
constitution and support the rule of law when you're watching above you, rather than the fashion that it is. and i give you an opportunity to correct me on my analysis. >> sir, we also have a humane approach to the law in the united states, unlike other countries. that's why i'm so proud to be a member of this country. as part of that, if there's a situation, i'm not particularly familiar with this one that you're talking about, where a family is reunited, who doesn't present a risk to public safety or a risk of flight, then i agree with that approach. >> our policy reunites them in their home country. thank you, and i yield back. >> gentleman's time expired. the gentleman from puerto rico is recognized for five minutes. >> good morning, director saldana. welcome to the committee. >> i love the way you say that. saldana. >> a lot of the questions so far have involved isis mission to enforce our nation's immigration
laws. i want to discuss ice's equally important mission to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations. as part of this mission, i know that ice works in partnership with other agencies like the coast guard, d.o.j. component agencies and state and local law enforcement. you are an important player in a whole of government effort to combat drug trafficking and the violence associated with it. in january 2012, i met with your predecessor. puerto rico had just experienced the most violent year in the u.s. territory's history. in 2011, there were 1,136 homicides in puerto rico. that is the equivalent of over three murders a day every day. it was roughly the same number of annual homicides as texas, which has a population seven times greater than puerto rico's.
as my colleagues can attest, having heard me question senior official after senior official who have appeared as witnesses before this committee, i have been on a campaign since 2009 to persuade federal law enforcement agencies to increase the level of attention and resources that they dedicate to puerto rico. so that these resources are commensurate with the threat. the reality was that the level of attention and resources for the federal government was, and i emphasize the word was, clearly deficient. and too often, my constituents were paying the price with their lives. starting in late 2012, however, the tide began to turn, under the leadership of secretary napolitano, dhs component agencies began to substantially
increase the resources they assigned to puerto rico. for example, the coast guard has dramatically increased the number of hours its planes and spent conducting counteroperations around puerto rico and will completely replace the current fleet of cutters with faster, more modern vessels by mid 2016. moreover, in 2013, your agency, ice, sent 30 additional agents to puerto rico, where they arrested about 900 violent criminals and seized a great deal of illegal narcotics and weapons. in addition, dhs assigned to border security task force, the multi agency team of federal and local officials assigned to dismantle criminal organizations. furthermore, cvb, repaired the counter drug raider system in southern puerto rico, which had been destroyed in 2011. along with congressman of texas, i led the successful effort in congress to save the area program from elimination and to transfer the program from d.o.t. to dhs.
moreover, tsa has enhanced searches of luggage and cargo, transported on flights between puerto rico and the u.s. mainland for illegal narcotics and weapons. finally this year, the office of national drug control policy, within the white house, published the first ever caribbean borders counter narcotics strategy, as required by congress. collectively, these efforts have produced remarkable results. in 2014 there were 681 homicides in puerto rico. that is 40% lower than in 2011. 30% lower than in 2012. and nearly 25% lower than in 2013. you and your colleagues at dhs should feel very proud of this accomplishment, because you played a major role.
never theless, we cannot relent, rather we must sustain and build on this success. puerto rico still has a higher murder rate of any u.s. state with an average of roughly two homicides each day. i would like to give you an opportunity to tell the committee what ice is currently doing to fight drug trafficking in puerto rico and what plans ice has for the future. >> well, you have identified, i think i mentioned earlier some of hsi's successes in this regard including 32000 criminals and 1.3 million pounds of narcotics. a substantial part of what we do at hsi, because we're focused on trans national criminal investigations is in the drug area. i don't have the specifics with
respect to puerto rico, i can certainly share those with you, but those outlying posts are a great concern to me. because obviously, it's harder to manage and under the unity of effort initiative, you had mentioned the coast guard. you mentioned ice. hsi in particular, obviously border patrol, all of these people and customs and border protection, all of us work together pursuant to the secretary's direction to try to make sure that these transnational drug smuggling gangs are not successful. we had a number of operations in that regard, operation identity crisis, all of these operations that focus on these kinds of smuggling operations of people and things. >> thank you. the gentleman's time has expired. and i recognize the gentleman from arizona. >> thank you, and thank you
director saldana, i know your job is a difficult one and i would find formidable beyond words. i also know that a lot of the focus of this hearing has been the constitutional question in the president's actions and for a moment, if you could -- and i understand that you have suggested that perhaps his actions were within the constitutional purview. so for a moment let's put that aside. you took an oath to uphold the constitution as part of your oath. if there were a situation from this administration or other administration you found yourself serving, and there was a -- an executive order that you were convinced in your heart was clearly unconstitutional, which would hold your commitment? would it be your oath of office to uphold the constitution or to subordinate the constitution to the executive order given that
the president would be your boss? how would you deal with that subject if it were circumstances where it was clear in your mind that the directive from the president was unconstitutional? >> well, that's not a difficult question. i mean, i have always in both my u.s. attorney and assistant u.s. attorney and director oath have sworn to uphold the law and if it were a matter as clearly as you say that something was clearly unconstitutional, i can't be a part of that. if you're implying that's part of executive action, which i think you set aside, i don't agree that's unconstitutional. but with respect to your general question, of course i would. >> i appreciate the answer to that. that's an honorable answer. i hope i would have answered the same way in your circumstances and i know there is the disagreement given -- that's the issue at hand. you understand that some of us given that the president said 22
times himself that what he was doing was unconstitutional, i think he's put you in a very difficult position and i say that sincerely. i think he has -- if i were in your place, i would feel in an uncomfortable position. article one, section 8, clause 4 of the constitution specifically -- specifically bestows on congress the duty to create immigration law. this president has rewritten that and i think that puts you in an awkward position and i'm not going to even ask you to respond because i don't know what i would do if i were you, but it seems clear he's put you in an awkward position. awkward is being a very significant understatement. the president also said and i know this question was proffered earlier, if somebody is working for ice and they don't follow this policy there's going to be
consequences for it. have you enforced that? are there consequences for not following that policy? >> there are consequences for not following the rules of an employee's status with the agency -- >> what would the consequences be if someone in the position that was required to follow through with the president's directives and again we'll set the constitutional issue aside for a moment, if the president's done that i guess we could do that. what would be the consequences for doing that? >> whether it's that directive or assaulting an employee in the office or not abiding by some other rule of policy the range of punishment can be anything from a verbal meeting where you counsel that person to ultimately what's available to any employer and that's termination. >> in other words, there are employees that work with you
that are potentially subjected to termination for not following the president's directive in that particular case? >> for not following any policy or directive or rule of employment -- >> which includes the president's directive. all right. i understand. the difficulty of your position becomes even more apparent i think. is it true that under the administration's new guidelines that aliens -- unlawful aliens i should say -- have to be convicted three times for three separate incidents in order to be deemed a priority for removal? >> not -- they are all categories and could be one serious offense and three misdemeanors, if that's what you're talking about, that's one of the elements in this card. >> so in this case you're saying potentially it's not. potentially it's not true. in other words, if they were
convicted of a serious issue that could be basis in and of itself to be required or deemed a priority for removal? >> yes, sir. the offenses are listed in here. >> is it also true that border crossers who came to the united states after january 1st of 2014 illegally, those who overstayed the terms of visas and fugitives from that law are not required to be processed for removal of the program? >> the gentleman's time has expired. if you can answer the question. >> two seed. would you like me to read it? >> please. >> aliens apprehended after unlawful entry or entry into the united states and cannot establish the satisfaction of immigration officer they have been physically present since january 1st, 2014 -- and i want to remind this committee, that there's a general provision with respect to these priorities that give an officer flexibility in making a decision whether
someone fits within the priorities and should not be removed -- should not be put in removal proceedings or does not fit and should be because of their public safety concerns. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i will now recognize the gentle lady from california, mr. chu. >> thank you. director saldana, the recent expansion of family detention from approximately 80 detention beds to now more than 2400 beds at the detention center is truly alarming. a vast majority of the women and children escaping the northern triangle region are fleeing domestic and/or gang violence or abuse. in 2011 el salvador had the highest rate of gender related killing in the world. followed by guatemala and honduras. these women are escaping some of the most dangerous countries in the world to seek protection in the u.s. instead they and their children face prolonged detention while
they fight their asylum claims. in my view there's no way to detain families humanely. when i first learn the average age is 6 years old and even babies and toddlers being detained, i was truly shocked. as a psychologist, i know the mental health concerns that children and families in detention face. reports show that children in detention experience weight loss, gastrointestinal problems and suicidal thoughts. in fact, dean of social work at the university of texas austin interviewed several families at the carnes residential center and found mothers and children showed high levels of anxiety, especially separation anxiety for the children, symptoms of depression and feelings of despair. they showed signs that detention
had caused developmental regression and major psychiatric disorders including suicidal ideation. ongoing stress and despair and uncertainty of detention significantly compromises a child's intellectual and cognitive development and contributes to the development of chronic illnesses in ways that may be irreversible. these combined with many due process concerns like prohibitively high bonds and difficulty accessing lawyers makes family detention a truly, truly troubling institution. it runs contrary to the 1997 florida settlement agreement regarding the detention of children. the agreement that juveniles should be held in the least restrictive setting appropriate to their age and special needs. and generally in a nonsecure facility licensed to care for dependent minors.
and it said that detaining children in prison-like facilities both secure and unlicensed runs contrary to very heart of the flores agreement. as we speak, flores counsel petitioned the court to reinforce the agreement in light of the expansion on family detention. given the concern regarding the mental and physical health effects on children in prolonged detention, i urge you to adopt a family detention policy that minimizes the lengthy detention of children. and use more humane alternatives for detention. my staff attended a live bond proceeding for a mother and a 5-year-old child who had been sexually assaulted. the child was suffering from severe psychological stress while being detained at arttesia, the family had already been detained three months before the bond hearing.
yet the 2014 priorities states that field office director should not expend detention resources on aliens known to be suffering from serious physical or mental illness. how do you reconcile detaining mothers and children with such serious physical and mental health illnesses in light of the directives and priorities memo. if you can answer these two questions, the lengthy detention of children as well as the detention of children with mental illness. >> well, i'm not going to comment on the litigation but there are two separate issues, one is unaccompanied children who we do not detain and those that are coming over with families. i said earlier i wanted to satisfy myself that our detention facilities for families were operating securely, safely and humanely. that's why i visited back in february, a month after i came on board.
i found that to be the case. in fact, i was very impressed with two teachers i met for these children who are there in the facility and the openness of the facility. and these teachers who i visited with who said -- whose commitment and love -- mind you i was a schoolteacher at one time. commitment and love for their children and children they were educating, was very evident. the facility was wonderful the technology they had for these kids was incredible. i'm not sure i could operate some of the interactive items that they have. but that's an issue of great concern to us, ma'am, under that order that we're under with respect to family detention, we have reviewed all of those people that are members of that class. a number of those families have been released. you know, one of our problems is the immigration courts and trying to get a resolution and a decision based on credible fear
or whatever there is to move on with respect to these families and have them know what's going to happen with them. that's a matter of -- i think the last number i saw was something like 480,000 backlogged cases in the immigration courts that are under the department of justice. i urge this committee to the extent there's anything you can do to help those courts to get more judges, that would help with our disposition and request for 2016 for more lawyers to assist us to get these people through the process so they don't have to be waiting or be detained. >> thank you, the gentlelady's time has expired. now i recognize the gentleman from south carolina. and chairman of the subcommittee on immigration. >> thank you, mr. chairman. madam director, i want to thank you for your service as a prosecutor and as a school teacher, i am biased towards both. i hope that my questioning does not reflect that bias but i do thank you for doing -- both of
those jobs are incredibly hard. i thank you for your service. you have cited the case that explains 8% of the releases. how about the other 92%? >> i'm sorry, sir? 8% of any releases? >> 8% of the 30,558 convicted criminal alien releases were under the holding of that case. >> in 2014, yes. >> so 92% were not -- >> another 10,000 were under orders from the immigration courts that we have to comply with. >> right. i want to back up and ask you to put on your old hat. the prosecutorial disdregs what are the limits of prosecutorial discretion? >> on a situational basis, i think you're very familiar with the process where you kind of
have to decide can you take a fraud case with a million dollar loss that is substantial to many victims or do you have to limit it to cases above 5 million. it depends on resources and safety issues in your specific community. >> there would be declination levels based on the amount of loss and drug amounts and bank robberies, usually depending on how good the case was, but i am gration cases can't go state or federal. they can only go federal. so you mentioned in your testimony that you counted 3,000 statutes that were responsible for enforcing as a united states attorney. how many of those 3,000 did you announce ahead of time that you were not going to prosecute anyone under that particular statute? >> announce it to the general public? >> ahead of time. >> no, i didn't do that.
>> right. >> i think many people knew what they were somehow. you know, you can't limit everybody. and we shared priorities with the federal agencies. >> sure, but, again, you always have the recourse of going through the state. the state can vindicate its -- texas has narcotic statutes and texas has fraud statutes and bad check statutes. there's always a safety net, the state could step in. >> that's correct. >> i am stunned -- and i'm sure you may be too i don't want to put words in your mouth. you work with state and local law enforcement as a prosecutor, right? >> yes, sir. >> and you would work with them in the full range of cases from child pornography to you name it, there's a state and local officer at the table with federal officers. >> that's absolutely correct. >> why are my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to resistant to giving state and local law enforcement officers any role at all in immigration?
>> to the extent they are here, i guess you could ask them. i'm not sure i can answer for anybody else. >> well, in their defense, i'll give you the excuses that i get, that the statute is too complicated. that you can't expect them to understand the complexities of our immigration law, as if dui laws are not also complex. >> i can't speak to that. >> the state and local law enforcement officers you work with, did you think they were capable of understanding the complexities of immigration law? >> no, that someone on the other side of the aisle has that view. i don't know that. >> well, they do. let me ask you this. prosecutorial discretion, does it apply in all categories of law? some laws require you to do
something like register for selective service, some forbid you from doing something, like possession of narcotics, and some laws, for instance congress could make you issue us a report. are you able to exercise prosecutorial discretion in all three of those categories of law? >> i can with respect to the first one. i know you would be on my case, if i did with respect to the third one, so i can't say no. and can't remember the second one. >> the laws that force you to do something, register for selective service? >> i mean, i don't enforce that law, registration for selective service. >> i know. you're a smart lawyer. and you've got a broad background. i really -- all politics aside, i think it's important that our fellow citizens understand whether there are any limits to this prosecutorial discretion, my time is up and i know the gentleman from idaho will gavel me in just a second. there's a big difference between
you exercising your discretion not to do a $20,000 fraud case in texas and your decision to confer benefits on that same group. those are two entirely separate legal concepts and regardless of who's in the white house or what job you and i have, it's important we have lines so people understand the limits of this thing we call prosecutorial discretion is. with that i'll yield to the gentleman from idaho. >> thank you very much. i know recognize the gentlelady from washington. >> thank you for being here with us today. many of my colleagues have talked about the terrible conditions in family detention camps and in detention centers we have a detention center in my region in washington state. currently in the middle of negotiating the terms of a
contract. negotiations have had to be extended twice now. the firm deadline to wrap up is now the 23rd of this month is my understanding. there's been very little transparency in these negotiations according to some estimates. american taxpayers are on the hook for $300 a day per detainee. so why is there so little transparency in the negotiations like this that are taking place across the country and are you doing anything to open up the process so we can see what's happening? >> i'm not familiar exactly with that. i can certainly give you more background after this hearing with respect to that particular negotiation. but we do want to have transparency. you know, there are parties to a negotiation. usually it's up to those parties to come up with the final terms. but i will tell you, we do seek through all of the meetings with
all of the stake holders and whether it's law enforcement or nongovernmental organizations or others, their views on how things can be improved. and i certainly am intending to -- i hope i can get out there but i want to get to more facilities to make sure -- i think we've communicated clearly to folks doing those negotiations to make sure that we're doing them in the way that ensures security but also humane treatment of individuals, whether documented or not. >> if you have other information you're able to give me, i greatly appreciate it and if you're able to come out to washington state and visit, the facility, we'd appreciate that too. thank you. so that you can have that direct experience. >> i'd actually like to do that. >> as a follow-up, there was an october 2014 gao report that i requested with a number of colleagues, identified three areas where ice is failing in
managing detention costs and expenditures expenditures. were collecting and maintaining cost data, two, ensuring cost is considerate in placing aliens in detention facilities and preventing improper payments to detention facility operators. so do you agree that there could be improvements made in this area? if so, what steps are being taken to improve? >> i always think we can be more efficient. i preach that since i've joined the agency, we need to look for efficiencies because as we well know, funds are not guaranteed from year to year as we have experienced firsthand at the department. we are looking at all of those things. we're looking to make sure costs are allocated properly. we have staff trained in order to look for that specifically. and we do periodic audits and i'm not familiar with the report
you're speaking of. i would like to read it to make sure we address those areas that you've identified. >> if we can follow up on that too. i appreciate that. there are a number of counties in my state of washington, including king county, our largest county, that formally adopted policies to ignore certain ice detainer requests. so i know you've talked about this a bit before but i was wondering if you could explain your views regarding whether states and localities should be forced to comply with ice detainers? >> we are in the middle, as you know and i've indicated earlier, of a cross country tour of those jurisdictions that have refused to work with us. we are trying to assure people we're looking at priority enforcement, not just general undocumented immigrant enforcement. we're looking at requests, not asking anyone to detain someone as we did before, beyond the term of their local jurisdiction sentence.
books. book tv will be live april 18 and 19 from the university of southern california campus. nicco mele he -- nicco mele is the publisher of the "los angeles times." wonder they start sponsoring this? caller: -- guest: we started this about 20 years ago. it was an important way the newspaper could engage in the community. provide a space for all kinds of people from publishers, authors, thinkers, but also chefs and artists and actors and actresses. to come together and celebrate. los angeles is one of the creative capitals of the world. host: what can we expect? guest: we will have over 500
authors, celebrities, musicians, artists, etc., as well as booksellers, publishers, and cultural organizations across nine stages. there is something for everyone. bring your kids, your grandparents. we have candice bergen, t.c. boyle, roy choi, your favorite billy idol, joyce carol oates jason segel. polly perretti. octavia spencer. there is someone for everyone. families foodies, hipsters students. more than 100 conversations on everything from california crime noir to digital privacy rights to the future of american identity. host: what kind of reaction do you get? guest: it has been an immediate success.
when we started, he became a cornerstone event in los angeles' culture. people market it all year long. it has been a signature events. the "los angeles times" invites everyone to celebrate this great city. it has grown to one of the largest festivals of its kind. there's nothing like it anywhere in the u.s. it started simply. it was about bringing together people who create books and people who love to read them. it has grown into a much daughter celebration. we have a big book award we give out every year. we are adding something new called an idea exchange. malcolm gladwell will be in conversation with the "los angeles times" critic. if you listen to npr, you are probably familiar with that critic as the film critic.
host: as regulars bureaus -- as regular viewers know, booktv will be there. we have partnered with the l.a. times festival of books to create a book bag. we will hand those out from the c-span bus. if you familiar with the area, just off the usc -- the usc campus. we are about half a block from tommy the trojan. is there a cost? guest: the bulk of the event is free. some are ticketed due to limited space. this is a chance to invite the country in to los angeles to look at california as the gateway to both latin america and the pacific rim. to look at the future challenges the country faces and its future. from jack to climate change to immigration -- from drought to climate change to immigration.
across the board, all kinds of exciting opportunities. host: you can go to latimes.com and follow the festival at @l afob. booktv will be live on c-span to all week and next weekend from the los angeles times festival of books. saturday and sunday, april 18 and 19. go to booktv.org to get the full sche