Apr 28, 2022

DHS Secretary Mayorkas Questioned on Border Policy 4/27/22

DHS Secretary Mayorkas faces questions on border policy 4/27/22 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDepartment of Homeland SecurityDHS Secretary Mayorkas Questioned on Border Policy 4/27/22

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas faces questioning on the border crisis on 4/27/22. Read the transcript here.



Mr. Secretary: (00:00)
… drain other resources, other personnel resources in the Department of Homeland security, and our fiscal year 2023 budget is a powerful example of how we are seeking additional resources from Congress to establish a more enduring solution than mere reliance on contract personnel. We have requested funding for 300 more border-patrol agents, and we have requested funding for full-time case-processing personnel. We look forward to and hope for this committee’s support of our fiscal year 2023 budget request in that regard and in all regards.

Congressman: (00:48)
Mr. Secretary, the administration tried to roll back the Migrant Protection Program, which requires migrants to wait in Mexico for their court hearing, but was required by court order to reinstate the program. The Migrant Protection Program was used extensively by the last administration, but on average, only a handful of migrants are enrolled each day currently in any given border patrol sector. Why is the administration enrolling such a small number of migrants in this program, sir?

Mr. Secretary: (01:27)
Congressman, I’m familiar with the migrant protection protocols. The common language used to describe that is the Remain in Mexico Program.

Congressman: (01:37)

Mr. Secretary: (01:38)
I think it’s very important to understand that our implementation of that program requires a bilateral relationship. We need the collaboration of Mexico in the administration of that program. I have articulated quite clearly and quite strongly our disagreement with that program. I think what resulted from the prior administration’s execution of that program underscores the reasons why I so significantly and ardently oppose it. We received, for example, a report of more than 1,500 incidents of murder, rape, torture, and other crimes committed against the individuals who were subject to the Remain in Mexico Program. We are working with Mexico to administer that program in good faith, as we are required to do under the court’s order, and to do so in a way that reflects and adheres to our values as a nation.

Congressman: (02:50)
I think I’m going close on my time. Madam Chair, I think I’ll yield back. Thank you.

Madam Chair: (02:55)
Mr. Cuellar?

Mr. Cuellar: (02:57)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Secretary, I think there’s three stakeholders that we need to listen, besides Congress, about the border issues, as you know, the immigration activists, number one, number two, our men and women at the border, and number three, our border communities. I appreciate when you visit us down there in the border in McAllen, and you heard from mayors, county judges, county commissioners from Del Rio all the way down to Brownsville, covering Tony Gonzalez, myself, Filemon Vela, and Vicente Gonzalez district. If you recall, my border folks, public officials were quite animated. I think now they’re probably a little bit more animated because of what’s happening on the border, and you recall, everything I say is pretty much… I repeat what they told you, and same from our men and women down there. I would ask you to continue spending time, and I appreciate all the visits you’ve done, listening to our border communities because there’s a lot of concerns down there.

Mr. Cuellar: (04:11)
Now, let me ask you a couple questions on… I’ve looked at your plan. Again, I think this plan can work if it’s implemented right. By that, I mean is you keep mentioning the broken system, I guess, the Trump administration did, but it was not any legislative changes. It was whatever the administration did. You can fix whatever they did, I assume, number one, but if I take you back to the Secretary Jeh Johnson and Obama, they were able to treat the migrants with respect and dignity. But at the same time, when the law said, “You got to send them back,” they sent them back. In fact, I worked with Secretary Johnson on showing images of people being returned Honduras and the first lady being there and taking them in. Now, it’s like we’re afraid to show images of people going back.

Mr. Cuellar: (05:03)
Y’all deport hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people, but all we see is images of people coming into the United States and no images of people going back when the law has to be enforced. On top of that, there are over 1 million final deportation orders that have still not been executed, plus the 1.6 million people who are still waiting on immigration. The reason I say that is, looking at your plan, if you look at the expedited removal, if you use Title 42, it will take from one to two hours. If you use Title VIII, it will take from 24 to 48 hours. What is your vision of, quote, expedited removal once Title 42 does go away?

Mr. Secretary: (05:51)
Congressman, you’ll recall, of course, that I served as a deputy secretary…

Mr. Cuellar: (05:56)

Mr. Secretary: (05:56)
… when Jeh Johnson served as a secretary. Prior to that, I was the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration…

Mr. Cuellar: (06:03)
Yes, sir.

Mr. Secretary: (06:03)
… Services, and we have worked together for many years. I appreciate your prior law-enforcement service, as well as your service now. Let me say one thing because I certainly want to make sure that if you have a misimpression with respect to the publication of removals and our communication plan around those removals, that I put that misimpression to rest, because we are indeed communicating robustly throughout the region, in the countries of origin, with respect to the removals that we have effected and the consequence regime that we have imposed upon individuals who have crossed into our country, who’ve been encountered at the border, who have no legal claim for relief here in the United States.

Mr. Secretary: (06:57)
We are very robustly communicating those removals and those consequences. Expedited removal is something that we are focused upon very intensely, as I lay out in the plan, and in fact, I raised in Panama, where I was last week, with other countries our need to accelerate the receipt of travel documents and the other mechanics that allow us to remove individuals as quickly as possible. We are receiving increasing cooperation from a number of countries in the region. The benefit of expedited removal is actually captured in its term the speed with which we can return individuals who have no basis here in the United States. We are drawing increased efficiencies, as the plan demonstrates, and we are also working with our partners so that they can assist us in that regard.

Mr. Cuellar: (07:56)
I’ve got about four seconds before my time, so I gave you the time for Title 42 and time for Title VII. How much time would a expedited removal? I’ll close with that. [crosstalk 00:08:08]

Mr. Secretary: (08:08)
I think actually the processing of a Title 42 matter takes more time than the processing of another encounter. I will get you that detail. I don’t want to misspeak, and I’ll need to confirm.

Mr. Cuellar: (08:20)
Thank you, sir.

Speaker 1: (08:22)
Mr. Palazzo?

Mr. Palazzo: (08:23)
Thank you, Madam Chair. This committee provided 200 million in fiscal year ’22 to DHS for joint-processing centers on the border. These are supposed to be one-stop centers for processing illegal immigrants, and in my view, the faster we can do this, the better, because it looks like we’re going to have yet another year where our tax payers are going to foot the bill for billions of dollars for temporary facilities instead of having an actual solution. Where is the department on the plans for permanent joint-processing facilities, and when will they be built? What additional funding is needed in fiscal year ’23 to get them done? [inaudible 00:08:58]

Mr. Secretary: (08:58)
Congressman, I very much appreciate your support for the joint-processing centers. We actually identify those as one element of our plan that is captured in my memorandum issued yesterday. We call them enhanced central-processing centers in the plan because it is a very able model. It drives efficiency to have different parts of the Department of Homeland security in one place and actually to have the NGOs present there as well so that we can administer the processing as quickly as possible. I will provide you with greater detail with respect to the implementation of those plans, and I very much appreciate your support for the centers.

Mr. Palazzo: (09:47)
Well, my support is tepid, but it’s out of a necessary requirement to handle the great influx of illegals, which I wish we wouldn’t have to have this permanent procedure, but it seems like we definitely need it.

Mr. Secretary: (10:00)
That Congressman, if I may, because the migration challenge, as I said at the outset, is a regional phenomenon, that is exactly why we are engaged so robustly with our partners to the south to address the migratory flows that run throughout the Western hemisphere and throughout the world. This is a very different situation than 10 years ago. We have more displaced individuals around the world than ever before. The extraordinarily powerful images, the desperation in Ukraine is, I think, the most poignant and heartbreaking example of that.

Mr. Palazzo: (10:46)
Yes, sir, and I agree. I wish we had more than five minutes to discuss this because I think you have a lot to add to the conversation, as well as members of this committee. When we combined Homeless Security, there’s 22 different departments, so I’m going to switch over to FEMA, real quick, National Flood Insurance…

Mr. Palazzo: (11:03)
… pitch over to FEMA, real quick, National Flood Insurance Program Risk Grading 2.0. FEMA is moving forward with implementing Risk Grading 2.0 for existing policy holders despite serious transparency concerns that I and others have raised surrounding new premium rate system and its methodology. I’ve reached out to FEMA multiple times seeking clarity for this new rating system, but our concerns have gone unanswered. Any failure to consider mitigation efforts and setting rates is especially concerning due to the estimates that thousands of Mississippi families will face NFIP rate increases for years to come potentially making the cost of flood insurance unaffordable for some policy holders. Mississippi families and families all across the nation to be accurate should not be left holding the bill for FEMA’s inability to be transparent about the significant changes it’s implementing. There have been several letters sent to you and FEMA regarding concerns from members with districts across the United States. The transparency and premium increases to policy holders has been lacking. Was there ever any conversation within your agency to delay the implementation of Risk Grading 2.0?

Mr. Secretary: (12:11)
Congressman, I’m very disheartened to hear your concerns continue with respect to the transparency with which we are exercising the implementation of Risk Rating 2.0. The goal of that program is actually to increase access to flood insurance and to recalibrate the premiums with that goal in mind. One of the top priorities that I’ve set out for this department is to increase openness and transparency. I’m going to engage with you personally with FEMA to make sure that your constituents have the information they need.

Mr. Palazzo: (12:50)
Our number one goal is to make sure flood insurance remains affordable and available, and this is going to hurt low to moderate income communities more than it will the wealthy. I do have some bills and I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to review them. HR5793 and HR5802. I will get you those numbers. It’s bipartisan effort, not just to reform NFIP, but also to get a short term delay so these rates do not go into effect. If the Chairwoman would allow me, I just have one quick question and I’ll end this. We don’t have to go to round three.

Speaker 2: (13:30)
Yes, go ahead.

Mr. Palazzo: (13:30)
Thank you, Madam Chair. In the time I’ve been in Congress, I’ve seen constant attacks against the Jones Act by special interest group, ban on allowing foreign ships and crews to push out American sailors and ship builders. Last year, President Joe Biden signed a Made in America executive order strengthening federal by American requirements. The order explicitly emphasized the importance of Jones Act Shipping which stands as a rare presidential endorsement for the US maritime sector within days of the start of the new administration. My question is simple. Do you support the Jones Act and are you committed to rigorous enforcement of the Jones Act?

Mr. Secretary: (14:07)
I do and I am Congressman. I want you to know that the President’s Buy American initiative is something that he is holding the entire administration to. We have strict protocols to which we must adhere and we do so quite proudly with respect to our contracting to make sure that we are indeed buying American. It’s something we’re very proud to be a part of. I do believe in the Jones Act. I do support it. I know I have a waiver authority and we have exercise that quite prudently in only cases of emergency as the Colonial Pipeline incident was one.

Mr. Palazzo: (14:47)
Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. I yield back.

Speaker 2: (14:49)
Miss Underwood.

Congresswoman Underwood: (14:50)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Secretary, you previously stated that domestic violent extremism is the number one terrorist threat facing our country. In your testimony, you stated that the intelligence community assesses that racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists who advocate for the superiority of the white race, including white supremacists, present the most lethal domestic violent extremism movement in the homeland. Beyond designating domestic island extremism as a national priority area for FEMA grant programs, what else is DHS doing to combat this terrorist threat?

Mr. Secretary: (15:28)
Congresswoman Underwood, we do indeed consider domestic violence extremism the most significant terrorism-related threat facing the homeland. Not only did I identify this area as a national priority area in the FEMA grant programs, but we created a special section in the office of intelligence and analysis to focus on this terrorism-related threat. We also stood up the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnership, CP3, to work with the communities to empower and equip communities to address this growing threat within their respective jurisdictions. Recognizing that the community personnel are best situated to do so, our job is to resource and support them with training, with funding, and the like.

Mr. Secretary: (16:23)
We very much appreciate this committee’s support of the nonprofit security grant program. We have submitted in the president’s FY 2023 budget a further increase of that grant program to $360 million from its currently appropriated funds funding amount of $250 million. I was in Detroit several weeks ago meeting with faith-based organizations, talking to them about how we can increase access to this critically needed grant program. Equality of access is a core principle of ours where the otherwise under-resourced organizations might not have the wherewithal to access the grant programs and yet don’t have any less of a need for them. So we’re very focused on this mission set.

Congresswoman Underwood: (17:18)
Great. Another huge threat to our homeland is mis- and disinformation. You noted that it’s a concern of yours at the border with human smuggling organizations peddling misinformation to exploit vulnerable migrants for profit. One of my main concerns about disinformation is that foreign adversaries attempt to destabilize our elections by targeting people of color with disinformation campaigns. After it became clear that there was foreign meddling in our 2016 election, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence authored a report on the disinformation tactics used by Russia’s internet research agency, the IRA, to interfere in the election. The report found that “no single group of Americans was targeted by the IRA information operatives more than African Americans.” A newer trend that we saw in the 2020 election and already in the 2022 midterms is that disinformation is being heavily targeted at Spanish-speaking voters, sparking and fueling conspiracy theories. DHS and its components play a big role in addressing mis- and disinformation in Spanish and other languages. Can you share what steps you’ve taken and what future plans you have to address Spanish-language mis- and disinformation through department-wide approach.

Mr. Secretary: (18:27)
Congresswoman, we have a number of different offices engaged in this critical effort. Of course, our Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has an entire effort focused on election security as part of its mission set. Our office of policy, Office of Planning, Policy and Strategy also is a leading effort. Our Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers is co-chair with our Principal Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Daskal, in leading a just recently constituted a misinformation disinformation governance board. The goal is to bring the resources of the department together to address this threat. I just read a very interesting study that underscores the importance of the point that you make, the spread of mis- and disinformation in minority communities specifically, and we are focused on that in the context of our CP3 and other efforts, and I’d be pleased to share more.

Congresswoman Underwood: (19:35)
But Mr. Secretary, what I’ve heard you describe are internal organizations. What we are looking for is to make sure that there’s external communications with the American public, including those for whom Spanish is their predominant language, to make sure that the information that the department has around mis- and disinformation campaigns is reaching those individuals.

Mr. Secretary: (19:57)
Congresswoman, forgive me if I misspoke, but I provided you the details of the internal structures that we are using to communicate externally with the American public.

Congresswoman Underwood: (20:08)
Thank you very much. I yield back.

Speaker 2: (20:12)
Miss Hanson.

Speaker 3: (20:14)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you Mr. Secretary, again. I want to talk now a little bit about taxpayer money because I’m hearing again from Iowans on a regular basis, they’re appalled by this mishandling of what’s happening at the border and the resources that they send. They’re harder in paychecks. They care about what is happening with those dollars as do I and I hope you do too, and we share that. So yesterday afternoon, you publish this memo, right? This plan. I want to point specifically to page 11 and what you write there, which is, “DHS is currently determining which federal agencies can provide support through an inter-agency agreement and this is concerning to me.” We’ve heard that the administration is considering removing healthcare providers from the VA, for example, doctors and nurses whose taxpayer dollars and their intent is to help care for our veterans. So my question to you today is, yes or no answer, is the Department of Homeland Security planning to reallocate resources, doctors and nurses, from our VA system intended to care for our veterans to help care for illegal immigrants at our Southern border?

Mr. Secretary: (21:19)
Congresswoman, let me be clear because an inter-agency effort is precisely what the challenge of migration requires, and it’s not specific to 2022 nor 2021 nor 2020, or the years proceeding.

Speaker 3: (21:35)
Right. But I’m just asking you a yes or no question. Are you planning on taking resources away from our veterans to help deal with the surge at our Southern border? That’s a yes or no question.

Mr. Secretary: (21:43)
Actually, Congresswoman, the resources that the medical personnel from the Veterans Administration we’d allocate to this effort is under the judgment of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs who prioritizes the interest of veterans above all others for very noble and correct reasons.

Speaker 3: (22:03)
Do you know if you-

Mr. Secretary: (22:03)
… Of all others for very noble and correct reasons.

Speaker 3: (22:03)
Do you know if you’ve… Have you had any conversations about reallocating those resources?

Mr. Secretary: (22:07)
I have not personally. But of course our teams, our personnel have, and I’d be very pleased to follow up with you.

Speaker 3: (22:15)
Yeah. Our veterans need to know that the care that they’ve earned is going to be provided to them and not to those at our southern border.

Mr. Secretary: (22:21)
That is [crosstalk 00:22:21].

Speaker 3: (22:21)
The other thing I’d like to ask you about Mr. Secretary [crosstalk 00:22:23].

Mr. Secretary: (22:23)
If I may, that is what the entire Veteran’s Administration is dedicated to do. And we have worked with the Veteran’s Administration, not only in addressing this challenge, but in actually addressing the cares and needs of those veterans who also have been experiencing the immigrant experience in the United States. We have people who have served in our military before even being naturalized. And so we work very closely to care for the needs of veterans in our country.

Speaker 3: (22:55)
Okay. Well, I would expect an answer specifically as to whether or not you intend to take those resources from our veterans, because they’re asking us those questions and we deserve… Or they deserve to have an answer from us specifically. The other thing I want to talk about is taxpayer money that Congress has appropriated. This is a picture from our Southern border of taxpayer money sitting and rusting. This is probably good American steel. Should have been used to fill the gaps in the wall. That in your memo, you mentioned are being exploited by the cartels right now. So do you have anything to say to the taxpayers about this right here? These pieces of steel sitting there rusting when we have this crisis at our Southern border. How much has halting the wall construction cost American taxpayers because they’re having to divert those resources to handle the search?

Mr. Secretary: (23:37)
Congresswoman, as I articulated earlier in this hearing, we have an obligation to spend the monies that Congress has appropriated for the wall. The way in which we are doing that is to achieve the safety and security of the American people and to do so in a responsible way. We are also spending money addressing infirmities in the wall that was built, and we’re seeing corrosion and other failings. So it’s a very complex picture. With respect [crosstalk 00:24:11].

Speaker 3: (24:11)
This is corrosion right here. And this has driven people between the point of entries to the hands of the cartels, in your own words. So I think this is, to taxpayers, they see this as a huge slap in the face to see these pieces sitting there that could be used to actually deter people from coming into these… Into our country, not at the points of entry. The last question I had specifically is about the illegals that are coming into the interior and how they’re being transported here. How much does transporting migrants into the homeland cost our taxpayers right now? And are they still being flow own into our country?

Mr. Secretary: (24:46)
Congresswoman, individuals who are transported from the point of encounter to detention are transported in different ways. They’re transported from a border patrol facility to an ICE detention facility. They are transported [crosstalk 00:25:06].

Speaker 3: (25:05)
But they’re also being flown into places like Iowa.

Mr. Secretary: (25:07)
If I may, Congresswoman, they are also flown to their countries of origin when they have been removed and their claims for relief have failed. I would be plead is to provide you with the specific numbers, the expenses of the administration, of our immigration system, and the laws that we are obligated to honor, which we do.

Speaker 3: (25:31)
Yeah. I want to know how much you’re spending to come into the country, not to return them to other countries. Thank you.

Madam Chair: (25:41)
Mr. Aguilar.

Mr. Aguilar: (25:43)
A lot of places to potentially go, but I feel compelled, Mr. Secretary, to also mention I’ve heard some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who I have a lot of respect for, not everybody who presents themselves in a processing center at the southern border is doing so for nefarious purposes. And it’s frustrating to hear time and time again, the fact that they want to have conversations about how Ukrainians are treated at the southern border, but using terms like illegals, rather than those who are presenting themselves for lawful asylum. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating, the dual standards in place. I’d also note, Mr. Secretary, I’ve been part of a number of trips down to the southern border when the prior structure was being built. Members of our own military showed us how they could penetrate these barriers quickly.

Mr. Aguilar: (26:48)
We knew that at the time they were constructed that they could be penetrated. This was done for show. Folks down there know this, that there are many ways to help secure our borders. And a physical structure is one component. But as you and the department have said, time and time again, there are other factors that can be more helpful. And I wanted to ask you a question. You mentioned, in-country processing. One way to address the true issue of surging migration is to talk about root causes and expanding the ways individuals in countries can apply for legal pathways in their home countries, so they don’t have to make that dangerous journey to the southwest border.

Mr. Aguilar: (27:43)
In-country processing is not new to DHS. In fact, DHS has been setting up infrastructure for in-country processing that would allow migrants to apply for different immigration pathways, legally and fairly. Some might be supported in countries, maybe in Eastern Europe by all of our colleagues. But this is done throughout other countries as well. Can you give us an overview of where this is done in-country, where in-country processing broadly stands, and what authorities and resources you’re going to need from Congress in order to meet those needs?

Mr. Secretary: (28:22)
Thank you, Congressman. Let me, if I can, preface my response to your specific question by commenting on the extraordinary benefits of technology and the dedication of technological capabilities at the border. And that is precisely why our fiscal year 2023 budget invests significantly on technological assets. So there are really two parts to your question. One is an enduring solution to the reason why people out of desperation flee the homes that they have built and the countries of their origin in which they have been raised. And that is addressing the root causes. And this president Biden-Harris administration has been very dedicated to addressing those root causes and investing in addressing them and doing so with civil society. The other means is by developing safe, orderly, and humane pathways, so individual do not have to risk their lives in the hands of smuggling organizations that exploit their vulnerabilities purely for profit.

Mr. Secretary: (29:49)
And I think a shining example of one such pathway is the Central American Minors Program, which we are scaling up. Where minors would not have to place their wellbeing or have their parents, their desperate parents, place their wellbeing in the hands of smugglers. And they can access our system, should they qualify for relief here in the States. We have developed a migrant processing center in the northern part of Guatemala for that very same purpose. And we are expanding those programs as a pillar of a safe, orderly and humane system. There’s one other element, of course, that can provide an enduring solution, which everyone agrees upon and no one has reached, and that is legislation.

Mr. Aguilar: (30:40)
And there are legislative solutions that the House has sent in a bipartisan way over to the Senate. And I agree with you, passing legislation is always preferred in order to fix this issue.

Mr. Secretary: (30:56)
If I may, Congressman, the president sent proposed legislation on the first day he was in office.

Mr. Aguilar: (31:05)
If we were to go down to the northern Guatemala processing center, what would that look like? What does staffing look like at the processing center?

Mr. Secretary: (31:15)
So I visited one of the processing centers, Congressmen. And at that time, what it was focused upon was actually the reintegration of Guatemalans, whom we had removed under our authorities. A proof of a couple very important points. One, is that those who do not qualify for relief under our laws will be removed. And we do remove them. And two, to avoid recidivism. We have to work with the countries of origin to make sure that those individuals can achieve stability in their lives, so they do not feel compelled out of desperation to try again. It’s a very complex challenge and we have to address the root causes of it. Ultimately, we have to build lawful or orderly humane pathways. And then once, and for all, we have to fix our immigration system that has been broken for so very many years.

Mr. Aguilar: (32:27)
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Yield back, Madam Chair.

Madam Chair: (32:29)
Mr. Rutherford.

Mr. Rutherford: (32:30)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Secretary, in September of last year, under your direction, ICE implemented new enforcement guidelines and these guidelines focused on the use of prosecutorial discretion. And stated in there was, “It is estimated that there are more than 11 million undocumented or otherwise removable non-citizens in the United States. We do not have the resources to apprehend and see the removal of every one of these non-citizens.”

Mr. Rutherford: (33:02)
And then see the removal of every one of these non-citizens, therefore we need to exercise our discretion to determine whom to prioritize for immigration enforcement action. And I can tell you, as a former sheriff myself, I know the limitations that budgets can put on you. But one of the question that I have and would like an explanation for is, in fiscal year ’19, ICE deported 359, 000 illegal aliens from the interior of our country, in 2020, 185,000. And that had about four years of Trump deportations in there. And then last year… Last year, with the same resources, they only deported 59,000. What’s going on?

Mr. Secretary: (33:57)
Congressman, I can answer this question very succinctly, but I want to take a step back, if I may.

Mr. Rutherford: (34:07)

Mr. Secretary: (34:09)
Because I served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years versus an assistant United States attorney for almost nine, and then for the United States attorney in the central district of California for about three years. We had 186 criminal prosecutors when I served as the United States attorney. We could’ve dedicated 186 of those prosecutors, every single one of them, to narcotics cases. We could have dedicated every single one of them to significant fraud cases. But what we did with the resources we had, is we allocated those resources to have the greatest public safety impact in the many different areas for which we were responsible. The concept of prosecutorial discretion… I know you’re very familiar with it as a former sheriff, is an underpinning of smart and effective law enforcement. And I do not believe and many people in law enforcement do not believe that public safety is a quantitative metric, but rather a qualitative one.

Mr. Rutherford: (35:17)
But let me interrupt…

Mr. Secretary: (35:17)
And if one takes a look… If I may. If one takes a look at the removals that we have effected, we have removed more serious criminals than the prior administration did. And I have data, and I can provide you with that specific data.

Mr. Rutherford: (35:34)
Mr. Secretary, what I’d like to know is what is the resource need to get back to where we… Where we’re focusing and have the prosecutorial capacity to deport 359,000, who need and should be legally deported.

Mr. Secretary: (35:57)
This is all about maximizing the public safety impact of the resources we do have. 46% of ICE removals were for people convicted of felonies or aggravated felonies compared to 18% during the previous four years and 17% the year before that.

Mr. Rutherford: (36:21)
But here…

Mr. Secretary: (36:21)

Mr. Rutherford: (36:21)
But Mr. Secretary, if I can push back on that just a little bit. That percentage is of a four times the size number. So I think America was much safer when we deported 359,000, whether they were for serious felonies or serious misdemeanors. But 359 compared to 59,000, that’s not safer. I don’t think. And I’ll leave that there, but I would love to help you out with resources if that’s what you need to get back to where we can see ICE deporting 359,000 people a year who need it. And let me move, my time’s about out.

Mr. Rutherford: (37:09)
Last question. So you’ve talked a lot today about the fact that you’re focusing on the irregularities of immigration coming from the south, talking to Panama and all of that. You’ve talked about targeting the disruption… Disrupting the transnational criminal organizations, utilizing the NGOs more and more, administering consequences for unlawful entry, speeding up this CBP processing efficiency by adding those case processors and addressing the issue by surging people to the border. And I think the answer to your question was yes, on the VA. And so my question is, if this was all done starting in September of ’21, according to your written testimony, and we still have these problems today at our Southern border, I think, if you ask probably two thirds of the country, they’ll tell you the border’s not secure. And so my question is now we’re about to lift title 42, and I don’t hear a plan to address that. These things you’ve already implemented, these things are there now. What is going to change in response to title 42?

Mr. Secretary: (38:40)
Oh, Congressman, we are building further in implementing consistent with the six pillars that I identify in the memo that I published to make clear that we do have a plan and we are preparing, and have been preparing, and we’re implementing our plans. We are building further, we are intensifying our efforts, we are increasing our efforts and enhancing them. So we are not done.

Mr. Rutherford: (39:09)
Okay. Madam chair, I see my time’s up. I yield back.

Speaker 4: (39:15)
Mr. Secretary, I don’t know if there’s any other comments that you want to make in terms of clarifying any other statements or concerns that have been raised at this time. I’ll be…

Mr. Secretary: (39:27)
Madam chairwoman, we are addressing a very complex issues. I have a great deal to say. I look forward to engaging further with members of this committee, and I’m deeply grateful to you and to ranking member Fleischmann, and to distinguished members of this committee for their support, for your support of the Department of Homeland Security and the extraordinary 250,000 individuals who sacrifice so much each day to accomplish our mission.

Speaker 4: (39:58)
I understand there are no other questions from members, but I do want to ask one last question about an agency that is absolutely critical to our security. And that is TSA. The president’s budget request proposes nearly 1 billion in additional spending to implement changes to TSA’s pay structure and to extend collective bargaining and merit system protection to TSA personnel. Can you explain what these changes are and why they are important?

Mr. Secretary: (40:29)
Thank you, madam chairwoman. The TSA personnel helps secure our country every single day. They also help facilitate lawful trade every single day, a very difficult job. They deserve to be paid commensurate with their colleagues in the federal government. They deserve collective bargaining rights, like so many of their colleagues in the government. This is about parody and about recognition and about gratitude for their extraordinary service.

Speaker 4: (41:04)
And with that, if there are no further questions, we will conclude today’s hearing. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, for being here. And I’m sure we have other questions that we will be submitting to you for the record, and the subcommittee and Homeland Security stands adjourned.

Mr. Secretary: (41:25)
Thank you.

Mr. Secretary: (41:25)

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