tv Senate Judiciary Hearing on Drug Cartels Border Security - Panel 2 CSPAN January 8, 2019 11:07am-12:17pm EST
>> my apologies to the back and forth. welcome to the senate for the best laid plans sometimes go awry a because of the voting schedule. it's my pleasure to introduce the witnesses for the second panel. the first is the honorable earl wayne. he was a career ambassador of the diplomatic rank you can achieve. ambassador wayne previously served as ambassador to mexico from september 11th to july 2015. the deputy ambassador to afghanistan from 20 o 09 to 2011 and ambassador to argentina from 2006 to 2009. he's been recognize d for his
leadership in the foreign servi service. our second witness is the honorable roger, the ambassador is currently a visiting fellow at the american enterprise institute. prior to that position he served as assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs and as a u.s. ambassador to the organization of american states. he work ed with leaders to strengthen democracy and advance human rights, foster economic integration and promote peace and security throughout the western hemisphere. he's been. involved with latin american policies in the 1980s. our third witness is the
. from 2002 to 2006 she served as a director of counterterrorism finance programs at the u.s. secretary of state office for counterterrorism in washington, d.c. the professor is a member of the council on foreign relations, international institute for strategic studies and women in international security. the fourth witness is chris mal nus. he's held that position since january 2016. the chief is served in many law enforcement capacities during his long career including service in lansing, michigan, fargo, first degree north dakota. he's an, pert witness for the u.s. department of justice and policing issues in various cities around the country.
welcome, chief. the final witness is dr. andrew, president of the migration policy institute, a position he assumed in early 2017 after serving as executive vice president of thewood droe wilson scholars. . . he's written a number of books on the u.s./mexico relationship and american politics. thank you for being with us today. ambassador, let me start with yo you. >> thank you for your initial
comments. you made a lot of the most essential observations that i was going to make, so i'll try not to repeat them. but you pointed out how the u.s. and mexico society suffer from this illegal trade going on. there's much more to do. mexico's new president is beginning husband six-year term with a large mandate controlling both houses of congress and wants to transform his country. he's made clear a number of times he wants to find ways to cooperate with the united states. so both governments should build on what's been working so far while they explore new ways to
make it better. we should avoid what happened six years ago when there was a year of freeze in cooperation between the two governments during the last presidential transition. what makes sense to continue and also try to identify new priorities that mess with the public surt strategy that put forward in recent weeks. one thing we should try to do is keep going after the business model of these groups. in 2017 the two governments agreed to do that, but we didn't get to go forward with that program very effectively. we should try and do so now. we have to keep working on better coordination between the two sides i agree with the comments of taking steps to manage the risks out there,
including using this new technology that is valk. so we're really looking at all the exit points and we can share that data and analyze it with new software to be more effective in tracking what's going across our borders. there are a number of parts of this eight pillar approach that is presented that i think we can effectively support and work with them in developing. all of this effort needs additional fund iing including additional merit funding. that would be very well used. i agree with taking him up on his offer to develop a regional approach to this program
congress has a vital role to play in this process and making sure this reinvigorated cooperation gets off to a good start. ands that we have sufficiently fu funded plans to take it forward. over the past ten years, it's been under the umbrella of the initiative between mexico and the united states. that initiative brought order, it brought more coordination and more funds to u.s. assistance. it helped build closer cooperation between law enforcement, justice, diplomatic, security, border and intelligence officials on both sides and it greatly improved capacity through the assistance programs that went forward. but more progress is needed. but i think what's important to understand is that all the
people working on this came to accept that dealing with these problems are a shared responsibility. that was not the case ten years ago. right now, there's a great consensus that the way to solve these problems is is working together. we should make sure we can maintain that approach. the opioid crisis has pressed us to realize how important this is. it was a popular backlash. i hope we can now take this opportunity to move forward and
build that cooperation. within mexico since 2014 as was mentioned, criminal groups have spread more widely. their violent activities across mexico and diversified the crimes that they are committing in mexico. very sadly, homicides reached a new record in 2017 and it looks like there's going to be another record set when all the data is in for this year. not surprisingly, prime driver in electing lopez was in security. not surprisingly one of the first plans he's presented is this eight pillar approach. it's not exact overlap with our priorities, but there's a significant area where we could work together between the two governments. he has taken in his eight pillars a look at preventive as well as enforcement issues lo
looking at causes and effects. if you like to later, i could talk a little bit about the eight pillars, but i won't go through them all now. i'll mention one of the most controversial parts is announcing the restructuring in public securities but then he's created a national guard which will be a military service under the secretary of defense. so there are a lot of questions about that that still need to be explored and debated in mexico. at the same time, popular expectations are very high. they welcome a fresh approach. so we need to work with the mexico b government and see how we can mesh these objectives together. merit has been working for the past ten years under its four main pillars. these pillars have been very flexible. they have allowed us to cover a wide range of different programs
and two to evolve priorities to reflect changes in the governments on both sides of the borders as we're working this through. in my written testimony, i go through 19 areas where i think there are good programs underway that would sink very well with the new priorities put forward. >> let me ask when we're asking people to keep to the five minutes opening. let's follow up with some questions and proceed to the ambassador. >> okay. >> thank you for the opportunity to discuss what's at stake in the u.s./mexico relationship. mexico b organized crime has grown as a threat in the last 20 years. worse yet it's part of a dangerous, sophisticated, global crime network right on our doorstep. mexico's new president won a
clear mandate to fight corruption. however, his thoughts of subduing violence with an amnesty and antipoverty programs are not reassuring. this matters because 90% of the cocaine and heroin entering the united states transits mexico sustaining a public health and criminal justice crisis that costs us $200 billion. the mexican people complained about u.s. demand for drugs, which sustains criminals who sew terror, death and instability. we must face this threat as partners because neither government can coexist with lawless groups that attack our people with impunity. i worked against this flthreat r about two decades. mostly in the u.s. congress. and i believe this crisis is worse than ever in the supply and the faulty of drugs, the depth of the networks that
deliver them and the ability or unwillingness to attack them evide effectively. the production of heroin in mexico has tripled. the supply of fentanyl, which is 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, that is increased dramatically. cultivation has quadrupled and cocaine production tripled reaching record highs and filling the mexico b traffickers. deadly gangs from central america are expanding their drug smuggling and distribution operations right to our border. making matters worse, mexican organized crime is part of a global criminal network with $2 trillion in annual income. that's the equivalent of mexican's gdp. carrying that threat right to our doorstep. every day this network does whatever it takes to optimize
the supply chain of elicit drugs to the market here in the united states. here's how we drop the ball in the last ten years. the antidrug alliance in south america that was really the work of george h.w. bush. which he helped pull together, has now fallen apart. we stood by as the last president failed to devise a strategy against the traffickers and improvised response over the last six years has made matters worse. leftist regimes hijacked countries and switched sides. it's looted $350 billion in oil revenue and products from money laundering throughout the americas and in europe. vens wayens use billions to sew corruption and instability and transit zones and in it mexico. even in columbia where we invested $10 billion in aid and
had trusted partners that produced an explosion of cocaine and armed smugglers thriving in venezuela under the protection of the regime. china and russia provided intelligence support, weapons and banking ties that have bet criminal regimes and profitable schemes. the new president's talk of fighting the drugs with an amnesty program sounds like a recipe for surrender. during the transition, we have to lock in the mutually beneficial and social security cooperation that exists today. the president should designate an ambassador whose judgment he trusts to maintain a candid dialogue. we should encourage to fulfill his anticorruption mandate to impose the rule of law and overhauling the police and criminal justice system.
congress should quickly approve, in my opinion, the u.s./mexico agreement to secure markets and u.s. trade ties that produce jobs for the united states. on the international front, et we should work closely with the new government of brazil to et restore a regional antidrug alliance. we must increase asemimet ri call measures to attack crime. more investigators, more prosecutors, more intelligence and more legal authorities are needed to sanction and punish kingpins and choke off cash to their criminal operations. we should work with our neighbors to confront venezuela and dismantle the criminal network. we should help columbia et eradicate coke. we should investigate, expose and counter activities by cuba, russia and china. we have a lot of work to do.
thank you for your attention. >> thank you. professor? >> thank you, chairman. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to testify on the threats posed by mexican tco toz our national security and efforts to counter them. mexican cartels are engaged in a variety of elicit activities. they have also capitalized on america's appetite for drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. the national opioid epidemic fuelled by heroin coming mostly from mexico is significantly impacting the public health, economy and national security of the united states. in 2017 the national security strategy recognized transnational organized crime as a threat to u.s. interests at
home and abrd. it emphasizes the need to secure borders and pursue transnational threats to their source. the u.s. and mexico enjoy one of the most extensive military and law enforcement relationships in the world that illustrates the concept of defense in depth, which means working with our international partners. the u.s. has helped through more effective, monitoring detection, border security, and anticorruption programs. for over a decade the the military has been deployed in the streets of mexico in law enforcement missions, but the violence continues and its actually escalated. mexico had a record number to compliment the testimony of 31,174 homicides in 2017.
the mexican president assumed office on december 1st and pledged to fight corruption and end the violence plaguing mex o mexico. these two priorities are reflected in his national plan for peace and security 2018 to 2024. the new plan intends o it reform security services be by creating a national guard to address crime and violence head on. it's considering granting amnesty to low level traffickers ask legalizing marijuana and possibly cultivation. this is quite divergent from previous policies and from u.s. law enforcement. it's too early to tell if and how bilateral cooperation on eradication and the fight against cartels will continue. regarding the central american migration crisis, the u.s. and mexico are trying to address the
humanitarian crisis at the border and are considering requiring asylum seekers to stay in mexico as think get processed through the u.s. court system. in the last 24 hours, mexico's publicized their plan to create a marble plan that would extend about $3 billion over the next five years in order to compliment the assistance to the u.s. and other countries are granlting to the northern triangle. we're looking forward to hearing more details about what that would consist of to deal with the root causes of the migration. the two countries must work togeth together. one area where the u.s. and mexico share interests is fighting corruption and money laundering that empower these cartels. the national plan includes a probably to prevent and combat money laundering associated with crime and corruption. it estimates that $20 to $30 billion a year could be recovered or seized. on this front they should emphasize efforts not only to fight corruption but the mexican cartels with the following five
recommendations. number one, exploit financial intelligence in law enforcement operations against the cartels. number two, aggressively pursue the top cartel financers. ben courage coordination to the financial intelligence unit and law enforcement agencies in order to achieve more convictions and to deter criminal activity. number four, advocate for the swift passage of nonconviction forfeiture before the congress as well as beneficial ownership disclosures. and provide training and technical assistant for agencies that counter money laundering and more importantly international cooperation with our counterparts through information sharing. in conclusion, mexican cartels pose serious threats to the public health, prosperity and national security of the u.s. and mexico.
the two countries must identify common interests, build trust and collaborate across the security, trade and governance portfolios and enhance that are underway to directly counter the mexican cartels. thank you for your attention. i i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. >> chairman, ranking member, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you. i'm the police chief for tuitt san, arizona, i have been policing for 20 years. i always made it a priority towards strengthening ties. i'd like to approach from a slightly different angle than the other panelists today. working in a diverse city located near the mexican border, i understand the need for border security. i have seen how the transnational criminal organizations bringing drugs into the u.s. prey on immigrants to further their reach and
increase profits. there's obviously no simple solution for these problems. improving border security and achieving community safety is going to require cooperation and trust between all levels of law enforcement. but just as critically between immigrant communities and the local police. the tucson police department teams up to go after cartels. this cooperation is essential to combat these threats. but at the same time, grant funding from the federal government serves as a critical resource to keep our community safer. earlier this year, the tucson police department partnered with atf to arrest 53 wanted violent sex offenders. we also participated in an operation that included hsi and the dea to target a heroin trafficking ring. in these instances and many others, we have seen the benefit of partnering with each other.
many of my colleagues and i believe border security solutions must be strategic to address serious threats. according to recent stats from the cbp, 80% of hard drugs intercepted along the border are seized at ports of industry directing federal resources into improving staffing and infrastructure around ports of entry would be far more effective in halting the movement of drugs and guns across the border and simply constructing new barriers between these ports. tucson is the sixth largest county in the united states. our republican sheriff who has the responsibility for policing 125 border miles told lawmakers they would be better. off giving a fraction of the billions it would to build the wall to law enforcement. he said i think it's kind of a medieval solution to a modern problem. many of my colleagues agree with
him. demand for drugs in the u.s. drives trafficking leading cartels to seek profits through victimizing the public on both sides of the border. we must work more diligently towards reducing the demand for drugs through the use of effective treatment programs. doing this will cut off the life blood of these criminal organizations that take advantage of those struggling with addiction. facing a growing number of opioid deaths in tucson, we launched a program to prioritize drug treatment over incarceration. we now allow officers to use discretion in averting suspects caught with small amounts of narcotics into treatment instead of jail. suspects caught selling drugs or those with most felony warrants are obviously ineligible. this has broad public support and helping us lower our population while getting addicts the treatment they need. i believe local police best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement to the federal
government. immigration enforcement at the local level irresponsibly diverts very limited resources that we critically need to keep our community safe. now tucson takes pride in being welcoming to all. we're not a sanctuary city, but we do work to maintain community confidence and trust in law enforcement. we want victims and witnesses no matter their immigration status to seem our help and cooperate with us to stop dangerous criminals. recently policing has become harder in many of our neighborhoods. the crackdown undermines trust and imposes major challenges to police officers. aggressive federal enforcement including courthouse arrests and other high profile operations terrify not only the undocumented, but the american-born family, friends and co-workers. as a result, an already
marginalized community is less inclined to turn to us. when crimes go unreported and unsolved, the cartels go unchecked and increase their power. current efforts to force local police to take on federal immigration enforcement responsibilities only worsen this dynamic. in addition, efforts to strip federal grant funding from localities deemed to be uncooperative leave cities with fewer resources and that leads to increases in crime. the members of this committee have the ability to set a new standard in law enforcement. one that creates a balanced approach to public safety that not only preserves cooperation between local law enforcement and the feds, but also between local police and immigrant communities. i encourage you to do so. working together i have no doubt that we can curve drug demand, combat cartels and make our communities safer. thank you very much. >> thank you, chief.
>> thank you, chairman and ranking member. it's a great honor to be here with you. i was asked to be talking about migration and also to look a little bit at what the current moment of change where the government of mexico might be in terms of what we can do to manage the border and migration together. in terms of the links that exist, transnational crime activity, the legitimatest link between is the way we have seen transnational crime in mexico and central america is at the base of the violence people experience in daily lives. they are not being preyed on by large transnational organizations, but the gangs and the smaller thuggish groups that prey on local communities get their weapons from their connections to the crime organizations. they are different from the transnational crime
organizations. there are cases where they have moved into smuggling, but these are separate lines of business. you see them having to pay for access to smuggling points and particularly to the border to be able to get people through. you have seen ab increasing predatory forms of smuggling as a result of some of these relationships as well. but these are situational and very relationships between the smugglers. and finally, as we have heard and as the chief said, they use different crossing routes. generally speaking, drug trafficking the highest value happens at ports of entindustry. they are crossing through ports of entry. marijuana does cross between ports of entry. migrant smugglers focus between ports of entry as well. so different smuggling routes.
we have different routes. we were just there for the inauguration. it's a chance to restart our bilateral agenda on organized crime, but also look at strategic options for managing migration flows in different ways. we have heard mexico is going through a moment where interests are converging with ours in different ways were true before. mexico was no longer a sender of unauthorized migrants. most that come come through legal paths. as of november, we heard this yesterday from the commissioner, as of november there were more guatemalaens. apprehended than mexicans. the number of mexicans keeps going down. mexico is a receiving country for mite grants. and increasing a transit country. because of that, they begin to have similar questions that they are asking about the migration system. not the same. we shouldn't confuse it by
thinking they want to do the same things we do, but beginning to have similar sets of issues they have to think about in terms of the immigration policy. the new government put four ideasen o the table of things they want to do. the first is enhancing the asylum system. the mexican asylum system got 3,000 applications. this year close to 30,000. ten times increase d. but this is just monumental. they are going to try to beef this up. this is something we should want to help with. we can work with them to our advantage that more people want to apply for asylum in mexico. there's some evidence that a lot of people stay in mexico as well. secondly, they have talked about creating a visa for central americans to take people from central america who want the to work with them. this is a big undertaking. it's one thing to say they want to do this, it's another thing to do this and also do it in a way that doesn't compete with mexico b workers or a labor
program that includes mexicans and central americans. they haven't done this before, but this is an area we could partner and have some expertise in doing as well. it's something that would create a magnet for people to stay in mexico. third, they have talked about professionalizing and modernizing the migration institute. so they both respect human rights and the high standards of integrity. while also channelling into legal channels and having real enforcement teeth. they talked about investing in central america. these are things we should think about how to partner with them. there's some opportunities for us as well to think about our asylum system. we have more than a border crisis and asylum crisis. my colleague who ran under both democratic and republican administrations has proposed a rule change that allow officers to make the first decisions to speed up processes. we can be both fair and timely
in how we do this. et with don't need to narrow. we need to be timely. that would allow people to be removed who don't qualify quickly as well as relief who do qualify. and let me say quickly because i'm over time. there's a lot we can do in terms of asylum thinking about in country processing in mexico working with the mexican government. tough to do, but possible. we can think about going after the worse migrant smugglers through extortion and kidnapping. good for enforcement and human rights, but this is the moment both to do things to fix our system, but also to start creative discussions with our neighbors about how we do this together. so thank you. >> thank you very much. a lot to work with. let me start with the ambassador. you have had experience working on the hill and around the u.s. government and others have as well.
but i'm try ing ing to figure o what's the best place to start coming up with a plan? again, i guess i'm fixated on colombia because it's the one successful model. countries that have bigger problems than central america. but i talked to senator feinstein about maybe some plan in central america, but my suggestion to her is let's not make it just narrow there. let's make it regional. i would be interested in your comments this terms of how we approach this. let me preface this by my perception that mexico regarded illegal immigration in the united states as our problem, not their problem. they gave transit visas. same thing with drugs.
they use d that as our problem based on demand and not their problem. although i don't know how you view it that way when you see the toll of violent deaths that are occurring there, which as the professor said are continuing to increase. could you maybe start? first talk about how should we conceptualize the framework so we're not just dealing with one off issues. how can we make this a comprehensive plan? >> thank you very much, senator. i was working for senator hems when colombia was passed but i started working on that under ben gillman, for whom i worked for four years and dug in on these issues. he treated it as a priority.
then when i came over to the senate side, i was one of the people that everybody trusted in the room among the staff. because i worked for both sides. it was a hill initiative. you had folks like ben gillman take the lead on the house side. senator dodd participated. and senator hems as well. and it was very much folks like the people sitting behind you who dug in on these issues and worked him for a long time and established good relationships with people and who identified folks in colombia that we could work with and started in a tactical approach. and then the folks in the state department responded.
pete took the ball and ran with this and helped colombians come up with the answer to the question how do we have a response. so it was really both engaged, but it was congress really pushing and insisting that we go with real money. as one of the chairman at the time said make no small plans. he challenged the state department to come back with an aggressive plan and the congress increased the amounts and engaged. with central america, there's a plan that's on the table. it's been implemented. it was conceived with the help of the inter-american development bank. and they put together a very comprehensive approach that the central american countries are matching with their own resources. and that made -- so that's out
there on the table. i would suggest that as you look at this problem, it's the global threat, the organized crime, which by the way drug trafficking only accounts for 40% of its $2.2 trillion income. really has us overwhelmed. it's actors who have helped day sin grate institutions in central america. ten years ago we passed the central american free trade agreement talking about these countries as economic partners. now they are basket cases again because their political institutions were overwhelmed by traffickers. so we have to use tools against those. it's not all about finding the cocaine and the marijuana and the heroin. we should find the lieutenant colonel with $200 million in his bank account and start asking
questions. sort after sanctions being used against them in an aggressive way. and start to kind of with these rifle shots pick off some of these kingpins so maybe the people on the ground have a fighting chance. i talked too long. >> i was hoping you would nmake it more narrow and then you made it global, but. i appreciate that. i understand what you're saying. >> of course, my career 40 years being in the executive what i have seen that's worked very well is to get in and really sit with the other governments and work nitty-gritty on the details. but it's been wonderful to have that conception yule support when there has been the case from congress to help push this along. that's often been the case. sometimes it's been the
administration sometimes in congress, but if you can get both talking on the conceptual agreement and work through the specifics with the partner government or partner governments, that really does make a difference. and what we have, the big. change now is the arrival of the new government in mexico. while there are questions, as roger pointed out, there's an opening to try to find a way to work with this on these issues. and there's a big conceptual idea that the united states, even canada, central america and mexico can work together. ask we can tackle the same time migration and crime and job creation in these places if we talk about it and work at it using a bunch of different tools. and we do have that range of tools. that's going to take a lot of hard specific work including with the development tall bank because they did develop a good plan for central america. this is now different. and roger is right that in some
places organized crime is just too powerful. you have to target them, but. you have to know each of the places. look at it and use your tools in different ways. and if we can get this conceptual agreement, get support for it, get funding for it and get everybody committed, i think over a number of years, we could make a big difference on all these it problems using a multilayered approach. just like in migration, you have to look at the root causes. you have to look at when they get to southern mexico, what happens to them. are there other options. are they being used by the criminal groups going up. can we get. rid of that. thus do we reduce the problem before it gets to our border and then do we make some of our own changes in asylum procedures to be more effective at our border. it's a whole layered approach that et we could take to these problems, but it takes a big commitment and authorship and
support in congress and the administration. i think we have that opportunity though. >> i looked at your michigan, f dakota, richmond, arizona. you've done quite a tour of this country. and now you're on a border city responsibility, and what i hear from you is what i hear from chicago about how important it is for effective police work to have the trust of the community. and i couldn't agree with you more that if we tried to put you into a federal role enforcing immigration, i don't think it's going to make it easier. i think it's going to make it more complicated for you. have you had the cooperation of your hispanic community in tucson? >> senator, we certainly have, and one of the biggest reasons
for that is this focus on relation al policing or community policing where we understand that we have to have that relationship with the entire community. tucson is about 50% hispanic. and many of the residents of tucson are families who they are immigrants. and they have extended family in some cases that are undocumented and sometimes living in the same household with them. these are the people who make up the fabric of our community, and once we start tearing at that fabric in terms of creating a climate of fear where people are simply unwilling to talk to the police or even talk to their neighbors, sometimes not even willing to come out of the house because they're so afraid, all we do is we lower the level of safety for every resident of the city. so i think the climate we set is
incredibly important for safety and that means we leave the civil immigration enforce duties to our federal partners nchls we partner with them when appropriate on some of the larger challenges like drug cartells, the human trafficking, some of the other things. but on a day today level, we have to be able to do our own work. >> doctor, we talked a lot about the mexican cartels, and i'm just blown away by the notion that their volume of economic activity matches the gdp of mexico. it puts it in stark perspective. we haven't talked about the structure and relationship with the drug gangs in those three countries that are forcing so many people toward our border. guatemala, elle sal va doer and
honduras. >> we know there is in central america you have both the drug gangs, the mexican -- we call them mexican, but these are usually transnational organizations. as it became order to operate in mexico, they moved more of their operations into guatemala and honduras. some of their operations were there already, and they also began teaming up with smaller groups. very agile groups, ms 13, a lot of local groups. when you get into honduras and guatemala, you have a lot of local level gangs that work for the cartels that work for the large transnational crime groups. and those are the groups that are particularly dangerous. when you see this in mexico as well, the larges crime groups often are less predatory. they make their money in drugs. the smaller groups mix between servicing the large cartels. they make money there, get
weapons there, but that's not necessarily always a full-time occupation so they sfepend a lo of time doing extortion and -- >> think about guatemala. there are more guatemalaen showing up at our border than mexicans. many of these are mothers of children who are making it up to our border. it just sounds like it's pure chaos and disorder in guatemala, and a lot of fear. i can't imagine that it's just economic opportunity driving them. there has to be a climate down there that is fearful. >> i think there is a mixture of things. some people are leaving for economic reasons. there's areas of drought and crop shortage. some people are leaving more mixed motives. it's economic and also the violence around them. and some people are leaving for specific threats. i spent some time hanging out with four teenagers on the
mexican side of the border who listed specific things and one young man brought up his facebook page as he sat there. this was at a youth shelter in tijuana. scrolled through his facebook page showing me everyone who had been killed. it was his news feed. he said i went to school with this person. this is the mother of one of my neighbors. one after another. completely monotone. he wasn't trying to shock me. he was simply make the point that this is kind of the way life is where he is. and he had received a very specific threat to his parents, and simply decided never to go home again. if he didn't join the gang. he said i left the next morning and never even told my parents i was leaving. that was the story of all four of them in one way or another. these were the specific gangs and local crime groups. other people you talk to, it's land invasions. it's a lot of extortion payments that people at some point simply can't make the payment one month
and they decide to -- the month they can't make the payment, they need to leave because they will be killed or their kids will be killed. >> this sounds like credible fear. >> there's a lot of that. i would not say everyone is -- i wouldn't say everyone is fleeing because of violence. i think there are economic motives and we should try to distinguish between people who need protection and people -- we have a tendency to say they're gaming the system or they're all people who need protection. there's a mixture in there, but i would say there's a large number of people who do need protection, and we don't have to choose in our system. we don't actually have the choose between being fair to people and having a deterrent. if we have a fair, effective, relatively expedited asylum system, we have to have due process, but not as it is right now where people wait or two or three years, we can make fair decisio decisions quickly. >> and the numbers on refugees
has gone down dramatically under this administration? >> they have. >> even though we face this on the border. >> yes, and we could think about the refugee program. how we use it for the western hemisphere so they don't have to make the journey to the border. >> we also had that program which the administration discontinued. >> that's correct. >> where minors could go to the embassy in their native country and make application for asylum. >> that's right. the camp. >> see whether or not they were approved, and it was eliminated. >> it was eliminated. that is a real opportunity to build on what we ternlearned fr that. it's not easy to do in country processing. these things requirement experimentation, but we have experienced it. it's something we can build on again. it was somewhat successful, and we also think about how we did it in the south of the mexico. can we take some people through the refugee program once they're in mexico?
the mexican government might have something to say about that, but i think they're open to talking about it if we are. >> thank you. >> professor, i think you were the one talking about the level of violence in mexico not getting better, getting worse. my understanding in one of my recent trips to mexico city is that essentially if you commit a murder in mexico that you're almost guaranteed not to be prosecuted. they end up calling that impunity, i guess is the generic word. is it true the law enforcement and judicial departments or branches of mexican government are unable to bring people to any justice if they commit a murder in mexico? >> that's the problem you have with impunity and corruption. the average citizen has very little faith in the police as well as the judicial system. first you have very low levels of people who actually file
reports and denounce is what they call it. let alone actually realize a conviction. and as you know, through the initiative, the u.s. has been helping the mexican government reform its judicial system and more importantly change their prosecuting method. but the real problem too is that you have -- i think when we talk about situations in central america as well as what the different factors are, there are three. there's corruption and impunity in one category. the wealth that these illicit activity generate that also feeds into the corruption. and then the third piece is the violence. what you're seeing is convergence of the factors. you actually have people migrating for fear of persecution or -- because their family was extorted, and their relative didn't pay. it actually goes across not just the person who owed the money by the whole family as well as lack of economic opportunity. both the ambassadors referred to
something which is an actual plan to generate more importantly opportunities for job creation, investment in northern -- >> in central america? >> in central america. we actually have a lot of the components. the bigger question is how do you get the political will through the three or corruption is a huge challenge in the northern triangle. you've just seen the brother of the sitting president of honduras arrested for narcotics trafficking. the last government in guatemala who many of them were trained and sponsored by the u.s. are also in jail for corruption charges. there's a bigger piece of governance which we haven't talked about. but this bigger question of how do you get the local populations to trust the governments that we're entrusting in terms of foreign assistance and having the political will to fight the transnational criminal organizations? whether they be local gangs who really do feed off of extortion and use violence or the threat
of violence to the larger movers of illicit trafficking whether it's through people or drugs. the other thing i want to call to attention was is fact that you have external actors involved now. i spend a lot of time looking at money laundering. the amount of money handled by chinese tco's and chinese banks to circumvent sanctions and our know your client regulations is a new conduit. i think you've seen the government of elle sell -- i th it's a useful time to reassess how we be the partner of choice and continue to be the bff, the best friends forever of central america as well as mexico at an interesting juncture, particularly as we see the countries looking for different ways that the chinese are using predatory lending. most favored nation type of trade agreements with partners in the region that are actually
trying to basically erode the influence that the u.s. has had through all the different portfolios. military law enforcement, economic, and also the cultural ties that we have. and this is really a crucial point that we have to figure out how to double down on our investment. it's not just about money. it's about the political win and commitment and how to build the relationships with a new team under amlo and engaging. they're understanding what it's like to be a recipient and deal with all of these migrants that are in their communities without the actual experience that we've had in the u.s. and they don't have the level of ngos we have and the charitable tradition that we have in the u.s., and you see it every day with what's streamed in tijuana. the physical capacity for them to handle the migrants is degrading their security but also from a public health point of view which is disturbing for everyone involved.
>> a couple of you mentioned amlo's commitment to a national guard. i assume that this is just the latest iteration of the attempt to try to deal with the corruption problem at the local and the state level. i know over the years they've tried to make it a national police, national law enforcement organization to deal with it. but be perhaps vetted and less susceptible to corruption. i assume that's the motivation for that. is that correct, ambassador wayne? >> i think it is. as you know for the last -- for this century they've been struggling with the ability to really have a fully coordinated overall strategy that worked and have all the different parts of their government working together. federal, state, and local. they have not successfully done that under the last two
presidents. so they came up with this idea of a national guard because the least corrupted, not uncorrupted, but the least corrupted were the defense department entities, the army and the may vnavy. >> there are a lot of ngos and others who object to military doing police work. i can understand that, but as you point out there, the ones that are most effective and least subject to corruption. but i guess you still have the basic problem at the local and state level of what is it -- silver or lead? >> that's it. >> you can see how that sort of intimidation tactics that are used to undermine public authority and order in those countries -- doctor, let me make
sure i understood. are you saying the migrant smugglers are not transnational criminal organizations, or are you saying somehow they're separate? >> just that they're separate. the migrant smugglers tend to be different from the drug traffickers. smaller. >> you don't agree with those who say that the cartels are essentially a commoditying a nos snick. >> -- agnostic? >> no. i think the drug traffickers for the most part. there have been attempts. the setas got into migrant smuggling. tijuana cartel when they were on their heels and losing some of their drug business, and the r juarez cartel, in the same situation. they get more out of being able to charge the right to cross
without having to get into the complexities of running a different business venture. i don't think it's a mortal question. it's not that they wouldn't get into it. it's just a specialized business. they're slightly smaller groups. they're still larger. i mean, gone is the day when there are mom and pop smugglers. i lived in the border on the mexican side in the 1990s. you still had the mom and pop smugglers, or actually, i lived near a father and son smuggling team at one point. that's gone. these are criminal enterprises now. but they are for the most part separate today than the larger drug organizations. and one of the things that i think -- if i can jump into the last question as well, i think you have seen some successes in parts of mexico where you have better policing and better courts in some areas, and some cities are safer. you have citizen vigilance of what government does. some places have gotten worse
and some places have gotten better. there's a lot we can learn from the places that have gotten better in terms of local law enforcement. >> can you confirm that basically the cartel's control, all the real estate that's contiguous to the u.s. border, i guess that's where they make you pay to -- >> yeah. >> to cross. >> yeah. >> my understanding, and this is kind of a chilling number, is that the cartel and criminal organizations basically control more than a third of the country. even though it's the 11th largest economy in the country, that doesn't tell the story when the mexican government and the state government, local government can't even control large swaths of real estate in the country. >> it's interesting what control means, because there was a time -- the setas started a business model where control meant really having a heavy-handed control of lots of things moving around them. the contrasting model is the sinaloa cartel. it's about trafficking drugs and
buying off what you need of the state. if what you need is in a certain area, you need the chief of police, with all due respect to my colleague here, but i mean, if what you need is your trafficking in sinaloa and you need the chief of police of a municipally, you go after the chief of police, but you don't worry about others. is setas tried to control lots of things. it failed. the mexican government went after them with u.s. support. there's no big setas organization anymore. the largest ones are about trafficking drugs. some of the smaller ones and in parts of the country they try to exercise if you go to parts, there are groups that really try to control more than just drug trafficking. but i say that only pause whbecn a third of the country has active cartels, but it means something different in a city like monterey where you can live
your life daily and never notice the cartels than in another city where it's hard to run a small business without paying a tax to the cartels. >> senator, if i can. >> please. >> when people refer to this controlling territory, they're basically, they control it from one another. they have divided up a turf. if you want to challenge another cartel, you know, blood is expensive. and so they generally respect the right to move material and -- within certain geographic cal areas. with respect to a couple things, the corruption issue. when the president who i'm sure you've had a good relationship with over the years initially took this on, in retropekt what he encountered was there was so much corruption at the state and
local level where people not only defied the federal government when he was trying to move against certain targets. certain cases they were in bed with the state and local leaders. and he would replace them, and that sort thing. but it's really hard to get traction with this kind of top down approach. mexico needs a cultural change in terms of corruption. and accountability. and transparency, and it's extraordinarily complicated and a time consume process, but there has to be a certain change in expectations from the top down, and i think amlo could do that. he has a mandate to do precisely that, but it requires a criminal justice reform, penitentiary reform, professionalization of
the police. only a hand full of mexico's 31 states has the capacity to even a professional track for policing. so there's a tremendous amount of work that needs to be done, but it really requires political will. amlo's kind of an outsider in certain respects, but the ultimate insider in others. but he's sort of a maverick, and so perhaps he can challenge the structural corruption that's existed in mexico for many, many years and which has blocked progress in terms of economic advancement and now blocked simple application of the rule of law and the protection of citizens, and amlo perhaps can change that transform that model. >> i agree that it looks like he's a unique political figure. he seems to have a mandate to deal with corruption and the violence. whether he can actually do that or not, i don't know.
and that's where i think we can try to find a way to share that challenge, because it affects them and us, and central america too. we're trying to get our head around all of that and figure out how to take advantage of the moment and the opportunity this may provide. my impression of the speech at the inaugural as i understood it by translation is that he raised expectations sky high, and ordinarily you try to tamp down expectations and exceed those low expectations, in my experience. but he set expectations very high, so it's going to be interesting to see. we have a lot of skin in the game ourselves here in the united states in terms of how that turns out. and we need to figure a way to work with our mexican counterparts at the legislative and executive branch level, and help them in all the ways you all have detailed.
thank you for spending your time here, and sharing your expertise with us. this hearing is now adjourned. what we will do, i will just add by way of footnote, there may be some additional written questions. i wouldn't expect a lot, but we'll go ahead and give everybody a chance if they have additional areas they want to inquire about and then we'll close out the record in about ten days, two weeks' time. thank you very much.
oil and gas executives will talk about energy policy. live coverage begins in about ten minutes at 12:25 eastern. this evening president trump will give an oval office address on the stalemate with correct me if i'm wrong over border wall funding and we'll hear the democrats' response and get viewer reaction. live coverage begins tonight at 9 eastern on c-span. and we are now at day 18 of the government shutdown. the u.s. house is back in session today. the senate returns at 3:00 p.m. eastern. you can follow the story on c-span.org. earlier today we spoke to a congressional reporter about the shutdown. >> day 18 of a partial
government shut doub and here to tell us where we're at with that is cristina marcos of the hill. she serves as their congressional reporter. where are we? >> right now it doesn't look like we're making too much progress, but this is the first day the house and senate are coming back into session, and vice president mike pence and homeland security secretary already coming down to the capitol to meet with house republicans this evening. this is where we're going to start the see the ball roll for this week. >> when it comes to the house republicans themselves, or even the senate republicans, where are they as far as commitment to the shutdown and what president trump wants to see come from it. >> we're seeing a little bit of dissension in the ranks. seven house republicans voted with democrats on legislation last week to reopen the government. and a few of senate republicans started saying it's time to open the government back up and end the shutdown which is now in its third week. at the same time the trump administratis