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FUNDING FOR IMMIGRATION IN THE PRESIDENT'S 2005 BUDGET
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
BORDER SECURITY, AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
FEBRUARY 25 AND MARCH 11, 2004
Serial No. 68
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
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Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/judiciary
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
SPENCER BACHUS, Alabama
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
MARK GREEN, Wisconsin
RIC KELLER, Florida
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
STEVE KING, Iowa
JOHN R. CARTER, Texas
TOM FEENEY, Florida
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
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JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
PHILIP G. KIKO, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
PERRY H. APELBAUM, Minority Chief Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana, Chairman
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 LAMAR SMITH, Texas
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
STEVE KING, Iowa
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
GEORGE FISHMAN, Chief Counsel
ART ARTHUR, Full Committee Counsel
LUKE BELLOCCHI, Counsel
CINDY BLACKSTON, Professional Staff
NOLAN RAPPAPORT, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
February 25, 2004
March 11, 2004
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February 25, 2004
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress From the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
The Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
March 11, 2004
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress From the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
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February 25, 2004
The Honorable Eduardo Aguirre, Jr., Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Mr. Michael T. Dougherty, Director of Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Mr. Daniel B. Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Mr. Seth M. M. Stodder, Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
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Mr. T.J. Bonner, National President, National Border Patrol Council, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO
Mr. Timothy J. Danahey, National President, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association
Mr. Michael W. Cutler, former INS Special Agent
Dr. Demetrios G. Papademetriou, President, Migration Policy Institute
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
February 25, 2004
Prepared statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
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Prepared statement of the Honorable Elton Gallegly, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
Prepared statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
Prepared statement of the Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
March 11, 2004
Prepared statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
Prepared statement of the Honorable Linda T. Sánchez, a Representative in Congress From the State of California
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
February 25, 2004
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Response to questions submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee to Mr. Michael T. Dougherty, Director of Operations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Response to questions submitted by Rep. Jackson Lee to Mr. Daniel B. Smith, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State
FUNDING FOR IMMIGRATION IN THE PRESIDENT'S 2005 BUDGET
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2004
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 3:09 p.m., in Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John N. Hostettler (Chair of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order. Today, the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims will examine the funding for immigration-related programs in the President's FY 2005 budget.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 In the last session, the Subcommittee rigorously investigated the operations of the agencies charged with carrying out our nation's immigration laws. In the course of this oversight, the Subcommittee heard from critics who complained that our country is in an immigration crisis because our laws governing aliens are not being enforced. Experts complained that worksite enforcement had been abandoned, allowing unscrupulous employers free to employ illegal aliens.
In addition, complaints were raised that the Government was not doing enough to identify convicted criminal aliens before they were released to continue to prey on the American public. Further, critics noted that many aliens who were not detained would not appear for removal proceedings and that many non-detained aliens who had appeared and were ordered removed would ignore the orders and abscond.
Commentators also asserted that the United States had not done enough to protect itself along its borders and at its ports. In an August 2003 report, for example, the General Accounting Office identified vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in the inspections process at the land ports. Those vulnerabilities could be exploited by terrorists, who have abused our immigration laws in the past to harm the American people.
Finally, the Subcommittee has heard complaints from citizens and aliens about staggering backlogs in the adjudications process. According to the GAO, those backlogs reached an unacceptable level of 6.2 million pending applications by the end of FY 2003, making aliens who played by the rules wait years for their cases to be adjudicated.
I am pleased to note that in his FY 2005 budget, the President has addressed many of the deficiencies in the Government's implementation of the immigration laws that were uncovered by the Subcommittee. Specifically, the President's FY 2005 budget requests an additional $281 million for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Of that increase, $23 million will go to worksite enforcement, more than doubling the resources devoted to this priority.
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The President further requests an additional $30 million for the Institutional Removal Program, to ensure that aliens convicted of crimes in the U.S. are identified and processed before they are released back into society. The President also requests an increase of $50 million to apprehend alien absconders and $5 million for additional detention bed space to ensure that aliens appear for their immigration proceedings and that aliens ordered removed actually leave.
In addition to these increases, the President requests an additional $257 million for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which enforces the laws along the border and at the ports. Of this $257 million, the President requests more than $20 million to identify high-risk travelers and goods for inspection. This will allow law-abiding travelers to enter the United States and continue to their destinations without delay.
In addition, the President's FY 2005 budget contains a $64 million increase for Border Patrol surveillance and sensors technology. Such technology is a force multiplier which frees Border Patrol agents to enforce the law more vigilantly.
The FY 2005 budget also contains an additional $58 million for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This includes additional funding to reduce the backlog of applications and to enable the agency to meet the goal of the 6-month standard for processing all applications by FY 2006.
Finally, the President's FY 2005 budget requests an increase of $120 million for consular relations. Consular officers are our nation's first line of defense in keeping out aliens intending to do us harm. This includes $52 million to assist implementation of fingerprint capture capability at all visa-issuing posts and $37 million to help develop a new biometric passport with embedded chips. The ability to capture fingerprints during the visa issuance process will allow inspectors to ensure that a bearer of a visa is the person to whom it was issued. Similarly, the issuance of biometric passports will make it easier for inspectors to verify that a passport is valid and held by the U.S. citizen it was issued to.
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Further, additional funds are devoted to 60 new consular-related positions to handle the increased workload related to the important new requirement that all visa applicants be individually interviewed.
The Subcommittee will examine these proposed funding increases and assess to what degree the increases assist the U.S. Government in responding to the main immigration challenges facing the United States today: reducing the large illegal alien population, protecting the American people from alien criminals and terrorists, and ensuring that applications for immigration benefits are adjudicated correctly and in a timely manner.
Before I turn it over to the Ranking Member, the chair observes that as the nature of our Committee makeup, there are many times when witnesses requested by the majority and witnesses requested by the minority may not hold the same viewpoint and that those viewpoints may diverge. But I would like to personally thank Ms. Jackson Lee as well as other Members of the minority on the Subcommittee for allowing us to have this panel with all Administration witnesses to talk about the very important issues that are before us.
With that, I turn to the Ranking Member, Ms. Jackson Lee, for an opening statement.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I thank the Members of this Committee who are present and I thank the minority side in particular for their cooperation. We are, in fact, in partnership with this effort that is a challenge for all of us, so I would indicate to the witnesses I appreciate your presence here, as well, and be reminded that any comments that we make, it's because we are in a partnership trying to achieve both a degree, a high degree of national security but also respecting the responsibilities we have as we interface with people who are seeking to come into this country legally.
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Let me also note and compliment the presence of Director Aguirre for some of the work that I have seen him engage in on this question of immigration reform and the tone that he has exhibited. I think we are a long way away from solution, but I do appreciate the effort that you've made in explaining the importance of recognizing that there are immigrants that come to this country who come for economic reasons or come for opportunities of improvement of their lives.
And I think, Mr. Chairman, that's where I'm going on this particular Committee, and I know that there's a bell about to ring. Might I just say to the panelists, forgive me for my departure. There is a crisis brewing in Haiti and we are to be engaged in a meeting at the White House on this question and so I may not be able to complete this hearing, and that goes to my point, as well, are we prepared for what might be a pending flood of refugees into this country.
My concern today in looking at the budget is that we have a large sum of money for enforcement, and that is good, but we are certainly less than complete with the funding that we have for immigration services and benefits and citizenship and that is my concern. We are backlogged with valid applications of individuals who seek to come into this country legally. We are speaking about or debating the question of immigration reform and I intend to introduce a comprehensive Immigration Fairness Act of 2004. But in doing so, I am frightened of the burden and responsibility that will be put upon certain segments of homeland security and the fact that we will not have the resources.
Several years ago, we debated the desirability of dividing the former Immigration and Naturalization Service into two bureaus, an enforcement bureau and a benefits bureau. I expressed concern about the possibility that the enforcement bureau would become the focus of most of our resources to the detriment of our benefits bureau.
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We no longer debate whether INS should be divided into different bureaus for enforcement and benefit purposes. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security has made that separation a reality. On the enforcement side, we have the Bureaus of Customs and Border Protection and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and on the benefits side, we have the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
I wish I could say that I was wrong, that my fears were unfounded, but my fears were not unfounded. The enforcement bureaus are receiving most of our resources to the detriment of the benefits bureau. The FY 2005 request for the two enforcement bureaus is $10 million-plus, whereas the FY 2005 request for the benefits bureau is only, I'm sorry, is this, $1.711 million. In other words, the Administration is proposing to spend six times more on enforcement than on benefits.
The real disparity, however, can be seen more clearly in the increases that these amounts represent. The Administration is requesting an increase of $538 million for the enforcement bureaus, but only is requesting a $58 million increase for the benefits bureau. In other words, for every additional dollar the Administration is requesting for the benefits bureau, it is requesting $9 for the enforcement bureaus.
I am not opposed to providing sufficient funding for the enforcement bureaus. My concern is that the Administration is not requesting adequate resources for the benefits operations. The Citizenship Bureau has not been able to keep up with its work. The U.S. CIS has a backlog of more than six million benefit applications. The Texas service center presently is working on visa petitions that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents filed for unmarried sons and daughters on October 30, 1998. These applications sit for more than 5 years before anyone begins to work on them.
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Such delays do not just affect the people in other countries who are the subjects of the petitions, the petitioners are also individuals in this nation. The petitioners who file family-based and employment-based visa petitions are lawful permanent residents and citizens of the United States and American employers. In fact, when such a petition is denied, the foreign person who is the subject of the petition does not have standing to file an appeal. The right to the immigration benefit lies with the American petitioner. We are hurting our own who are within these borders, not just the alien who is the subject of the petition.
Despite this crisis, the Administration's budget for U.S. CIS only allocates $140 million for backlog reduction. Even with the addition of the $20 million U.S. CIS expects to receive from increased processing fees, this is not sufficient to eliminate the backlog. The magnitude of the backlog problem can be seen in the fact that during the 3-year period of fiscal years 2001 to 2003, U.S. CIS reported operating costs exceeded available fees by almost $460 million.
Since the beginning of fiscal year 2001, the number of pending applications increased by more than 2.3 million, about 59 percent, to 6.2 million at the end of fiscal year 2003. This increase occurred despite additional appropriations beginning in fiscal year 2002 of $80 million annually to address the backlog.
Meanwhile, $340 million is allocated for the U.S. VISIT program, which may turn out to be a waste of resources that could have been used elsewhere, such as for reducing the benefits application backlog. The stated objective for U.S. VISIT is to enhance the nation's security while facilitating legitimate travel and trade through our borders. According to a September 2003 report from the General Accounting Office, U.S. VISIT is a very risky endeavor. The potential cost of the program is enormous and may not be able to measurably and appreciably achieve its goals.
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I am not sure that U.S. VISIT will increase the security of our borders, although I want it to do so. Even if it is fully and successfully implemented, U.S. VISIT only screens foreign visitors seeking admission on the basis of non-immigrant visas. It does not screen non-immigrant visitors from 27 countries participating in the visa waiver program, and if we know what is happening in Europe, we know that Europe is without borders. That means that those who don't come under the visa waiver program have the ability to send their individuals or constituents into countries who are subject to the visa waiver program and who knows what will happen. Twenty-seven countries participate in a visa waiver program or anyone who presents a green card, and it will be years before the system is fully operational at all of the land borders.
I conclude, Mr. Chairman, by simply saying this, that we are in a partnership to do better. I believe, however, we are failing if we do not provide the resources for individuals seeking legal access to this country.
And lastly, I would say to Mr. Dougherty, just in a comment to you, I am concerned in our airports across the country and I will cite the Houston airport, in that we are not training our officials sufficiently to protect the civil liberties and rights of individuals who come into this country and should be bound by those laws. We are finding that people are being detained inappropriately. Questions are being asked inappropriately. These people are not beingnot threatening, they are not terrorists, and we are doing a disservice to the international reputation of this nation. We can be secure without violating the secure needs and the civil rights needs of our citizens and others. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady.
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[The prepared statement of Ms. Jackson Lee follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE SHEILA JACKSON LEE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF TEXAS
Several years ago, we debated the desirability of dividing the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into two bureaus, an enforcement bureau and a benefits bureau. I expressed concern about the possibility that the enforcement bureau would become the focus of most of our resources to the detriment of the benefits bureau. We no longer debate whether INS should be divided into different bureaus for enforcement and benefits purposes. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security has made that separation a reality. On the enforcement side, we have the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and, on the benefits side, we have the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS).
I wish I could say that I was wrong, that my fears were unfounded, but my fears were not unfounded. The enforcement bureaus are receiving most of our resources to the detriment of the benefits bureau. The FY 2005 request for the two enforcement bureaus is $10,214 million, whereas the FY2005 request for the benefits bureau is only $1,711 million. In other words, the Administration is proposing to spend 6 times more on enforcement than on benefits. The real disparity, however, can be seen more clearly in the increases that these amounts represent. The Administration is requesting an increase of $538 million for the enforcement bureaus but only is requesting a $58 million increase for the benefits bureau. In other words, for every additional dollar the Administration is requesting for the benefits bureau, it is requesting 9 dollars for the enforcement bureaus.
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I am not opposed to providing sufficient funding for the enforcement bureaus. My concern is that the Administration is not requesting adequate resources for the benefits operations. The Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS) has not been able to keep up with its work load. USCIS has a backlog of more than 6 million benefits applications.
The Texas Service Center presently is working on visa petitions that U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents filed for unmarried sons and daughters on October 30, 1998. These applications sit for more than 5 years before anyone begins to work on them. Such delays do not just affect the people in other countries who are the subjects of the petitions. The petitioners who file family-based and employment-based visa petitions are lawful permanent residents and citizens of the United States and American employers. In fact, when such a petition is denied, the foreign person who is the subject of the petition does not have standing to file an appeal. The right to the immigration benefit lies with the American petitioner, not with the alien who is the subject of the petition.
Despite this crisis, the Administration's proposed FY 2005 budget for USCIS only allocates $140 million for backlog reduction. Even with the addition of the $20 million USCIS expects to receive from increased processing fees, this is not sufficient to eliminate the backlog. The magnitude of the backlog problem can be seen in the fact that during the 3-year period from fiscal year 2001 through 2003, USCIS's reported operating costs exceeded available fees by almost $460 million. Since the beginning of fiscal year 2001, the number of pending applications increased by more than 2.3 million (about 59%) to 6.2 million at the end of fiscal year 2003. This increase occurred despite additional appropriations beginning in fiscal year 2002 of $80 million annually to address the backlog.
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Meanwhile, $340 million is allocated for the US-VISIT program, which may turn out to be a waste of resources that could have been used elsewhere, such as for reducing the benefits applications backlog. The stated objective for US-VISIT is to enhance the nation's security while facilitating legitimate travel and trade through our borders. According to a September 2003 report (GAO031083) from the General Accounting Office (GAO), US-VISIT is a very risky endeavor, the potential cost of the program is enormous, and it may not be able to measurably and appreciably achieve its goals.
I am not sure that US-VISIT will increase the security of our borders even if it is fully and successfully implemented. US-VISIT only screens foreign visitors seeking admission on the basis of nonimmigrant visas. It does not screen nonimmigrant visitors from the 27 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program or anyone who presents a green card, and it will be years before the system is fully operational at all of the land borders.
I believe that we need to pay more attention to benefits operations and that we much use our resources more wisely.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Gallegly, for an opening statement that he may have.
Mr. GALLEGLY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In view of the fact that we have a limited time and we have a vote, in consideration for the Ranking Member having to go to another meeting, I wouldn't want to deprive her from the opportunity to express herself on any of these issues. I would just ask unanimous consent that my opening statement be made a part of the record.
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I would just like to add that while I understand the statements the Ranking Member made relative to many people being detained that shouldn't be detained at the airports, I'd like to add that we have about 12 million people in this nation that should have been detained that haven't been detained, and I would yield the balance of my time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gallegly follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ELTON GALLEGLY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this very important hearing on funding for immigration in the President's 2005 budget. I am pleased to see that there are funding increases proposed for several programs that I believe are very effective at improving our ability to enforce immigration laws and secure the border, but I am primarily concerned with results. Monies appropriated by Congress should yield tangible results, and I don't mean just flow charts.
Among the funding increase proposals is the request for an additional $30 million in funding for the Institutional Removal Program, more particularly the subset of this program that screens inmates at city and county jails for immigration violations. This jail screening program, which was pioneered in my District and authorized nationwide by legislation I authored, is integral to removing criminal illegal immigrants because it screens prisoners at the point of entry into the criminal justice system, not only those who later receive prison sentences. This program has proven effective in my District, despite a lack of funding, and has never been expanded nationwide as intended. I have concerns with amount of resources that are currently being dedicated to this program, and it is my wish that a large portion of the $30 million increase for all Institutional Removal Programs goes to the portion of that program that services the nation's points of entry into the criminal justice systemcity and county jails.
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Additionally, I was pleased to see that additional monies have been requested for interior and border enforcement efforts. Statistics abound that tell us we are not doing an adequate job of policing our borders and enforcing immigration laws within the United States. However, I question whether a 50% increase in employer enforcement measures is enough.
Further, I am pleased to see that additional monies have been requested to institute a program to add biometric identifiers to American passports. Biometric identifiers are integral to the ability of this country to ascertain the true identity of individuals. I am interested in hearing more about the progress of this effort and what the Department of State plans to accomplish with these funds.
I would like to thank the Chairman for holding this hearing and giving us an opportunity to hear about these and other programs and ask questions about what monies requested will yield.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair recognizes the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren, for an opening statement she may make.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will ask that my written statement be made a part of the record and will simply say that, first, I am concerned at the short time frame that the Committee and Subcommittee has been provided to actually review this budget and I think that is a disservice to the whole Committee, both the majority and minority. I think if we had more time, we could do a more substantive job.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 So I would ask that theI have certainly complained and I hope that the Chairman can also complain on behalf of his Members that we get more time next year and that we have an opportunity to, with additional time, to provide the kind of oversight that I know we all want to do.
I have a number of questions that I will be raising, but the one statement I would like to make just at the outset is that I continue to be enormously frustrated at the backlogs that continue in this Department. I guess this is immigration day for me. This morning, we had Asa Hutchinson at the Science Committee talking about student visas and then here today, this afternoon, Mr. Aguirre. I reminded Asa of a meeting that we were invited to attend as Members of the Judiciary Committee with the Attorney General at breakfast.
Obviously, the Committee is ideologically quite diverse, but the Members that were invited to meet with the Attorney General only talked about one thing. We complained about the Immigration Service to the Attorney General and it was all about processing. Eighty percent of the cases that come into my district office relate to immigration matters and it's almost always American citizens with spouses and family members. I know we have a 6-month goal. We're really, I think, 2 years into the 6-month goal, 5-year plan and I would say the bulk of the cases in my office are a year, year and a half old and it's just not acceptable.
I am concerned about the deployment of technology, what kind of planning we have. I understand that there is a request for additional fees. I don't per se oppose fee increases, but until I see how they're going to be spent and that there will actually be benefit, I'm not prepared to say that that's acceptable. So I'm hoping that we willwe are going to have to vote in a minute, but in the affirmative testimony, perhaps we can get some insight into the technology planning and the backlog reduction plans that are being envisioned, because I'm sure you don't enjoy being the object of complaints and we don't enjoy the complaining. We all would like to get this really moving more quickly than it has.
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I, in view of the time, will yield back to the chair.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentlelady.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lofgren follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ZOE LOFGREN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, thank you for holding this very important hearing to discuss the immigration provisions in the fiscal year 2005 budget. I would also like to thank the witnesses for taking the time to be here today to let us know how we can help them improve our immigration programs across the country. I believe this is an essential oversight responsibility we have as members of this subcommittee. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.
It appears the majority in the Judiciary Committee was anxious to move forward on finalizing the Committee's official views and estimates on the 2005 budget request without giving, not only the minority, but also the majority in this Subcommittee a substantive opportunity to contribute to those views. The majority in the Judiciary Committee wanted those view and estimates finalized this week.
However, I would have had to submit my opinion on the official views and estimates before we even held this hearing. What is the point of having this hearing if we have no way of officially responding to what we learn today about the immigration provisions in the budget request?
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In the very limited time I was given to review the views and estimates, I found glaring problems that I would like to address at this hearing before we must officially submit our views of the budget request. The most glaring problem was the fact that while three and half pages were dedicated to enforcement functions, by far the largest sections only one small paragraph was written about service functions. While I agree there are many problems with enforcement, there are equally as many problems, if not more, with services, especially with the backlog of immigration applications. I would like to address some of those issues today and learn more about what types of funds and plans are needed to correct this tremendous problem that currently effects more than 6 million petitioners.
Although we do not come together on many issues as a subcommittee, I hope we can agree on this oneour oversight responsibilities should never be bypassed. We have a duty to ensure that our immigration programs are receiving appropriate funding and functioning properly. This is why I am very glad that we are here today for this hearing and hope we will agree that the full Committee's views and estimates on the budget should not be finalized until we have had enough time for this hearing and an analysis to follow this hearing.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sánchez, for an opening statement.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the Chairman and our Ranking Member Jackson Lee for convening this hearing today to discuss how the funds in President Bush's budget will be used for our admittedly broken immigration system.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 As the only Latina that sits on the Judiciary Committee, and representing a district that is 60 percent Latino, immigration reform is important to me both personally and as a Member of Congress. I'm a little disappointed and very concerned that President Bush's immigration principles and now his budget are causing more confusion and harm than good in our efforts at immigration reform.
In fact, the system is so confusing that this weekend, I will be convening an immigration forum in my district to try to educate my constituents on what is election year rhetoric and what is reality in the immigration system. Unfortunately, unsuspecting immigrants in California and nationwide are already being taken for hundreds of dollars in scams, promising to sign them up for the nonexistent temporary worker program that Bush talks about.
Simply put, these immigration principles are not going to work and they're not going to help the existing backlog. My colleague from California, Zoe Lofgren, mentioned that 80 percent of her casework is immigration related, and I would venture to guess that mine is about the same. And with no earned legalization opportunities for the eight million hard-working undocumented immigrants in this country, a program like a temporary guest worker program opens the door to continued unfair treatment of workers and offers them no hope for the future.
In the interest of time, I am going to stop there and I will submit the remainder of my comments for the record. But I just want to underscore the fact that we can't continue to make budget decisions and put the bulk of our resources at enforcement, an enforcement that we don't really know what we're getting for our money, and not try to tackle the issue of the backlog. That is a huge issue that keeps families apart. It is a huge issue that continues to create problems with immigration, and it is in our national security interest to try to get that backlog dealt with so that we know who is in this country and so that our national security is not at risk.
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With that, I will yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair states that all opening statements will be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Sánchez follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Thank you Chairman Hostettler and Ranking Member Jackson Lee for convening this hearing today to discuss how funds in President Bush's budget will be used for our broken immigration system.
As the only Latino on the Judiciary Committee and representing a district that is 60% Latino, immigration reform is important to me personally and as a Member of Congress. I am very concerned that President Bush's immigration principles, and now his budget, are causing more confusion and harm than good in our efforts at immigration reform.
In fact, I am trying to clear up a lot of the confusion caused by President Bush's immigration principles in my district by holding an immigration forum this weekend to educate my constituents on what is election-year rhetoric and what is reality. Unsuspecting immigrants in California and nationwide are already being taken for hundreds of dollars in scams promising to sign them up for Bush's non-existent temporary worker program.
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Simply put, President Bush's immigration principles will not work.
It is obvious that the President's broad temporary worker program is not going to solve the problem of illegal immigration since it does not solve the family reunification problem. With no earned legalization opportunities for the 8 million hard-working undocumented immigrants in this country, the temporary worker program opens the door to unfair treatment of workers and offers them no hope for the future.
There is a better course of action for the President and for immigrants in this country. If the President is serious about immigration reform he will support the DREAM Act and the AgJOBS bill. These bills will make meaningful reforms to our immigration system. However, the President has refused to support these bills. Instead, he has proposed a budget that will continue to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into a system that does not work.
We all agree that our immigration system needs to be reformed. Illegal immigration is still a problem. Families still have to wait years, sometimes decades to be reunited. And, our borders are still not secure enough. We agree that it will take a major investment of federal funds to fix all of these problems. But if we are going to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, we need to be absolutely sure that the money is going into a system that will be effective. We need to put our money into a system that makes our country safer, and is fair and efficient for the immigrants already in this country and those that are waiting to get in.
President Bush's budget does not do that. The President's budget continues his pattern of giving hundred of millions of dollars to so-called enforcement programs while neglecting immigration services programs. In his budget the President seeks $281 million more for DHS's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in FY '05 than he did in FY '04. This is the largest funding increase for a Bureau of DHS that the President seeks in his budget. My concern is what kinds of enforcement measures does the President have in mind for this additional $281 million?
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I hope it is not ill-advised enforcement plans like the CLEAR Act which cuts funding to states and localities, burdens local law enforcement agents, undermines the NCIC database, and diverts scarce DHS resources away from apprehending terrorists. The CLEAR Act will not work, will not make us safer, and will be a complete waste of federal money. We should not be spending $281 million in additional dollars on enforcement programs like the CLEAR Act that make our country less secure.
A much better use of our funds are on programs that make our immigration system fairer, more efficient, and reduce the incentives for illegal immigrationsuch as reducing the visa backlog and promoting citizenship.
President Bush has proposed an additional $60 million for $500 million initiative to reduce the visa backlog by 2006. I am glad that the President is spending funds to reduce the visa backlog but $60 million is inadequate to make the necessary changes to a visa processing system that needs significant reform.
The President's visa reduction program is now several years old and we still have a backlog of over 6 million visas. Plus, the Bush administration is trying to increase the fees for visa applications with no indication of the reason for the increase or if the additional funds will help to reduce the visa backlog. I cannot support raising the fees for visa applications if the money will not help families reunite quicker.
I look forward to the testimony of the witnesses today and I hope that they can tell this Subcommittee exactly how President Bush's budget will repair our immigration system and not waste precious taxpayer dollars.
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Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes?
Ms. JACKSON LEE. I ask unanimous consent to submit
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I recognize the gentlelady from Texas.
Ms. JACKSON LEE.to submit my questions for the record for this panel, and I thank you.(see footnote 1)
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Without objection.
The chair will have the Subcommittee recess until these votes are over. I believe there are two votes. We may be down there 20 to 25 minutes, and I appreciate the indulgence of the witnesses. We will return as soon as possible. We are recessed.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will come to order. Once again, I thank the panel for your patience.
Now to introduce the members of the panel. Mr. Eduardo Aguirre, Jr., is the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In this position, he is charged with the overseeing of the administrative adjudication of applications for immigration benefits. He came to CIS from the Export-Import Bank, where he served as Vice Chairman and COO.
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Prior to joining the Government, Mr. Aguirre was the President of International Private Banking at Bank of America, culminating a 24-year career with that institution. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston system and as a non-attorney director for the Texas State Bar. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University. Thank you, Director Aguirre, for being here.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EDUARDO AGUIRRE, JR., DIRECTOR, U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. AGUIRRE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Jackson Lee, I recognize that you have to go to a pressing matter, and other Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Eduardo Aguirre and I have the honor of serving as the first Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within the Department of Homeland Security.
On the occasion of my confirmation hearing before the Senate when my dear friend, the Ranking Member, Sheila Jackson Lee, introduced me to the Judiciary Committee, I shared with them my story of having arrived in the United States as a 15-year-old unaccompanied minor from Cuba. My parents sent me here to escape a repressive regime and to experience freedoms and opportunities found only in America. That, of course, was the legal immigration track, the very system that I am now charged with fundamentally transforming.
We are a welcoming nation and the hard work and patriotism of our immigrants has made our nation prosperous. We seek to continue to improve the administration of immigration benefits for the more than six million applicants who petition CIS every year.
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Upon creation of CIS, my team of 15,000 people and I embrace a simple but imperative mission, making certain that the right applicant receives the right benefit in the right amount of time while preventing the wrong individuals from obtaining our benefits.
We established three priorities that guide the aspects of our work: Eliminating the immigration benefit application backlog while improving customer service and enhancing national security. As we approach our institutional 1-year anniversary, I'm particularly pleased with the progress we have made and the professionalism exhibited by our employees day in and day out, while mitigating security threats that we know to be real and relentless.
To date, Mr. Chairman, we have initiated online options for application filings and case status updates. We've established the Office of Citizenship. We've eliminated lines at some of our highest volume offices. We've introduced a toll-free customer service help line. We streamlined the certificate of citizenship process for internationally adopted children. We've developed a more secure travel document for permanent residents and we fleshed out our leadership team while we were standing up our bureau.
CIS is one of the largest fee-funded agencies in the Federal Government, charging fees for a variety of benefits from individuals seeking to enter, reside, or work in the United States. Therefore, the actual cash flow for our business operations vary from year to year with the number of immigration benefit applications received. In any typical day, my team of 15,000 will process 140,000 national security background checks every day, receive 100,000 web hits, take 50,000 calls in our customer service centers, adjudicate 30,000 applications for immigration benefits, see 25,000 visitors at 92 field offices, issue 20,000 green cards, and capture 8,000 sets of fingerprints and digital photos at 130 application support centers. That was every day.
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Backlogs of immigration benefit applications began to grow during the 1990's, seeing an overall 77 percent increase from FY '93 to FY '01. The primary factors included a dramatic increase in the number of applications and petitions received, delays in securing funding and positions to process these applications, the lengthy amount of time it takes to recruit, hire, and train adjudicators, and the lack of comprehensive approach to monitoring, supporting, and maintaining timely processing. That was, of course, in the past.
Beginning in the year 2002, the President pledged and the Congress supported a multi-year $500 million initiative to obtain a universal 6-month processing time standard by FY 2006 for all immigration benefit applications while providing quality service to all customers. We developed a comprehensive backlog elimination plan prior to September 11, 2001, to achieve this goal. The plan called for improvements to processes and expanded quality assurance efforts designed to achieve a high level of performance.
We initially realized significant improvements. In FY 2002, processing times for applications averaged by type between three and 72 months. By the end of the year, these same averages were reduced to between one and 26 months.
However, September 11, 2001, profoundly affected our business operation, employees, and stakeholders. New guidance was issued, security background checks were enhanced, and new processes were implemented. Already, many applications were subject to fingerprint and background checks. The enhanced check instituted in July 2002 represents an additional set of name checks against a variety of lookout databases housed in the Interagency Border Inspection System, also called IBIS. Approximately 35 million security checks were performed last year.
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This change in the way we process immigration benefit applications has meant higher processing costs for CIS. We make no apologies for our commitment to the integrity of the immigration system and we will not try to save a quarter if it means compromising security to process an application more quickly. We will continue to coordinate and identify suspected benefit fraud cases and refer them to ICE for enforcement action. We're making America safer against security and criminal threats one background check at a time.
I believe that the President's FY 2005 budget will set us on the right path toward improving immigration services. The budget includes a total for CIS of $1.711 billion, $140 million in discretionary appropriated funds and $1.571 billion in fees, and seeks an additional $60 million to boost the total dedicated to backlog reduction efforts to $160 million.
To ensure that our backlog does not increase any further, we are currently seeking to adjust our fee schedule through the regulatory process by recovering the cost associated with comprehensive security enhancements that were instituted after September 11, 2001. The cost of these security enhancements are about $140 million annually, or $21 per application. The fee adjustments will also support new activities such as establishing a refugee corps and establishing the new Office of Citizenship.
In addition, CIS will develop study materials and teaching guides to ensure that the process of preparing for naturalization is meaningful, so that immigrants who choose to become U.S. citizens, as I did, have a real understanding of the commitment they are making when they take the oath of allegiance of the United States.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 We are also developing standardized testing procedures so that applicants can be assured that they are experiencing an equitable testing process. We do not want to make the test more difficult. We do not want to make it less difficult. We want to make it more meaningful in a way that it does not have an adverse impact on any particular group of applicants. We are committed to improving the current process and doing it right.
We fully realize that increased funding alone will not enable us to realize our goals. We're taking a hard look at the way we currently conduct our business. We're aggressively working to modernize our system and increase our capacity through the engineering of processes, the development and implementation of new information technology systems, and the development of mechanisms to interact with customers in a more forward-reaching manner. We are now in the process of finalizing a new backlog elimination plan that will outline changes to our business processes and will set forth our revitalized vision of delivering immigration services in the future.
This, Mr. Chairman, concludes my prepared remarks. I thank you for the invitation to testify before this Committee. I apologize for the lengthy statement and I look forward to the questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Director Aguirre.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Aguirre follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF EDUARDO AGUIRRE, JR.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Good afternoon Chairman Hostettler, Ranking Member Jackson Lee and Members of the Subcommittee. My name is Eduardo Aguirre and I have the honor of serving as the first Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, within the Department of Homeland Security.
We are a welcoming nation, and the hard work and patriotism of our immigrants has made our Nation prosperous. We seek to continue to improve the administration of immigration benefits for the more than six million applicants who petition USCIS on an annual basis.
We continue to commit ourselves to building and maintaining an immigration services system that provides information and benefits in a timely, accurate, consistent, courteous, and professional manner; while preventing ineligible individuals from receiving benefits. Put more simply, it is our job to make certain that the right applicant receives the right benefit in the right amount of time, while preventing the wrong individuals from obtaining our benefits.
USCIS is one of the largest fee-funded agencies in the Federal governmentcharging fees for a variety of benefits from individuals seeking to enter, reside, or work in the United States. Therefore, the actual cash flow for our business operations, including a network of 250 local offices, Application Support Centers, Service Centers, Asylum Offices, National Customer Service Call (NCSC) Centers, Forms Centers, and Internet portals, varies from year to year with the number of immigration benefit applications received.
In any typical work day, our workforce of 15,500 (one-third of whom are contractors) will:
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Process 140,000 national security background checks;
Receive 100,000 web hits;
Take 50,000 calls at our Customer Service Centers;
Adjudicate 30,000 applications for immigration benefits;
See 25,000 visitors at 92 field offices;
Issue 20,000 green cards; and
Capture 8,000 sets of fingerprints and digital photos at 130 Application Support Centers.
USCIS has established three priorities: (1) eliminating the immigration benefit application backlog, (2) improving customer service, while (3) enhancing national security. In our first year of operation we have: initiated on-line options for a few application filings and case status updates; established the Office of Citizenship; eliminated lines at some of our highest volume offices; introduced a toll-free customer service help line; streamlined the Certificate of Citizenship process for internationally adopted children; developed a more secure travel document for permanent residents; and fleshed out our leadership team.
Backlogs of immigration benefit applications began to grow during the 1990s. Overall, there was a 77% increase from FY 1993 to FY 2001. The primary factors contributing to the backlogs were a dramatic increase in the number of applications and petitions received, delays in securing funding and positions to process this increasing number of applications, the lengthy amount of time it takes to recruit, hire and train adjudicators, and the lack of a comprehensive approach to monitoring, supporting and maintaining timely processing.
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Beginning in FY 2002, the President pledged, and the Congress supported, a multi-year $500 million initiative to attain a universal six-month processing time standard by FY 2006 for all immigration benefit applications while providing quality service to all customers. We developed a comprehensive Backlog Elimination Plan prior to September 11, 2001 to achieve this goal. The Plan called for improvements to processes and expanded quality assurance efforts designed to achieve a high level of performance. We initially realized significant improvements. In FY 2002, processing times for applications averaged, by type, between three and seventy-two months. By the end of the year, these same averages were reduced to between one and twenty-six months.
However, September 11, 2001 profoundly affected our business operations, employees, and stakeholders. New guidance was issued, security background checks were enhanced, and new processes were implemented, including conducting interviews for the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) Program.(see footnote 2) Additionally, since July 2002, we formally enhanced our security background checks on the processing of all immigration benefit applications to ensure that those who receive immigration benefits have come to join the people of the United States in building a better society and not to do us harm.
The process of performing enhanced security checks has been designed to compare information on applicants, petitioners, beneficiaries, spouses and children and other household members who apply for an immigration benefit against various Federal lookout systems. Already, many applications were subject to fingerprint and background checks. The enhanced check instituted in July 2002 represents an additional set of name checks against a variety of lookout databases housed in the Interagency Border Inspection System (IBIS).
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The purpose of conducting security checks is to help law enforcement agencies identify risks to the community and/or to national security and to prevent ineligible individuals from obtaining immigration benefits. On the vast majority of applications, we perform two checks; one when the application is initially received, and one at the time of adjudication. Approximately 35 million security checks are performed annually.
In most of these cases (some 97%), the checks take only a few minutes. In the event of a ''hit'', however, we must hold that application without resolution until the security issue at hand is resolved. Last fiscal year, we processed a little over six million immigration benefit applications. Approximately 7% of the applications processed resulted in an initial security hit, and after further scrutiny, 2% resulted in confirmed security or criminal threat matches.
This change in the way we process immigration benefit applications has meant higher processing costs for USCIS because the costs of performing these checks were not factored into the existing fee schedule. As a result, existing resources have been diverted to perform the additional security checks until the fees could be adjusted to cover these costs. Although the security enhancements have meant longer processing times in some categories and a significant growth in the application backlog, USCIS has taken the position that security absolutely will not be sacrificed in our search for increased efficiency. USCIS will continue to coordinate and identify suspected benefit fraud cases and refer them to ICE for enforcement action.
Our intra-government coordination demonstrates that our approach realizes the intended results. By way of example, within the last month our background check procedures identified individuals wanted for murder in Portland and sexual assault in Miami. We are making America safer against security and criminal threats, one background check at a time.
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I believe that the President's FY 2005 budget will set us on the right path toward enhancing immigration services. The budget includes a total for USCIS of $1.711 billion, $140 million in discretionary appropriated funds and $1.571 billion in fees, and seeks an additional $60 million to boost the total dedicated to backlog reduction efforts to $160 million. Our overall goal is to achieve a six-month processing time standard for all immigration benefit applications by FY 2006.
To ensure that our backlog does not increase further, we are currently seeking to adjust our fee schedule through the regulatory process by recovering costs associated with comprehensive security enhancements instituted after September 11, 2001. The annual cost of these security enhancements are about $140 million or about $21 per application.
The fee adjustments will also support new activities such as establishing a refugee corps to improve the quality of refugee adjudications and establishing the new Office of Citizenship(see footnote 3) to promote instruction and training on citizenship responsibilities to both immigrants and U.S. citizens. The Office of Citizenship is developing initiatives to target immigrants at two critical points on their journey toward citizenship: when they obtain permanent resident status and as they begin the formal naturalization process. In the past, the Federal government provided few orientation materials for new immigrants. In contrast, CIS will reach out to new immigrants at the earliest opportunity to provide them with information and tools they need to begin the process of civic integration. In addition, CIS will develop study materials and teaching guides to ensure that the process of preparing for naturalization is meaningful, so that immigrants who choose to become U.S. citizens have a real understanding of the commitment they are making when they take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. The establishment of a Refugee Corps, with an expanded management support structure, will provide a strong and effective overseas refugee processing program that will more efficiently identify inadmissible persons and those who are of national security interest without compromising the U.S. Refugee Program's humanitarian objectives.
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We fully realize that increased funding alone will not enable us to realize our goals. We are taking a hard look at the way we currently conduct our business. We are aggressively working to modernize our systems and increase our capacity through the reengineering of processes, the development and implementation of new information technology systems, and the development of mechanisms to interact with customers in a more forward-reaching manner. For example, USCIS has recently eliminated the backlog of applications for the Certificate of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child with a program that proactively provides parents the certificate.
We are now in the process of finalizing a new Backlog Elimination Plan that will outline changes to our business processes, and which will set forth our revitalized vision of delivering immigration services in the future.
Additionally, we are examining the standard of knowledge in the current citizenship test to ensure that prospective and new citizens know not only the facts of our nation's history, but also the ideals that have shaped that history.
The project management team for this initiative recently met with over a dozen historians, civics experts, and adult educators to discuss the redesign of the U.S. history portion of the naturalization test with the goal of making the test more meaningful, substantive, and fair. This group is examining the meaning of significant events that occurred in our nation's history, and is exploring ways in which naturalization candidates may better retain the significance of these events. Recognizing that many Americans have strong beliefs about what our new citizens should know about our country, we plan to publish the proposed test content in the Federal Register and ask for public comment. We believe that many Americans would like to have a say in what we are asking our new citizens to learn, and we are eager to hear from them. We look forward to briefing you and other Members of Congress on our proposed new citizenship test content and receiving your feedback, as well.
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In a related effort, this same team is working to redesign the current citizenship testing methodology in an effort to ensure more uniform results. Currently, a candidate in Los Angeles is, in all likelihood, not tested the same way or asked the same questions as a candidate taking the same exam on the same day in Boston. Therefore, we are developing standardized testing procedures so that applicants can be assured that they are experiencing an equitable testing process.
We do not want to make the test more difficult. We do not want to make it less difficult. We want to make it more meaningful in a way that does not have an adverse impact on any particular group of applicants. Therefore, we will carefully pilot test the revised English, history, and government tests before implementing them. And, we will continue to consult with our stakeholders to solicit their input. Our newly created Office of Citizenship will be responsible for coordinating the development of educational materials designed to complement this important initiative.
Our plan is to implement the new test and testing process in 2006. Given the importance of the ultimate benefit for those testedU.S. citizenshipthis process is not one that can or should be rushed. We are committed to improving the current process and to improving it in the right way.
As we approach our institutional one-year anniversary, USCIS has stood up an organization of which we are very proud. We have established a leadership team, improved many of our operational processes, and continue to strive to make further improvements. The funding requested in the President's FY 2005 budget request is an important factor in continuing to improve the service we can offer our customers.
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This concludes my prepared remarks. I thank you for the invitation to testify before this committee and I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Michael Dougherty is the Director of Operations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. As Director of Operations, he is responsible for the overall management and coordination of ICE's operations and serves as Assistant Secretary Michael Garcia's principal representative to DHS and to the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
Prior to this appointment, Mr. Dougherty was a partner in KPMG, LLP. He began his law enforcement career as an INS special agent in New York and was among one of the first agents assigned to the FBI Joint Terrorist Attack Force, or is that Task Force? Task Force. That should be Task Force, the FBI Joint Terrorist. You were attacking the terrorist problem, but that was actually a task force.
Mr. Dougherty graduated from Ohio State University with a bachelor's degree in political science. Mr. Dougherty, thank you for being here today. You are recognized.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL T. DOUGHERTY, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. DOUGHERTY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's my profound pleasure to appear before you today and the distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, as well. It's also my privilege to discuss the President's budget request for fiscal year 2005 for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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As you know, ICE was created on March 1, 2003, and has grown to become the largest investigative arm in the Department of Homeland Security and also is today the largest Federal investigative agency. ICE now also has the broadest investigative mandate in the Federal Government and is executing its new homeland security mission by building upon the traditional missions, resources, authorities, and capabilities of the agencies it inherited.
Today, one of ICE's primary missions is to detect vulnerabilities and prevent violations that threaten national security. In other words, ICE investigates homeland security crimes. Today, I will discuss how the President's 2005 budget will continue to strengthen ICE's immigration enforcement mandate, which is only one of the mandates it currently has today.
The 2005 budget seeks $4 billion in appropriated funds for ICE, $302 million more than in fiscal 2004, representing an approximately 10 percent increase. The requested increases include $186 million for ICE to fund improvements in immigration enforcement, both domestically and overseas, including more than doubling worksite enforcement efforts, increased efforts to combat benefits fraud and investigate violations of the SEVIS and U.S. VISIT systems, and approximately $100 million increase for detention and removal of illegal aliens.
Critical to the removal process is ICE's ability to effectively litigate cases before the Immigration Court. The budget request includes a $6 million enhancement to provide additional attorneys to keep pace with our increasing caseload.
Our budget also seeks $14 million to support our international enforcement efforts related to immigration. Ten million dollars of these funds will be used to implement ICE's visa security program to fulfill its obligations under section 248 of the Homeland Security Act related to visa security.
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I'd like to briefly highlight and further explain some of the enforcement initiatives represented in the 2005 budget today. First, worksite enforcement. The 2005 budget includes an additional $23 million for worksite enforcement. This represents nearly 400 agents and support staff and more than doubles existing funds dedicated to worksite enforcement. With these resources, we will be able to continue our commitment to traditional worksite enforcement.
However, worksite enforcement is also a useful tool in securing the nation's critical infrastructure. Since September 11, ICE has screened 260,000 employee records pertaining to 3,600 critical infrastructure employers and has identified in excess of 5,000 unauthorized workers who obtained employment, principally by presenting counterfeit documents to their employers or providing false information to security officials.
Pursuant to these enforcement operations targeting critical infrastructures, such as airports, military installations, defense contractors, and Federal buildings, ICE has arrested over 1,000 individuals and secured the criminal indictment of 774.
Another key priority as reflected in the budget is benefits fraud. Recent history has shown that immigration fraud poses a significant threat to national security and public safety because it enables terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry and remain in the United States. ICE's goal, working in conjunction with CIS, is to detect, combat, and deter immigration fraud through aggressive, focused, and comprehensive investigations and prosecutions.
The $25 million requested in the '05 budget will enable ICE to continue and increase high-impact fraud investigations and prosecutions, providing increased national security and ensuring the integrity of the immigration application process. To ensure the most effective application of the resources, ICE has collocated benefit fraud units with CIS service centers to focus on the criminal organizations that engage in large-scale immigration fraud and that seek to undermine the system of legal immigration.
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We also have significant initiatives reflected in our budget in the detention and removal program. Detention and removal of illegal aliens present in the United States is critical to the enforcement of our immigration laws. ICE today has a daily detention population of approximately 21,000. In '03, ICE removed more than 140,000 individuals from the United States, including 76,000 criminal aliens. An increase of $108 million in fiscal 2005 would expand ongoing fugitive apprehension efforts, facilitate the removal of jailed aliens from the United States, and create effective methods to control non-detained cases and support additional detention and removal capacity.
Specifically, $50 million are requested to continue the implementation of the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program. ICE today has 18 fugitive operations teams deployed throughout the country, and since March 1 has apprehended approximately 6,000 fugitives. A large number of these were convicted of serious crimes and were subsequently ordered deported. Thus, the program has a significant public safety impact in communities across the nation. The '05 budget request would fund an additional 30 teams to locate these potential threats to public safety.
We also seek funding for the Institutional Removal Program, which is designed to ensure that aliens convicted of crimes in the United States are identified, processed, and where possible, removed. The $30 million request would transfer the Institutional Removal Program from the responsibility of the Office of Investigation to the Office of Detention and Removal, freeing up special agents to work on more complex crimes directly related to national security. It would also make management of the program consolidated under a single operational division, as recommended by both the General Accounting Office and the Department of the Inspector General.
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Concluding, $11 million has been requested in the '05 budget, which would more than double the capacity of the Intensive Supervision Program. Pilot projects have demonstrated that effective control of lower-risk persons who are released in the communities during immigration proceedings or while awaiting approval can stem the growth of the fugitive population. This year, we plan to have eight supervision sites that will be able to monitor 200 individuals per site using methods such as electronic monitoring, halfway houses, and voice recognition technology. Increases in '05 would double the capacity for each site and provide for an additional site.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, deterring illegal migration and combating immigration-related crime have never been more critical to the national security. The men and women of ICE are tackling this challenging mission with remarkable dedication. I believe the President's '05 budget request for ICE will provide significant resources to further the mission of ICE on behalf of the American people. We're eager to work with you and the Members of Congress to provide the American people with the level of security they demand and deserve.
I thank you and look forward to taking your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dougherty follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MICHAEL DOUGHERTY
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee. It is a privilege to appear before your committee today to discuss the President's Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
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In March of 2003, when the Department was created, a new federal investigative agency was also formed: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcementor ICE, as it is better known. As the largest investigative arm of Homeland Security, ICE's primary mission is to detect vulnerabilities and prevent violations that threaten national security. In other words, ICE investigates homeland security crimes. In particular, border security, air security, and economic security.
ICE pursues its homeland security mission by building upon the traditional missions, resources, authorities and expertise of the legacy agencies it inherited. The investigative and intelligence resources of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, U.S. Customs Service, Federal Protective Service and Federal Air Marshal Service have been fused together to allow us to go after the criminal enterprises in new ways. ICE is bringing new approaches to traditional areas of law enforcement and creating enforcement programs in response to its homeland security mission.
Today, I will discuss how the President's FY 2005 Budget will continue to strengthen ICE's immigration enforcement mandate.
ICE FY 2005 BUDGET FOR IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT
ICE is committed to enhancing immigration security and enforcement, as the FY 2005 budget illustrates. The FY 2005 budget seeks $4.0 billion for ICE, $302 million more than FY 2004, representing an increase of 8 percent.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The requested increases include $186 million for ICE to fund improvements in immigration enforcement both domestically and overseas, including a more than doubling of current worksite enforcement efforts; increased resources to combat benefits fraud and investigate violations of the SEVIS and US-VISIT systems; and approximately $100 million increase for the detention and removal of illegal aliens. Detention and removal of illegal aliens present in the United States is critical to the enforcement of our immigration laws and the requested funding will expand ongoing fugitive apprehension efforts, the removal from the United States of jailed illegal aliens, and additional detention and removal capacity. Critical to the removal process is ICE's ability to effectively litigate cases before the Immigration Court. The budget request includes a $6 million enhancement to provide additional attorneys to keep pace with an increasing caseload. Our budget also seeks $14 million to support our international enforcement efforts related to immigration, including enabling ICE to provide visa security by working cooperatively with U.S. consular offices to review select visa applications.
As a result of the President's proposed new temporary worker program to match willing foreign workers with willing U.S. employers, enforcement actions against companies that break the law and hire illegal workers will increase. The FY 2005 President's Budget includes an additional $23 million for enhanced worksite enforcement. This more than doubles existing funds devoted to worksite enforcement and allows ICE to assign more Special Agents devoted to this effort. With these resources, ICE will facilitate the implementation of the President's temporary worker program initiative by enhancing our traditional worksite enforcement program that offers credible deterrence to the hiring of unauthorized workers. Without such a deterrent, employers will have no incentive to maintain a legal workforce.
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Since 9/11, ICE has screened 259,037 employee records pertaining to 3,640 critical infrastructure employers and identified over 5,000 unauthorized workers who obtained employment by presenting counterfeit documents to their employer and providing false information to security officials. ICE enforcement operations targeting unauthorized workers in critical infrastructure facilities such as airports, military installations, defense contractors, and federal buildings have resulted in the arrest of over 1,000 workers and the criminal indictment of 774 individuals. ICE's challenge is to enhance public safety by ensuring that individuals intending to do us harm do not gain insider access to critical facilities by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in hiring and screening processes that enable undocumented workers to go undetected by employers and security officials.
Immigration fraud poses a severe threat to national security and public safety because it enables terrorists, criminals, and illegal aliens to gain entry and remain in the United States. ICE's goal, in conjunction with U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is to detect, combat, and deter immigration fraud through aggressive, focused, and comprehensive investigations and prosecutions. ICE focuses on identifying and targeting the most significant, prolific and egregious violators for prosecutions, such as organizations and facilitators responsible for multiple benefit applications and individuals that pose a risk to national security or public safety. In September 2003, ICE created Benefit Fraud Units in Vermont, Texas and California as a means of identifying and targeting fraud, at the earliest possible pointwhen an application is received at a USCIS Service Center.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 The $25 million FY 2005 budget request will provide stable funding to ICE's benefits fraud and will enable ICE to continue and increase, high-impact fraud investigations and prosecutions, providing increased national security and insuring integrity in the immigration application process.
Special Agents Dedicated to Compliance Enforcement
As part of its overall immigration enforcement strategy, ICE will continue to analyze data generated through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and US-VISIT program to detect individuals who are in violation of the Nation's immigration laws and pose a threat to homeland security. ICE's Compliance Enforcement Unit has investigated and resolved over 21,000 National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) and SEVIS violator leads. This represents less than half of all violator leads generated under the programs. With an estimated FY 2004 enrollment of nearly 700,000 foreign students and exchange visitors and 7,000 schools and programs, estimates suggests that more than 30,000 leads may be generated by the SEVIS program this year.
The FY 2005 budget's request of $16 million will increase the funding for ICE's SEVIS and US-VISIT compliance efforts by over 150 percent through the addition of 130 Special Agents to investigate and resolve violator leads. The funding will also allow continued and expanded data mining technology, as well as targeting software, to increase the efficiency of identification and tracking efforts towards non-immigrant aliens who may pose the most significant national security threats. The increased funding will allow ICE to double the overall violator resolution rate from the forecasted FY 2004 rate of 30% to 60% in FY 2005.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 International Affairs
ICE's Office of International Affairs is the largest consolidated Attache unit within DHS with over 50 foreign offices in over 42 countries. ICE Attaches and subordinate foreign offices work closely with Embassy staff and counterpart host government departments to execute international initiatives and extend the U.S. borders. Pursuant to section 428 of the Homeland Security Act and the Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and State, ICE's FY 2005 budget request of $14 million includes an increase of $10 million to support a new Visa Security Unit (VSU). The VSU and DHS staff stationed at overseas posts, including Saudi Arabia, will work cooperatively with U.S. consular officials to promote homeland security in the visa process.
DETENTION AND REMOVAL INITIATIVES
Detention and Removal of illegal aliens present in the United States is critical to the enforcement of our immigration laws. ICE has a daily detention population of approximately 21,000 and in FY 2003, ICE removed more than 140,000 individuals including 76,000 criminal aliens. An increase of $108 million in FY 2005 will expand ongoing fugitive apprehension efforts, the removal from the United States of jailed offenders, effective methods to control non-detained cases, and support additional detention and removal capacity.
$50 million dollars are requested to continue the implementation of the ICE National Fugitive Operations Program, established in 2002, which seeks to eliminate the existing backlog and growth of the fugitive alien population. Currently, ICE has 18 Fugitive Operations Teams deployed throughout the country and since March 1st, approximately 6,000 fugitives have been apprehended and nearly 700 additional criminal aliens have been apprehended in connection with fugitive operations teams. The FY 2005 budget request would fund an additional 30 teams to locate these potential threats to public safety.
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Institutional Removal Program
The Institutional Removal Program (IRP) is designed to ensure that aliens convicted of crimes in the U.S. are identified, processed, and, where possible, ordered removed prior to their release from a correctional institution. ICE requests $30 million to transfer the IRP duties currently being performed by Special Agents to Immigration Enforcement Agents. The shift of responsibilities will allow Special Agents to be assigned to more complex investigations in the areas of National Security, Smuggling, and Financial Investigations, and make management of the IRP the sole responsibility of a single operational program office, Detention and Removal Operations, as recommended by both the General Accounting Office and the Department of Justice Inspector General.
Alternatives to Detention
$11 million dollars have been requested in the FY 2005 budget to more than double the capacity of the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program (ISAP). The premise for this initiative is that the effective control of lower risk persons released into the community during immigration proceedings or while awaiting removal will stem the growth of the fugitive population. In FY 2004, ICE plans to have eight intensive supervision sites operational that will be able to monitor 200 individuals per site using methods such as using electronic monitoring devices, half-way houses and voice recognition technology. Increases in FY 2005 would double the capacity for each site and provide for an additional site. These alternatives to traditional detention practices are more cost effective; allow ICE to detain a greater number of aliens who may pose a threat to public safety; and early results from pilot projects reflect an increased appearance rate for immigration court proceedings for those in an intensive supervision program versus those released on their own recognizance.
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Detention Bed Space
Adequate detention space has long been considered a necessary tool to ensure effective removal operations. An increase in bed space to accommodate a higher volume of apprehended criminal aliens results in a significantly higher appearance rate at immigration proceedings. When final orders of removal are issued, this will result in a greater number of removals and fewer absconders. With the $5 million request for FY 2005, ICE will enhance its ability to remove illegal aliens from the United States.
Caribbean Regional Interdiction
Pursuant to Executive Order, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State share responsibility for responding to the migration of undocumented aliens interdicted or intercepted in the Caribbean Region. Additional funding of $6.2 million is requested to support the cost of housing up to 400 migrants as they await determination of any immigration claims. This initiative will support operations at Guantanamo Bay and maintain a high level of preparedness for possible Caribbean migration emergencies or other mass migration events.
LEGAL PROGRAM BACKLOG ELIMINATION
The ICE Office of the Principal Legal Advisor's Office (OPLA) completed approximately 275,000 cases in Immigration Court in FY 2003, assisting in these proceedings in the determination of who qualified for immigration benefits and who was subject to removal. The number of new cases received in immigration court has continued to increase from approximately 150,000 cases in FY 93 to 290,652 cases in FY 2002. In addition, ICE OPLA is currently handling approximately 500 national security related cases as well as 250 cases involving possible human rights abusers in various stages of immigration court proceedings. At the same time, the case preparation time has continued to fall and we project that time available for preparation could also fall. To keep pace with the increasing number of complex immigration court cases as well as an aggressive plan by the Department of Justice to address the pending cases, additional attorneys and support staff are required. $6 million dollars are sought in the FY 2005 budget to increase the program staffing and help address the increased workload. Additional resources will permit ICE Counsel to identify and argue for the removal of individuals who pose national security or public safety risks, while at the same time ensuring that bona fide claims are granted.
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Deterring illegal migration and combating immigration-related crime have never been more critical to our national security. The men and women of ICE are tackling this challenging mission with diligence, determined to ensure that no duty is neglected. The President's FY 2005 Budget Request for ICE is an important step in restoring the rule of law the system of legal immigration. We are eager to work with you and the other Members of Congress to provide the American people with the level of security they demand and deserve. Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Daniel Smith was named the State Department's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs in November of 2002. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service and previously served as Deputy Executive Secretary to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Prior to this assignment, he served as executive assistant to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs.
Mr. Smith received his B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Colorado in Boulder and his Ph.D. and M.A. in history from Stanford university. Mr. Smith, thank you for being here. You're now recognized.
STATEMENT OF DANIEL B. SMITH, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR CONSULAR AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SMITH. Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today before you on the Department of State's Border Security Program. I am pleased to provide an overview of how the Bureau of Consular Affairs administers that program. Funded largely through the Department's limited fee-retention authorities for consular services, the Border Security Program exists to strengthen the security of the United States by pushing out our borders.
In fiscal year 2005, the priorities of the Consular Affairs are: Protecting our homeland by strengthening the visa process; protecting Americans by providing consular information, services, and assistance; providing Americans with the most secure travel document possible, the U.S. passport; and providing consular personnel worldwide with the tools and training they need.
The Department of State's visa work abroad constitutes a vital element in our national border security. To guard against terrorists and other threats, consular officers must have the best information available within the U.S. Government. The majority of the data in our consular lookout system now is derived from the law enforcement and intelligence communities. We reciprocate that data sharing, and Department of Homeland Security officers at ports of entry now have access to the 75 million visa records in our Consular Consolidated Database.
We have joined in the establishment of the Terrorist Screening Center that will integrate terrorist watch lists and serve as the centralized point of contact for U.S. terrorist information. Together with the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, we will rely on the TSC to ensure that consular officers have access to the information they need to deny visas to those who would do us harm.
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We are also engaged with DHS in implementing a biometrics program that will track the entry and exit of foreign visitors by using electronically scanned fingerprints and photographs. The system is designed to create a coordinated and interlocking network of border security. With our aggressive roll-out schedule, the program will be in effect at all non-immigrant visa adjudicating posts by October 26 of this year.
Consular Affairs also works to promote the safety and security of Americans abroad. We strive to extend to all Americans our best efforts to ensure their safety wherever they might be. We provide current information on travel conditions and security through our website at travel.state.gov and through the Overseas Citizens Services Call Center.
CA has also been heavily involved in assisting U.S. citizen parents whose children were abducted or wrongfully retained abroad, as well as working to prevent future abductions and wrongful retentions. We have worked toward implementing a transparent international adoption process that safeguards the interests of children, birth parents, and prospective adoptive parents. These initiatives, among others, are overwhelmingly funded as part of the Border Security Program.
We are also engaged in an ongoing process of continuous improvement of the U.S. passport, the world's most valuable identity and travel document. Embedding biometrics into U.S. passports to establish a clear link between the person issued the passport and the user is an important step forward in the international effort to strengthen border security. We recognize that convincing other nations to improve their passports requires U.S. leadership. To that end, the Department of State has a program that should produce the first biometric U.S. passports by October of this year.
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We also continue to strengthen homeland security by ensuring that the consular function has appropriate facilities and is staffed at sufficient levels by consular officers who are trained to screen out terrorists. As part of the Border Security Program, the Department is requesting additional positions to provide us the ground troops necessary to staff our first line of defense.
We continue to strengthen management controls via the issuance of standard operating procedures as well as our program of Consular Management Assistance Teams. CA uses its new Vulnerability Assessment Unit to analyze consular data, systems, and processes to detect anomalies in visa and passport processing to reduce vulnerabilities.
The mission of the Bureau of Consular Affairs is to help Americans abroad, to facilitate legitimate international travel, and to stop the travel to the United States of foreigners who present a threat to our country. By focusing on information sharing, providing sufficient resources, and enhancing the integrity of our processes and documents, the Department of State is ensuring that we have a Border Security Program in which the American people can place their trust and confidence.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome your questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DANIEL B. SMITH
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, Members of the Committee:
Thank you for inviting me to testify before you today on the Department of State's Border Security Program. I am pleased to explain both the strategy employed by the Department of State in its Border Security Program and then how that strategy is implemented in the day-to-day operations of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
The Border Security Program at the Department of State is a complex mission involving the activities of a number of bureaus and offices. Funded largely through the Department's limited fee retention authorities for consular services, the Border Security Program exists to strengthen the security of the United States by ''pushing outward'' our borders. The Department has followed a consistent and multi year strategy that focuses on:
Providing accurate and timely information to all personnel responsible for processing passports, adjudicating visas and providing other consular services.
Ensuring that all personnel responsible for Border Security services have the business quality hardware and software they need to fulfill their responsibilities.
Connecting all overseas and domestic operations responsible for Border Security together through high-speed networks, which make possible such powerful tools as the CLASS namecheck system and the Consolidated Consular Database (CCD).
Investing in our people to ensure that they have the training needed to provide quality Border Security Services. Covering the operating costs of many Department of State personnel who provide Border Security services.
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Ensuring the integrity of our people, processes and products.
The Department's Border Security Program is much larger than just the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA). CA's main partners in implementing this program include the Bureaus of Diplomatic Security, Information Management, Human Resources, Intelligence and Research, and Resource Management as well as the geographic bureaus. The Administration is seeking some $836 million in the FY-05 budget to help fund these activities.
In terms of Consular Affairs, our mission is to help Americans abroad, facilitate legitimate international travel, and prevent the travel to the United States of foreigners who are likely to engage in activities harmful to our country. We have no higher responsibility than the protection of our citizens and safeguarding our country's borders through the Border Security Program, and we are determined to carry out this responsibility in the best and most effective manner possible.
In FY 2005, the priorities of CA are:
protecting our homeland by strengthening the visa process as a tool to identify potential terrorists and others who should not receive visas and preventing those people from entering the United States;
protecting Americans by ensuring that they have the consular information, services, and assistance they need to reside, conduct business, or travel abroad;
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 providing Americans with timely and effective passport services and a secure travel document; and
providing consular personnel worldwide with the tools and training they need to carry out these responsibilities.
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 highlighted as never before the crucial role the Bureau of Consular Affairs plays in U.S. border security through the visa process. The Consular Officers of the Foreign Service at the 212 visa adjudicating embassies and consulates abroad are truly our first line of defense. In FY-05, we will continue our efforts to ensure that the visa process is as secure as possible and that it supports our overall homeland security efforts so thatwith the immigration check at the port of entry and the enhanced capabilities of the Department of Homeland Securityit will form a coordinated and interlocking network of border security in which the American people can have confidence.
One of the most important tools we can provide our consular officers abroad is information that will help them identify and deny a visa to a terrorist, criminal or other ineligible alien. Our goal is to push the borders of the United States out as far from our shores as possible to stop a problematic or questionable traveler overseas. To this end, our coordinated efforts with law enforcement and intelligence agencies have more than doubled the names of known or suspected terrorists and other ineligible aliens in our databases. We will continue to seek opportunities for data sharing with federal agencies that have a role in the visa process or interact with visa recipients. In fact, the majority of the data in our consular lookout system now derives from other agencies, especially those in the law enforcement and intelligence communities.
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I am particularly proud that an activity funded through the Department's Border Security Programthe TIPOFF programis a key building block for the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which will maintain the principal database on known and suspected terrorists in a highly classified form. The TIPOFF database with its approximately 120,000 records was transferred to TTIC on November 17, 2003. TTIC, together with the separate Terrorist Screening Center, will eliminate the stovepiping of terrorist data and provide a more systematic approach to posting lookouts on potential and known terrorists.
We are also currently engaged with DHS in implementing a biometrics program to track the entry and exit of foreign visitors by using electronically scanned fingerprints and photographs. This new system, which begins with consular officers collecting electronically scanned fingerprints at consular sections abroad and continues with DHS's US-VISIT program at ports of entry and departure, will create a coordinated and interlocking network of border security. We began our new Biometric Visa Program in September 2003, and it is now operational at more than 70 visa-adjudicating posts. With our aggressive rollout schedule, the program will be in effect at all visa-adjudicating posts by the congressionally mandated deadline of October 26, 2004. The inclusion of additional biometrics, in addition to the photograph that has always been collected, in international travel documents is an important step in continuing to improve our ability to verify the identity of prospective travelers to the United States. In the process of screening visas and passports domestically and abroad, additional biometrics can serve as a useful adjunct to existing screening processes that identify individuals who might be terrorists, criminals, or other aliens who might represent a security risk to the United States.
Other visa-related initiatives that will be funded through the on-going Border Security Program include:
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Re-engineer the interagency visa clearance process to allow stronger accountability and quicker processing.
Improve the capacity of CLASS to handle additional information such as Interpol and deportation lookout information, and lost and stolen passport data.
Continue to work with countries that are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and with ICAO to meet the requirement that those countries incorporate biometric identifiers in their passports by October 2004, as congressionally mandated.
Review facial recognition results from initial test deployment at visa posts to determine how it may benefit screening in the operational environment.
Introduce new, tamper-resistant and machine-readable immigrant visa foil. This new machine-readable immigrant visa process will include digitized photo and fingerprints.
Eliminate crew-list visas and require all seafarers to obtain individual visas.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs works to promote the safety and security of the 3.2 million Americans who reside abroad and those U.S. residents who make about 60 million trips outside the U.S. each year. This complements our overall homeland security efforts on the visa side of the house, extending to all Americans our strongest and best efforts to ensure their safety wherever they might be. We provide current information on travel conditions and security through our Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov, which received nearly 198.5 million inquiries in FY 2003, and the Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) Call Center, which received approximately 70,000 calls.
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International tensions and security concerns, especially incidents of international parental child abduction, have prompted more parents to take preventive action to monitor or limit their children's travel abroad. This has resulted in a growing number of requests for passport lookouts, and increased inquiries concerning preventive measures to avoid international parental child abductions, in particular. The Office of Children's Issues (CA/OCS/CI) has also worked with the OCS Call Center to respond to routine inquiries concerning preventive measures, while maintaining responsibility for passport lookouts. We hosted a meeting with left-behind parents in 2003 and plan similar meetings through FY 2005.
Our priorities for American citizens in FY 2005 include implementation of the Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention, which will require CA, as the Central Authority for the Convention, to take on responsibilities never before performed on the federal level; enhanced services for victims of crime abroad and tracking of statistics on such crimes; enhanced emergency ''fly-away'' teams; efficient administration of overseas civilian participation in the 2004 general election; expanded use of CA's web site and the Overseas Citizens Services Call Center to provide the most current information on travel conditions and security; continuation of the re-engineering of the American Citizens Services software; and outreach around the United States to educate the public and stakeholder groups about our programs and the assistance that consular officers abroad can provide. Topics to be addressed will include: travel safety overseas, especially for students; crisis preparedness; international parental child abduction, including prevention measures; intercountry adoption; the passport application process; and consular notification and access in arrest cases. These initiatives are overwhelmingly funded as part of the Border Security program.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 PASSPORT SERVICES:
Just as we are committed to the most secure adjudication process and documentation to support the visa process, the same is true in terms of what we consider to be the world's most valuable documentthe U.S. passport. In FY-03, Passport Services issued over seven million passports. We recently completed the system-wide introduction of photodigitization technology to support passport printing. That effort has been so successful that we have, in turn, moved the production of passports issued abroad to our U.S. domestic production facilities so that we can take advantage of the significant security improvements embodied in the photodigitization process. But, we also have many other initiatives underway. We will proceed with our efforts to enhance biometrics in U.S. passports and bring our passport into compliance with international standards established in May 2003. The inclusion of a ''smart'' chip in the passport, on which we will write the bearer's biographic information and photograph, will increase the security of the document. This initiative is consistent with U.S. legislation that requires our Visa Waiver Program participants to take such a step, but it is not required. We are nonetheless pursuing the initiative because it supports U.S. national security. This new passport will further strengthen our ability to reliably link the authorized bearer of a passport to its user.
We are completely redesigning the U.S. passport and its security features. And, since the passport process is only as strong as the underlying adjudication process, we are strengthening our datasharing efforts with agencies in order to help confirm the identity of applicants. We will enhance our computer systems and provide for expected upgrades to accommodate the production of passports. To protect the over 60 million passport records stored on-line and provide redundant systems to support other agencies that require access to these vital records, new storage and server systems will be procured in FY 2004 and FY 2005. Again, these activities are funded as part of the Border Security Program.
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MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATIONAL EXCELLENCE:
We continue to strengthen homeland security by ensuring that the consular function has appropriate facilities and is staffed at sufficient levels by consular officers who are trained to screen out terrorists. As part of the Border Security Program, the Department is establishing 93 new consular positions13 domestic and 80 overseas in FY-04 and is requesting 60 additional positions in FY-0515 domestic and 45 overseas. In addition, the Department plans to establish 68 new positions overseas in FY-04 and is requesting 63 in FY-05 as part of the Consular Associate replacement program. These additional positions will give us the ground troops necessary to staff our first line of defense.
We place a high priority on maintaining efficient and state-of-the-art systems and leveraging technology to the extent feasible because of the global nature of consular operations and the necessity for interagency data-sharing. We will continue to replace IT equipment for consular sections abroad as well as Consular Affairs domestic operations on a 3 to 4 year cycle, provide updated remote and computer-based training on consular systems to supplement hands-on training by visiting experts at least once every 12 to 18 months, and maintain Support Desks to provide key links between employees and the development and support elements in the Consular Systems Division.
Good management requires effective internal controls. We continue to strengthen management controls via the issuance of standard operating procedures (SOPs), conducting Management Assessment and Internal Control Reviews at passport agencies, certifications that management controls are in place at consular offices, and sending Consular Management Assistance Teams (CMATs) to work collaboratively with posts toward our common goal of protecting homeland security and our borders. In FY 2005, the CMATs will maintain a robust schedule of visits to assess the integrity of management controls, effective resource utilization and space allocation, and the extent to which Department-mandated SOPs have been understood and implemented. CMATs serve as a resource in identifying and helping to resolve post needs, as well as providing guidance and counseling as appropriate. CA uses its new Vulnerability Assessment Unit, a joint initiative with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, to analyze consular data, systems, and processes to detect anomalies in visa and passport processing, thus reducing CA's vulnerability to system manipulation.
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The Department's Border Security Program is a critical element in the Department of State's goal to protect American citizens and safeguard the nation's borders. By focusing on sharing information, providing sufficient infrastructure and human resources, increasing connectivity, and enhancing the integrity of our processes and documents, the Department of State is ensuring that we have a Border Security Program in which the American people can place their trust and confidence.
Thank you and I welcome your questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Seth Stodder is Counselor and Senior Policy Advisor to Commissioner Robert C. Bonner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In this role, he oversees all aspects of policy development at CBP and is a key aide to Commissioner Bonner in managing the Federal Border Agency.
Mr. Stodder is a 1995 graduate of the University of Southern California Law School. He received his bachelor's degree from Haverford College, where he graduated with honors. Thank you, Mr. Stodder, for being here. You are recognized for your testimony.
STATEMENT OF SETH M. M. STODDER, COUNSEL AND SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Mr. STODDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and other distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, for this opportunity to testify here today on the efforts of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
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As you all know, CBP is a new agency within a new Department of Homeland Security and it's coming up on its first birthday. For the first time in our history, our nation has a single agency, CBP, responsible for managing and securing the borders of the United States and all ports of entry into the United States. Under the leadership of Commissioner Bonner, this new agency brings together all of the border inspectors from the legacy Customs Service, INS, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as the entire U.S. Border Patrol, and is focused squarely upon one of the chief missions of the Department of Homeland Security, preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States.
Certainly, the legacy agencies were focused on anti-terrorism. You all will recall that in 1999, it was a Customs inspector on the Northern border, Diana Dean, who intercepted and apprehended an al Qaeda terrorist, Ahmad Ressam, who was transporting a huge load of explosives aimed at destroying the Los Angeles Airport.
And I'm sure you've all seen the recent news reports concerning the testimony of legacy INS Inspector Jose Melendez-Perez to the 9/11 Commission. At Orlando Airport on August 4, 2001, just over a month before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Inspector Melendez-Perez turned away another terrorist by the name of Mohammed al Qahtani, and al Qahtani was picked up ultimately by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and he may have been a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks.
But the creation of CBP within DHS brings both the legacy customs inspectors like Diana Dean together with the legacy immigration inspectors like Jose Melendez-Perez, along with the agriculture inspectors and Border Patrol officers. It brings together the great wealth of talent and expertise from the legacy agencies and focuses them on a single homeland security mission, and this is already bearing fruit. One face of the border has arrived and it's making us more effective in carrying out our homeland security mission as well as in reinventing the border to make it more efficient for legitimate travel and commerce.
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We now have a single CBP port director at every port of entry into the United States. We have a consolidated National Targeting Center and consolidated CBP Passenger Analytical Units. We have consolidated CBP secondary inspection teams focused on anti-terrorism, bringing together the expertise and, importantly, the broad legal authorities of customs, immigration, and agriculture inspectors. We're rolling out CBP primary inspections. Change is coming and change is coming fast.
The interceptions of the terrorists Ressam and al Qahtani were, quote, ''cold hits'' by trained, dedicated inspectors who sensed that something was wrong with these individuals, but this is the last line of defense for CBP.
Since September 11, we have been focusing on pushing our border out to identify and meet potential threats well before they reach our shores. This concept underpins some of the CBP's signature programs, like CSI and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, but it also motivates our efforts with regard to the movement of people into our country.
We collect Advance Passenger Information, or API, for all international air passengers, which we feed into our NTC and into our Passenger Analytical Units at the airports. Of course, the NTC is linked up to the Terrorist Screening Center and to the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, or TTIC, and we have up-to-the-minute information on potential terrorists on watch lists. But the NTC, through the Automated Targeting System, goes well beyond the watch lists in identifying potential terrorists, potential threats. Our sophisticated targeting system allows us to identify potential terrorists or criminals who might not be on any watch list but who might still present a risk to the American people.
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Enhancing this capability is a critical piece of the President's budget request for fiscal year 2005, as the budget requests $20 million for enhancements to our targeting capabilities and to the National Targeting Center.
DHS is also pushing the border out in other ways, through ICE's Visa Security Program, through U.S. VISIT, and through new concepts such as the Immigration Security Initiative, or ISI, which CBP will be piloting in Warsaw later this year. This program, which builds upon the legacy INS Immigration Control Officer Program, will put CBP officers in foreign airports to work with the carriers and the host governments to identify and question potential terrorist risks before they get on planes bound for the United States, a CSI for people, if you will.
We're also moving forward on securing our border between the ports of entry. Since 9/11, we have tripled the number of Border Patrol agents on the Northern border and we will be backing them up with more equipment to help them prevent terrorists or other criminals from illegally crossing our borders. The President's fiscal year 2005 budget will help CBP hugely on this score, for it provides $64 million in funding for border technology, including sensors and cameras. The budget also provides $10 million to test unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, which we think will add another layer of detection capability.
And these efforts are not limited to the Northern border. We are continuing to strengthen our capabilities on our border with Mexico, with our main focus this year on getting better control over our border in Arizona. And we're working very closely with our partners in Mexico to get this done.
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As you may know, Secretary Ridge, Under Secretary Hutchinson, and Commissioner Bonner and others traveled to Mexico City last week and secured an agreement from Mexico on greater cooperation in securing our mutual border. One of the key deliverables was an agreement to implement a program of interior repatriation of Mexican nationals illegally crossing into Arizona during the hot summer months back to their home states in Central and Southern Mexico. The details of this program are still being worked out, but we strongly believe that this historic agreement will result in fewer illegal crossers, fewer migrant deaths, and better control of our border.
As I said, our priority mission at CBP is keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the United States, but the efforts I have discussed are making us more effective in carrying out our broader mission of securing our border against criminals, illegal migrants, illegal drugs, and other things that violate U.S. laws and harm the American people, and we're doing this while carrying out what we call our twin goal of facilitating movement of legitimate people and commerce through programs such as NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST.
With that, this concludes my prepared remarks. Thank you for inviting me to testify and I look forward to taking any questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Stodder.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stodder follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SETH M. M. STODDER
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THANK YOU, CHAIRMAN HOSTETTLER, RANKING MEMBER JACKSON LEE, and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, for this opportunity to testify today about U.S. Customs and Border Protection efforts to protect the United States from terrorists and criminal aliens and to ensure the integrity of the immigration laws. My name is Seth Stodder, and I am Counsel, and Senior Policy Advisor to the Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
As you know, on March 1, 2003, immigration inspectors from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), agricultural inspectors from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), customs inspectors from the U.S. Customs Service, and the entire Border Patrol merged to form the U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionCBPwithin the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. Now, for the first time in our country's history, all agencies of the United States government with significant border responsibilities have been brought under one roof. With our combined skills and resources, we can be far more effective than we were when we were separate agencies.
The priority mission of CBP is to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States. This extraordinarily important priority mission means improving security at our physical borders and ports of entry, but it also means extending our zone of security beyond our physical bordersso that American borders are the last line of defense, not the first line of defense.
RESPONDING TO THE TERRORIST THREAT
As the single unified border agency of the United States, CBP's mission is vitally important to the protection of America and the American people. Numerous initiatives were developed to meet our twin goals of improving security and facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Our strategy is built upon a combination of factors: expanding advance information on people entering the United States; fostering initiatives that ''push the border outwards'' and extend our security perimeter; securing the movement of people through partnerships with other countries, including our neighbors to the north and south; and increasing staff positions and detection technology for greater border security.
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NATIONAL TARGETING CENTER (NTC)
The National Targeting Center (NTC) has significantly increased our overall capacity to identify potential terrorist threats and other violators by providing centralized national targeting of passengers for the first time. NTC inspectors and analysts use a sophisticated computer system to monitor, analyze, and sort information gathered by CBP and numerous intelligence and law enforcement agencies against border crossing information. NTC personnel identify potential terrorists, terrorist targets, criminals, and other violators for increased scrutiny at the border ports of entry. When NTC personnel identify potential threats, they coordinate with our officers in the field and monitor the security actions that are taken. The NTC staff works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)-led Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) to coordinate terrorist threat information, and the FBI has recently agreed to assign liaison staff to the NTC.
AIRLINES REQUIRED TO PROVIDE CBP WITH ADVANCE PASSENGER INFORMATION
One of the greatest challenges we face in the war on terrorism is determining whom to look at most closely. Because of its mission, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the law enforcement authority to question closely and search every person entering the United States. The Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) helps us with our focus. APIS requires airline personnel to transmit data on every passenger on every aircraft electronically to CBP on take-off from foreign airports.
In conjunction with the new requirement, systems were upgraded and expanded to ensure that APIS could keep up with the expanded workflow. APIS is now a real-time system that runs advance passenger information against law enforcement and terrorist databases on a passenger-by-passenger basis. By the time a plane lands, CBP is able to evaluate who on the aircraft may pose a threat to the United States and take appropriate action, including sharing that information with the TSC.
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Local port of entry Passenger Analysis Units, made up of officers with both immigration and customs backgrounds, analyze the APIS manifests to determine passengers of interest while flights are still traveling to our airports. In addition, APIS manifests for arriving air and sea passengers are run against FBI and other agency databases for wants, warrants, and criminal history information. The same information is readily available for land border passengers referred for secondary processing.
PUSHING OUR BORDER OUTWARDS
We realize that we must push our zone of security outward. This is the ''extended border,'' defense-in-depth concept, part of what Secretary Ridge has aptly called a ''Smart Border'' strategy. Pre-flight inspections and consular pre-screening for visa issuance are two critical areas that defend our borders prior to persons actually arriving in the United States.
COOPERATION WITH CANADA
The Smart Border Declaration with Canada is a 30-point plan for increasing security and facilitating trade. It focuses on four primary areas: the secure flow of people; the secure flow of goods; investments in common technology and infrastructure to minimize threats and expedite trade; and coordination and information sharing to defend our mutual border. This plan provides for the harmonization of processes and an increase of information sharing. To improve our effectiveness, CBP has expanded the use of liaison and increased intelligence sharing with other Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, our counterparts within the Canadian government, and the intelligence community.
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Since September 11, 2002, the Border Patrol has expanded an already proven initiative called the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET), which pools law enforcement resources and integrates operations and intelligence activities from various Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and the Canadian government. The IBET concept has been expanded from two locations to fourteen locations that now cover the entire northern border.
With Canada, we have implemented a program that enables us to focus our resources and efforts more on high-risk travelers, while making sure those travelers who pose no risk for terrorism or smuggling, and who are otherwise legally entitled to enter, are not delayed at our mutual border. Under NEXUS, frequent travelers whose background information has been prescreened for criminal or terrorist links are issued a proximity card, or SMART card, which allows them to moved expeditiously through the port of entry. NEXUS has expanded to eight crossings on the northern border.
WATCH LIST EXCHANGE
Another initiative with includes a revised and expanded information sharing agreement with Citizenship and Immigration Canada was signed in February 2003, and is being implemented by CBP. Also, we have agreed to exchange terrorist information and run advance passenger information for arriving air passengers against watch lists, so that each country knows of potential threats and can take appropriate steps in a timely manner.
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Mexico also pledged support to help increase security while facilitating trade across the southwest border. We have continued important bilateral discussions with Mexico to implement initiatives that will protect our southern border against the terrorist threat, while also improving the travel flow. Like NEXUS on the northern border, SENTRI is a program that allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to be processed in an expedited manner through dedicated lanes at our land border with minimal or no delay. This has the obvious benefit of enabling CBP personnel to focus their attention on those crossing our borders that are relatively unknown, and therefore might pose a potential threat. SENTRI is currently deployed at 3 southwest border crossings.
We continue to implement our agreement with Mexico to share advance passenger information. This reciprocal exchange of data with Mexico will have the same benefit that the exchange of such data with Canada has, allowing law enforcement officials in both countries to track the movement of individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorist groups or other criminal organizations. We will also continue our negotiations with Mexico to establish a significant and credible Mexican Federal Law enforcement presence along the southwest border.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE AND HUMAN RESOURCES TO COUNTER THREATS
New initiatives and a refocused mission are important elements in combating the new terrorist threat, but new goals could not have been met without increasing the number of personnel working at our nation's borders. This was especially critical for our Northern Border ports of entry where staffing was insufficient to do the security job without choking off the flow of traffic.
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Before 9/11, we had approximately 1,600 customs and immigration inspectors on our shared 4,000-mile border with Canada. Most of the lower volume border crossings were not open 24 hours a day. There was little security when they were closed. After 9/11, all border crossings were staffed with at least two armed officers at all times. This human resource intensive effort was only a temporary measureuntil these crossings were ''hardened'' and we were able to electronically monitor our low volume northern ports of entry to prevent unauthorized crossings. We accomplish this by installing gates, signs, lights, and remote camera surveillance systems.
CBP has received significant staffing increases for the northern border. Today we have over 2,900 CBP inspectors along the northern border. CBP currently deploys slightly over 1,000 Border Patrol Agents to our Northern Borderon 9/11, there were only 385. We have also bolstered our staffing on the southern border. We know that terrorists have and will use any avenue they can to enter our country. Prior to 9/11, we had 4,371 inspectional staff at the southern ports of entry. Today we have almost 4,900.
ONE FACE AT THE BORDER
Establishing the Department of Homeland Security is the most important organizational step here at home that President Bush and our nation have taken to address the ongoing threat of international terrorism, a threat that is likely to be with us for years to come.
On March 1, 2003, approximately 42,000 employees were transferred from the U.S. Customs Service, the Immigration & Naturalization Service, and APHIS to the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection. For the first time in our country's history, all agencies of the United States Government with significant border responsibilities are unified into a single federal agency responsible for managing, controlling and securing our Nation's borders. We are now creating ''One Face at the Border.''
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Although legacy customs and immigration inspectors have assumed interchangeable roles at the land border ports of entry for years, unified CBP primary inspections also are now done at our country's airports. Significant cross training is being provided to our frontline inspectors to ensure effective implementation, and counter-terrorism training is creating a better understanding of terrorist issues and better referrals to the secondary area.
We have also developed and are implementing combined anti-terrorism secondary units, which leverage the expertise and authorities of legacy customs, immigration, and agriculture inspectors to conduct a joint secondary inspection of passengers deemed high-risk for terrorism. CBP is also coordinating and consolidating our passenger analytical targeting units to bring together specific customs, immigration, and agriculture experience and authority to more effectively identify and interdict individuals who pose a possible terrorist risk.
As of October, 2003, we began hiring and training a new group of ''CBP Officers,'' who will be equipped to handle all CBP primary and many of the secondary inspection functions, in both the passenger and cargo environments. We are also deploying CBP Agriculture Specialists to perform more specialized agricultural inspection functions in both these environments.
Training is a very important component to the roll out of the CBP Officer. We have created a new 14 week, 71-day basic course that provides the training necessary to conduct primary processing and have a familiarity with secondary processing of passengers, merchandise, and conveyances, in all modes of transportair, sea, and land. The new CBP Officer course was built from the 53-day basic Customs inspector course and the 57-day basic Immigration inspector course, with redundancies removed, and with additions to address anti-terrorism and CBP's role in agriculture inspection. The training also supports the traditional missions of the legacy agencies integrated in CBP. Our first CBP Officers were hired on September 22, 2003, and they immediately started training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
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Training CBP officers to recognize fraudulent documents is another serious commitment. All CBP officers will receive our most current training on identifying fraudulent and altered documents. CBP secondary officers will receive more advanced training, and will continue to receive support from the world-class excellence of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Forensic Document Laboratory (FDL).
ENHANCED SECURITY BETWEEN PORTS OF ENTRY
We know that securing the areas between the ports of entry is just as important as adding security at the ports of entry. CBP's Border Patrol is responsible for patrolling those areas and, uses technology and Agents detect attempts to enter the United States illegally between the ports of entry. The Border Patrol's mission includes an aggressive strategy for protecting against terrorist penetration, at both our northern and southern borders.
On 9/11, there were only 368 authorized positions for Border Patrol agents for the entire northern border. We are currently at over 1,000. This staffing increase will better secure our border against terrorist penetration. But we are doing more than just adding staffing. We are adding sensors and other technology that assist in detecting illegal crossings along both our northern and southern borders. The network of sensors consists of seismic, magnetic and thermal devices used to detect and track intrusions.
The CBP Border Patrol is also evaluating the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). UAVs are remotely piloted or remotely programmed aircraft that can carry cameras, sensors, communications or other equipment. The U.S. Military has employed UAVs, in various states as far back as the Vietnam War. The U.S. southern border with Mexico is some 2,000 miles long while our border with Canada is some 4,000 miles long. Each border contains vast and sparsely populated expanses. UAVs can potentially give Border Patrol personnel the same ''eyes-on'' capability that the military gets from UAVs in dangerous or hazardous environments.
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RESPONDING TO THE AIR THREAT
When DHS received specific, credible intelligence regarding a possible threat of terrorist exploitation of the Transit Without Visa Program (TWOV) to conduct an attack on international commercial aviation, we moved quickly to address the threat. The concern was that terrorists might have been able to exploit security loopholes in the TWOV program. Under the TWOV program, citizens of countries who normally required a visa to enter the United States, were allowed to fly into and transit the United States without undergoing the visa issuance process and the security checks that the process entails. Accordingly, on CBP's recommendation, the Administration moved quickly to suspend the TWOV program in response to the threat. This issue will continue to be reviewed.
CBP COLLECTS BIOMETRICS
The National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) was implemented on September 11, 2002. The NSEERS program requires certain nonimmigrant aliens from designated countries to be fingerprinted, interviewed and photographed at ports of entry when they apply for admission to the United States. NSEERS enables the U.S. Government to better track certain individuals of interest entering and leaving the United States.
CBP's collection of this biometric information has been an enforcement benefit for the nation. Under the NSEERS program, we have apprehended or denied admission to more than 1,190 aliens at our ports of entry. The new United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology (USVISIT) provides us with much of the biometric information now collected during the NSEERS registration process.
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UNITED STATES VISITOR AND IMMIGRANT STATUS INDICATION TECHNOLOGY (US-VISIT)
The Department of Homeland Security's newest border security tool is the recently launched United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indication Technology, or US-VISIT program. Using biometricstwo digital, inkless finger scans, and a photographUS-VISIT captures the identity of passengers seeking admission to the U.S and makes it harder for individuals, especially terrorists and criminals, to enter the United States using fraudulent documents and assumed identities.
US-VISIT is part of a more comprehensive system that begins overseas, where the Department of State collects biometrics at the time of visa application. Currently, 55 posts are capturing digital finger scans, and all 211 visa-issuing posts will by operational by October 2004. These biometrics are then run against a database of known or suspected criminals and terrorists. When the visitor gets to the border, CBP uses the same biometricsthese digital fingerscansto verify that the person at our port is the same person who received the visa. In addition, US-VISIT provides the digital photograph taken at the time of visa issuance to the CBP officers on primary. And it works. We already know that these new procedures make it much more difficult for criminals or terrorists to use fraudulent documents to illegally enter the United States. The biometrics reveal individuals who are using, or have in the past, used an alias. This type of matching helps our CBP officers make admissibility decisions and enhances the overall integrity of our immigration system.
On January 5, 2004, US-VISIT became operational at 115 of our nation's international airports and 14 of our largest passenger ship seaport locations. Through February 17, CBP has processed more than 1.1 million passengers through US-VISIT, and had 100 ''hits'' on the biometrics. An example of a criminal violator detected by US-VISIT is a 10-year fugitive wanted on a New York warrant for vehicular homicide. He was apprehended at JFK. Although he was traveling under an alias that was not entered into any of our databases, he was identified in US-VISIT through a biometrics match. A similar scenario arose in Miami where we apprehended a fugitive who had been convicted and was wanted on sentencing for statutory rape of a victim under 17. One fugitive had entered the United States over 60 times in the past four years under assumed names and dates of birth. There are other similar successes that demonstrate the importance of US-VISIT as a new law enforcement and homeland security tool. Let me add that the success of US-VISIT has not come at the price of open borders. We have seen no significant increase in wait times at the airports since the implementation of the program.
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The US-VISIT system will expand to the 50 busiest land ports of entry by December 31, 2004 and then to all land ports by December 31, 2005. US-VISIT is but a first step in the Department's goal of reforming our borders. It will take time and investment to achieve the goals of the program and ensure integrity in our immigration system.
The creation of DHS, the unification of the border agencies within CBP, and the joining of CBP with TSA and ICE under the BTS Directorate are efforts that have enabled us to have a more comprehensive and effective strategy as we press forward with our many initiatives.
With the continued support of the Congress, CBP will succeed in meeting the great demands placed upon it, and will play a key roleby better securing our border against the threat of terrorist and criminal aliensin the Department of Homeland Security.
Thank you again for this opportunity to testify. I would be happy to answer any of your questions.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I will now begin the round of questioning from the Subcommittee. First of all, Director Aguirre, the budget that has been submitted by the Administration seeks an additional $60 million for CIS to reduce the backlog in pending applications. In January, earlier this year, the GAO told our Committee that from the beginning of FY 2001 to the end of FY 2003, the number of pending applications increased by 59 percent despite additional backlogsexcuse me, additional appropriations in FY 2002 to address the backlog. Why do you think that the backlog continues to increase?
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Mr. Chairman, the report that you refer to, of course, hit right along the lines of September 11 and so we must recognize that a significant number of background checks that were not being performed prior to 9/11 began to be performed shortly after and actually increased subsequent to that when we recognized the possibility of what could be done in cooperation with other agencies.
Additionally, we, going back to September 11, there were also certain items within the old INS that fell to what would now be the new CIS. The NSEERS program, the creation of the SEVIS program, things that frankly today are not within our purview that have now been transferred over to ICE were part of the, if you will, the weight that we were having to carry during that period. I suspect that much of the increase in backlog that occurred during that year can be almost traced right back to September 11.
Now, we've made progress and we've made a number of adjustments, partly separating the INS and devoting the enforcement efforts to one side and the service to another. So I'm not sure that when we see the report again we would see the same type of criticism.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you. And so you're saying that there was a significant increase in the number of background checks as a result of September 11, is that what you said at the
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, sir. There was a significant increase in background checks which were not being done before. Therefore, that actually slowed down each application significantly, and then on top of that, hundreds of our adjudicators were redeployed from actually adjudicating cases to doing NSEERS and doing security checks that were away from their normal daily duties. Now, many of those individualshundreds of those individuals have actually repatriated, if you will, back to CIS and are going back to the adjudication process.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, sir.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Dougherty, the President's FY 2005 budget includes an additional $23 million for enhanced worksite enforcement. In your testimony, you suggest that there may be a tie between this funding and the President's proposal for a temporary worker program. If the agency receives the funding but the program does not go in place, do you see this funding being used for worksite enforcement, however?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think the emphasis for us in terms of the strategic direction is to continue our commitment to traditional worksite enforcement. We recognize, however, that should the TWP go forward, that there will be a corresponding enforcement impact, and we would expect to have a significant challenge in meeting that, and so we would address it towards that goal.
Should the program not proceed, we believe the money, or the money and the positions, could be profitably used to do two things. One is continue our traditional worksite enforcement operations like we did most recently, it's been publicly reported, with WalMart and other cases that are currently pending, and then also continue our critical infrastructure protection cases, which have had a direct impact across the nation.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good. You've brought up an interesting point which will actually be the subject of a hearing in the future, and that is the administration of such a temporary worker program, what it would actually entail, and the notion that you've brought up that there will be a significant impact on worksite enforcement is not lost on this Subcommittee.
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Eleven million dollars were requested by the President to more than double the intensive Supervision Appearance Program, which provides alternatives to detention. Mr. Dougherty, what sorts of alternatives to detention has ICE examined under the program?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. To date, we've examined a few things. First is electronic monitoring throughcommonly known as electronic bracelets to monitor where people are out in the community, whether they have left their residence, for example, and that's done through a centralized monitoring process.
We've also had an experimental project with voice recognition technology where an individual is required to call in and the technology verifies the voice print, that it is the person, they're calling at a particular place at a particular time. There are other concepts we have which we are experimenting with and would like to move forward with more residential settings for family members, for example, who are detained, rather than having them in the traditional detention, have them in a more community setting. It's better for families, and more economical for us to supervise if they are in a residential setting.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Dougherty. In your testimony, you point out that these individuals are not of a violent nature. They are somewhat more lower on the emphasis, you might say, of concern for national security and potential criminal activity.
Mr. DOUGHERTY. Yes, Mr. Chairman. These would be individuals who, after having applied, the standard detention guidelines would not be deemed necessary to detain for either national security reasons or public safety concerns.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. Dougherty. The Chairman's time has expired.
The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Sánchez, for 5 minutes.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to begin my questions by addressing the first to Mr. Aguirre. In your written testimony that you submitted, you discussed the regulator fee increases that the U.S. CIS is seeking and you say that the fee increases will ensure that our backlog does not increase further.
I'm interested in knowing what studies the U.S. CIS conducted or what evidence does the U.S. CIS have that proves that the fee increases will result in a reduction of the current visa backlog.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Sorry. I keep forgetting to push the button.
Congresswoman Sánchez, I think my indication was not that it would reduce the backlog but that it would not increase the backlog. The fee increase for us is a recuperation of the expenses of processing the applications as we're processing them right now. It is not intended to be a backlog reduction fiscal effort. The backlog fiscal effort, it's a different function.
The increase in fee for us is simply a recognition that 2 years ago was the last time we looked at the fees and many things have taken place in the last 2 years, and right now, we're simply not recovering the cost of processing the application.
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I will just make an additional comment on the fee increase. It's almost a conundrum. We have a backlog and, therefore, fees were collected for applications that are now being processed months if not years later, and those fees were computed at the cost of pre-9/11 processes. The processes that we have right now are simply not being captured by the old fees, and therefore, I don't want to confuse the fees with the backlog.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. I understand. I think I understand your point. I'm curious in knowing whether U.S. CIS in the process of finalizing a new backlog elimination plan that will outline the changes in your business processes that are supposed to tackle the existing backlog. What processes do you have in mind to help do that, because the backlog issue is of growing significance.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, of course, as I briefly mentioned in my opening comments, we are expecting to have a backlog elimination program report to the Congress within the next few months. We were waiting for the final on not only the fee increase, but actually on the budget so that we would know what resources would be available to us and, therefore, we can then allocate it. It's a matter
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. So we'll expect that in the next couple of months, then?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Okay. Thank you.
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A question for Mr. Smith. In your written testimony, you discuss DHS using biometrics to track the entry and exit of foreign visitors using fingerprints and photographs and you say that this program has been in place since September of 2003, is that correct?
Mr. SMITH. Well, I'm talking about our overseas collection, that we've begun now the overseas collection
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Okay, and it's currently operational in 70 locations?
Mr. SMITH. That's exactly right.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. In that time, how many known terrorists have been identified and apprehended as a result of the biometric checks that are occurring?
Mr. SMITH. Congresswoman Sánchez, I'm not aware of any known terrorists that have been apprehended as a result of those checks. We have had a number of hits, though, with NCIC databases with the, or through the DHS IDENT system of people who were obviously individuals we did not want to admit to the United States. I think we had roughly 60 hits so far.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Okay. And you don't know what theand what was the ultimate of those hits? They just denied entry into the United States?
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SMITH. Well, in some instances, it may well be that there was a waiver requested and it could have been a waiver was issued. But most of them would have been denied entry, yes.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Okay. But no known arrests?
Mr. SMITH. Not that I'm aware of.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Okay. You also discuss in your testimony CIS's efforts to make the visa processing system more secure, and I don't think that there's a person up here that disagrees that that needs to happen. My question is, what is CIS doing to make the visa processing system more efficient and less burdened by the delays it is currently experiencing.
Mr. SMITH. You're referring to the Department of Homeland Security or are you referring to the State Department in this regard?
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. The State Department.
Mr. SMITH. Well, the State Department has done a number of things. We have, for instance, a pilot program now that we're initiating which will allow us to electronically communicate with other interested agencies in Washington, the so-called Security Advisory Opinion Improvement Project. We think that that will reduce some of the delays in the security advisory opinions that we have been having of late.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 I should stress, though, that most visas are adjudicated without any reference to Washington. That is, only a small minority are ever referred for special clearances to Washington, and 80 percent of those are cleared within a month. But there have beenhas been attention focused on particular certain categories of security advisories and concern expressed about some of the delays there. As I say, we are working with our partners in the interagency community to improve the communication and to reduce any needless delays in that process.
We have also, as I mentioned, been a partner with our other colleagues in creating the Terrorist Screening Center. We think that having a watch list, one watch list for the U.S. Government for counterterrorism purposes will expedite this whole screening process.
Ms. SÁNCHEZ. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from Tennessee, Mrs. Blackburn, for 5 minutes.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you all for being here today. We certainly appreciate that.
Mr. Dougherty, I'd like to start with you if I may, please, sir. There is a basic worker verification program that has been a pilot project in six States, California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey. How are you monitoring that program?
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Mr. DOUGHERTY. Congresswoman, I believe you are referring to the SAVE system?
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Yes.
Mr. DOUGHERTY. My current understanding is that the SAVE system is administered, technically administered, by CIS, today and I think I can speak to the process, unless my colleague would like to do that.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Go right ahead. [Laughter.]
Mr. DOUGHERTY. Thank you. As you said, it is a pilot project that Congress funded and it provides an interface for certain governmental entities in certain, in narrow cases, within industry to verify Employment Authorization Numbers or an alien number. I understand there is an interface with the Social Security Administration and then a subsequent interface with the immigration databases.
Essentially, as I understand the process, you get a yes or a no answer. Is this a valid number? Is the person representing this number, proffering it, authorized to work or not? Today, there is no automatic referral process when there is a denial, or a record that indicates that the number is not valid, or the number is not authorized, or the number does not represent authorization to work. There's not an automatic referral to ICE for an enforcement action.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mrs. BLACKBURN. Okay, thank you. Now, is ICE or is CIS working with the military with this worker verification program?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congresswoman, we are working with the military in a variety of aspects. I'm not sure how that would fit to your question. Our work with the military has more to do with naturalizations and things of that nature, but I'm notI'd be happy to get closer to your question.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. That will be fine. My question is coming from an article that I have, and I'll be certain that this is passed to you so that you can prepare a response for the question. It comes from the Denver Post and the concern over some of the individuals in our military whose status is unknown as regards their citizenship. So I would appreciate a response on that, if you don't mind.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Not at all, Congresswoman, but let me do mention that for people to serve in the military, they must be holding a permanent residency.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Correct.
Mr. AGUIRRE. And, therefore, the military is responsible for determining the status of the individual. We are working with the military right now to expedite the naturalization of those who seek it.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Correct, and our concern there is on the documentation and I'll be sure you have the article because we would appreciate a response.
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Happy to.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I do have one question for you, sir. You know, I know that the Nebraska Service Center, Texas, California, all provide timely detailed information to my caseworkers when we call on them for help and I wish that I could say the same thing for the Memphis sub-office because we hear many complaints from constituents concerning the Memphis office, and this is one, for example.
A U.S. citizen wanted to adopt internationally and was told she needed to speak with a supervisor. After waiting in line for over an hour, she was told the supervisor had left for the day. And many examples of evidence and documents are sent that are supposedly never received in that office, and as a result, work permits are revoked, individuals being sent to the wrong town for their swearing in and being told that they can't participate in the swearing in in that town.
One thing we would like to know is how our D.C. office and our district office can work with yours to improve the service that our constituents and our staff receive from the Memphis office and we would appreciate your help on that.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congresswoman, thank you for bringing that to our attention. I have in almost a year that I've been at this job, I have gone around the country and met with about a third of my 15,000 employees. I regret to say I haven't made it to Tennessee just yet and Memphis will be on my list to make sure that we take a look at what it is we can do to make that office satisfactory, not only to you, but particularly to those who apply for services and see if there's anything that, you know, resource allocation or guidance that's necessary. I'm not aware of any particular problems so I can't respond specifically, but I will look into it for you.
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. That would be excellent. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Lofgren, for 5 minutes.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The questions I had on the fees have, for the most part, been asked, but I did note in the GAO report that theythis is a quote, it's not very nice, but it's them saying itthey say, ''CIS knows neither the cost to process new applications nor the cost to complete pending applications,'' unquote. Do you think that's incorrect, and if it is correct, how do youhow did you base your recommendation for the fee increase?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congresswoman, I might add, you said today was immigration day for you. Every day is immigration day for me.
Ms. LOFGREN. Yes.
Mr. AGUIRRE. And I'm not sure if they were referring to a point prior to the fiscal year which they analyzed or to today. I don't think it is accurate today.
Ms. LOFGREN. Okay.
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Mr. AGUIRRE. I think we are actually very sophisticated in determining the cost of our application processing.
Ms. LOFGREN. Okay. Let me ask a question, and this is a specific one but it's something that I have been working on along with other members of the Refugee Caucus and it involves, obviously, therefore, both your agency as well as the State Department. But we have, as you know, we have not actually admitted the number of refugees that the President has said that we would, and I think there are a lot of reasons for that. It is a concern to the Refugee Caucus, which is, as you know, a strong bipartisan caucus here in the House.
But specifically, I am concerned about the 2,000 stateless Vietnamese who are in the Philippines. I sent a letter to Arthur Dewey at State, and I'll be happy to give you a copy. It's my understanding that the State Department has essentially identified the population, recommended them for resettlement, but that CIS has not actually performed its function yet.
Now, I have a special soft spot in my heart for these refugees because when other countries were forcibly deporting Vietnamese refugees back to Vietnam, we metI met, along with some others, with the members of the Philippine legislature and also the Catholic Church in the Philippines and they intervened, and even though the Philippines is a very poor country, they did not take the step that others did and they allowed these refugees to stay, because many of the refugees that were returned ended up being imprisoned or killed.
I'm wondering, is there a way that we can help you get this resolved so thatthese are all people who have ties to the United States. Can you fill us in on what's going on with that?
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, ma'am. I also have a special spot in my heart for refugees because I myself was a refugee from Cuba and, in fact, Catholic Charities was the one that cared for me until I was able to be of age.
I'm not particularly aware of this case with the Vietnamese although I would point to the fact that if you ask what it is that you can do, please approve our appropriations request as soon as possible because itwithin it there is a request for Refugee Corps.
Right now, as we handle refugees, we are drawing from individuals that are already on asylum corps and then we are temporarily detailing them abroad for interviewing of refugees. We are very interestedI am personally very interested in filling every potential opening for refugees in the President's
Ms. LOFGREN. Perhaps I can ask you, if I would, I'll give you this letter and if you could get back to me on these particulars, I'd be very appreciative.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Glad to do it.
Ms. LOFGREN. And I've got one more question.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, ma'am.
Ms. LOFGREN. I think that's all I'll have time for.
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Get it in there.
Ms. LOFGREN. It has to do with biometrics. This is immigration day because between seeing Asa Hutchinson in the morning, we saw McCleary in the Science and Technology Subcommittee of Homeland Security and he mentioned that his Science and Technology Directorate is developing standards for biometrics. And I asked him the question, we're deploying biometrics in the State Department and in the border functions, but you haven't yet devised them.
And the question is, how are we going to integrate the best practices and standards that the Science and Technology Directorate is developing into what you're already deploying, because from what I am hearing, we may want some duplication. The FBI wants ten fingerprints because of what they learn abroad. The dataload on an iris scan is a lot lighter and we may want to do that. So I guess this is both for State and CIS. How do you plan to integrate this science?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Well, I'll begin, ma'am, by indicating that biometrics is, of course, a very fast, fluid, moving target. For us, the issue of biometrics is more related to background checks than with identification per se. In other words, we need ten fingerprints so that the FBI can comb their files efficiently and cost effectively and give us information on an individual. They could actually identify half a fingerprint, but it takes so long and costs so much that it would be impractical.
We are making sure that as we develop biometric standards, we're in coordination with the rest of Homeland Security, State Department, Justice, and elsewhere so that we are not duplicating or working at odds with each other. I leave it to State to continue answering the question, but it's a continuing issue. There is no finish line to this.
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Mr. SMITH. Just to add, Congresswoman, we decided on initially two fingerprints. This was an interagency decision, actually, of the Secretary of State, Secretary Ridge, and the Attorney General who were involved in this decision, because we believed that was thewhat was necessary to meet the lawin order to meet the October deadline for collecting biometrics with our visas. Thus far, it has worked very well and we've been in sync, absolutely, in lockstep with the Department of Homeland Security on U.S. VISIT.
When we talk about biometrics and the passport, though, it's a different story. The biometric in the passport is going to be facial recognition. This is the International Civil Aviation Organization's standard. It was the standard that Congress had adopted with regard to the Visa Waiver Program and the requirement that those countries place a biometric in their passport; and we are proceeding on the basis of that standard now with respect to the U.S. passport.
Ms. LOFGREN. I realize that my time has expired, but are we going to have a second round of questions or is this it?
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes, we will.
Ms. LOFGREN. Then I'll yield back my extensive time. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King, for 5 minutes.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would first direct my questions to Mr. Dougherty. As I look at some of the numbers that you have here in your testimony, having examined about 260,000 employee records, about 1,000 workers are arrested, 774 indictments, those kind of numbers, I see that the nation has been discussing numbers of illegals within the country in the range of eight to 12 million. I'm wondering if you have a number on that. Do you have a sense of how many illegal aliens are in this country, and if so, could you also break down how they got here?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. No, sir, Congressman. I don't have a reliable number for the number of individuals in the United States without authorization and I'm not sure I've seen a reliable estimate. I will tell you that from our perspective, when we look at the problem, we need to focus our enforcement resources on the highest national security and public safety impacts. So when we look out at that population, we think about the criminal aliens, those that have committed serious crimes and have been ordered deported for that. Or working through our partners, with our partners in the FBI and the Joint Terrorist Task Force concept, the national security threats.
Mr. KING. So you'd have a sense of the percentage of those illegals that have committed serious crimes. You'd have a sense of how many are incarcerated in our Federal and our State penitentiaries today. Would you be able to give us a sense of about how many American citizens fall victims to those criminals?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. Sir, I think I probably have the statistics or a sense of the statistics on the first part. In terms of the number of citizens who are victimized, probably working with the Department of Justice, some number could be arrived at, but we'd be happy to provide you and the Committee with any studies we have.
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Mr. KING. I'd be very interested in that number, and the reason I asked the question is that we have compassion for victims of all kinds and this Committee often talks about the number of people who are victimized, if they are forcefully repatriated to their home country, as well as those who cross the desert, but that number is the only number we hear. We don't hear the number of people who are victimized by those who have successfully made the crossing. Thank you.
I'd direct my next question to Mr. Stodder. You discussed, I believe, an increase in border enforcement along the 4,000-mile Canadian border, maybe as much as tripled the number that we had around September 11.
Mr. STODDER. Right.
Mr. KING. Do you have a sense of how effective that's been in some concept of percentage of enforcement and about what it would take to get closer to the 100 percent enforcement?
Mr. STODDER. I actually don't have a sense necessarily of how effective that's been. I mean, we, as of the end of last year, last calendar year, we reached 1,000 Border Patrol agents on the Northern border.
The thing you have to think about the Northern border is that it is a different phenomenon than the Southern border because we don't necessarily have a mass migration threat that we have on the Southern border. I mean, it's really much more of a sense ofthe attempt is toeverybody who's crossing that border is absolutely a threat and we need to detect them and interdict them.
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But we are in the processwe have 1,000 Border Patrol agents on the Northern border. We are building up our sensoring capability on the Northern border. By the summer, we anticipate we will be piloting UAVs on the Northern border at some point. So I think we will get more of a sense, I think, through this year in the sense of what we really need on the Northern border. But this is a work in progress.
Mr. KING. Are any of those same things happening on the Southern border?
Mr. STODDER. Yes. I mean, certainly the UAVs. We also would anticipate testing UAVs on the Southern border in Arizona, as well as I think ICE is also doing some stuff with UAVs, as well. But absolutely, and we are increasing our sensoring capability. The President's budget in '05 will also give us the ability to go further.
Mr. KING. Given that we have a border policy, at least in the Western Hemisphere, that a birth certificate and driver's license gets you into the United States unless you're coming from Cuba, if we should decide that we want to require that traveler to provide an affirmative identification and proof, that would be the form of a passport, a biometric passport in whatever form we've discussed here. Can you handle that at the border if everybody crossing has to swipe a passport, or does that just burden you so much that it can't happen?
Mr. STODDER. Well, not necessarily. I mean, the policy decision on that is obviously well above us, but, I mean, obviously there would have to be changes in the system a bit, but the U.S. VISIT system, I think would form a basis for some of that. But I would probably defer that question a bit.
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Mr. KING. Thank you, and I'd just in my brief moment left, I'd direct then to Mr. Smith, if we went that route and required passports coming from all Western Hemisphere countries, is that something that you could process, or how big of a burden would that be?
Mr. SMITH. Well, sir, I believe you're talking about requiring American citizens to have passports, is that correct, or
Mr. KING. I'm talking about anyone coming from a nation in the Western Hemisphere other than Cuba that's today using a birth certificate. Oh, you're right. You're right on that, on American citizens.
Mr. SMITH. Because most of them, other than Canadians, would have to come with a passport and visa. But with respect to American citizens and the requirement that American citizens travel within the Western Hemisphere with a passport, it is a very large policy decision and one that would have enormous resource implications for the Department in terms of the issuance of passports, but one that at this point, at least, has been discussed, but I don't know that there's any proposal with respect to that requirement.
Mr. KING. And my reference does fall to non-American citizens who use those false identification processes to come in under the guise of being American citizens just with birth certificates and drivers' licenses.
Thank you, Mr. Smith. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Mr. King.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from California, Mr. Berman, for 5 minutes.
Mr. BERMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Director Aguirre, on October 27 of last year, Melissa Hart and I on this Committee, along with 13 of our colleagues, sent you a letter regarding the need for administrative reforms in improving the processing of the nonprofit arts-related O and P non-immigrant visa petitions. Do you think that letter is being irradiated, or can we get a response to that at some point into the near future?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congressman, I'm sorry that I don't know about your specific letter. We went through a very
Mr. BERMAN. We'll give you a copy.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Thank you, but I just wanted to say that we went through a very extensive scrubbing process before the end of the year to make sure that no letters were pending response and so I'm terribly sorry that yours may be the one and only that perhaps we missed. So I'd be more than happy to look at it. We want to maintain a responsive posture toward Members of Congress and I'll take a look at it.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. BERMAN. Great. I appreciate that.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. If the gentleman would yield for just a moment
Mr. BERMAN. Sure.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. I also have a copy of my letter that I signed on, the same letter that the gentleman is referring to, so mine has gone unanswered also and I would appreciate joining him in his request.
Mr. AGUIRRE. If it is the same letter, I'm sure I have the same response.
Mr. BERMAN. Think of it as 15 letters. [Laughter.]
Mr. AGUIRRE. Of course, it is immigration day, isn't it? [Laughter.]
Mr. BERMAN. I appreciate that. You've talked a little bit about the fees and your plan and we know about the recent fee increase. I'm looking at thewhat would happen if someone came in andwhat would happen to the backlogs and your ability to function if somebody came and said that a third of the money you're now using will be diverted for other purposes?
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. AGUIRRE. Well, sir, if a thirdnow you're going to a hypothetical and it's bending my head. If a third
Mr. BERMAN. There's a legislative effort to take away a third of your money to provide to the States for the detention of people held by local law enforcement based on their status.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Right.
Mr. BERMAN. I'm wondering what that would do to the services side of the agency and your effort to deal with the backlogs.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, sir. Well, Congressman, what I said in my opening statement is that we are a fee-driven operation and we are depending on those fees to fund the operations that we have, the 15,000 employees, a third of which are contract employees. And so if the funds weren't there, I'm sure we would not only increase the backlog, but terribly disrupt the Immigration Service.
Mr. BERMAN. I guess it would be a way of stopping contracting out. [Laughter.]
No, justbut I take it your response is, it would have a devastating impact on what you do.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Very, very good choice of words. Thank you, sir.
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Mr. BERMAN. Because H.R. 2671, the CLEAR Act, directs that a third of the fee resources be diverted to funding the States for the cost of detaining these people. It allows you the ability, then, to raise your fees even further. I'm curious what you think of the implications of a policy that says that legal residents and people applying for legal resident status in the regular way, and people applying for naturalization who are legal permanent residents, should subsidize the detention of illegal immigrants in State prisons and local jails.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congressman, obviously you're familiar with a bill that I'm not and therefore any response that I give to your very specific questions are going to be without taking the whole thing into context.
My answer perhaps will be that I think the Congress has acted and the President has signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 which separated the service side of immigration from the enforcement side of immigration so that each of us could focus not only our resources and our attention and our process analysis to a relatively different aspect of the same universe. And therefore, we are doing the best we can to identify the cost of our application processing so that the fees can be funding that process.
Mr. BERMAN. So that the strong Congressional bipartisan desire to separate enforcement from services and provide a fee-based funding mechanism for services would bethat separation concept and principle would be violated by an effort that would try to divert fees to cover enforcement activities by State and local law enforcement officials. Is that a fair conclusion?
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. AGUIRRE. I'm sure your analysis is accurate in relation to how you understand that bill. I don't know the bill.
Mr. BERMAN. I hope you won't. Thank you very much.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman from California.
We will now enter into a second round of questions. Mr. Aguirre, Director Aguirre, if I could, with regard to the workload that your organization has, there is no effective hard maximum to the number of applications that CIS can potentially be called on to adjudicate, is that correct? I mean, there's essentially no limit?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Mr. Chairman, the limits as they were I think are related to how the Congress has instituted into law the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are a number of caps in any number of different categories, and, of course, that, therefore, establishes the limit. But in the abstract, there is no limit. We are awe take as people come and apply.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Especially with regard to family members.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, sir. That is correct.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I just think that that needs to be understood for the record, that while there is a significant backlog, there is almost an endless source of applications that can be added to your workload, so I appreciate that.
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Job security, as it were, yes. [Laughter.]
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Yes. Mr. Stodder, I have questions. The Border Patrol has seen an increase in agents in the past few years.
Mr. STODDER. Yes.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. You pointed that out in your testimony. It does not seem as if there is an increase called for in the FY 2005 budget. Is that accurate?
Mr. STODDER. That's accurate.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. How is the Bureau going to affect change with regard to the number of folks coming into the country illegally?
Mr. STODDER. I think, Mr. Chairman, I think thatI mean, our sense of this is, and you have to look at border security in terms of the mix of resources that we throw at the problem, and the green shirts, as we call them, or the Border Patrol agents are one piece of it. We have between 9,000 and 10,000 Border Patrol agents on the Southern border right now, which is a large complement of agents.
But you have to look at it also in the context of other technology that we bring to bear, whether it be low-tech technology like fences, sensors, and et cetera and cameras and things like that all the way to very high technology, like UAVs. It's the mix of resources that we think brings substantial control to the border.
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I mean, in our estimate, thinking about the Border Patrol in terms of its strategy and how it's rolled out since the mid-'90's, it's really starting with Operation Gatekeeper in San Diego and similar programs in Texas, in El Paso and Laredo. We have gotten substantial control over the border in certain urban areas, like San Diego.
I was just in San Diego a couple of weeks ago and it's amazing to see the development, actually in Chula Vista, right opposite the border, that would have been unthinkable 15 years ago before the Border Patrol really got control of that border there, and how did it do that? It got it somewhat through increased Border Patrol staffing, but it also got it through increased fencing, better sensors, better cameras, better surveillance, et cetera.
So I think that the fact that we are not requesting additional Border Patrol agents in fiscal year '05 is not going to hamper our ability to control the border because I think that the increase in sensoring and cameras in our estimate is going to be far more important and will allow us to get much better control over the border.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. My concern is that I think there was a study in 1998 with regard to staffing of especially the Southwest border. At that time, it was determined that there would be slightlyhave to be slightly less than 16,000 agents to man just the Southwest border. I understand the influence of force multipliers with regard to UAVs and other technology
Mr. STODDER. Right.
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. HOSTETTLER.but given that that is an untested mix, I'm wondering what we do in the interim with regard to going from improving our Border Patrol to a mix of technology and human resources that is untested at this time. That's my concern.
Mr. STODDER. Mr. Chairman, I guess, with all due respect, I would say that that mix is not necessarily untested. I mean, the one piece that is untested is the UAVs and we are testing them now and we will be testing them over the summer. But I think that the mix of infrastructure and technology and detection technology and cameras as well as uniformed Border Patrol agents is tested and it works and it's worked in San Diego, it's worked in El Paso, it's worked in certain parts of Texas, and we're applying thatwe're going to be applying that pretty strongly in Arizona this year to try to get better control in Arizona.
I mean, certainly, I mean, in the future, we may evaluate and view that we might need more people. But at this point, we don't, I mean, we don't think we do and we think we can make do with what we've got with the increases in technology and sensoring and cameras as well as the UAVs that the President's budget calls for.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Very good. Thank you.
Mr. STODDER. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The chair now recognizes the gentlelady from California, Ms. Lofgren, for 5 minutes.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just have a few other additional items.
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All of us have district offices and it turns out that all of us have lots of immigration inquiries, so this one is really for my hard-working staff in the hopes that we might come up with a better procedure than we've had so far.
We have hadwe now have the third case in as many years of an American citizen with kidney failure who needs a kidney transplant from a sibling or family member in another country. The first case we had, and we had to go, I mean, it was a big to-do in the newspaper. I mean, this is a U.S. citizen. And the doctor, we talked with the doctor. The doctor did letters. The woman was going to die if her brother didn't give her the kidney. I thought it was great that he was willing to donate his kidney, and it took almost 8 months. I mean, she was on dialysis for 8 months and finally he got his visa, he donated his kidney, and then he went home.
We had another case, it took 8 months. And we have another case still, and it's very confusing and it just seems to me, I guess this is for both Smith and Aguirre, that there ought to be a wayI mean, certainly we don't want a fraudulent situation and there's no disagreement with that. But these are ascertainable items. If you've got a physicianI think the current case is at UCSF. We had one at Stanford University Hospital. I mean, the doctors are not going to be making this up and there ought to be some way to streamline this so that Americans here who need that kind of help can get it quickly and not have to hang on and potentially risk their lives because of bureaucratic delays.
Can you offer me any hope on that, either one of you?
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. AGUIRRE. Congresswoman, I'm going to punt only by saying that I don't think it's our purview. I think it's going to be probably a temporary visa
Ms. LOFGREN. It is a temporary visa, but I'm thinking
Mr. AGUIRRE. So it would probably be State.
Ms. LOFGREN. It is the State Department that is in charge of issuing the visas, but it seems to me there could be some coordination betweenor even the Congressional offices. I mean, there isn't a Congressional office in the country that's going to lie about this. I mean, we're your allies in keeping our country safe and strong. Maybe I need to direct this to Mr. Smith.
Mr. SMITH. Congresswoman Lofgren, I was not aware of those specific cases that you mentioned but I have heard of similar cases. As you know, each individual needs to apply on their own
Ms. LOFGREN. Right.
Mr. SMITH.and qualify on their own for a visa, but there are two possibilities. One would be that they were able to qualify and to establish their bona fides and come over to the United States for this purpose. The other possibility would be humanitarian parole, which the Department of Homeland Security would decide upon
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Ms. LOFGREN. Right.
Mr. SMITH.in those cases where we found that somebody was not eligible for a visa.
Ms. LOFGREN. Well, maybe what I could do is I could summarize these cases and send them to you and ask you to think if there's some way we could streamline this, because in the case of one lady, she almost died. I think there was concern that her brother, he was young and he was from the Philippines and would he go home. Frankly, I'd rather the American citizen got the transplant and lived than we had somebody overstay their visa, in all honesty. But, in fact, he went right home after he donated the kidney, just as he promised he would. So I will do that.
The other question I would like to ask has to do with processes. I continue to have concerns about the deployment of technology in immigration services and I'm hoping that your backlog reduction plan will address that, the storage of fingerprints so that we don't have to do them over and over again, the online processing of applications, the ability to check on the status. I mean, half of the calls into your offices are people trying to find out what's going on. If there was another way to find out, everybody would be happier and your officers could do their work.
I also wanted to express my hope that you will come to the San Jose office, and when you do, don't let them know in advance. Just show up and then tell me what you think of the guard services that we have contracted for, because one of my constituents who is a dean at the local college married a woman from Russia. They applied and he told me that it was the most humiliating thing as an American he'd ever been through, that his wife, as they were standing in line, said, ''This is just like home. This is just like the Soviet Union.''
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Mr. AGUIRRE. Quite an endorsement, huh?
Ms. LOFGREN. Yes. So we can do better than that and I would love to have you come to San Jose.
Mr. AGUIRRE. Well, Congresswoman, I look forward to visiting that office as I do basically all of them. Your first question in terms of technology, technology is, without a question, the only way we are going to get out of this horrible backlog that we have and so we're looking for new technology to be implemented and making sure that it is cost effective and practical and applicable.
Now, in terms of the customer service that people may or may not get, I'd just like to assure you that as an immigrant myself, the one and only requirement that I established when I accepted this job was that we would treat all applicants with dignity and respect, and that was embraced by both Secretary Ridge and President Bush. At any time that we encounter a cultural issue in terms of our employees not understanding that, we take corrective actions, whether they're contract employees or otherwise. So I assure you that any time we hear about situations like these, we'll take a good look at it and make sure that people are treated with dignity and respect even if we're going to say no to the question.
Ms. LOFGREN. If I may indulge the Chairman, I would direct your attention to the contract security personnel at the San Jose office
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, ma'am.
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Ms. LOFGREN.because I've personally witnessed, as have all the staff, really very abusive
Mr. AGUIRRE. Duly noted.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The gentlelady's time has expired.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Iowa, Mr. King, for 5 minutes.
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Stodder, as I listen to your testimony, I don't believe I heard you call for more Border Patrol officers on either the Northern or Southern border?
Mr. STODDER. Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I said that the President's budget has not requested more Border Patrol officers in the aggregate. It may be that we continue to move Border Patrol agents around in the sense that getting to 1,000 Border Patrol agents on the Northern border, we did take people from different locations around the country. So it may be that we conclude in this year that additional agents are needed on the Northern border, in which case we will move agents to the Northern border.
Mr. KING. Then on the Southern border, if you have a 4,000-mile border on the Northern border with 1,000 agents up there and you have a 2,000-mile border on the Southern border, how many agents do you have down there?
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Mr. STODDER. We have close to 10,000 on the Southern border.
Mr. KING. On the Southern border?
Mr. STODDER. Yes.
Mr. KING. So there's a tremendous amount of concentration down there in comparison, at least, to the Northern border.
Mr. STODDER. Right. Totally different threat, though, I mean, in the sense of thethe mass migration threat from the Mexican border into the United States.
Mr. KING. Certainly.
Mr. STODDER. I mean, it's essentially that mission, whereas I think the Northern border mission is less of a mass migration mission and more of a detection and response mission.
Mr. KING. And so it might be that there is, as a percentage of the number of illegal crossings on the Northern border, there is that threat of terrorism that might be greater in proportion to the number of population that come across.
Mr. STODDER. That could be, because there aren't that many economic migrants that are going to be coming across the Northern border. But, I mean, the notion of 1,000 Border Patrol agents, and again, as I was stating to the Chairman, you have to think of it in terms of the mix of what we're doing on the Northern border, because it's not just 1,000 Border Patrol agents up there. It is the
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Mr. KING. All the technology.
Mr. STODDER.all the technology. It's the air assets. The other thing that's important on the Northern border which we have worked with is working with the State and locals in the sense of we will be moving out to establish CBP task forces
Mr. KING. Thank you, Mr. Stodder. I'm watching the clock, but I appreciate it.
Mr. STODDER. Yes. Sure.
Mr. KING. Then I would direct to Mr. Dougherty. If I recall correctly, the Attorney General was here testifying some months ago that those illegal aliens adjudicated for deportation, if they were released onif they were not incarcerated but released on their own recognizance, that about 85 percent of them, I believe was the number, 85 percent just blended back into society.
I'm looking at a report here that shows that non-detained aliens with final orders, 87 percent report backblend back in and, in fact, a number of non-detained aliens, is the term using, from countries who sponsor terrorism, they were looking at 94 percent. Do you care to comment on that?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. First of all, I'm not sure I'm familiar with the report you're referencing, but I'm familiar with the concept. There is a well known incidence of those with final orders of removal who havecriminal aliens and non-criminal aliens who have been through proceedings, who were either not detained in the initial instance or who were subsequently ordered released by immigration judges while they were going through the proceedings who do not appear for removal or do not self-deport. It's a significant problem.
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We are focusing our resources, as I mentioned earlier, on the criminal aliens in that population because that's the highest public safety impact, as well as on the national security threats, as well. Today what we are also seeking with the funding levels requested in '05, to work on reducing the increase in the rate of new fugitives. So one program we have in place now is to take individuals who receive final orders of deportation directly out of the courtroom in the immigration courts. They receive the final order. They do not have the opportunity to blend back into society.
Mr. KING. Directly to deportation?
Mr. DOUGHERTY. That's correct, sir.
Mr. KING. And I appreciate that comment, and I'm watching the orange clock here. I will just lay out maybe a possible way to devise a better system that we could have, and it's not critical of the operations that any of you operate, but it keeps in mind that there's a tremendous demand for illegal labor because of the price here in this country and that's a magnet that attracts people that want a better life and we recognize that and it's a human characteristic.
I'm thinking that there's another organization out there, another agency that has some tools that haven't been brought to bear here. We have now enacted through Congress an act that allows an employer to identify a potential employee as a legal employee; they'll eventually and very soon be able to go up on the web and enter in the same, Social Security number, green card number, and come back with a positive identification to verify that that's a legally employable individual.
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I'm going to suggest to you all that I'd like to grant you some help of one day having an IRS agent sitting here and give them the authority to go in and enforce in a fashion different than testified today, and that would be to remove Federal deductibility for wages and benefits that are paid once an employer can verify the legality of the potential employees, whether they're guest workers, whether they're green cards, whether H-1-Bs, whether U.S. citizens. If we remove the Federal deductibility, employers themselves will enforce this and I believe it'll take a lot of load off the back of all of you.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman from Iowa.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, for 5 minutes.
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you once again for holding an interesting and timely and critical hearing on such an important subject matter. I want to make some observations and then I have a couple of questions for some of our witnesses here today.
First of all, I am glad to see in the Administration's budget an increase in the money that's going to be spent on the worksite inspections. I notice, though, in some figures that we have been given in a memo to all Members of the Subcommittee that the number of companies fined for hiring illegal workers has plummeted from over 1,000 in 1992 to 13 in 2002. That means it was almost non-existent.
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And while it's a step in the right direction that we're increasing the amount of moneyas I recall, it was something like from $20 million to $40 million, roughlyfor worksite inspections, that's a little bit like having two candles instead of one candle in a blackout. It's a step in the right direction, but it's not doing near what we should.
The gentleman from Iowa just made an excellent point a while ago, which is basically if we're not willing to enforce employer sanctions, we're not really willing to reduce the attraction of the largest magnet that is attracting the individuals to this country, that is jobs. So I hope that this is the beginning of an Administration willing to go into the right direction.
But what concerns me, I think, is the mixed signals that is coming from the Administration. We had this small increase in a very large budget in one area. Meanwhile, as I understand it, we are not increasing the number of Border Patrol agents. And meanwhile, going back to my assertion of mixed signals, we are approving matricular cards which are only going to be helpful to illegal immigrants and help them stay in the country longer. We're not doing anything to discourage States from offering drivers' licenses. We continue to give Federal benefits to many people in the country who are here illegally.
In other words, we make it very, very easy in many, many ways for individuals to stay here who are here illegally. That is not the right signal to send if we are, in fact, serious about reducing illegal immigration in America.
To the question that we hear asked so frequently, well, we have ten million people in the country illegally. What are we going to do, deport them all? No. There's an alternative to that and there's an alternative to gradual amnesty or immediate amnesty, depending on who is proposing it, and that is enforcing immigration laws. And if we enforced immigration laws alone, that would discourage many people from coming and would discourage those who are here from staying.
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All that would lead to a reduction in the number of people who are in the country illegally, which, by the way, is far more than ten million. Ten million refers to the number of people who are here permanently. If you today took a head count of the number of people in the country illegally, it would probably be closer to 20 million because there's a lot of people who are here only for a month or two or three.
That's how serious the problem is, and if the Administration were serious, we wouldn't be sending these mixed signals, in my judgment.
Another mixed signal, by the way, is that I just had a staff counsel return from a trip to the border where she was informed by various agents that in New Mexico and Arizona, a person coming across the border illegally had to actually be apprehended between ten and 15 times before they were actually arrested and officially deported. When you're coming into the country or want to come into the country illegally and you figure your chances, that you have 15 free chances, that's an open invitation in bright red lights to come to America, keep trying to come to America. And, of course, we know once you get across the border and if you don't commit a serious crime, you're basically home free. So we shouldn't be surprised that both the illegal immigrant traffic is increasing and we shouldn't be surprised that so many people want to stay here. We're making it very easy for them to stay here.
By the way, I don't know who to ask, Mr. Dougherty or Mr. Stodder. On the Texas border, how many times do you have to be apprehended before you're actually a part of the deportation process, do you know?
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. STODDER. I actually don't know and it probablyit varies from location to location. It's not just
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. From sector to sector
Mr. STODDER. Yes, sector to sector
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS.but it's probably five to 15 times?
Mr. STODDER. Yes, it's probablythat's probably about right. I mean, the other issue is, of course, the question of prosecution, I mean, the prosecution thresholds in terms of whether you're going to be prosecuted for illegal entry, because the other thing, of course, is even if you are officially or formally removed from the United States to Mexico and you have a removal order, you could cross again but not be prosecuted. So I'm not sure necessarily a removal order may not get you an enormous amount.
But I do want to comment
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. But a removal order is far more than happens most of the time, is my point.
Mr. STODDER. Sure. But I do want to comment on one thing in terms of what you're talking about in Arizona
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Yes?
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Mr. STODDER.which is what I refer to in my testimony, which is the interior repatriation issue with Mexico, because so many of the people who areabout 95 percent, close to it, say in Arizona or many of the border areas, of the Mexican citizens that are coming across the border or migrating are actually from Central and Southern Mexico. They're not from the border States. And so that is what's so vital about interior repatriation, because you're right in the sense that if we are voluntarily repatriating people right across the border, where else are they going to go?
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. That's true, but you know what? You just used the magic word which I think just totally makes the interior repatriation meaningless. It's voluntary. If someone wants to come back across the border illegally, why would they agree to go back to the interior or whatever country they came from? If it's not mandatory, it's to me very ineffective, at least in my opinion.
Mr. STODDER. Well, there's a distinction there in the sense that the interior repatriation back to Central or Southern Mexico is voluntary in the sense that it's an agreement with the Mexican government and we are still working out the details of that. There will be inducements to have people go on the planes to go to the Central and Southern Mexico, including, potentially, lateral repatriation.
But as I say, voluntary repatriation, that just simply means that they're withdrawing their ability to come into the country, so they could choose to go into formal removal proceedings if they wanted to, but ultimately they will be
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. But the question of whether they go all the way back to the middle of the country or the Southern part of the country is still voluntary, is it not?
Mr. STODDER. It is voluntary, but, I mean, this is something that we are still working out the details of with the Mexican government.
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Mr. Chairman, would you mind if I asked one more question even though my time is up and I don'tam I the last one so I'm not holding anybody up other than
Mr. HOSTETTLER. You're the last one. Without objection, the gentleman is recognized for an additional minute.
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Thank you. My last question is this. Under the Administration's immigration proposal, you're talking about potentially millions of people needing to be processed, millions of people placed, millions of documents checked and so forth. To my knowledge, such a massive new program is not funded in the President's budget. Is that true? At least, I haven't been able to find anything close to the amount of money necessary to implement the President's proposal. Is that an accurate statement?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Congressman, I'll try and answer that for you.
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Mr. Aguirre?
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Segment 1 Of 2 Mr. AGUIRRE. The proposal that the President makes is, of course, a very serious proposal, calling on the Congress to enact a law that would then be administered by our bureau, and the idea would be that as the Congress develops the standards for that law, we will price it and we will put a fee on it that is equal to the cost of
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. So you're waiting for the legislation before you put any money in the budget, is that right?
Mr. AGUIRRE. Yes, sir. The budget that we are currently looking at has no relationship to the proposal the President has made to the temporary worker program.
Mr. SMITH OF TEXAS. Right, and I consider it to be good news that the President wasn't so sure of his proposal passing that he actually put money in the budget, but that's a side story.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks for the extra question.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the gentleman from Texas.
The chair wants to once again thank the panel for your participation in this hearing. I appreciate your indulgence during the time of votes.
Subcommittee Members are reminded that you have seven legislative days to revise and extend your remarks for the record. The business before the Subcommittee being completed, we are adjourned.
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[Whereupon, at 5:32 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
Next Hearing Segment(2)
(Footnote 1 return)
The replies to post-hearing questions from Ms. Jackson Lee to the Honorable Eduardo Aguirre, Jr., and Mr. Seth M. M. Stodder were not available at the time this hearing was printed.
(Footnote 2 return)
Program transferred to BTS in November of 2003.
(Footnote 3 return)
As required by the Homeland Security Act of 2002.