DHS Secretary Nielsen on Security Resources CSPAN May 16, 2018 3:41pm-5:57pm EDT
bridge. >> watch it 5:30 p.m. eastern. and american history tv on c-span3. working with our cable affiliates as we explore america. >> homeland security secretary kirstjen nielsen testified before senate committee on her department's policies. among them, drug trafficking at the southern border and ports of entry. h 2 visa for temporary foreign workers. election security. and her department's policy regarding children and undocumented children. here is the two hour hearing by governmental affairs committee.
>> this hearing will come to order. i want to welcome secretary nielsen, thank you for your service. i did read your press release on national police week, and i think it is fitting and proper that we pay tribute to law enforcement officers killed in action. and just really honor the families for their service as well. according to the national law enforcement officer memorial fund, since 1791, 21, 541 paid the ultimate price. year-to-date this year 53. so i think it would be fitting and proper to recognize a moment of silence to recognize those officers and their families.
thank you. i would ask you to consent that my written opening statement be entered in the record. the title of this hearing is authorities and resources needed to protect and security the united states and i know secretary nielsen you testified before the appropriations committee. so obviously the senators can ask any questions they want. but for my standpoint, because we are the authorized committee, i want to concentrate on the authorities part of that hearing title. and i would just kind of like to go down the list of things that are certainly on my mind and hopefully yours as well. but i think this committee did a very good job, we are kind of known for a very bipartisan, nonpartisan approach to trying to find areas of agreement and we did that with the dhs authorization act which i am hoping we can pass through the senate as quickly as possible, marry up wlt house bill, to provide you the authorities that
have basically become obsolete in many cases. i know the omnibus section 782 flexibility of reorganizing parts of your department was actually taken away which is important when we take a look at nppd turning that into the cyber security and infrastructure security actor agency. these are the things that you need to do to do your job to keep this nation safe. in cooperation with your department, we are working with a number of members, i see two of them cosponsors right now, to preventing emerging threats act of 2018, which big part of that is really addressing countering unmanned aircraft systems, which is a growing threat. it's a real threat. and it's confusing. they are conflicting authorities. no authorities from your standpoint in terms of addressing those, being able to take those out of air. and again it's a complex situation. and of course i mean it's just crucial that we fix our completely broken immigration system. the fact that we have laws,
legal precedent, loop holes, that because you follow the law really prevent you from deterring additional illegal immigration. a classic example of how that would actually work was in 2005, under secretary cheer to have we had a flow of illegal immigrants coming in from mexico. so we had over 30,000 brazil ones come in 2005 and secretary apprehended called the program called texas hold em, they held them in detention until their case could be adjudicated and returned them by the following year less than 2,000 brazilians came in here. so the goal of his actions were to reduce, if not stop, the flow as o as opposed to right now, we have unfortunately you are forced to apprehend, process, and disburse, and that is a huge incentive for additional illegal immigration. so those are the types of
authorities that i want to hopefully discuss during this committee. those are the types of authorities i want to provide you as secretary of homeland security so you can actually fulfill your mission of providing greater security for our homeland. so with that i'll turn it over to my ranking chairman haskell. >> tlauhank you for being here. i would like to talk about budget policies in two different areas today. and one is on the border as it relates to border patrol staffing. i am concerned about border patrol staffing. i think they do amazing job. i believe they are courageous and hard working. and this is law enforcement week in washington and i think it's important to recognize all the men and women in this country that protect us.
but it's interesting because when you look at the staffing along the border the diagram of the staffing, it has been on a downward trajectory since president trump took office. in september of 2016, there were 9,000 border patrol agents along our southern -- along the borders. and in april of 2018, it's actually down 500. 400 some staff. that is in spite of the fact there is an authorization for many more as you are painfully aware of, i'm sure. we have an authorization for 21,370. so, you know, hundreds and hundreds lower than we were when president trump took office, and we are many more under for what are authorized.
and we keep debating additional authorizations as if that's somehow going to solve the problem. and we talked about this in various hearings. and i know everyone wants to point to the polygraph but it doesn't seem reasonable to me that that is the only reason. you can't keep up with attrition right now. you can't hire, and we have some outrageous, i think, contracts for recruitment. one of the things i want to talk about today is are we missing the boat here in terms of improving pay and working conditions? i mean, many times people leave a job because they don't feel that they are getting adequate pay or they are not being asked to perform an ideal working conditions. and i know that it's impossible to make this work always ideal, because law enforcement you have to take what comes. but there is a real problem that clearly we are not getting at. and that's one of the things wie want to talk about today. the other things i want to talk
about today is the difference between border patrol agents and border patrol officers. and i don't think most americans understand we use those terms, and for most people they probably think they are the how. i don't know how we named them that way because it's terribly misleading because, of course, the officers are the ones at the port of entry. the agents are the ones along the border, and unlike the border patrol agents, we are not authorizing significantly new officers, even though it is very clear in a report i released from the minority staff of this committee analyzing what is happening, we found that 88% of all the opioids seized over the past five years were seized at ports of entry, not along the border, so close to 90% of what is being seized in terms of dangerous opioids is happening with our border patrol officers at ports, not along the border, not in the desert, not along the
river, not as has opinion described sometimes by people in this administration that this is a problem of people trying to enter illegally with drugs. it's actually coming in through the ports, and i'm -- the fentanyl seize your increases on two fronts are in the ports of entry on the southern border and in mail facilities. in both instances you're also woefully understaffed, so that's -- these are the two areas i want to talk about. where your staffing demands are clearly not being met, and we've got to figure out this problem because, you know, we can -- people can give speeches and talk about, you know, that we've got to, you know, turn back illegal immigrants, and there are too many illegal immigrants coming across. nobody is disagreeing with wanting to secure the border, but when you can't hire the people you need and when the people you hire are leaving more quickly than you can hire replacements, there is a more fundamental problem here than just adding more personnel, and
i would like us to try to see if we can get to the bottom of that today, and i would ask that my written statement be made part of the record. >> without objection. it is tradition of this committee to swear in witnesses so if you'll stand and raise your right hand. do you swear the testimony you'll give before this committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth so help you god? >> i do. >> please be seated. >> secretary kirstjen nielsen is the sixth secretary for the department of homeland security and the first former dhs employee to become the secretary. prior to joining the department, miss nielsen served as the deputy principal white house chief of staff to president trump. secretary nielsen also served as a chief of staff to then secretary john kelly at the department of homeland security. secretary nielsen served in the bush administration as a special assistant to the president and senior director on the white house homeland security council from 2004 to 2007. she holds a bachelor degree from georgetown university school of foreign service and a jd from
the university of virginia school of law. secretary nielsen. >> thank you. well, good afternoon, everyone, chairman johnson and ranking member mccaskill and other members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and i would like to submit my full written testimony for the record. >> without objection. >> i want to begin by thanking you. as the chairman mentioned, we greatly appreciate you authorizing the authorization bill and we've not been authorized since our creation 15 years ago. this results in incredible gaps that affect our ability to protect the american people. i also want to thank you in general and to the full committee for being strong supporters of dhs for listening to our analysis and emerging threats and the listening to what we need to do our jobs. a lot has changed in 15 years. the threats have evolved. our enemies have adapted, and our adversaries are resurgent.
in the meantime our authorities have not kept pace, so today i want to highlight several areas where dhs requests your support in order to help us better secure our country, including achieving border security and closing immigration loopholes, transforming our cyber agency within dhs, authorizing the countering weapons of mass destruction office, providing authorities to help us counter unmanned aerial systems, and supporting the president's 2019 budget proposal for dhs. first and foremost, border security is national security, and while we have made vast improvements, make no mistake we do face a crisis. we see unacceptable levels of illegal drugs, dangerous gangs, criminal activity and illegal aliens flow across our southern border. that is why last month we deployed the national guard to our southern border. anyone who thinks this is a stunt should look at the stats. our officers have apprehended more than 2,000 people attempting to illegal enter our
country and they are interdicting drugs that would likely otherwise have gone undetected. at the same time, my message to smugglers, traffickers and criminals is clear. if you try to enter our country without authorization, you've broken the law. the attorney general has declared that we will have zero tolerance for all illegal border crossings, and i stand by that. anyone crossing the border illegally or filing a fraudulent asylum claim will be detained, referred for criminal prosecution and removed from the united states as appropriate. but our national guard deployment, zero tolerance policy, border wall construction and other actions will only get us partway there. we urgently need congress to pass legislation to close the legal loopholes that are fueling this crisis in the first place. those coming illegally know it's easier to get released into america if they claim asylum. they know it's easier to get released if they are part of a family or if they are unaccompanied children, so it should come as no surprise that we're seeing a spike in all of these categories.
word is getting out. asylum claims are up 200% in the past five years. family unit apprehensions are up nearly 600% compared to this time last year, and uac apprehensions are up more than 300%. in fact, five years ago apprehensions of families and uacs were less than one out of every ten apprehensions. now they approach almost half, 40%. some say these increases are the result of spreading crime or failing economies in source countries, but in those places we are actually seeing economic growth and lower homicide rates. the reality is that their economies -- that their economies are cratering. it's that -- excuse me. the reality is not that their economies are cratering, it's that ours is booming. america is the land of opportunity, and that's a pull factor for anyone. but if we have a legal system of immigration for those who want to come here for economic reasons, they should do so
legally. asylum is for people fleeing persecution, not those searching for a better job. yet our broken system with its debilitating court rules, backbacklag and gaping loopholes allows illegal migrants to get into the country anyway for whatever reason they want. this game of the system is unacceptable. we need urgent action from congress to close the dangerous loopholes that are making our country vulnerable. i would also note, and it's important -- i try to say this at every opportunity, that the journey itself to our borders is risky. it endangers the illegal aliens themselves, the communes they pass through, the agents at the border and u.s. community and our homeland. to be clear, human smuggling operations are lining the pockets of transnational criminals. they are not humanitarian endeavors. smugglers prioritize profits over people, and when aliens pay them to get here, they are contributing 500 million a year or more to groups that are
fueling greater violence and instability in america and the region. there are other options. if migrants have a legitimate need to flee, they should seek protection in the first safe country they enter, including mexico. they should not subject themselves to a long and dangerous journey. this is not and should not be a political or partisan issue, and i hope that we can discuss real solutions today. the past four presidents have pleaded with congress to act on this security challenge, but this administration is tired of waiting, so in the meantime, we are doing everything within our authorities to secure the border and enforce our laws. turning to the cyber domain, i want to make clear today that we've reached a turning point in cyber threat evolution where digital security is converging with personal and physical security. cyber security can no longer be relegated to the i.t. department and thought of as a nuisance. now it's a matter of preserving our lives, our livelyhoods and our american way of life.
one of the most critical parts of the dhs authorization bill is its evolution of our cyber security mission. transforming the national protection and programs division, mppd, into a new operational component, the cyber security and infrastructure security agency, is imperative to our success on the front lines of the digital battle field. it will be a clearer focal point for our inner agency, industry and international partners. it will help dhs recruit and retain employ eds with critical skill sets, and it will clarify dhs' role as national risk manager for cyber security and critical infrastructure security. i ask and thank for the committee's continued support in the transformation of this component. i also want to take this opportunity to mention that department cyber security strategy which is being rolled out today. the stray j is built on the concepts of mitigating systemic risk and strengthening collective defense. both will inform our approach to defending u.s. networks and
supporting governments at all levels in the private sector and increasing the security and resilience of critical infrastructure. i do look forward to discussing that with you further today. i'm also seeking your support to confront another category of evolving threats, weapons of mass destruction. from the chemical attacks in syria to russians' brazen assassination attempt against a uk defector, we've seen the damage that these agents can do, and we know that terrorists are not only using them on the battledfield but are working to incorporate them into western attacks. in december i announced the establishment of a dhs counterering weapons of mass destruction office which is now leading our response to these threat streams and incidents, but the office still lacks critical authorities. while we currently have the ability to respond comprehensively to nuclear threats, we lack comparable authorities for chemical and biological tlempts i ask this committee and all of congress to work with me to permanently authorize this office and to
equalize the authorities we possess across all threat vectors. thirdly, our enemies are exploring other options such as drones to put our country in danger. isis was used armed drones to strike targets in syria and are concerned they will attempt the same tactics in our country and they have also used them to smuggle drugs. today i would like to thank you for the response for responding to our request and introducing a bill to help dhs counter the growing threat posed by uas. we need clear legal authority to identify, track and mitigate drones that can pose a threat to our public and dhs operations. our proposal and bill would authorize the dhs and department of justice to conduct limited uas options for a narrow set of important and prioritized missions all the while
importantly protecting privacy and civil liberties. we are grateful for your leadership on this and look forward to working with you as the legislation moves forward. finally, i would like to ask for the committee's support for the president's 2019 budget. the budget for dhs requests $47.5 billion in net discretionary funding and an additional 6.7 billion for the disaster relief fund for response and recovery to major disasters. this budget sustains and strengthens our most critical programs and capabilities. it emphasizes protecting our nation from terrorism and countering threats, securing and managing our borders and enforcing immigration laws, preserving and upholding the nation's prosperity and economic security, securing cyber space and critical infrastructure and strengthening homeland security preparedness and resilience. throughout all of these missions the budget also prioritizes my goal of putting our dedicated employees first and maturing dhs operations. i ask the committee to support this budget, to continue supporting our employees and our
missions and to continue to help us make our country more secure. i thank you very much for your time, and i look forward to your questions. >> thanks, secretary nielsen. before i turn questioning over to senator mccaskill i do want to puppet and draw everybody owes attention to a couple of charts. the first one is uac apprehensions. the reason i'm doing this is to make the point that regardless of what a particular law says, we within our laws, our precedents, our legal loopholes create incentives for people to come to the country illegally and the first was the deferred action childhood admissions or arrivals. if you take a look at the number of children coming in here from central america in 2009, 'so and '11 and '12 and in 2012 we had the deferred action in childhood arrivals and you see what happened afterwards. you don't have the figures year to date 2018, but i think we're on pace for an increase again
over 2017. the next chart has five and a half years of apprehension history at the border, and, again, nothing is definitive. this isn't scientific, but it's pretty indicative that when president trump came into office, obviously dedicated to securing our border, and secretary kelly i think said all the right things in terms of being dedicated and giving cvp and i.c.e. the authority to enforce the law, there was a dramatic drop in apprehensions which indicates a number of people coming in illegally. unfortunately, the reality what have our laws are has gotten into the fabric of people's consciousness and the result being that people realize they can still go up to the border as an unaccompanied child, we apprehend them and disperse
them. we've only returned 3.5% of unaccompanied children to central america and, of course, we have a number of people claiming credible fear and going through a similar type of process. not showing up for their hearings, that type of thing, so that's the reality of our law, and so a deterrent factor worked for about a year, but until we actually change the laws, i think we'll have a real tough time actually deterring illegal immigration. with that we'll turn it over to senator mccaskill. >> first, i would not call the daca recipients -- the unaccompanied minors apprehensions. the vast majority are unaccompanied minors are walking across and saying help us, please. i think apprehension is a weird word to use. >> that's precisely my point. >> the second point i would make is daca was wiped off the books by this administration in march of this year, and since march the number of people coming across the border has increased, not decreases, so daca is gone.
it is no longer the law, and we went from having 36,000 people apprehended at the border in february to 50,000 in march and then almost to 51,000 in april, so if daca was the magic thing causing this it seems to me we would see -- and by the way, daca doesn't even apply to these kids. none of them are qualified for daca, none of them, so i -- i -- you know, i think we've got problems securing our borders, and i don't want to barring that because i think we all agree that we have to secure our borders. i want to focus in on that -- once again in your opening statement you talked about the drugs at the southern border. 90% of the opioids that are being seized are being seized at the points of entry, correct, secretary nielsen? >> i don't have that exact anything. >> we do. we got it from you. >> majority of drugs that we see are coming through the ports of
entry. >> like 90%. 85% of the fentanyl which is killing all of our constituents every day, 85% of it is coming in through the ports. not across the southern border, so whenever this talking point that it's the people coming across the southern board their are bringing all the drugs, it's like fing nails ernails on a bld because it's just not accurate, and here's what i don't get. there's been zero requests for additional port officers, last year or this year to be used at these critical places. you did ask for 60 this year, but it was all for a training center, not for actually deployment into these ports, and according to our own staffing, your own staffing studies you are short by over 4,000 officers at these ports. our citizens are dying from
fentanyl every day. our emergency rooms are overloaded. there isn't a week that goes by that i don't talk to a parent in missouri who has lost a child to fentanyl overdose that's coming in in this manner. can you explain why we're continuing to ask for more agents along the border when we can't hire enough but there's no requests for this critical, critical need in our country? >> yes. senator, first, i would just like to say it is a huge problem. it's one, as you know, that we take seriously, the full administration. let me give you a short answer and a long answer. the short answer it's not just the people at the ports, so what we have done is we've asked for additional technology. as you know, we have now trained canines at every port of entry to actually find the drugs. what we find is far, far and away the best way to detect the drugs coming through the ports is through that non-intrusive
technology and through canines so we have increase that had and we continue to ask for additional resources. what we've also done though is taken the approach to try to push the borders out, so rather than waiting for the drugs to come here, we're working much more in a forward deployed fashion through jtts, through what we have in key west which as you know is a multi-20, 30-country effort to try to track the drugs before they reach the shores or the ports of entry. you mentioned in your opening remarks the vast increase in mail. we thank you for the interdict act. we're working with you on the stop act. we need to do more there, absolutely, because that's the other way that fentanyl is getting in. so we're trying to look at it as a system of systems, in other words, what are all the different interdiction points that we can best get after this? another one we've asked for budget on are cyber capabilities within i.c.e. and secret service because most of these drugs and marketplaces are on the dark web so we've increased our capability to take them down, to
track the tcos to their source and to turn off not only their market but their ability to get the drugs, so, yes, we have to continue to do more, but we're trying to do it in a layered approach so it's a system of system approach. >> is there a good answer as to why there was zero requests for additional port officers when you're 4,000 staff members under your staffing model and yet there were 750 additional agents requested along the southern border even though you can't even fill the attrition that you're having now? is there a good reason for the dichotomy. >> attrition is down and we can talk more about hiring because that was a concern. happy to come in myself or have folks come and walk you through the model. the other part about drugs that i didn't mention is what we tend to see is the drugs themselves will be smuggled through the ports of entry, again, we use the technology and canines, but the people, the actual tco
members who will then sell the drugs come in between the ports of entry because they know if they come in at the port of entry so we need to stop the people and the drugs, but in terms of the staffing model that you're discussing, i'm happy to talk to you about it in detail. >> yeah. it doesn't -- and if you look at your staffing at the united states in terms of mail facilities, it's even worse. i mean, you've got 17 officers covering two shifts in cincinnati screening almost 46 million import shipments in one year. i mean, that's just overwhelming. i just think somebody has got to get off the political speeches and get to the problem and be pragmatic. you know, all of us want to support what you need along the border, but this notion that if we can just say look over here, look over here, it's all about people coming across the border and totally ignore the biggest public health crisis this country has ever faced by not
adequately staffing the places where the drugs are coming in it's just heartbreaking to me. >> but, ma'am, i'm not saying that. what i'm suggesting is that what we find the best way to identify those drugs is through technology and canines and that's what we're increasing. >> but you have to have people to run both technology and canines. every dog has a happenedler, in fact, more than one handler. >> but there's no suggestion that we have a lack of people to work with the canines or run the machines. so happy to walk you through, but i do want to make clear we're attack the opioid crisis with many, many levels and many cameabilities. >> i have a question about the air marshalls but i'll hold those until the next round. thank you, second. >> senator hoeven. >> thank you, chairman johnson, and thank you, secretary, for being here today and the important work that you're doing every day. i'm going to follow up on some of the things we talked about at our dhs appropriation hearing which you were at recently. i'm pleased to co-sponsor
legislation with this committee's leadership that will given you authorities at dhs in regard addressing some of the challenges with making sure that in our airspace we manage the uas, unmanned aerial vehicles and systems adequately, not only to protect privacy but also security. that's very important work, and my first question is while we're working with you to provide those authorities to track and disable threatening unmanned aircraft, and as you had developed these counter uas capabilities, do you have a plan in place to identify promising technologies from the private sector and get them validated by the department so that you can use them in this effort, and how will you go about testing and evaluating counter uas technologies? >> thank you. so we've learned quite a few lessons from the department of defense which, as you know, has
this authority already and uses it in theater, so we're looking at their testing models. the approach would absolutely to be to go to the private sector. it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel when something already exists that could fill the need. we're specifying out the requirements understanding what it is that we need to do and work in conjunction with the private sector. as you know, there's many centers of excellence, particularly those as well in your state. we're doing a lot of work there with the university as well. everything from intern programs to other capability, building exercises to help get both the people and the technology. >> so you hit the nail okay the head there, that's where i'm going. we're working with you on a time to get you out this summer to see what we're doing in counter uas, not only from the military standpoint but customs and border protection as well as a private sector. as you develop that plan, we think we can be very helpful in terms of you seeing some of the things that are being done and then leveraging some of that
technology development for dhs. when secretary mattis was in front of our defense appropriations committee, we also talked about it in terms of the military and in the same way they are both seeking authority and developing some of those counter uas technologies so we appreciate your willingness to engage in that. >> thank you again for the bill. >> you have an incredible ops center in california that is managing your unmanned aircraft along the border, and so i guess my question does air and marine -- that air and marine operation center have sufficient capacity to handle all these far-flung uas activities, and do you have a backup and -- both capacity and backup? that's another, i guess, area that i know you're going to continue to develop and grow. how is that going? can we be of help there?
>> yes, thank you. as you say, the ops center in california allows us to deploy, to understand and track where we are using and to help us with a model for when we need to use them and where we need to use them. at dhs we're trying to use a task force unit effort approach so we borrow help, if you will, from other parts of dhs that either have the technical capability to fly and to have the flight hours to use the uas, but also in terms of their models. as you know, we use uas for a variety of things. we use them on the border, and which also use them for disaster response to understand, you know what, it looked like before the hurricane, what it looked like after to determine public assistance, so there's quite a few areas within dhs that we use it. we'll continue to use this center. as you mentioned redundancy. what we're looking at in addition to the underlying capability is making sure that we do have that redundancy. that's sort of the next phase that we're in right now.
>> there's an incredible pilot shortage both for manned and unmanned aircraft, and actually i want to commend you and commissioner mclinen with customs and border protection for developing the pathways product that we have at grand forks which in essence provides jobs for young people that are getting their training in aviation at the university of north dakota. not only does cvb get a quality great young person and, of course, they need the manpower as we've talked about it, but it also helps them get an education because they are working for cvp. great program. i think it's a great way to help with the pilot shortage in the aviation industry, both manned and unmanned. want to commend you on that, and then i kind of want to switch gears for a minute and ask about for, you know, when you do detain, apprehend unaccompanied
children coming across the border as well as others, what are you doing to try to address the adjudication process which was such a bottleneck in terms of trying to address this issue? you know, i know you're short there, but what can you do and what are you doing in order to try to adjudicate these individuals? >> so, as we continue to find out every day, our immigration process is very complex as you well n.o.w. know. it involves many, many departments. what we've tried to do is look at it from an end-to-end approach. in the example you just gave, there's actually about three or four different processes that those groups would undertake. in some cases we need additio l additionalal immigration judgments and in some cases we need different processes and agreements and we've done that, for example, with hhs to make sure that we're taking care of properly uacs while in custody and if they are referred to
prosecution we hand them over to the marshalls. we want to make shower that that's a process that works, and then in some cases we use alternates to detention. as you know, rather than detaining them, we will have check-ins and in some cases ankle bracelets but other ways to make sure that we have them detained while they are awaiting their removal. >> is that working? >> it does work. it does work. it's a good combination. we do it on a case-by-case basis. there's lots of criteria that we look at to determine when that's appropriate and when it's not appropriate, but, again, i think in some of the opening remarks that perhaps the charm like, if you look at uac, 66% of those who receive final orders receive the final orders purely because they never showed up for court, and we find that we're only able to remove 3.5% of those who should be removed, who a judge has said has a final so if we can track them, you know, it's a much more efficient process while we wait for the final adjudication. >> thank you. madam secretary, thanks for the
work you're doing. most challenging works, and we appreciate it. thank you. >> senator carper. >> thank you, secretary nielsen for joining us today. >> thank you, sir. >> we've got a couple of recovering governors here on this panel, and i still think like one, and one of the things i focus on i do customer calls in my state. i visit businesses large and small throughout the year, and a governor i visited a large financial services company in the northern part of our state. last week i was down in the southern part of our state where we do a lot of agriculture, and i don't care where i go, i hear employers large and small talk about how difficult it is to find people who will come to work and actually do a job, and i don't care if it's landscaping. i don't care if it's like food processing. i don't care if it's someone working in financial services. they are having a hard time to people who can pass a drug test and have the skills and who will come to work. you and i have talked a bit
about how to address at least part of this challenge. in fact, i led a letter with a couple of dozen senators who wrote to you and used to use the authority that we granted in the spending bill for the balance of this fiscal year to go ahead and issue additional h2b visas and basically the legislation we passed we authorized a doubling of that -- of that cap to maybe another 169,000. my question is it's not going to solve all our problems for all of our employers, as you know, but you have this authority. we hear literally this week from companies that they are afraid they are going to lose their business because they don't have people come to work and do the jobs. they are seasonal jobs so let me just ask what is the time line for releasing additional h2b visas and when will you announce the decision?
how many additional visas does the department plan to release? >> thank you, sir. it's in final interagency process. you know it involves regulation so the regulation should be ready here shortly. >> i don't mean to be rude. i don't mean to interrupt you. that's -- that's not good new. i mean, these -- these companies, they are highly seasonal and need the folks now. they needed them a month ago, and -- and to say -- and whenever i talk to you about this it's basically we're working this. we're going through the process and so forth. they need the workers now. >> yeah. i understand. >> if they were here they tell you. >> i've been collecting evidence. i've asked everyone i've talked to to give me examples so that i can in turn package it and send it back to congress to say please put -- next year please put the ceiling in law. >> we gave you the authority to basically double the number of visas. >> i understand. >> you have the power. this the information is not reluctant about using executive power. >> if you all are wanting to
help the companies, which i know you are, the best thing that we can do is give them stability and predictability. put will them into a situation each year where we wait on appropriations cycle and we wait on whichever secretary is secretary then to make a determination does not give them the ability to plan and keep their businesses own, so i would respectfully request again that congress work with us to put this in law. we know it's a need. put it in law and everybody knows what it is and the businesses can plan. >> we put it in law. we said there's 69,000 visas that could be issued, additional vice arksz, and all you have to do is do it. there's plenty of need. there's plenty of need. >> if you wanted 69,000 additional, just put it the in law and there's no discretion and there's no timing. already in law and everyone can plan to it. >> that's a very disappointing answer. >> well, it shouldn't be, because i think we both want to help the companies, so i'm telling you in my experience this is the best way to help them is to give them predictability and not tie it --
>> pardon me. if our roles were different and you were the senate and i was the secretary of the department, we would issue those 69,000, because we put a lot of people to work and frankly save a lot of businesses from going under. let me ask my second question, thank you. the decision to extend or terminate tps lies with the secretary of homeland security, as you know. in consultation with the state department, your predecessor and former deputy declined to enter ts for in november. did you speak with miss duke or other former administration officials prior to terminate tps for honduras? did you speak with our former ambassador to honduras? >> at the time before ambassador neiland and then deputy secretary duke left, yes, did i talk with them. >> thank you. can you give us some idea what was said? >> no, i can not, sir. those are predeliberative conversations. >> former secretary kelly also
said in an interview on npr last week and said i think we should fold all the tps people who have been here for a considerable period of time and find a way for them to -- for a path to citizenship and those are his words. do you agree with general kelly's remarks? >> i have said the same under oath. >> okay. >> we talked in this room oftentimes about root causes, why people come here from honduras, guatemala and salvador and other places. they come here because their lives are not just difficult, their lives in many cases are horrendous. we contribute directly to that. the last administration there was a fair amount of discussion about root causes. we put in place -- congress passed the lives for prosperity, sort of like a central american version as you know of plan colombia. haven't heard much about what's going on. as you know plan colombia has
taken had a long time, over 20 years and it's become very successful. what's going on for the alliance of prosperity and how are we doing there? >> as i understand it, sir, the state department is distributing fufnltds as you know, that's a state president program. what we are doing at dhs we worked in conjunction with state and the government of mexico, spain, canada, others last year, a conference with the northern triangle to talk about this issue and talk about how to increase their prosperity in addition to security. we plan to host such a conference again next month. >> when and where? >> in d.c., and we don't have the exact date because it will be around the organization of american states, so it's a bit up to them as to which day works so we're still finalizing a date but we are working on some interesting programs to help in the same way. one that i have found to be very interesting is one with el salvador where it's a microcompetition, and the company who wins receives about $27,000 equivalent which is the amount they would otherwise pay a smuggler to come to the united
states so it allows them to stay in country and open up a business. so we are working on creative ways to try to help. i agree but we have to help the countries as well with the push and pull factors and, of course, as you and i have talked about before we also have to increase our overall drug demand here so we don't have that pull factor. >> has they say at home depot, can you do it, we can help. they can do it. we have an obligation, a moral obligation, i think to help. thank you. >> senator hasan. >> thank you, mr. chair, and thank you ranking member mccaskill and second feelsen, thanks for for appearing before the committee. a couple weeks ago i traveled to the southern border to meet with border patrol officers and i.c.e. officers. we know people are dying on board sides of the border as as a result of the drug cartels trafficking efforts. in 2017 drug overdoses killed 60,000 americans while in 2017 mexico hit a record of nearly
30,000 homicides, the vast majority of which resulted from the drug trade violence. these numbers go hand in hand. the drug cartels use violence and money, to dominate the smuggling routes killing many mexicans and migrants. the cartel's success means that more and more drugs make their way into the united states where americans are dying from overdoses at unprecedented rates. i was impressed by my visit to el paso and mckellan, texas to see the robust screening effort conducted by cvp of incoming traffic from mexico. in fact, in el paso just before i arrived, they had seized 25 pounds of cocaine because we have vigilant excellent cvb port overs as i know you know. however, stopping the drug cartels is not solely a matter of securing traffic coming into the united states. we have to i a attack the cartel's business models. that means stopping the flow of both drug money and weapons that travel seasoned into mexico from
the united states. unfortunately, as i saw on my trip, our southbound screening effort for traffic leaving the u.s. for mexico pales in comparison to cvb's screening of traffic entering the u.s. we're in a system that our officers refer to as pulse and search, so intermittent checking of southbound traffic. we were told by cvp officials that they need expanded facilities, more personnel and updated technology in order to try to strengthen our ability to stop the flow of guns and money back into the cartel's hands, so are you satisfied with the current state of southbound inspections along the southern border? >> no. >> and what more do you need and what actions will you take to address these shortfalls? >> the ports, as you know, are very different infrastructure. >> right. >> so part of what we're doing is i've had multiple conversations with the government of mexico on next act issue. i've committed to them that we will decrease the flow of guns and money head their direction, but part of it in agreement with
them is how to restructure the ports so that we have the secondary lanes so we can pull people over when we suspect so we're doing more. we're working on agreements back and forth, and then we're working on some modeling and data that would lead to us a resource request to come to you. >> well, that would be excellent. what i heard loudly and clearly from our wonderful subject matter experts at the border was that they need more people, and i think that echos what you heard from senator mccaskill. we need more people at the ports of entry. we need them southbound and well as northbound and i also know there were infrastructure issues for the second lanes of traffic and the like. i would look forward to working with you on that. i also wanted to touch on another issue that we heard about on the border. as you know, last year congress passed the interdict act which requires dhs to increase the number of fentanyl screening devices available to cvp
officers. the officers have faced a shortage of these devices which are short of identifying fentanyl and other drugs and keeping the officers safe from the toxic chemicals. despite the passage of the interdict act the port personnel that i made clear made it clear the devices were still in short supply. when i spoke about the interdict legislation and its mission they were encouraged by the possibility of more devices heading their way, but they had clearly not received the benefits that we intended when we passed this bill and when the president signed into the law. i think that was in december so why aren't the devices getting into the hands of the port officers, and what account for the delay and what are the plans to get more devices there? >> well, first of all, that's unacceptable, so you have my commitment to look into it and get back to you this week. i am not aware that they don't have the devices. they need to be trained. they need the protective gear, as you know, to touch packages, and they also need the devices. >> they have, you know, i saw
one of the devices. the issue is they just don't have enough for them all to use, and i think our intent was to get -- >> absolutely. i'll look into that. >> this technology to our personnel as quickly as we could. then another issue that came up, because i went from the border then down to mexico city, and in my meetings with u.s. embassy person nell mexico city and with key mexican government officials, we discussed how mexico has to significantly grow its federal police force if it's going to have success against the drug cartels. while the mexican government has to find the resources and the will to expand the federal police force, the united states can certainly play a key role in helping to train and professionalize the police force n.heat meeting with the national security commissioner salas i conveyed how every law enforcement officer in the state of new hampshire wants to professionalize and standardize their training. i understand that hds runs the
federal law training center in order to standardize law enforcement training for over 90,000 federal law enforcement units. has dhs considered working with its mexican counterparts to help provide trainings to mexican law enforcement? >> absolutely, and we actually do. we've graduated some already from training facilities. we're continuing to expand that. we also work with parts of the military which as you know play a whole role. we've done a lot of training with them. we do a lot of joint operations back and forth across the border, but, yes, this would be a priority for us. >> when you say a lot of joint training, do we open up parts of fltse to our mexican count parts? >> we do offer locations. if it's not at fltse it's a dhs-owned location. >> thank you. i do have more questions but i'm happy to lead. >> senator harris. >> second nielsen, as i sit here tailed i'm extremely concerned
about the administration's repeated attacks on some of the most vulnerable communities, and in particular children and pregnant women as it relates to the work of dhs, and in particular under your leadership dhs has rescinded the daca program and under the leadership of the administration pre-dating your arrival as secretary, dhs has rescinded is the daca program puttingp 100,000 young people at risk of deportation. it has separated 700 children from their parents at the border since october of 2017 including more than 100 children who are under the age of 4. the agency has released a directive that allows for more detention of pregnant women to immigrant detention facilities. the agency has instituted a new information-sharing system between the office of refugee and resettlement and i.c.e. that's likely to have a chilling effect on sponsors who otherwise would be willing to come forward to provide care for unaccompanied minors, and
instead of allowing those children to remain in detention. the agency has dramatically increased enforcement actions that have left an untold number of both immigrant and u.s. citizen children without one or both parents leaving some of those children in the child welfare system, and then just last wednesday "the washington post" reported that you are considering undermining the flores agreement, an agreement that ensures standards of care for immigrant children such as the provision of meals and recreation and that they are placed in a least restrictive setting as possible. in the course of carrying out these actions the administration has routinely provided misleading information to this committee, and has even gone so far as to claim that policies such as routinely separating families are carried out in the best interest of the child which many consider to be cruel. so my question to you is last thursday when the "new york times" report that had the president has directed you to
separate parents from children, when they gross into the united states as a way to deter illegal immigration, is that correct? have you been directed to separate parents from children as a method of deterrence of undocumented immigration? >> i have not been directed to do that for purposes of deterrents, no. >> what purpose have you been given for separating parents from their children? >> so my decision has been that anybody who breaks the law will be prosecuted. if you're a parent or you're a single person our happen to have a family, if you cross between the poverty entry we will refer you for prosecution. you've broken u.s. law. >> at an april 26th hearing i asked undersecretary james mccammet to provide what percentage of cases exist in your agency where a child has been separated from a parent or guardian since october 2017 wherein the case resulted in trafficking charges. i've not been given that information. can you provide that to me?
>> i do not have that now but i will provide it to you. >> can you do that by the end of next week? >> if we have the information yes, thank. >> i also ask that i be provided with what training and procedures are being given to cvp officers as it relates to how they are instructed to carry out family separation. i've not received that information. do you have that today? >> no. you have not asked me for it so i do not have it but i'd be happy to give it to you. >> by the end of next week? >> can you explain a little more what you're looking for. >> sure. your agency will be separating children from their parents. >> no. what we'll be doing is prosecuting parents who have broken the law just as we do every day in the united states of america. >> i can appreciate that, but if that parent has a 4-year-old child, what do you plan on doing with that child? >> the child under law goes to hhs for care and custody. >> they will be separated from their parents. >> just like were do in the united states every day. >> so they will be separated from their parent -- my question
then is when you are separating children from their parents do you have a protocol in place about how that should be done, and are you training the people who are actually remove a child from their parent on how to do that in the least traumatic way. >> i would hope you do train on how to do that and the question is and the request has been to give us the information about how you are training and what the protocols are for separating a child from their parent? >> i'm happy to provide you with the training information. >> thank you. >> and what steps are being taken if you can dell me to be sure that once separated parent and child that there will be an opportunity to at least sustain communication between the parent and their child? >> the children are at hhs, but i'm happy to work with hhs to get you an answer for that. >> and i would like it to be broken down between what you're doing for children over the age of 4 and what you're doing for the children under the age of 1.
on may 4th the president of the american academy of pediatrics issued a statement on behalf of the organization stating that he is appalled by a new policy by the dhs that will forcibly separate children from their parents. he went on to talk about that they will create stressful experiences like family separation which can cause irreparable harm, disrupting a child's brain architecture, affecting his or her short and long-term health and these findings are generally shared by the american medical association and many child welfare advocates and professionals. last tuesday before senate appropriations you testified that you are, quote, working with the community to understand the science as it relates to the impact of such separation. do you dispute that separating a child from their parent will create and cause trauma for that child? >> i believe the question that was asked to me if i was aware
of the information and what i said is i would be happy to look into the studies. again, we do not have a policy to separate children from their parents. our policy if you break the law, we will prosecute you. you have an option to go to a port of entry and not illegally cross into our country. >> secretary nielsen, we do have a policy in this country, it's a general matter in the justice system, that if someone breaks the law they will be prosecuted. we also have protocols about what is allowable and not in connection with an arrest in, connection with detention in a jail, in connection with how many hours or days with which we can bring charges or not, so to suggest that the only law in this country relates to what you do at the end is really misleading. >> but that's not what i just said, ma'am. if you're asking if we train and we take care of them and we work with hhs. we now have a memorandum of agreement so that we can make sure that the children go to people who are actually family members and who are not
traffickers and who won't abuse them. >> great. those are the policies i would like to see. >> okay. >> thank you. >> before i go to senator lankford, i think this is a good time to explain a little bit more when you say that we do this every -- prosecutors, law enforcement, local law enforcement does this every day. so let's consider maybe a drug dealer, single parent with children in the home. that drug dealer is arrested. is there any difference really in terms of how dhs handles someone you're going to prosecute and detain, someone who has entered the country other than through the ports of entry, is there any difference in how dhs would handle that situation, those children than what local law enforcement, other than different jurisdictions may have different rules? >> right. so broadly speaking not to my knowledge. the idea here is to make sure that the now unaccompanied children or the children whose
parent is incarcerated because they broke a law are cared for, so we transfer those to hhs, and as i just mentioned we've now worked on a memorandum of agreement to ensure that those children are not in turn placed in the hands of traffickers, criminals or et cetera. >> i want to underscore it. that only applies to family units, a parent that crosses illegally between the poverty entry. if they show um at the port, claim asylum, those family units are kept together because we have a process for that. >> in current policies, yes, sir. >> senator danes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> secretary nielsen, good to see you again. thank you for your service to secure our homeland. i'm thankful for the leadership you're deploying in terms of deploying national guard resources to secure our bothered, building the first bothered wall in ten years, establishing a national vetting process to better target those with criminal intent who seek to enter this country. as a father of four children
myself i scleleep better knowin you're leading and securing our homeland. thank you. i want to switch gears and talk about flooding in my home state of montana. we had a tremendous snow pack this winter. the skiers were thrilled. as a fly fisherman i can't wait as we say the rivers blow out and clear up and get in the rivers but in the meantime we have flooding going on in montana. we're facing severe flooding due to rapidly melting snow pack in our mountains combined with some recent heavy rainfall. surging rivers and streams affect our communities across our state forcing families from homes, schools, businesses, roadways are closing. in fact, montana has declared a statewide flooding emergency and mobilized state resources, but more flooding is yet to come and federal aid is going to be needed. how is dhs assisting these affected in communities in montana now, and how can your department provide support in
the coming months as we deal with additional flooding as well as, believe it or not, the upcoming wildfire season? >> yes. i can't believe we're there again already, between that and hurricane season. so what we're doing at fema is we're trying to increase the capability and capacity in general towards resilience, so in part that means we're using things called integrated management teams. we're pushing people out into communities to help them build their capacity for instant management. we have conducted various reviews on alert warning. we're reviewing the equipment needs and requirements, and then as you know in certain cases once the thresholds of the stafford act are met under a national disaster, there are funds available from the disaster relief fund. so it's a combination of on the ground capacity-building exercises and then, of course, funding when the thresholds are met. >> thank you, and i know we'll be in touch with your team as we continue to excuse the metaphor
navigate through these difficult times right now in monmonth. i want to switch gears now and talk about the national guard on the southwest border. as you point out in your testimony, there's probably no issue more important for dhs right now than border security and immigration. according to cvp southwest border migration numbers for april, the number of illegal border crossers more than tripled in april of 2018 compared to april of 2017. the securing our borders is crucial to protecting the american people and upholding the rule of law. i'm grateful to hear from you today in response to some. questions that it's about the rule of law. that's what sets this great nation apart is freedom and the rule of law. you're doing an admiral job, and i know you and your workforce are working tirelessly to get the job done. more resources are needed, however, and i support president trump's call last month for the
deployment of the national guard to enhance cvp's capacities out at our southwest border. my question for you is what further steps will be taken by the administration to mitigate illegal activity at the border? >> many things, as much as we can do within the law enforcement so we're changing regs to the extent that we can to clarify particular issues. we are doing all this rp and of the protection of uacs, like the mou that i just mentioned. we're working with the board of governors, so as you may know i've had lots of conversations and i talk with them monthly, governor abbott, governor mart net and governor doocy and governor brown, not just with the deployment of the national guard but what we can do with local communities to make sure when we identify criminal aliens that we can apprehend and remove them. we are also working through some pilot projects with mexico on
ways that we can prevent the flows that do not have a legitimate claim to come to this country. again, i encourage all migrants if they have a need to flee to seek shelter in that first safe country that they encounter. so we'll continue to do all we can on our side. >> thank you. the issue of children came up in the last line questioning. i want to probe that a bit more with you. i've introduced legislation with my colleague from new hampshire, senator hasan. it's called the homeland security for children act which was simply to ensure that dhs includes input from organizations representing the needs of children when soliciting stakeholder feedback and developing policies. the question is do you believe it's important to identify and integrate the needs of children into the policies and activities of the department? >> i think it is our duty to protect them, to keep them in a safe environment, to provide for
them when they are in our care and to make sure that within that 48-hour period when we transfer them to hhs that we do all we can to help hhs then take care of those children, yes, i do. >> one thing i've seen and i appreciate your response is we need to make sure that the necessary steps are in place so that children are kept safe during emergencies. we think about preparedness. sometimes we don't always remember in the policies the importance of children and thinking about their unique needs. lastly, i want to talk about border wall contractors. a number of state and local governments are considering legislation that would require them to discriminate against companies involved in the design or construction of any extension of the wall along our southern border. further, some cities are targeting contractors that provide database services supporting federal immigration priorities. this type of legislation can obstruct the federal government's lawful functions and cause private companies contracted with the federal government to hesitate until
fulfilling the critical roles asked of them. my question is what is the position of the department on this issue, and how do you plan to respond? >> sir, we continue to work with government officials. i would continue to say that bothered security is the most basic requirement of a nation to protect their citizens is. i worry that either intend or unintende consequences of this would be that the government cannot do its most basic duty to protect their citizens but we need to work with them to explain and understand what the concern is. it's not always clear that understanding. sometimes they justice agree with the law. >> the chairman wanted to equate the process by which children are separated by their parents to a similar process when someone is arrested in let's
just take a community where i was the elected prosecutor for years. when a child is left without a parent because of breaking the law in the state system it, the police hand it over to the social service agency who then has primary responsibility ongoing through social workers, placement, a child abuse hotline. legal situation. let's compare and contrast what happens with d.h.s. d.h.s. keeps the children maybe 48 hours. hands off to h.h.s. h.h.s. then tries to put them somewhere. and very, very, very few even household visits for sponsors. then they're done. after they find a sponsor. there is no handing off to the state social service agencies. that's why nobody's showing up for the hearings, secretary. it's because it's not like the state syst then they're done after they find a sponsor. there is no handing off to the state social service agencies. that's why nobody's showing up
for the hearing, secretary. is because it's not like the sate system f. a child was supposed to show up somewhere that was in a state's care, phone would ring or the child abuse hot line would ring or a teacher would be required to call in. that's not happening with these kids. that's why they're not coming to court. nobody's paying any attention. so i just couldn't let it pass that we were equating those two systems because having a great deal of experience in one of them having handled child abuse cases for a number of years, nothing is further from the truth and there's still not a joint concept of operations which was promised to senator portman and i at a hearing in 2016 as to how we're going to alleviate this problem. once you start taking these children, i don't think any record should reflect anybody is as confident they are being placed in a safe and secure environment and being appropriately managed because frankly, if they were, they would come to their hearings.
>> could i respond? i think what i was trying to makest the not just the separation of families. having said tharks i want to say i couldn't agree more. period. we are working with hhs. i will look into the con ops. we've advised it because we now in conjunction with hhs are requiring various checks be made to ensure that. the sponsor has a custodial relationship and is not a trafficker or an abuser. as you know, we've had terrible instances of that occurring. t not acceptable. >> the fact there's a con ops, no joint concept of operations and we are up iping the number children ou we are take k from families is outrageous.
it requires us to share information so we can vet the sponsor who appears to take the child. we have to do more. >> i would agree. the state's going to be bether thap the federal government at just about everything it tuz. in terms of daca, it doesn't apply. they were told once they get there, they were told they can stay and they have. 95% of unaccompanied children have stayed eed. it's that flood into a federal system created the crisis so the policy ought to be to reduce the flow like in brazil. >> i don't think i can let that go without some comment.
daca if you say it was a magnet that pulled people because they're so connected, they certainly are connected enough to know that the program's been terminated. so we know central america presents a unique problem because of a law passed by the united states congress. so the wringing of handscountry important we look at this from what is driving the factors below and you and i have had long con vversations about the need to work with the other countries in the region to allow people to refugee in place. to allow people to live with their families in a safe location. somewhere within the region. we're on the verge of having a
very anti-american government elected in mexico. it's going to make your job even harder. so we can talk about why that is. we have to prepare for a relationship change that we're going to have that's going to create an even greater problem, but we have to be humanitarian about this. now we all sat at this dice about a month ago and i think i said we're the worst foster parents in the world. we don't keep track of these kids and we are begging you if in fact this is going to be the outcome where we're celebrating children, in some cases infants, from their parents, we need to know where these kid rs. >> i couldn't agree with you more. >> that hasn't been -- >> in the last administration, there was no moa to even screen or vet sponsors. >> i'm not talking about
politics here. >> no, i'm not here. i'm say iing what we've done to improve the situation because you're exactly right. we owe more to these children to protect them. i'm saying i agree. we've taken steps and will continue to strengthen what our partners do to protect these children. they're not in our custody, but i take it upon myself to work with my interactsy partners to do this. >> i would share senator harris' concern about making sure people are trauma inform and trained because what you're doing to children when you take them away from their parents is the most trauma impactful thing you can do. to a child. let be good people. and good americans as it relates to how we treat children. but i don't want to use my whole time. i want to talk a little bit about the northern border strategy. you're five months late in giving me the plan.
when is that going to happen? >> this week. >> i'll look forward to seeing it. thank you. again, we have such a hyper focus on the southwest border, on the open areas and as senator mccaskill pointed out, a lot of drug traffic is coming in through the points entry. the second thing, technology and understanding what that, what's available. what we're doing right now to train. what we're doing right now to provide rouesources. i want to associate myself with the remarks of my senior senator. we have great resource, air and marine, along with the air base, training center for training pilots along with a lot of great law enforcement folks working to
try to figure out how we can embed and use new tonls. so i again invite you to come up u and take a look. >> and i think you'll find very interesting things on the border. one of unique problems we have in north dakota is hiring and retention. senator mccaskill i think made a great point on retention and how do you think we can deal with the atreggs challenge? >> this is for obvious reasons, this is one ranking member mccaskill. this is a big chunk of that.
what is it can we do to make them continue to serve. >> why do you think they're leaving now? >> i think one of the things we found for the last year is the system was not built for mobi mobility. so if you are in a rural, not even rural. just not a lot of infrastructure, particularly on the southern border. if you are a young vv p p agent, you might be willing to do that for a p few years. the system can't allow dwrou move. you the system might allow you to leave. we find in some of the areas, what you were trained to do is not what you were to do. >> there's people who live up
there. they like it. that's home. they hunt, they fish. they know what they're doing. we need to do better recruiting from the local people who live there who have lived that lifestyle. if you move someone from tennessee say and then an ice position comes open in tennessee, we'll lose them from border patrol. and so we've seen this. we've talked to the folks up there. very, very much would like to see recruiting within the area because those are folks who are used to that lifestyle. >> really quickly on the that one. we found we weren't very good at that. which is partly why we're working with accenture. i know ranking member had some concerns she mentioned at the front and happy to come and speak to you both about that, but part of the concept of that contract is to go into those areas and recruit there for people we need. because of what you're saying.
>> you probably know i'm concerned about aware of challenges. those are challenges with the northern border and southern border. >> i spoke with the sheriff. met with the national sheriff's association last week. we look to their expertise. >> they can be an incredible resource to you in terms of intel if you have a relationship with them. >> i agree. >> just want to offer clarification. >> just does this to the
children or families when a parent brings a child illegally into this country between the ports of entry, dhs is responding and react ting to th illegal act. i hate to give advice, but if those parents want to do it legally, go to the port of entry, claim asylum and make the case. but they're coming across illegally because they don't want to have to go through the legal process. dhs is enforcing the laws and if we don't like them, we have the try and change them, but again, it's not what dhs is doing to them they're force d to follow the law. >> yes, sir. >> senator peters. i think you're well aware, probably the most significant threat we have to our national security comes from cyber attacks. we're seeing these increase in
frequency. as this committee has discussed this on numerous issues, we have to bring our issues to bar. agencies are doing their own thing and there isn't any communication with them. i know that dhs along with a number of other civilian entities have made serious -- we have to have help from the white house to make sure this happens. that's why i was disappointed that john bolton considering eliminating the white house cyber coordinator position within the white house. what impact would this change h v on the national cyber mission? >> so, i have not had a conversation about that particular issue.
what i would suggest from a d h hs is we have strengthened our relationships with the silos you referenced to make sure we're bringing all to bear. not just assuring capacity and cape bable abilities, but clari from policy efforts. you're underlying point is valid. it's top of mind for me because no one entity has all the cape bable thety to address this. so we have to bring everything to have to bear. within dhs, i find we have pockets of excellence within the secret service. within ice. the coast card. tsa and of course within npds. so we're try iing to knit that together so we have best in class services. sort of the collective defense model. could you tell me about a the coordination that goes on between dhs cyber rooep and the
white house in relation to cybersecurity cybersecurity? >> since ambassador bolton has come on to the job, he and i speak regularly. we spoke over the weekend and events that were emerging in tennessee for example. and the alleged cyber attack. to we continue to work together. if there are any issues we have that we need to raise to their attention, we do so. we are working hand and glove on the national cybersecurity strategy. we released the strategy today. we did this in close coordination with nfc. >> it's been report that had the united states may see an increase cyber attacks from iran u in the coming weeks. has the department seen any increase in iranian cyber attacks in the past week? >> we have not, but are looking. we have posture that shields up. we're in close coordination with state local governments, owners and operators and the intel community. constantly asking and assess in to see we see uptick in
activity. >> so you're anticipating it may be a reality. it's a b possible tand we'll be prepared. >> discuss the northern border pick up on senator from the northern border in michigan. we have two of the nation's busiest border crossings in michigan. one up in port huron with canada and down in detroit. we have had a number of issues in terms of staffing and capacity. those border crossings are important from an economic standpoint. i know the difficult balancing act the department has to keep us safe while making sure that commerce moves across those borders. right now, we're in the process of building a second bridge, the top crossings in the country. in fact, it's been funded by the canadian government. but looking for resources from the united states to make sure our cut toms plaza is fully
funded. can we have your commitment that can be fully funded and properly staffed so we can achieve that twin goal while allowing congress to move across that border? >> yes, we would like to p facilitate legal trade and level. >> i think it's one we need to pursue. and it goes with the other border crossing. that's border crossing that needs to be expanded. cleared out land because of the expansion that should have taken place. it still has not occurred. it's a problematic situation to say the least for the city of port huron antd it's a piece of critical infrastructure. do you have any idea when that
will be completed sand that something you're prepared the to talk about today. >> no, but we'll get to you this week. >> i would appreciate that as well. we're follow up. the other final piece of major infrastructure in michigan is the suit locks, which connect lake superior with the rest of the great lakes system. dhs reported in 2016 that if poe lock, the major lock that can allow the freighters to move through there. if anyone "happy-go-lucky"s to it, the entire u.s. economy would go into recession. you would have a -- part would have diftty being constructed. it fits the definition of of critical infrastructure. we have president trump in our state recently who made a statement that we're going to fix the sealocks. correct the additional lock we've been looking for for some time. could you give us an update on that?
>> what we've cone do done is look at the modeling. it's a continue traited point of -- so we're doing the modeling then working with our counterparts in commerce. the white house to make sure we understand the consequences. it is critical infrastructure. we treat it adds such so we're continuing that relationship to make sure we have the resiliency built n. but happy to give you more brief about what we're doing. >> i'd like a brief on what has happened since the president's stam. we have the report from dhs which states it's critical infrastructure. the army corps of engineers are finishing a study that will come to what b i believe will be a similar conclusion. the it's something we need to focus on and look forward to meeting with your folks. >> thank you.
>> good afternoon. >> thank you for being here today. you're in process of putting your own imprint on a massive organization that was created by congress 16 years ago and has never been reauthorized. i appreciate the fact you have worked hard on a authorization bill for the first time in almost two decades. overdue in my view u and i think there's a lot of president oboss in that bill. so we appreciate you're working with us. i asked you what you thought about it. i think you're supportive of it. >> yes, sir. >> i hope you'll work with the chair and ranking member to get it signed into law. the number, one is my provision and the other is sto strengthen security for non-profit
organizations. also in chemical weapons. to combat the illicit opioids that are coming into the country. we here in my state of ohio have had epidemic levels of open oid addictions. now, it's the synthetic ones. it's a big problem. we had 60% of the people who died in ohio, worst year ever. died because of feintal. in columbus, ohio, they just issued a report from franklin county that two third of their deaths last year were attributed to feintal. comeing in through the u.s. mai system. that's what the experts say including testimony before this committee and before our investigations. so our own united states mail system is providing the conduit for h poison. it's not coming over land from mexico as heroin was.
at least the vast majority is not. is coming from china. we know how it's coming and we know that the post office unbelievably does not require the same information on packages as other private carriers have to in order for law enforcement to identify those packages, so the post office has about 900 million packages the year. more than ups, dhl combined. they have to give law enforcement, including your good folks, the information they can then find these packages that are suspect. where it's from, where it's going. post office doesn't have that. the requirement was put in place on the other carriers after 9/11. it's been 16 years and we're still studying it. the legislation that has strongly reported it, i see the
senator here, she's been a big advocate. is to say let's make the post office give your people what they say they need and they've testified before us here they need it and need it badly. senator carpenter conducted a year long investigation through the permanent subcommittee vest gass. we were able to get some undercover folks from your apartment to find out some really shocking news, which is that people were selling this stuff online freely, not worried a bt t about it. if you send through the post office, it's guaranteed. private care yes, it's not. in the authorization, we have some good things about helping with regard to the chinese government. to through information sharing. the real gap in our defenses against this drug coming in is is the delivering method.
your people will tell you it's like finding a needle in a hey stack if you don't have this information. if you have it, at least you have a fighting chance of stopping this poison from coming in that is the most powerful, potent drug in. 50 times more powerful than heroin, but also increasing the price of the drug because one of our problems now in my state and others is that this is not only readily b available, it's relatively inexpensive. we are trying hard to get this through the process right now. not just this committee which has done a good job on doing the research. are you willing to help us get this done and we've heard rumors on the fact that this is a watered down version. the committee is talking about giving the post office more time to do this.
not having a environment because there would be no penalties. are you willing to to work with us to ensure we can provide this information to your folks so we can stop this from coming in. >> yes, absolutely. it's my commitment and i know you have that from the commissioner. >> commissioner has been great in his acting and now we appreciate it. well i thank you. we want to work with you on it. with regard to the visa program, let me read you one e-mail that i got this week. from a landscaper in ohio. we talked briefly about this issue. he says rob, we've got 8,000 in revenue per day. we are not able to capture $250 0urks a month. we will close $2 million under budget for year which means we'll lose close to a million dollar this is year. this is a small land skarp. this is just because he cannot rerye on the labor force he has relied upon in the past. can you tell us what your
commitment is? with regard h2b rule getting it through and what you think ought to be done? >> yes. the difficulty is it's the red process. we can as fast as we can, but the apa requires us to do certain things that takes a while. what we've tried to do is mimic the rule from last summer so it can go as quickly as possible. we chose to do something as quickly as we can under the aps. the best way to fix this is to take all of the information, everyone i'm gathering, i said please give me example of xaeps going out of business because either the problems with the seasonality or because there's not enough to package it up.
give it back and put anytime law. they'll understand how many visas will be available. right now, it's tied for the rations process. it's difficult on businesses. we have information now from you as of ten days ago that on july 30, you'll have a new deadline to deliver a squloint concept of applications both for the sake of these kids not to be trafficked or abused but to be sure, these kids actually show up at their court proceedings and that's not happening now for a lot of kids. so the memorandum agreement is good. we want to get this swroijoint operations concept in place in order to ensure these kids are protected. >> before i go to the second round i want to walk through. i will reenforce what senator
portman talked about. h2b visas. that really is a pressing need. understanding the problems you have with the rules and regular laces. i want to give you the opportunity. i swrus put my uac chart up there that i think shows ad dac sparked it. i want you through the through the examples and talk about laws you have to follow that in the case -- when you come and get to stay, that's a huge incentive for more in come. uac, family fuunits.
50,000 unaccompanied have entered this country illegally. just go through the process. say they do it legally. if they're unaccompanied, they come and they're put, okay, let me back up. >> i wanted to the laws, the press that forces you to do what you do. >> so if they are mexican children of mexican orgin, we can put them into expedited removal if they have no legal reason to be here. so that means they haven't claimed asylum. they don't have a legal visa. they're not part of a legal immigration system. if they are other than mexican, the phrase and the law, that's normally we talk about the northern triangle country. we don't put them in expedited removal.
we have this process we'll have vet the sponsors to help place a child in safe care. we can hold u u acs for days. even if there's no valid reason to be here. >> just quick talk about the laws that force you, you've got to give dhs has to give up unacokomccompanied child. hhs can hold it for 20 days. that's a combination of the settlement and the trafficking act. it's in part why we give them to hhs. >> now family units. >> they come if they are claiming asylum. we do all we can to keep them as family as they go through the
process. i mentioned earlier, if they're detained, if they're not a risk, we do other mets such as we have an alternatives to detention process. the difficulty there is the backlog. so we have a 600,000 backlog. we've had an ip crease of 700% of asylum claims over the past ten, 15 years. only 20% are actually going to asylum by a judge. there's a lot of fraud. not that you made a fraudulent claim, just that you believe you can seek asylum, but our laws don't allow you to seek asylum for the sole purpose. >> the units have come here since 2013. how many have been b returned because they don't qualify for asyl asylum? >> if they're with the children, we have to release the children.
so that often means we release the parents as well. >> so the vast majority are still in this country. >> yes, sir. >> an adult with crede babible . >> we process, we have ongoing litigation that prevents us from detaining them. in some cases, we must let them go on parole. there are certain exception, but we don't have the ability to detain until we can process them and determine if they need to be removed. the problem with the bucket is the backlog and it's heavily abused by those who don't seek asylum there by putting those who need it in jeopardy of not receiving anytime a timely manner. >> thank you. senator mccaskill. i think you are work hard,
doesn't mean any of us don't respect you difficult your job is. i am really worried about a case invol involving a whistleblower. there's problems with drugs and drinking and inappropriate behavior. this is a complaint investigated by the office of the inspector general and homeland security. this activity predated you. so i want to be clear about that. but follow iing this investigatn by the ig, four charges were brought against an ses employee. including poor judgment for maintaining inappropriate relationship. lying about an intimate an sexual relationship dwurg the investigation.
more details there by forwarding ab e-mail to an employee in which he referred to an assistant administrator inappropriate language i won't use in this hearing. what was really concerning about this report and i'd like the make it part of the record so we have it, mr. chairman, if there's without objection, i hope. they found a series of deviations from standard policy frin terms of how this was hand led. allowing the employee to receive unfavorable treatment. as you know, one of the biggest problems you have with moral is the rules have to apply to everybody. oig specifically identified three members of senior leadership at t srsa that interfered with the disciplinary process in a way that promote d favoriti favoritism. the deputy administrator former
and current chief council. so imagine my surprise when i find oult we're working on this and who's in charge? chief council. that table of penalties required the ses be removed. instead, they offered a suspension. permitted to employee to continue to receive the same salary he was receiving. the chairman of this committee and i have sent a letter to you in february asking about what disciplinary action that have take b b on the leadership. and found to be valid.
i'm worried we put the fox in charge of hen house if this chief counsel is in fact the one that's now helping making sure this doesn't happen again. >> maybe for a return to get back to you, let me say this. whistleblowers need to be protecteded period. the ig needs to be listeneded to. the ig serves an extraordinarily important function. particularly at a department the size of dhs. i would say that if a policy is such that a person who's part of the complaint is then put in charge of rectifying the situation that's wholly inappropriate, i will for thsur look into ta. that's not acceptable. and accountability. you've heard me say it many
times before. the vast majority of people who work at dhs are dedicated professionals. when something like this occurs, we need to all hold them accountable as a community. it's as simple and complicated as that. i'm as familiar with the particular one, but i'll look into it and get back to you. >> i would love that. i should tell you, this of this committee has been talking to a number of whistleblowers from the federal marshall program. did i say tsa? i didn't mean tsa. t it's the federal marshall program. these are all the air marshalls. you've got trouble there. there is inequities that are occ occurring. favorites. abuse of behavior that's occurring. and we have got a string of whistleblowers that have been b coming to us about various problems. so if you would get back to us specifically on this case
involving an veinvestigation by the inspector general as it relates to the federal air marshall program and i would like your take on now that you've been there a short period of time, but long enough, i would like what your view is of the federal air marshall program and whether or not it's being utilized effectively and whether or not we're putting them on the right flights, on too many flights. i've always questioned some of the procedures because you know u, flying back and forth to d.c. on commercial airlines as often as i do for many years, it was really obvious who they were. the two guys in jeans that got on first. if there was an effort to have them intermingle and p effective at youb you know, detecting and shutting down, okay, everybody b standing in line at southwest, they were waiting to be herded on standing by, well, there's
the marshalls. they're going to load us soon. then i would say something. have they got on yet. everybody b would look at me like i said a dirty word, like it's a secret. always worried me that we are not staying ton top of what is the most effective way for us to put security in the air and i would love your take on that from your view as the secretary of homeland security. >> i appreciate that. what we're in the process of doing right now is actually looking at that program. how should it work. does it make sense. is the modeling right. the example you're using is at least as i understand it, was a proceed yur under the belief that deterrence was the most important. so to some extent, if they were obvious as to who they were, they would be a deterrent value. i'm not disagreeing. your point is valid, which is as long as we're resourcing this way, we want it to be effective. so the administrator and i are
happy the to come talk to you b about our initial findings, but yes, it needs to be lookeded at to make sure echinffective. >> we'll be blad to share with you some of the whistle blowing. i would like your response to that ig investigation where people in the heist levels of management were skewing the process in favor of somebody that was ses as opposed to someone who had been abused. >> senator hansen. >> i wanted to touch on home grown terrorism and our efforts to prevent it. the office of partnerships is staffed by 12 people. it's office had 16 positions and through a reprogramming of appropriations requested by secretary johnson was able to
use support staff to build an outreach team that could build relationships with community groups, with civic leaders and law enforcement throughout the country. according to the budget requests for fiscal year 19, the office is quote dedicated to the mission of counter and violent extremism to support countering violent efforts. that's quote. so given the budget and personnel for this office is smaller, but the overall mission is still the same, it would seem that this office would be hard pressed to build partnerships across the country with no field staff. has dhs budgeted for field staff? >> there is some field staff. i'm happy to get you the numbers. just more broadly, quickly, what we've done is we've put the office within the larger office of public engagement so we've multiplied the office. if you will, to make sure we do as a whole group, a a whole part of dhs looked to built those relationships.
>> dhs leads the force on counteracting violent extremism. it was coordinate to help the government's ability to help tackle home grown terrorism. in 2015, it was staffed by representatives from 11 different departments. can you tell me how many different federal agencies provide staff to this task force? >> i do not know. but happy to get back to you this week. >> i also wanted to touch on new hamp shire's specific issue. in my state, we have a specific independeonesian community.
many of whom came fleeing religious persecution against christians. they have become members of the community. worked jobs and paid taxes and raised their families in the seacoast area of new hampshire. now after many year of them living in this country, the department of homeland security has prioritized them for deportation. a decision that could put their lives at risk if they return to a country where violence against religious minorities remains a serious issue. you pledged to jeanne shaheen you'd take another look at this issue. when you went back, what did you find? have you asked immigration and customs enforcement to review and consider their effort to deport members of this community? zpl we have asked them to review it. on the face of it, we don't have an instance. i'd love to work with you to get some -- we don't have an instance that they have moved from prioritization. it's criminals. we don't prioritize groups, nationalities, religious groups.
we're concerned given the terror events in indonesia. >> these are people who went in for their check ins at i.c.e. regular bases and last year, they got tickets. if it weren't for a federal district court, they would be deporteded. so there was a read and these people are not criminals. there was some level of new prioritization there that has put this community at risk and i think there's a strong feeling in new hampshire and i'm glad to hear your response. it would be good if you could make a commitment to finalize an answer on that in the near term!
yes. >> thank you. lastly, i know there's been a lot of discussion on the issue of not only unaccompanied minors, but families are minor children. i'll add my support about our concerns about this when we had a hearing just a couple of weeks ago about the handle of minors especially as they went to sponsors. it was clear that the department does not neither dhs nor hhs, they don't coordinate at all with local authorities and with the states as we look at how we're going to address the needs of children generally who come to this country. and are unaccompanied or separated from their families. i don't support the separation of these children from their famili families.
but if children are placed away from their families, i think it's imperative that the department and hhs work with the states, states have interstate compacts and how to protect children who aren't with their families. it's important for local school districts to know to expect these children in the only for the local districts planning purposes, but so that if these kids don't show up, there's somebody somewhere who knows to go look for them and find out what's happened to them. we need to see planning and we need to see a better system for addressing the needs of children who come to this country. senator harris. >> thank you. >> secretary nielsen, how many children have been separated from their parents at port of entry since january 2017? >> i understand you referenced 700 before. which was an hhs number.
our figures are not the same as theirs, but we're happy to come give you our numbers and explain why they differ. >> can you submit that by the end of next week? >> and could you share that? if you have different in your opinions of children, that's something that just on its face is alarming. ooitd like to figure out why. >> i think it's in part was when hhs does the interview, they don't ask the child why they're unaccompanied. so their numbers are different than ours if you're asking at the border for example. so it's not necessarily that they conflict. it's just that they're asking different questions, but yes, we'll provide you and eck plain that. and again, i've asked these questions under secretary before, so perhaps everyone's working on it and i'd expect to get it be i the end of next week. can you give us information about the average length of separation between those
children and their parents? that number you are now going to bring to us. hoping and will assume your protocols would have a goal or time frame in mind. >> yes, ma'am, they do. part of it is a voluntary dna test. if it's a family member. the concern that i have with that and we do offer that, but the concern is that you could still have a custodial relationship and not be a blood relative, so it's not just positive to appropriate. but yes, that is our goal. >> again, i would like for the committee information on how many of those cases results in trafficking charges.
regarding detention conditions. secretary, are you aware that multiple federal oversight bodies such as the oig have documented medical negligence in the detention system that i.c.e. has reported 170 deaths. are you familiar with that? >> no, ma'am. >> and that pregnant women receive insufficient medical attention result iing in dehydration and miscarriages. >> i don't believe that's a current assessment. >> can you please summit a current one. >> we provide neonatal care and do pregnancy careening from ages 15 to 56 a. we provide youds outside specialists. we do not detain women past their third trimester. we provide them separate housing. so yes, we're happen foy deall of things we do to take good care of them.
>> did you submit that in response to their findings? >> we have been, yes, of course, working in conjunction with them. not sure what the date of the report you're referencing, but i will look into it. >> and between fiscal year 12 and march of 2018, it's our understanding that bf i go on t report is from december. this past year. 2017. so very recent. five months ago. also ice received 1,048 allegations of sexual abuse in detention facilities and only a small percent of these claims have been b investigating. are quou familiar with that? >> no. >> can you please provide to this committee in angel analysis of what is going on?
and what plan you have to investigation those cases of sexual abuse and what is the protocol in place in terms of what is being done to allow the victim to be in a safe place during impending any investigation? what kind of services are these victims giving in terms of treating their trauma as a result of what might be the result of sexual abuse. their determination is that base nay saw nothing, but much better experience than in other areas. >> i'm sorry. is this in response to the concern -- 148 alleges of sexual abuse in pha tailsies in. >> fo, in wanting to ensure that the detention centers are taking appropriate care of anybody who
is detaineded. >> obviously sexual abuse would not fall into that category. >> that just happened. i don't know when these results are, so i'll look into them of course. >> 12 through march of 2018 this year. >> we'll look into it. >> thank you. >> and regarding your treatment in the facilities of pregnant women on december 14th again, in this report, i.c.e. issueded a new directive of release for pregnant women which were transferred to i.c.e. in recognition of the clear health risks that detaining pregnant women in jail like conditions pose. i was alarmed frankly, secretary, by your statement to senator murray. that pregnant women were receiving quote much better care than when they're living the
shadows. so are you aware that of the views of american on sbstetrici and gynecologists and american academy of pediatricians who have all criticized the harmful effects of detention on medical and mental health of pregnant women. >> what i know is that if you cross points of enter ary, you'll be detained and prosecuted. i also know that of the only 35 people we have in detention who are pregnant, 33 are stat chorly required to be detaineded. i also know we go above and beyond adequate health care. if they're come here and fleeing persecution and don't have funds and trying to get equivalent care, it was my discussion we were providing care within the
detention centers. if you're in your third trimester, you'll be release ed, but if you break the law, you'll be detained. >> when it begins. >> is there a directive that has gone out? >> yes. >> will you supply the committee please with a copy. >> yes, it's the same policy we've always had. the only thing we're doing is no longer exempting classes of people from the law. if you praek tbreak the law, yo will be b prosecuted. >> thank you. >> as long as we're talking about uac, in terms of family units, best numbers i can come up with since 2013, about 225,000 units. you take the minimum, one child,
a 450,000 individuals. you're saying about 700 are, we've seen separations of from 2013. is that just currently in detention? i believe the hhs number was a year number. which of those, is that really the parent? there's some question. so you're really taking that step to protect the child so we're not dealing with a human trafficking situation. >> in 2014, the members were apprehended and just released. at that psi hearing, it's actually a rather alarming number of ms 13 members that had been captured and some of them
have been b deported. do you have ths figures on ms13? >> yes, we are in conjunction with the department of justice. one u of the other loophole ss a quick case called zebidos. it requires us to release criminal aliens back in six month ifs they're country is not willing to take them back. the criminals go back into the community. it's 1700 released last year. >> so that is last year. do you have that information going back a number year sns. >> happy to have it for you. >> i'd lake that data. >> working on peace legislation in terms of the authorities on unidentified aircraft systems, this is a really complex issue. really is.
i guess i'd like to give you the to describe the complexity of it. i think we are so far behind the curve on these things. these drones have become far more prevalent and are a real danger. they're being used on the battlefield and dropping. again, i don't want to put any ideas in people's head. but can you just talk b about what you want to do? i was trying to get into discussion, a more robust response. just want to have you talk a little bit more of the complexity os f the issue and what you're asking for in terms of authority. what you need. >> sure. we don't have the able thety to monitor or in some cases, identify in a traditional sense the department of defense has such authority.
so we've mimicked or request. >> so real quick, what is the department, name the facilities the department of defense has. is is it just around their facilities? how limit snd. >> theirs is limited as well. i wouldn't say all of their course, but it doesn't cover all of their facilities, so it's very spescific and limited. >> so we have sports stadiums and a number of venues that there's not authority. not local, not state, not federal. >> correct. it's a soft target is a big concern then of course the bod border. we're seeing them being used. i don't want to put ideas in people's minds, but we're seeing them being used on the border. >> department of energy have some authority as well. >> the department of energy does. dhs and doj are lacking authority. in terms of what we're doing, you're right. we have because we lack authority, we have limitations
on testing. limitations on research and development. we have limitations on using the authority that would be in the bill. would go a very long way in helping us to get on top of this threat. >> want to continue to work with you. i think this is absolutely crucial. >> i just need to correct something for the record. in the section of my book, i had a whole section on the morale and whistleblower issues at the federal marshalls part. then i had a separate section on the report where there was problems with an ses employee manipulated by senior management. that was tsa. i wanted to make sure we didn't close the hearing without me explaining that i got them conflated. >> okay. not a problem. let's quick turn to the election security. we've held a briefing on this. we've certainly talk about this in other venn ryus in other hearings. from my standpoint, there are three areas at risk. affecting the border tally.
the actual vote. then you have affecting the voter file then finally, just because of the disruls, the public not having it was a legitimate election. it's that the department has all the authorities you believe you need to address all three. is that correct. >> yes, that's correct. >> voter tally, because election machines are not tied into the internet, there are some with wi-fi that are disabled. >> right. our best practice is do not connect to the internet. >> they don't unless it's nefarious means. for an outside actor through cyber activity to change the tallies, it's not possible? >> that is my understanding. what is more likely is the counterinfluence question. would they change the minds of americans through propaganda and
et cetera, that's something the fbi has the lead on. >> through facebook? >> yes, sir. >> basically illegally campaigning. voter files, that's a concern, but, again, we have different controls and things in place and we know that would be disruptive in the election and that would turn into a legitimate election? >> what we recommend is redundancy. if you don't use a paper ballot, make sure you have an audit function so we can assure ourselves americans have voted and their vote counts and it's counted correctly. >> one more point. i think the biggest threat really is just the public perception, is this a legitimate election. and if we overstate the ability of a bad actor to vote -- affect the voter file or the vote tally, we actually do the, you know, malign actors' job for them. so i think it's very important that we are very honest in terms of what is the threat in terms
of the first two so we don't affect the third. >> i agree with that. our responsibility first and foremost belongs to state and local election officials. we're working with them. we're hosting a meeting for all members of congress, i understand the senate might not be able to attend -- on thursday. but to answer any questions, talk about the threat, i think it's very important that everyone understands what we are doing, but also what the states are doing and what in some cases they need to do to assure their public they're doing everything they can. >> but you believe you have the authorities and resources to cover this. >> yes. >> d [ inaudible ] -- i appreciate the secretary being here. >> then we'll close out the hearing. secretary nielsen, thank you for your service. certainly appreciate your taking the time here and your forth right answers to our questions.
weapons, and military drones. this two-hour hearing begins with committee chair mac thornberry. >> committee will come to order. for the last three national defense authorization acts reform, especially acquisition reform, has been a major priority. the purpose has to get more value for the taxpayers out of the money spent, but even more importantly, to make the department more agile in dealing with the variety of security challenges we face. as secretary mattis has testified, our technological position has eroded in recent years compared with our leading veafrs. we confront threats that don't con form to our traditional