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tv   Refugee Admissions Oversight  CSPAN  October 26, 2017 8:00pm-9:32pm EDT

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[background noises] [background noises] >> tonight on c-span2 immigration officials discuss the refugee admissions process. a senate hearing on the state of free speech on college campuses. senators debate the budget and tax reform. later, a cato institute forum on republican tax form proposals. at this house hearing, federal officials discussed how refugees asylum applications are handled
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and how immigrants are bedded. congressman labrador of idaho shares the house judiciary subcommittee on border security. this is one hour and a half. >> subcommittee on immigration and border security will come to order. without objection, we declare recesses of the committee at any time. we welcome everyone to today's hearing on oversight of the united states refugee admissions program and i now recognize myself for an opening statement. i have long been a supporter of us refugee admission programs and the importance humanitarian is missions it serves. the united states and the peace and democracy under which we
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live should give hope to those around the world to face persecution by their government. their home commies can appoint the free of such [inaudible] as a former immigration lawyer i seen the us rap at work firsthand. i have seen those who have been able to avail themselves of it come to this country and five. just like with many government programs that start out with best intentions and over the years proved to me to update the time has come for reform of the program. a few problems i have come to light in recent years include fraud, unchecked executive 30, threats or national security. the house judiciary committee has highlighted some of these deficiencies over the last few years. for instance, we all know that through testimony in 2015 the former fbi director made troubling statements about the inability of law enforcement officials to properly that africans for refugee status. former administration officials acknowledged in testimony to
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this committee that state and local competitions throughout the refugee resettlement process has not been as robust as needed in all cases. in fact, i have been approached by colleagues regarding this issue and their concern the abuse of the states and localities they represent were ignored by an administration that simply wanted to resettle as many refugees as possible without regard to prudence. on the issue of fraud in the program i am pleased that today we have the government accountability office here to discuss the reports issue this past spring. this highlights potential fraud in the process. these issue i have mentioned as well as others lead me to introduce hr 28 and 26 integrity restoration act of 2017. among other things to build the energy [inaudible] i am placing
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the response the word should be, with us in paris. the bill also recognizes the states and localities should have a true stay in whether or not their communities are resettling refugees and hr 26 contains provisions help us to stop fraud and concerns. this test is a marked the end of the 120 travel suspension for refugees and i know the relevant department have instituted and screening and betting procedures for refugee applicants for the application process, the interview and three the system checks conducted on applicants. the previous administration always stated in response to any security related questions about the programs that [inaudible] even if true, i never understood why the administration thought that simply because they were the most vetted that the vetting
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was sufficient. it seems that's within months of taking over the new administration has identified several areas in which betting could be improved and i appreciate the attention to security concerns and the steps they have taken. i look forward to the testimony of the witnesses here today and i yield that the balance of my time. i now recognize our ranking member from california for time. >> my highest priority is protecting our national securi security. today's hearing presents an opportunity to examine a threat to that security. president trumps anti- refugee agenda. mr. trump has characterized immigrants generally in refugees in particular as bad actors bent on harming americans. the conservative cato institute founded the odds of an american being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee are one in
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3.64 billion. by comparison, the odds of being struck by lightning are one in 700,000. the truth is this. it is not refugees that undermine our nation security. it is mr. trump's radical restrictions on admissions and those include multiple refugee vans, a record low and imposed at the time of record high global displacement. it's a failure of american leadership in the world. let me identify two of the many ways in which these policies undermine our safety. first, by substantially lowering muslim refugee admissions these measures project anti- muslim sentiment that fuels isis agreement. brian crocker, former ambassador to iraq and afghanistan preserved under public in and democratic organization said this way. those who stand against them say
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they are protecting the nation. they are not. they're putting it at greater risk by reinforcing the islamic state emeritus and in other words, donald trump actions galvanize individuals bent on committing terrorist attacks against americans. second, those policies damage partnerships with key allies in the fight against terrorism. michael, dj secretary under george w. bush specifically warned of the implications for our iraqi allies. some 60000 of them await refugee resettlement in america and many of their lives are at risk because of their assistance to the american military and state department. yet, the record low fiscal year 2018 refugee sealing means that only a small portion of them will be resettled. by turning his back on these allies president trump discourages them, as well as
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other partners around the world, from helping the united states in future anti- terror initiatives. this leaves all americans more vulnerable to terrorist attack. such national security consequences are so significant that white house aide even muller appeared to have deliberately marginalized key us defense and national security agencies in order to push through the record low refugee camp according to a report, muller cut out the national counterterrorism center at fbi, defense department and joint chiefs of staff, our core national stakeholders from discussions about reducing refugee resettlement. it even close to the state department official who stated that mr. muller "suppressed evidence that was important to consider in determining the refugee number that would be beneficial with national security interests". this gives the troubling appearance of the trump administration prioritizes anti- refugee agenda over the safety of the american people. i, along with my colleagues
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support rigorous vetting measures and as noted, we have no higher duty than protecting the american people but let us hope this administration will not use claims of national security or reviews of national betting procedures as cover for implementing a backdoor muslim man. after all, numerous federal courts challenged the admission claim that its previous man squarely advanced national security objectives. refugees do more than just improve our national security. they are core to our american identity and values. past presidents of both parties have embraced them and contrary to this administration suggestions numerous studies prove they enhance our economy. health and human services itself produce one of those studies only for the administration to reportedly suppress it. it showed that over a decade
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refugees made a net positive economic contribution to the united states of some $63 billion. another study found that significantly more likely americans were thereby create jobs for american workers and in my own district refugees have enriched our community. i'm deeply troubled by the disconnect between the administration's rhetoric and reality and i hope today's hearing will show greater regard for the truth. we owe it to the american people to eliminate mr. trumps anti- refugee policy, violate our values, damage our economy, make all of us less safe but i would also like to add that when refugees and [inaudible] enter our country they have constitutional rights that must be respected. i'm sure we will explore that further in the course of his hearing. i yield back the balance of the time.
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>> thank you. i would now like to recognize the full committee chairman of virginia for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i much appreciate you holding this hearing today on this very important issue with this outstanding panel of witnesses. the united states has a generous refugee program as provided millions people playing persecution. we resettled [inaudible] refugees and the last fiscal year we rattled 53716 refugees. while we should continue the great tradition it has become clear that our refugee laws and policies have been abused and they need to perform. the refugee act of 1980 created our current refugee resettlement process in which the president sets the annual limit for the number of refugees the united states can resettled during the next fiscal year. he sets forth who can be admissible as refugee and how and when those refugees can adjust to lawful permanent
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status. he is put in place a process for the federal government to work through nongovernmental agencies to be settled refugees. thirty-seven years later members of congress and the american public are voicing a growing number of concern about how many in the process through which refugees are admitted to the united states as well as what happens once they are admitted. the federal government has done little to respect those concerns. under the previous administration when a state or locality expressed concerns about refugee resettlement the administration simply repeated the soundbites that refugees undergo the most rigorous background checks of any immigrants tonight six. that same and ignored the concerns of several security officials that if there is no information regarding a potential refugee in the databases that are checked then no derogatory information will show up during the check and it ignores the fact that in many states from which refugees are
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admitted failed state there is no reliable information about refugees. we know that's over 300 individuals being actively investigated for terrorist -related activities by the fbi came to the united states as refugees and we know that at least two of the ten successful terrorist attacks carried out on us soil since september 11, 2001 were perpetrated by individuals who entered the united states as refugees. in addition to security concerns if a state or locality expressed concerns about the cost of refugee resettlement or the lack of available employment opportunities the prior administration did little in response. it was simply their view that "the federal government has the right to resettle refugees all across america". while that may be true, it is not necessarily the best practice.
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i know that many resettlement organizations do wonderful and necessary work but essentially ignoring the pleas of communities across the us and leaving refugee resettlement decisions to the administration simply feed's opposition to refugee admissions on the whole. i know the trump administration has already addressed some of the concerns i have addressed today. i was happy to see that executive order 13780 signed on march 6, 2017 recognizes the problem with a lack of state and local consultation prior to resettlement. they asked the secretary of state to devise a plan to promote state and local involvement in resettlement decisions. course, the same executive order requires a review of refugee processing to determine what improvements could be made to the process and then to implement those improvements. i look forward to hearing today how the department of homeland security state and health and human services are working together to improve the entire
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us refugee admissions program from referral to post resettlement. the program can remain unpalatable and viable part of us immigration policy. thank you, mr. chairman. i back the next i would like to recognize the full committee ranking member mr. conyers of michigan will. >> thank you, mr. chairman. top of the morning witnesses and everyone else here. over the course of today's hearing on the united states refugee mission program there are several factors that i want our witnesses and our members to consider. to begin with, it is incontrovertible that the united states, since its founding, has been a nation of immigrants. in recognition of the fact and of the undeniable value that immigrants contribute to our collective well-being, it has
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provided safe harbor for the persecuted. true to these values, past presidents, republican and democrat alike, have championed robust refugee resettlement. for example, the annual refugee admissions has averaged 94000 since the refugee act of 1980, making america the world resettlement leader. in just one year ago the cap was increased to 110,000 in response to the global humanitarian crisis fueled by wars and unstable political environments. unfortunately, the current administration in strict fashion abandoned americans bipartisan
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leadership in this arena. pursuant to executive orders president trump issued a series of refugee bands. he then set a fiscal year 2008 ceiling of 45000. the lowest in modern history. in terms of refugee capital resettlement that breaks the united states behind eight other nations. under any circumstance these actions would fly in the face of our country's values but coming at a time when worldwide refugee level have soared to the highest in history this cap to me is on conscionable and worst yet, the administration reported justification toward its actions
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are baseless. for instance, the administration argues with the refugee program poses a security threat. needless to say, democrats stand committed to rigorous refugee betting but national security experts from both parties agree that it is the absence of robust resettlement that truly undermines america's safety. by slashing refugee admissions president trump damages, to me, key alliances in the ongoing fight against terrorism and strengthens isis equipment. the administration also claims that refugees failed to assimilate and that they join public resources. again, however, the facts are
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otherwise. according to reports in internal study by the department of health and human services suppressed by the administration shows that refugees contributed a net positive $63 billion to the united states over a ten-year period. it is not refugees but the presidents restrictions of their admission that saps the nation's coffers. in some president trump's policies don't just lead tens of thousands of refugees in limbo and danger, they don't just violate core american values but they weaken our national security, damage our economy, undermine our nation's core values. all of this begs the question of what really fuels such policies.
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tragically the answer to that question appears to be, to me, a combination of nativism, fake fax and perhaps even a little bigotry drawing from arguments made by anti- immigrant organizations designated by the southern poverty law center as hate groups documented links to white nationalists. the administration is even proposed a refugee assimilation test which evokes such xena phobic measures as the eugenics movement view, 1924 immigration act which restricted immigration from southern europe and banned outright from asia. like the 1924 act the presiden t
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administration policies are equally inexcusable. in closing, i urge our witnesses today to examine these policies on the flinching and to assess how gravely they endanger the values, our economy and even our national security. i look forward to your testimony and i think the chairman annual back. >> without objection. other members of any payments will be made part of the record. >> mr. chairman, may i be granted unanimous consent to place into the record statements from the hebrew immigration vision aid society international refugee assistant project [inaudible] the episcopal church
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and a letter to acting secretary eric hartigan and director lloyd from over 100 organizations including the california women's law center, the american rabbis, human rights campaign and many others? >> without objection that we made part of the record. today we have a distinguished panel. the witnesses written statements will be entered into the record and its entirety and i ask that you summarize your testimony in five minutes or less. to help you stay within that time there is a timing light on your table. when the light switches from green to yellow you will have one minute to conclude your testimony. when the light turns red it signals that your five minutes has expired. before i introduce our witnesses i would like you to stand and be sworn in.
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do you swear the test many were about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. let the record reflect that the witnesses answered in the affirmative, thank you and please be seated. mr. simon henshaw has served as the acting assistant for the [inaudible] and the department of state since july 2015. mr. henshaw previously served as director of indian affairs and the state department's bureau of [inaudible]. mr. henshaw attended the national war college where he earned a masters of science and national security affairs and has a bachelor of arts in history from the university of massachusetts at our first. the honorable l francis is the
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director of us citizenship and immigration services. previously, he served as director for immigration policy within the dhs office of policy and as the acting director and deputy director of immigration on border security policy. were serving in dhs dhs headquarters he worked in the us cis office is the chief counsel of an associate counsel in the adjudication of the law division. he received his jd from georgetown university law cent center, received a masters degree in international affairs from columbia university and bachelors degree from both physics and political science from the massachusetts institute of technology. this is based on political science and an interesting domination. [laughter] mr. scott lloyd is director of office refugee resettlement.
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esther lloyd previously worked as an attorney in the public policy office at the knights of columbus for joining the nights he worked in private practice at the department of health and human services and on capitol hill. mr. lloyd received the undergraduate and at james madison university and earned a jd at columbus school of law. ms. rebecca gambler is homeland justice team which leads gao's work on border security, immigration and election issues. ms. gambler joints gao in 2002. prior to joining gao she worked as the national endowment for democracy international forum with democratic studies. she has an ma in national security and strategic studies from the united states naval war college and ma and national relations from syracuse university and an ma in political science from the university of toronto. i now recognize mr. henshaw for his statement.
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>> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding this hearing on the us refugee admissions program which i will now refer to as [inaudible]. i appreciate this opportunity to address the concerns. together the department of state, dhs h aa plan to bring up to 45000 refugees to the united states through the use wrapped in fiscal 2018. the security and welfare of the american people is this administrations property. in the adjudication and systems checks processes to strengthen our betting system. we will continue to find ways to make it more effective to
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protect the american people. for those eligible for protecting the refugees we are committed to deterring and detecting fraud among those seeking to settle in the united states. he will continue rigorous security measures to protect against threats from our national security. in fy 2018 united states expects to continue to properly resettle more refugees than any other country and we will continue to offer protection to the most honorable of those that have been persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group. since 1935 the nine seats is walk more than 3.4 million refugees and the united states continues to operate the largest refugee resettlement program in the world. through the transects and generous programs in the united states demonstrates its commitment to protecting the most vulnerable of the refugees while keeping america safe from harm.
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according to the united nations high commission for refugees unhcr there are 65.6 million forcibly displaced people in the world today. 22.5 million of whom are refugees. the united states and unhcr force it on focuses on three ways to address the situation. volunteer repatriation, local integration and resettlement to a third country. the united states unhcr recognizes that most refugees desire stat safe voluntary retuo their homelands and we share unhcr priority helping facilitate the law and terry repatriation of refugees and safety indignity. in 2016 some 552,000 refugees involuntarily repatriated to their countries of origin. those refugees were unable to voluntarily return safely to their home country, the united states supports efforts to help
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refugees become self-sufficient and locally integrate into their countries of the first asylum. determine the state encourages host governments to protect refugees into allow them to integrate into local communities. we brought local integration by funding programs to enhance refugee self-reliance in support community-based social services. our support has enabled numerous refugees from around the world to integrate into their host communities abroad, even while awaiting eventual voluntary repatriation. the refugees were unable to return home safely and integrate locally resettlement in third countries provides a durable protection. turn eight betting process is managed by dhs and includes a participation in the department of state and defense, fbi and the intelligence community. this includes the national counter terrorism. dhs retains the authority to refuse refugees for a mission. in response to executive order
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13780, protecting the nation from forced terrorist entry into the united states it was was suspended in 2019 for 120 day. with the exception of certain cases. during this period the term in a state homeland security and the office of [inaudible] and additional intelligence office agencies reviewed and enhance the security screen merging for refugees. the program is currently in the midst of an additional review of national security of certain countries with the potential for higher risk. turn for a
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>> thank you very much. i recognize mr. cissna for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman. good morning to the members of the committee. i'm francis cissna, the director of u.s. citizenship and immigration services or uscis. i'm glad to have this opportunity to discuss the role of cis in the nation's refugee admissions processes. i look forward to meeting each of you individually to discuss how we, work together. since this is my first opportunity to address any part of congress in my new capacity as directow, wanted to take a moment to quickly let you know some of my philosophy regarding
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the work we do at uscis. upon my arrival, about two weeks ago, i made it clear to leadership team my vision is one that focuses on three things, efficiency, fairness, and lawfulness. efficiency. the sheer volume of the work they do makes it imperative the efficiency be a gee goal. movement from antiquated paper-based processes to one that leverages the latest technology will allow to us process applications and petitions in an efficient and integrated way. fairness. transparency in our operations from individual case inquiries to massive data requests is essential to the question of fairness. us scis is committed to providing the most accurate and complete information to the public, whether they are an mix cans, petitioners or the general public, as possible. doing so i believe will demonstrate our promise to adjudicate bren fit applications and petitions fairly.
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finally, lawfulness. everything we do must be done in accordance with the law. to tao often noble intentions resulted in creation of policies and trapped circumvent or directly contradict the nation's immigration laws. i will ensure that everything we do, policy and process, is always in agreement with the law. you can be sure these principles will be applied to every part of the asia including refugee admissions. the uscis is prepared to work closely with the department of state to support the refugee admissions up to 45,000 arrivals in fy2018 and acid maintaining the program. on march 6th president trump issued executive order 13780 called protecting the nation from foreign entry into the united states. in that document the president stated this: it is the policy of the united states to protect
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itself citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals. while the executive order has been the subject of litigation, portion office it were enjoined for a time, uscis worked to strengthen the integrity of the u.s. refugee program consistent with legal obligations. pursuant to that executive order, uscis and it's partners engaged in a 120 day review process that ended just two days ago. eye lie to share the results. as a result of the review, the federal government is implementing enhancements that raised the bar for vetting and screening, including enhancing the collection of biometric information, better information sharing between state and dhs and new training procedures to strengthen to detect fraud. the suspension of the program in 13780 has served is purpose. the president issued a new executive order ending the
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suspicion and directing state and dhs to resume refugee reset.ment process consistent with the improved vetting measures. while dhs, state and the detectorat of national intelligence agree that the program are adequate, the generally resume refugee admissions, they have also concluded additional in-depth review is needed with respect to refugees from 11 cubs that were prely identified as posing a higher risk to the united states. consequencely, admissions for an lick -- april applicanted witness resume but on a case-by-case bay sunday during a 90, day review period. they may resume a standard admissions process. these new measures are part of the administration's initiative to raise national security standards across the board. enhancemented will be evaluated
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to determine the efficacy for ensuring national secure. the administration will continue to work closely with law enforcement and the intelligence communities on these security enhance.s and work with you to ensure that operational and legislative efforts arewell well-coordinated. finally, i wanted to just touch one subject and that is the asylum backlog that uscis is facing. 300,000 cases. that's all right. >> we'll let you touch on that during question and answer. thank you very much. and now i recognize mr. lloyd for five minutes. >> chairman, thank you for invite knowing asks the department of health and human services honest to help refugee its settle. i'm scoot lloyd, the director of the office of resettle. i oversee the programs which provide refugees asian seem --
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victims of trafficking and other populations with support and services to assist them to become integrated members of american society. in my testimony today i will describe the role that hhs pays in refugee settlement. in addition to refugees, acai lees, cuban and -- victims of human trafficking are eligible for orr services. orr's mission is to link the populations to resources to help them become successfully assimilate members of american sew size. fiscal year 2016 the united states resettled refugees from 89 countries and in total over 212,000 individuals were eligible for resettlement services through orr programs. orr carries out the mission to serve refugees through grants and relate services administered by state governments and nonprofit organizations, including faith-based groups and extensive public-private partnership network. through the grants orr provides
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assist tons the refugees and case management services, english language classes and employment services. all designed to facilitate refugee's successful transition and assimilation into life in the united states. to ensure a successful transition for refugees, orr funds cash and medical assistance for individuals who are determined not eligible for ssi, tanf and medicaid. through programs administered by states and by voluntary organizations under the programs orr provides assistance to eligible populations for up to eight months after arrival in the united states. a portion of new entrants participate in the voluntary agency matching grant program rather than the refugee cash assistant program. through the matching grant program, orr funds u.s. resetment agencies to help refugees become employed and self-sufficient within the first four month inside u.s. by providing services such as case management, job skill development, job placement, and
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followup, and internal housing and cash assistance. participating refugees may not access other public cash assistance if they choose to participate in the matching grandprogram. this employment focused case management model is effective in helping refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency. in fiscal year 2016 the program served 35,000 refugees, entrants and special immigrant series a holders. a reported self-sufficiency rate of 84% for refugees at 180 days after arrival. orr provides funds to state governments and private nonprofit agencies to support social services, including english language courses, employment services and social judgment sufficients. orr allocate funds baited on a formula tried to the prior year of arrival data that conditions for refugees and other movements to other states after their initial reitlement.
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grants are given to county wiz high number of refugee arrivals. services provide the program are generally design to help refugees secure employment within one year or less of their arrival. orr programs also support economic development activities. these program focus on financial literacy, establishing credit and match savings in support of housing purchases, educational goals and havens business startups that in turn employ thousands. orr is committed to achieve agriculture of excellent throughout the programs. the program is redoubling efforts to obtain depenable data on program outcomes. and orr has engaged in an initiative to improve data and research hour refugees are integrating into the united states. orr has awarded to research contracts elm first contract will oversee the annual sir say of refugees for two years.
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we have improve the sampling designed to ensure that orr has nationally representative data for refugees hope to first five years in the united states. the second research contract will assess ways to improve the survey as an indicator of refugee successes and challenges. in addition, orr is particularly interested in enhancing dat collection from our state and local service providers to better assess refugees' success and assimilation in communities post arrival. orr is working on a number of related dat collection initiatives to strangen performance and outcomes. i welcome the committee's interest in the programs. thank you for the opportunity to discuss the work we program and i'd be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you, mr. lloyd. i now recognize miss gambler for five months. >> good morning, chairman, ranking member, and members of the subcommittee. appreciate the opportunity to testify at today's hearing to discuss goas work on the process
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by which refugees extinct be resettled in the united states. the united states admitted nearly 58,000 refugees in fiscal year 2016 and over 50,000 in fiscal year 2017. in recent years questions have been raid regarding regarding ty of the process for screening refugees seeking resettlement and the extent to which the process may be vulnerable to fraud. in two gao reports issued this year we canada u.s. government efforts to oversee and implement the admissions program as well as efforts to identify and address the potential fraud in the program. my oral remarks summarize the gao key fine examination recommends in three areas. one, policies and procedures for case processing. two, policies and procedures for adjudicating refugee applications. and, three, efforts to assess and address fraud risks. first, state, through its nine support centers overseas, have policies and procedures for processing refugee referrals and
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applications to the united states. for example, states procedures include requirements for these centers to conduct prescreening interview of an applicant dozen obtain information on persecution stories. state has verious mechanisms to oversee the activities of these refugee support centers. however, state does not have outcome-based performance indicators to assess the center's performance such as enduring the quality of the center's prescreening activity its. we recommend that the state develop some indicators and state concurred. second, within the department of homeland security, usdis has policies and procedures to adjudicate refugee application. for those adjudications we observed during our audit we found that staff generally immigrant pled the pressured ours and provided training to all officers who adjudicate refugee applications abroad, however usdis could improve the training. specifically we found that officers
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officers officers who adjudicated applications on the temporary basis did not receive the tame train agent fullile refugee officers. we recommend that additional training be provide for temporary officers and usdis has done so. with regard to quality assurance, usdis has not regularly salessed the quality of refugee adjudications to help ensure that files are complete, and that the decisions on applications are well-documented and legally sufficient. thus we recommended that usdis conduct regular quality assurance assessments. finally, state and -- the admissions program that could improve efforts. while infrequent, instance of us staff fraud has occurred, such as processing center staff solis sitting bribes fromming a applicant inside change forked and diedded ex-bet -- ex-bet
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tiedded processing. regarding applicant fraud, the past the state spend programs because of fraud. state and u.s. sdis have implemented mechanisms to prevent april public can't fraud but have not assessed the risks program-side. assessments and usdis do not have the comprehendingsive information on risks they may affect the integrity of the process. we also recommend that state and usdis conduct regular joint fraud risk assetments of the program. in close, giving the potential consequences that the outcomes of decisions on refugee applications can have on the safety and security of both vulnerable refugee populations
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and the united states its important that the u.s. government have an effective refugee process to allow for resettlement approved applicants and preshent those with ma liberty intent fromogy the program to gain entry into the country. this complete mist prepared statement. >> we'll now proceed equip of with wed itch recognize myself for five minutes. mr. henshaw. as you know last year the u.s. entered into an agreement with australia to accept over 1,000 refugees that australia has refused to resettle. many of whom are from countries to national security concern. when this committee inquired about the agreement, we were told it was classified. press reports have indicated that the deal was little more than australia agreeing to reset al small number of individuals from the northern trying ale countries. don't you agree the american people have the trying know the
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details of the agreement? >> sir, it is our intention to make public as much as the agreement as we can. the report that you initially referred to was classified and remains classified. we have been unable to declassify it -- >> why is that? >> sir, the original report was classified by the australians and we have an agreement with the australians that if the classify a report, it's classified under our system. >> so will you notice support the classification of the agreement? can you identify a wayne to -- we're talk about an agreement that fakes the lives of american people, not -- not the australian people. so, how do we let our people know what is in the agreement and what we're doing? >> i will continue to work towards the declassifying the report, sir. believe that most of the
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information in the report is already in the public domain. >> but we need to know from the government, not what has been leaked to the press. want testimony on what exactly we agreed to with the australians. will you notice doing that? >> i will commit to continuing to work to declassify the information, sir. >> can you please explain the role of the rscs in the refugee program. >> yes, sir. we use urcs to enter the original data on refugees who are -- we are considering for resettlement in the united states. we do some early interviewing, but to collect data, biographical data and information from them so it become later used by dhs and so we can enter into into our -- >> what type --
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>> security system so security reviews can be carry out. >> what types of fraud have occurred at the rsc level? >> i'm not prepared to give full details. i just don't have it with me on fraud. but -- >> didn't you know you were coming to testify about this program? >> yes. >> why are you not prepared? >> i can give you some examples if you would like, sir. we have had a couple cases where -- where people have, um, -- we have had couple cases where people have, um, attempted to portray their information incorrectly to rsd members but
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in all cases that i'm aware -- >> i would like to see report of what kind of fraud? i thought that what's purpose of this hearing and i'm a little bit dumb found we don't have that information. so i would like to know. that's what we're trying figure out, what is happening with this program and i would like that information. mr. cissna, can you explain why the decision was made to concentrate on asylum cases as opposed to refugee cases this fies stall -- fiscal year? >> is a started to say earlier but ran out of time. >> yes. >> uscis is facing a backlog of 300,000 asylum cases. the asylum work we do is complimentary to the refugee work. all vulnerable populations, people seeking relief under the same standard. the backlog is untenable. account have that backlog persist because people are going years potentially waiting for a court date to have their
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benefits adjudicated. we want to divert resources from refugee processing to the asylum backlog. >> just trying to help with the backlog. it's not something nefarious that you're trying to hurt people. actually trying to help people. >> no. we want to help them. >> thank you. the previous administration consistently told us that refugees underwelt the most regular rouse vetting of nye immigrant. but you're note says several ways to improvement the process have been identified. apparently that's been news to the previous administration. can you explain what some of to the hole nets process were and what changes have been made? >> well. >> kickly. >> wouldn't call them holes the process wes have had in place could have been improved. some things we're doing, enhancing and increasing the types of information we collect from people. we're checking -- improving ore interview process and rooting out fraud and determine credibility, and finally, the types of checks we're doing on
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people are being expanded and enhanced to ensure we get the most possible value from those types of investigations. >> thank you very mump. i neck rex nice the gentle latey from cast. >> thank you, mr. chairman. can't help but note that yesterday we market up a bill that would allow hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, of workers paid subminimum wage come into the u.s. with no vetting whatsoever. so if i were a potential terrorist i think i might look at that route instead of the extensive route your describing. >> know how to do it. >> moving right along, i'd like to ask you, mr. lloyd, about policies relative to the rights of asylees in your custody. know we're all aware that the
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so-called jane doe 17-year-old immigrant woman in orr custody was blocked from accessing an abortion and forced to continue a pregnancy against her will. she is a minor, but a court had decided that she had the maturity to make the decision on her own, and yet she continued to be blocked from this constitutionally protected health care. she was not asking the government to pay for care or transport her to a doctor, just to get out of the facility so that she could access a constitutional right that she had. to terminate her pregnancy. obviously as a 17-year-old she could not legally consent to
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the -- i don't know whether she was violently raped or it was a product of statutory rape. she was finally released because a court did intervene. i'd like to did you about your general belief about the rights of women and girls who are in orr's custody. do you believe that women and girls in your custody have a constitutional rights like other people who are in america, or do you think that constitutional rights, for example, to due process and privacy, depend on immigration status? >> i think anybody in -- you're referring to the inaccompanied children program and we provide -- through the country -- anybody who comes into the united states comes with a potential to become a
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full u.s. citizen with full rights to all the freedoms we enjoy, including the freedom to move freely and right to bear arms and vote and others. but that's always subject to a process, whether it's -- if they come through as a uac or some other means, it's a process where as the person moves through the process, then they gain additional -- >> let me interrupt. the due process clause applies 0 everybody who is here. i believe. that's what i learned in law school. that's what the case law seems to say. do you agree with that or not? >> due due process clause does, yes. >> let in ask you, moving forward this "washington post" reports -- we don't know if this or true or not which is why i'm asking you -- that suggested
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that you have personally intervened to try and persuade minors not to have abortions. i would like to know, did you have direct contact with the young woman in this case that was in the paper? do you have direct contact with other pregnant girl inside the care of orr? and do you have any medical training? >> well, forgive me but some of the answers to the questions you're asking are -- my ability to answer them fully are really limited by a number of factors, including the court orders and also our duty to protect the individual -- >> i'm not asking for a name. have you ever contacted any anonymous young girl in your care, trying to talk her out of having an abortion? >> as the director, i run the
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uac program, the repatriation program ask the refugee reset.ment program and i'm out in the field in many of our locations and meet with dozens and even perhaps hundreds of the people who we serve, the populations we serve, and so among them i'm certain some were pregnant at the time. >> i'm disturbed you won't answer the question. my time has expired. >> thank you. the chair will now recognize the gentleman from iowa. thank you. >> thank you, i think theguard testimony. listen to the dialogue here, i'd say first that what has been created by that decision of the unelected judge is an unconditional right to an abortion to a minor who can sneak into united states and is still subject to deportation of the deportation. she that the trying go back to
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her country willingly and subject herself to the lives her own country. this is a terrible precedent set by this judge and i hope that this whole judiciary committee one day soon addresses the rogue judges we have in this country and this includes judge watson in hawai'i, and the judge in washington, that seemed to be the venue shopping people that decide they're going to challenge the statutes of the united states, duly pass bid the united states congress, and signed into law by the profiter the united states, and for them to turn that completely upside-down and so i'd like to turn first to mr. sis narks with regard to that, and there's been discussion about the executive orders, and i'd expand it to the challenges to the executive orders in the courts and i read the statute and don't have enemy front of me but it's very clear, congress granted the president the authority to determine who comes and who goes from the united states of america with the security interest of america in mind, and it doesn't say that a judge anywhere can look over his shoulder and determine that
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his judgment is flawed their judgment is superior. i'd ask if you have any pins on the statute after i expressed mine, mr. cissna. >> well, with respect to the refugee statutes, section 207 of the immigration act, it's pretty clear that the authority to let refugees in is totally discretionary. the weird using to restart the program after the suspension was lifted comply with and that the types of checks we're doing, all those thing wes dooring that we talk about earlier, are in full compliance with that, believe. >> you discussed enhance emt biometric collection. can you expand on that? >> i think in answer that question, as with many other questions along those lines i probably wouldn't be able to get into big detail because it's law enforcement sensitivities but i can say that the types of -- the classes of people from whom
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biometrics will be taken, it is intend, shall be expanded in certain cases. so more people will get -- get biometrics from more people and the types of database against which they're checked will be expand. >> talk fingerprint. >> primarily, yes. >> digital photographs? facial recognition? >> we have always done that. always taken forecasts. >> that's the sum total of the biometrics we're discussing. >> i think in general for now, area, but that doesn't preclude -- >> dna i hope one day. cheap to get and cheap to keep. so that's my recommendation. i'd like to concern to miss gambler. in your report, some questions came do mind to me, and the u.n. high commission refugees etch does the u.n. u.n. high commission do background check on any of the lists they maintain and pass over to us for potential refugees? >> we can follow up and see what
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specific information we have on that. congressman king, and get back to you imi know there are under the framework of operation that exists between the department of state and una, i know there is -- there are kind of some speedback loops back anding for on that. we be happy to follow up. >> i appreciate if you could do that, but it would be -- my understanding would be that at this point you're not aware of what background check might be done, if any, by encore? >> yeah. we'll follow up with you on that. the thigh say is that the u.s. refugee admissions program is designed to be a multistep process and so once referrals are made from unhcr to the department of state, when the got -- >> as far was we know -- as far is a know, the information from uncor doesn't have a background
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check, simple play file that's passed on to us and takes time for them to move through the file, maybe as long as two years so the background checks we do have that we're relying upon for this uber vetting process that the president described, if there's no legal existence of that individual in their home country, none that can be uncovered by the record, if it comps up empty we stamp them u.s.a. approved and moving them into the country. is that fair? >> government officials have stated that the security checks are reliant on the information that the u.s. government has. >> if there's none available then we -- mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent for one more short question. >> without 0,. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. i forgot the question. it was that with vetting process that we have, the lack of biometric wes have, i'm just going to suspend that i don't think it's well enough thought
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out and i yield back and thank you for your attention. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i yield the time to the ranking member of the subcommittee. -- of the entire committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i appreciate the discussion that has been generated. let me start off by observing that since the trump administration has come into being, briefing requests submitted by democratic member staff have been repeatedly denied, ignored or delayed. do each of you promise to respect and satisfy the briefing and other requests staffs make
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from both the republican and democratic members alike? mr. cissna? are you okay with that? >> i'm okay with providing any technical assistance or briefings you want in my agency. >> okay, thank you. mr. lloyd? are you okay with that? >> yes, certainly. >> thank you. mr. henshaw? >> yes, sir. >> okay, fine. i wanted to observe that my district has benefited greatly from the economic contributions of the refugee community. refugees from around the world live's reside and own businesses in at the detroit area i script and welcome these hard-working
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refugees and think that my opinion and -- and think that my community is better as a result, and economists have also found that refugees have higher entrepreneurship, make significant contributions to the economy, and on average, pay more than $21,000 in taxes than they receive in benefits. i've got a couple of studies that back it up i'd like consent to include them in the record, mr. chairman. the new american economy, struggle to resilience as well as the economic and social outcome of refugees in the united states and ski nance consent to enter them interest
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the record. >> without objection. >> there is general agreement among all of our witnesses that there have been great benefits of these refugees that make communities like mine better as a result? is there a general agreement with that from all of you here this morning? >> i don't disagree that many read make enormous contributions to our country, yes. >> sure. >> yes, sir. absolutely. >> uh-huh. >> i concur. >> yes. >> all right.
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>> let me get to the observation raid by mr. lloyd. oh do you think referees -- refugees are doing on the question of assimilating. do you believe refugees are currently assimilating or not assimilating? >> in any question like that, i think it's a case-by-case basis, but that's one of the goals outed our program -- goals of our program, once they arrive in the u.s., we administration especially job placement, english language courses. that's going to have the -- >> i know it's going to be on a case-by-case basis, but i mean in general, are the -- do you think that the currently assimilation is coming along okay or not? >> generally from from what i've been able to see, i think so
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yes. >> any other views that anyone wants to recommend on this question that i've asked? >> is assimilation a problem or is it working okay? >> ick get the response? >> you can respond. >> at uscis, we do look at assimilation issues with respect to our citizenship and grantses programs, and with regard to refugees, that's something i think we want to look at more carefully in this fiscal year. so we want to look at it as well. >> anybody else want to chime in on this? my time has expired but we can answer the question. >> i would just add, sir, we concentrate on self-sufficiency and have good results in many refugees becoming self-sufficient and contributing to society america.
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>> good. thank you. >> the gentleman's time has shared. >> may i ask for unanimous consent to put in the record from 24 national and state-based religious groups opposing oppose obstructive policy on abortion. >> without ox. >> i recognize the ya from louisiana for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. director cissna, prior to now, what information was not being shared between state and dhs that is now going to be shared tone hans the safety of the refugee program? >> i think that would squarely fall win the universe of law enforcement sensitivities that i don't feel comfortable discussing in open forum. >> fair enough. can you explain to the committee how the department of homeland security's modified the training of dhs refugee officers to account for serious and potential threat of bad actors who try to abuse the refugee program.
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>> historically the training of refugee officers have been robust, weeks and weeks training that all adjudicators have and then five or six weeks on top of that and then country, specific training that focuses on fraud and other country conditions. in the wake of the working group that implemented the executive order we're going to further increase and improve training so the officers are able to even better assess credibility, which is the key element in interview thing people, and determining whether the person is inadmissible under the law. so times they have criminal offenses or other thing that make them inned a missable and we're trying to train our adjudicators to make better assessments of that. >> do you think now would be a good time to review the asylum standards? meaning that would it be wise for congress to tighten the standard tore credible fear determination to ensure our system is not abused and
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specially in light of this back lo of 300,000 cases? >> i do. i think that -- this is actually one of the immigration priorities the administration advanced two weeks ago or so. one of the many thing wes proverred was that the congress exam that exact issue. think the question would be whether the credible fear standard is actually -- is clear enough to be implemented properly, and i don't think it is. think it could be clarified so that those assessmented are meat bidder the people would don't neat the standard are weeded out. >> i'm glad to hear you say that. we have been working on legislation to help that. miss gambler, can you speak to the fraud at the resellment support centers? mr. henshaw didn't quite ain't completely. what's your thought on that. >> yes, as part of our odd work we did identify that wail infrequent there were some cases of fraud that occurred at the
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rses so we give some examples in our report. in one okay, staff were soliciting bribes on promise of being able to help expedite applications. there was another case in which interpreters were seeking bribes as well. to state's credit and rv crazy credit in response to those instance office fraud, they did take action to respond and strengthen fish processes but there have been some cases of fraud related to rscs. >> thank you. mr. henshaw, back to you the u.s. consistently admits per year vastly more unhcr referred third country reselled refugee than any other country any world. what diplomatic pressure or other incentivizing measures are being used to push other countries to admit more refugee inside. >> we participate in worldwide
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meetings of risk countries and push other countries to take additional refugees. we use that in diplomatic meetings, humanitarian meet examination other meeting around the world to urge other countries. we have also pushed countries that haven't been in the resettlement business before to get into that business. one of the alternatives that we have push for country that aren't regular resettlement countries is to look for alternative methods for people to enter their countries, on working visas or such. >> refugees are proofedded loans to cover the cost of travel to u.s. and funding is provide bed your agency eye. curious to know about the loan repayment rate and if you have steps to ensure prompt repayment of loans. >> repayment late is very high. differs among populations, but it's generally well over 75% and with many populations,
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significantly over that and we continue to look for ways to improve payment of those loans -- repayment of those loans. >> i have a -- 15 second. what are the repercussions to refugees who don't pay back the loan, that 25%? >> i believe itself affects their credit rating but i would have to get back to you on the other details how it affects them. >> would you geoff us that information? >> i can do that. >> thank you. yield back. >> thank you issue yield to the gentle lady from washington. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me pick up on the questions of our ranking member of the subcommittee, miss lofgren. mr. lloyd, do you believe that a woman's constitutional right toberg depends on her immigration status? >> i think the -- any entrant into the united states -- it's a yes or no question, mr. lloyd. do you believe that a woman's
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constitutional right to abortion don't her immigration status, yes or no? >> a number of rights -- >> that is not a yes or no answer. >> my answer is any number of rights depend on where they stand in terms of our immigration system. >> i do not understand that answer. is that a yes or a no? i'll take that as a no. so, do you believe that immigrants have constitutional rights? >> once again, ma'am, if somebody wants to come into the -- >> i'll take that as a no. mr. lloyd do you have medical training of any kind? >> i -- if i needed a vice regarding any medical situation regarding any population i serve i consult the medical -- >> the answer is no, you don't have medical train offering any kind. >> no, i don't. >> are you trained to provide counseling services to young people, mr. lloyd? >> again, if counseling services
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are called for, then i rely on the team of counseling professionals to advise me in my role. >> so, mr. lloyd, what expertise makes you qualified in this jane doe case to override the determination of a texas state court that jane doe is mature and competent enough make her own decision? >> i'm not going to comment on any individual case but in any case that comes across the desk, we look at the totality of circumstances that may affect their case, that may include -- may include policy considerations, medical, social welfare considerations, and we have teams of experts and staff who are well quiched -- wish equipped toed a miss me. in terms of what outcome wiz'll come to or what decisions we'll make, it's going to come from a totality of that advice and the
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facts on the ground. >> mr. lloyd, anybody able to review or override your decision or are you the ultimate decisionmaker with regards to a woman's ability to exercise her constitutional right to abortion? >> the office of refugee reset.ment is situated within the department of health and human services administration for children and family. so i answer to the assistant secretary for children and families and the secretary of health and human services. >> mr. lloyd, is it your intent to block unaccompanied minors from accessing abortion care or will you instruct providers to deny minors types of reproductive health care like contrasession or information on contraceptive methods? how far is your jurisdiction over this issue extend? >> any circumstances going to depend on the totality of acts
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that any individual case brings before us, and so it's always going to be a case-by-case determine. >> extremely troubling to me, mr. lloyd, what is happening. think you're far overreaching over your expertise or jurisdiction. mr. henshaw, from the beginning, america has been a refuge for the persecuted and in keeping with our past, with our values, past republican and democratic president as i liked champions refugees and regard the reef program is a core to the nation's identity and in fact, 20 national security leaders, which us henry king king, michael chartoff, mad line albright wrote that reset. little -- supporting the stability of our allies and partners that are struggling to host large numbers of refugees. and yet this administration has repeatedly and contrary to evidence characterized refugees as frauds, security threats thrd resource drains. so what extent and why do you
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think this administration's view of refugees is so dramatically different from the long standing bipartisan tradition and fundamental american values? >> security is our utmost concern with any refugee program and we have over the years often reevaluate our program to make sure that the security standards are met and that's what we're doing now. i believe that the current plan to bring in up to 45,000 refugees this year is well within our past history of refugee numbers, and signifies we're still the leader in refugee resettlement in the united states -- in the world. sorry. >> are in chairman, ask unanimous consent for one more short question. thank you so much. mr. henshaw this, white house has recently released statement of immigration principles, cited
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a misleading study claiming to show the united states can reset. 12 reef read inside safe zorns near their home countries for the cost of resettling one refugee domestically. are you aware of who performed the study? >> no, i'm not. would just simply say it is always our number one option to resettle people back in the -- voluntarily back in the country from which they fled. >> let me just say and i'll yesterday ball my took the-for-was the center for immigration studies an organization that the southern poverty law center that designated as a hate group and found that it disseminated white nationalist content on over 2,000 occasions, deeply disturbed that the administration would be using that as a source of anything in an official report. yield back, mr. chairman. thank you for the additional time. >> the chair will yield. time the gentle lady from texas.
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>> i thank the gentleman and i really do, as i look, these are public servants, and i thank you for your service. i would argue that the service that each of your agencies are supposed to give really falls in the category of mercy and sympathy and empathy that refugees around the world are facing. i'm not sure whether that is possible, having the kind of statements that are coming from the administration and i frankly believe the american people should realize that when public servants an before us that's are unfortunately the spokesman of a cruel and ugly policied a evidence by the administration. having sat on the immigration subcommittee for many, many
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years, i can probably with great comfort say this is probably the worst time in american history as relates to the rights of immigrants. with that said, i'd like to begin my line of questioning on a general statement. mr. henshaw and mr. lloyd. how do you treat muslim refugees? mer -- mr. henshaw. >> we don't treat refugees any way differently based on their religion. >> how is that possible when the administration has fought consistently for a muslim ban? >> there is no muslim ban. we are simply reevaluating our security system country by country. >> there is a muslim ban proposed by this administration as evidence evidence by the stance stance that the attorney general have been take
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can in in court though they've been undefeated. you're saying you do not decipher and/or reject muslim refugees that it may be in refugee camps in jordan and on the bored of syria. >> never, ever. >> mr. lloyd? >> once they enter into our care, all determineses about placement has already been made. this is office of refugee receiptlement. we administer benefits and trees muslim refugee this same as all other refugees. >> will you submit to this committee your statements in dealing with refugees who have come dish know the process. the american people don't know the process. that is that refugees coming out of areas are in a camp, think you work with the u.n., that's a process, long period of vetting, and then these individuals come to the united states by way of your choice of them out of those
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who are requiring or -- requesting the opportunity to come to the united states. is that not correct? >> well, the -- the initial determination and selection is made with prm in consultation with dhs. >> right. so provide me and this committee with the whole process, and that includes those individuals that may be coming from the area of the muslim ban, because they do exist. i appreciate if you do so. otherwise the myth of taking in terrorist will continue to abound in this particular administration. i would like to pursue also the line of questioning dealing with your treatment of refugees having just visited the border and seeing some of the detention centers that, although i appreciate the service again of the federal employees, it is not a pleasant sight. in particular with mr. lloyd, with miss jane doe again, different you have
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direct contact with doe or those working on her behalf. >> cannot comment on individual cases. >> would you -- i'm not sure why you would not indicate whether or not -- did you have contact with lawyers? did the agency have contact with the lawyers. >> in any case where there is any lawyers involved, we would be in contact with the lawyers, so, yes. >> do you have a set policy that you are pushing by way of the administration that opposes any young women who are falling nature particular statistic that sayses that 60% of those who are trying to flee oppression and persecution coming from the southern border are generally raped by those who are trafficking them or -- and, thereforing are might be in need
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of medical help. are you with that statistic? >> i'm not familiar with that specific statistic. >> do you have any position on providing any sort of humane response to an individual that may have been raped and is pregnant and that falls under the laws of the united states, which would allow an abortion? >> we work in the best interests of all of the uacs who come into our care and to in the confines of our statutory virals. >> they would be covered by the general laws about the ability to achieve an abortion based upon being raped? >> well, that would fall under the dvpra which we limited with -- >> is that a yes? >> i'm sorry. >> they would have that right because of the laws that allow women to secure an abortion because they've been raped. is that a yes? >> with regard to the --
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>> mr. chairman, i'd like additional minute for -- >> i object. you have gone over a minute already. >> will you finish the question, sir? >> you can answer the question. >> okay. with regard to sexual assault, we follow the guidelines of the -- on trafficking victims protection act, and have implemented that into our policy. >> and jane doe's case you did not, honever. >> the gentle lady's time has expired. i gave you an additional minute. >> i appreciate it, mr. chairman, but this is a serious issue. the treatment of refugees under this administration has diminished. it is frankly deteriorate i want to apologize to those seeking refuse in the country under this administration. >> it's an issue and these why wire trying to reduce the number of illegal people coming to the united states because many of them do get raped cross the border. >> appreciate, mr. chairman, we should at least treat them with decency when this company yield
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back. >> this conclude this health thank thursday all of our witnesses for attending. without objection, all members have five legislative days to submit additional written questions for the witness is. this hearing is adjourned... [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> as soon as' "washington gorgeous" live every day with news policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, we're devoting our program to a discussion about sexual harassment. joining us is of the equal point opportunity commission to look at the government's roll in come plating workplace sexual harass emily martin of the national women's law center with talk about private sector efforts and address the problem. and jackson tz will caution ah haas ration. and assault protection education programs. >> watch "washington journal" on friday morning. join the discussion. >> this weekend on booktv:
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the 70th measures party in washington, dc. >> sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. and nbc correspondenten, reflex on the trump cad pain and the 2016 presidential election in the book "unbelievable: my front row seat to the craziest campaign in american history." >> it's no secret that politics don't like reporters generally...
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that is an overwhelming job now and bigger responsibility than we've ever had because we are dealing with so much more information. we were running a little short on curators right now getting so much information that we really can't process it. the free speech on college campuses


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