HEARING OF THE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE
SUBJECT: EXAMINING 287(G): THE ROLE OF STATE AND LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT IN IMMIGRATION LAW
CHAIRED BY: REP. BENNIE G. THOMPSON (D-MS)
WITNESSES: WILLIAM RILEY, ACTING DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF STATE AND LOCAL COORDINATION, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; RICHARD STANA, DIRECTOR, HOMELAND SECURITY AND JUSTICE ISSUES, GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE; SHERIFF CHUCK JENKINS, FREDERICK COUNTY, STATE OF MARYLAND; CHIEF J. THOMAS MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, STATE OF MARYLAND; MUZAFFAR A. CHISHTI, DIRECTOR AT THENYU SCHOOL OF LAW OFFICE, MIGRATION POLICY INSTITUTE
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REP. THOMPSON: The Committee on Homeland Security will come to order. I'd like to ask unanimous consent to allow Representatives Edwards and Bartlett to sit in on the hearings for the purpose of introducing their respective witness. Without objection.
The Committee is meeting today to receive testimony on Examining 287(g): The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement in Immigration Law. I want to thank the witnesses for appearing today to provide testimony on the 287(g) program, which has been around since 1996 but has experienced a remarkable surge in popularity in recent years. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the main goal of the program is to increase the safety and security of our communities by apprehending and removing undocumented criminal aliens who are involved in violent and serious crime.
According to ICE, the local sheriff, police officers, would work with ICE to identify, locate and apprehend these dangerous people. The 287(g) program, as intended, would achieve two parallel goals. Number one, participating jurisdictions would have dangerous people removed from their communities. And, number two, the federal government would have a force multiplier to enhance efforts to remove dangerous aliens from the country.
In theory, it seems like a good idea and a good deal for everyone involved. In fact, many jurisdictions have brought into prominence of this program as evidenced by the surge in popularity over the last two years. Participation has grown from 29 programs in 2006 in 13 states to 67 programs in 23 states today. There's even a waiting list to join. Forty-two state and local law jurisdictions are on the waiting list. As the popularity of this program has grown, so has funding. In the last three years, the 287(g) program's budget has increased from $5 million to nearly $60 million.
Like everyone else, I applaud the growth of successful programs. But the record is incomplete at best as to whether or not this program is a success. For instance, in 2008, it was credited with resulting in the removal of 29,000 people. Its budget for fiscal year 2008 was just under $40 million. To determine whether there was a prudent way to spend the taxpayers' money, we would need to know whether the people removed were dangerous aliens. Unfortunately, we do not know the critical piece of information. We cannot answer this basic question because, as we will hear from the Government Accountability Office, ICE does not require that specific data be collected. It does not require that specific information be reported and does not have any performance measures.
Without objective data, we cannot evaluate the effectiveness f this program, nor can we determine whether better results could be achieved by other means such as increasing the number of ICE agents. While I do not know whether 287(g) is an effective program, I do know that it is a program that has been accused of racial profiling. And that accusation should concern all of us. Effective law enforcement and discrimination cannot coexist. Our communities must be safe, and our nation must be secure. We will only achieve that goal by making sure that our efforts are strategic and tailored.
Popularity cannot be a replacement for documented performance and constitutional principles. I look forward to hearing testimony from our distinguished panel. The Chair now recognizes our ranking member, Mr. Souder, sitting in for Mr. King from Indiana, for an opening statement.
REP. MARK SOUDER (R-IN): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. This is an important hearing on a cornerstone Department of Homeland Security Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program. While the 287(g) program was slow to start, the law was enacted in 1996, the first agreement signed in 2002 after the 9/11 terrorists attacks, a major growth did not occur until 2007. There are clear benefits for the jurisdiction who volunteer for this program. They get access to immigration status information, a direct link to ICE to identify and remove aliens in the custody of local law enforcement, deterrent for aliens to commit crimes and engage in gang activity in the community. The goal is to remove aliens from jails, saving space and money.
Under this program, officers undergo federally sponsored training, receive equipment and, most importantly, have access to information. This allows them to accurately check the immigration status of the aliens they encounter during their day to day activities, such as arresting an individual for narcotics violations, driving without a license or drunk driving, investigating a violent crime or working an individual into a correctional facility. All of these things are, in fact, crimes in addition to the illegal status.
ICE depends on data provided by local law enforcement. Illegal immigration investigations are similar to counter narcotics in that a significant amount of data is necessary to connect the dots and find systems of smuggling. For the entire nation as well as for foreign assignments, ICE has 6,000 agents and 6,000 detention and removal officers. ICE resources are stretched thin. For ICE to tackle the large smuggling networks, they rely on partnerships with state and local law enforcement and correctional facilities, by the way, just like we do in narcotics and hiders. ICE has 67 active agreements and 25 applications pending. Unfortunately, ICE has also denied many requests from jurisdictions wanting to participate in the 287(g) program. There is clearly interest among state and local law enforcement, including in my own congressional district, to partner with ICE as a means to enhance community safety and bolster national security. My biggest frustration is that ICE, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, has not done enough to support the program.
In October, 2007, after hearing from several sheriffs in my district about their concerns with illegal immigration, criminal aliens, in particular, I organized an immigration law enforcement round table. The event was attended by ICE and 25 representatives from across Indiana and parts of western Ohio, including sheriffs, prosecutors and jailers. Allen County Sheriff Fries is from the largest county in my district, 350,000 people. He has applied to participate in 287(g) and was told that ICE did not have the resources to support the request.
Even if he did the training, he wouldn't have any DLA agents to remove people that were arrested. At the time of the roundtable, most the law enforcement jurisdictions present were encouraged that ICE had a person dedicated to transporting illegal aliens from their jails have been arrested for other crimes to federal detention facilities. Shortly after, however, this arrangement fell apart as the individual assigned was involved in an accident and was replaced and sent on another assignment.
It's my understanding that this situation still has not been corrected in Indiana. As recently as February 9th, Sheriff Fries reported that at least 200 illegal aliens housed in my home county's jail for various crimes, costing the taxpayers $40 a day. Sheriff Fries would prefer to turn them over to ICE for removal from the country, but ICE cannot or will not provide anyone to transport them. He and the taxpayers of Indiana, and other sheriffs in my district, are ranging between frustrated to angry that the federal government refuses to execute their obligations and commitments to follow through on their part.
I am looking forward to hearing from ICE about this situation and the future of the 287(g) program. I would like to especially thank Sheriff Jenkins from Frederick County, Maryland for being here. I am interested in hearing about 287(g) and how it works in your jurisdiction. I also appreciate the work of GAO in producing a report on 287(g) and offering several common sense suggestions that should improve the program management. Thank you to the other witnesses as well. I look forward to your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much, Mr. Ranking Member. Other members of the committee are reminded that under committee rules, only a statement may be submitted for the record.
I now welcome our panel of witnesses. Our first witness, Mr. William Riley, is Acting Director of the Office of State and Local Coordination at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which administers the 287(g) program. Our second witness is Mr. Richard Stana, Director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the Government Accountability. During his 33-year career at GAO, Mr. Stana has directed reviews on a wide variety of complex military and domestic issues. I will yield to the gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Bartlett, to introduce our third witness.
REP. BARTLETT (D-MD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to come here to introduce Sheriff Chuck Jenkins. Not only is Chuck a long time friend, he is a really great sheriff and a truly great American. He is also a pioneer. He was one of the first in the general region and the first and only law enforcement officer in Maryland cooperating with ICE to identify and deport illegal aliens who are also felons. Thank you very much for having him here as a witness.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. I also yield to a young lady from Maryland to introduce the next witness. Ms. Edwards.
REP. EDWARDS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it is my great pleasure to introduce to the committee today, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department, which is one of the largest police departments in our state. And one of the things that you will find about Chief Manger is that he understands the important balance that needs to be struck in communities. And you will hear his insight and innovation and the creativity with which he's led the Montgomery County Police Department as it takes on these important challenges of immigration in a very diverse community. And so I thank you for inviting him here today. And I know that as I have, you'll have a lot to learn from Chief Manger. Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Thank both of you for your introductory remarks. Our final witness is Mr. Chishti. Is that good enough? Okay. Director of Migration Policy Institute Office at New York University School of Law. His work focuses on U.S. immigration policy, the intersection of labor and immigration law, civil liberties and local and state enforcement of immigration law. Welcome to all our witnesses. Without objection, the witnesses' full statement will be inserted in the record. Mr. Riley, I now recognize you to summarize your statement for five minutes.
MR. RILEY: Thank you, Chairman Thompson, Congressman Souder and distinguished members of this committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Management and Oversight is a 287(g) delegation of authority program which allows state and local law enforcement agencies to partner with ICE to enforce our nation's immigration laws.
My name is William Riley, and for the past five months, I have served as the Acting Executive Director for the ICE Office of State and Local Coordination, which is responsible for the management and oversight of the 287(g) program. I'm pleased to discuss with you today the partnerships ICE has in place with state and local law enforcement agencies through the 287(g) program, and also to discuss the Accountability Office's recommendations to improve management of the program.
As a result of community concern associated with illegal migration and the public safety threats posed by criminal aliens, there has been increased interest in the 287(g) program. And it has become one of the primary tools requested by state and local law enforcement agencies as they address their immigration enforcement concerns. As a review of the current state of the 287(g) program reveals, as of February, 2009, almost one thousand law enforcement officers have been trained pursuant to 67-signed memoranda of agreement in 23 states. As of February, 2009, ICE's 287(g) crossed as new partners having encountered over 90,000 aliens who are identified for removal from the United States.
It should be noted that 90 percent, or 60 of the 67 MOAs, were signed in fiscal years 2007 and 2008. ICE looks forward to entering into additional agreements with our state and local partners, who will focus future expansion on a GAO enforcement model. I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss ICE's response to GAO's report, Immigration Enforcement, Better Controls Needed Over Program Authorizing State and Local Law Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws.
First, let me note that ICE welcomes GAO's review of the 287(g) program. Although still in its infancy, as ICE as expanded the program, it is not only seen an increase in public interest, but increased scrutiny as well. To insure the program is operating in the most efficient manner, ICE reviewed a draft copy of the GAO report that contains five recommendations. ICE concurs with all the recommendations, and in some areas had already begun addressing the recommendations before the GAO study was completed.
Before addressing ICE's response to GAO's recommendations, I would like to point out that soon after her confirmation as Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary Napolitano issued a wide ranging action directive on immigration and border security. The Director requires specific department offices and components to work together and with state and local partners to review and assess current plans and policies in this area. Secretary Napolitano is looking for metrics to success, gaps in service and resources, partnerships with state and local governance and other federal agencies as well as other suggestions for reforms, restructuring and consolidation where needed.
Included in that directive is a review of the current 287(g) program. With that in mind, and a response to the GAO recommendations, ICE has begun the process of redrafting its template that is used to form 287(g) Agreement. Once redrafted, the template will be submitted to DHS Headquarters for comment and approval. On being approved, this template will incorporate many of the recommendations made by GAO. For example, the MOAs will include the nature and extent of supervisory activities ICE officers are expected to carry out as part of their responsibilities in overseeing the implementation of the 287(g) program. The MOAs will outline how and under what circumstances 287(g) authority is to be used by state and local law enforcement officers in participating agencies.
Also to be incorporated in each MOA are ICE's detention priorities. These priorities insure that ICE's finite detention space is used to detain the aliens who pose the greatest risk to the public. Some set base will be incorporated in all MOAs to insure regular review and modification as needed. And ICE will also specify that program information or data that each agency is expected to collect regarding their implementation of the 287(g) program and how this information is to be reported.
Office of State and Local Coordination is working to create system enhancements to end force, which is the DHS's primary administrative arrest booking and case management system that will allow ICE to classify the types of aliens 287(g) trained officers are encountering and the severity of their crimes.
This data will be used by ICE to evaluate whether or not our 287(g) partnerships function in accord using resources with ICE priorities and to insure that continuation of agreement is in the best interest of ICE.
In closing, it is critically important to note, as pointed out in GAO's report, many benefits have been realized by the agencies participating in the 287(g) program. Program participants reported to GAO a reduction in crime, the removal of repeat offenders and other safety benefits. I'm proud of the partnerships ICE has formed with 287(g) trained state and local law enforcement officers. These partnerships are essential to ICE in carrying out its mission of deterring criminal activity, threats to national security and public safety throughout the United States. While ICE has expanded the 287(g) program rapidly and its internal management controls can be improved, I believe that we have a strong framework in place to effectuate improvement, and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.
Again, I thank the committee for support of ICE and our critical mission. I will be happy to answer any questions members have at this time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much for your testimony. Mr. Stana, I now recognize you to summarize your statement for five minutes.
MR. STANA: Thank you, Chairman Thompson, Mr. Souder, members of the committee. As you know, Section 288- 287(g) of the IMA authorizes ICE enter into written agreements that allow state or local law enforcement agencies to perform, at their own expense and under the supervision of ICE officers, certain functions of an immigration officer, including searching selected federal databases and conducting interviews to identify criminals who are in the country illegally. My prepared statement is based our report that was released today on the management controls ICE has in place to govern the 287(g) program and implementation, and the resources benefits and concerns reported by participating agencies. In some, we found that ICE had some controls to govern the program, such as MOAs with participating agencies, as well as background checks and training for officers participating in the program. But the program lacked other key controls, which make it difficult for ICE to insure that it is operating as intended.
I'd like to highlight four areas. First, the program lacked documented program objectives to help insure that participants worked toward a consistent purpose. ICE officials stated that the objective of the program is to address serious crime, such as drug trafficking and violent crimes committed by removable aliens. However, ICE has not documented this objective in MOAs or key program materials. In absence of a clear objective, at least four of 29 program participants we reviewed used to 287(g) authority to process individuals for minor crimes, such as speeding or carrying open containers of alcohol, which is contrary to what ICE said is the program objective.
Second, ICE has not consistently articulated in program related documents how participating agencies are to use their 287(g) program authority. While all 29 MOAs we reviewed contain language that authorizes the state or local officer to interrogate any person believed to be an alien as to his right to remain in the country, none of them mention that ICE's position is that the 287(g) authority should be used in connection with an arrest. We found differing interpretations by participants about the scope of 287(g) authority, such as permitting officers to go to peoples' houses to question them about immigration status. Further, although processing of individuals for possible removal is to be conducted in connection with a conviction of a state or federal felony offense, this issue is not mentioned in seven of the 29 MOAs we reviewed.
Third, although by law, state and local officials are to use 287(g) authority under the supervision of ICE officials, ICE has not described the nature and extent of supervision it is to exercise over participating agencies. This has led to wide variation in the nature and extent of ICE's activities. ICE officials in one location policy provided no direct supervision. In another location, we were told they provided front line support for the program. At two other locations, they described their supervisory activities as overseeing training and insuring that computer systems are working properly. And in another location they describe their supervisory activity as reviewing files for completeness and accuracy.
For their part, the majority of state and local officials we contacted said that ICE supervision was good. But others said they did not receive adequate or direct supervision. Or that ICE supervisors were either unresponsive or not available. ICE officials in headquarters noted that the level of ICE supervision provided to participating agencies has varied due to a shortage of supervisory resources.
Finally, ICE states in the MOAs signed 2007 or later that participating agencies are responsible for tracking and reporting data to ICE. But those MOAs did not define what data should be tracked, or how it should be collected and reported. We found considerable confusion among participating jurisdictions regarding whether they had a data tracking and reporting requirement, what type of data should be tracked and reported and what format they should use in reporting data to ICE.
Turning now to program resources, in fiscal years 2006 to 2008, ICE received about $60 million to train, supervise and equip program participants. As of last month, ICE reported enrolling 67 agencies and training 951 state and local enforcement officers. They had 42 additional requests for participation, as has been mentioned. And in six of the 42, the participation has been approved, pending the approval of the MOA. According to fiscal year 2008 data provided by ICE, for 25 of the 29 program performance participants we reviewed, about 43,000 aliens had been arrested pursuant to the program. And of those, ICE detained about 34,000.
Program benefits reported by participants include a reduction in crime, the removal of repeat offenders and other public safety improvements. However, over half the 29 agencies we contacted reported concerns from community members, including concerns that the use of program authority would lead to racial profiling and intimidation by law enforcement officials. We made several recommendations to strengthen internal controls for the program to address the deficiencies we identified and to help insure the program operates as intended. DHS and ICE concurred with each of our recommendations and reported plans and steps taken to address them.
In closing, the 287(g) program can be an important tool for ICE and participating jurisdictions to use to enforce our nation's immigration laws. Controversy can arise with jurisdictions misunderstand the limits of their authority. And ICE fails to provide appropriate guidance and supervisions. This underscores the need for ICE to insure that effective control mechanisms exist to govern the 287(g) program.
This concludes my oral statement, and I would be happy to answer any questions that members may have.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. Sheriff Jenkins, I now recognize you to summarize your statements for five minutes.
MR. JENKINS: Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, distinguished committee members. I'm Charles A. Jenkins, Sheriff, Frederick County, Maryland, your neighbor to the north. I moved forward to the 287(g) program in 2007 for two reasons. Number one, national security. Specifically the identification of individuals and counter full arrest and investigations that may be a potential terrorist threat inside of our borders.
Secondly, the enormous increase in crime throughout the United States to include this region which can be tied directly to the unchecked flow of illegal immigrants through our southern borders of Mexico. The agreement of participation was signed in late 2007. ICE provided training for 26 Frederick County Sheriff's Office personnel, 16 correctional officers and ten sworn law enforcement deputies. Frederick County currently participates in both arms of the 287(g) program. The detention center program was implemented on April 11th, 2008, and the law enforcement task force program was implemented on August 1st of 2008.
In Frederick County, everyone arrested by our agency and all other local and state agencies in the county are screened and identified through the detention program to determine their illegal presence, their alienage or legal status in the United States. Persons arrested, charged and convicted for violent and serious crimes, crimes of moral turpitude and serious arrestable driving offenses are not released back on to the streets of our community to commit even more serious crimes or to cause the horrific crashes and driving events that we have seen across our country.
Those identified as being in the United States illegally are prosecuted locally, serve time on the state local charges as appropriate, then placed into the removal proceedings. The first arrest and detainer file under 287(g) was arrested for driving intoxicated at two times the legal limit in his blood, through a school zone during school hours. Since April 11th, 2008 and these are some stats I think are very important the following arrests reflect the effectiveness and significance of the 287(g) program in Frederick County, Maryland.
Frederick County has lodged detainers on 337 arrestees identified through the program with 309 of those placed into removal proceedings. The program has allowed us to identify and place into removal proceedings nine members of a notorious and violent gangs, MS13 and 18th Street, originally out of El Salvador, now thriving on this side of the coast. Also, a Mamoud (ph) was arrested and identified. Or a Nicaraguan military trained sniper. And a Salvadorian guerilla trained in knife fighting. Some of the most serious offenses in which criminal aliens have been arrested are attempted second degree murder, second degree rape, armed robbery, child abuse, burglary.
Over the past two years, all of the largest multi key load narcotics investigations and seizures by our narcotics task force, where both cocaine and marijuana had involved the arrest of illegal criminal aliens and the trafficking of those drugs in Frederick County. Several cases involved the drugs being brought directly from the border states. I will strongly argue that national security is at risk by the increased organized street crimes we are seeing now in our communities. It is in this light that the argument is made and I'll make it that national security and fighting that crime are one in the same.
Human trafficking is yet another element of the organized crime we are seeing. Immigrants themselves are victimized. The bleeding of our borders and the crime associated is, in fact, terrorism. It is also recognized that the face of terrorism has changed. It's no longer identified by one face, one profile, one country of origin or one ethnic group. Our law enforcement task force deputies work not as a separate unit but as criminal investigators, as narcotics investigators, patrol deputies now trained in the investigation and identification of fraudulent documents now able to identify criminal aliens. They work closely under the direct supervision of an ICE agent or supervisor. We've also worked on ICE gang surge unit.
As far as the relationship, the working relationship between ICE and Frederick County has been outstanding from day one. We work at the direction of ICE supervisors who have trusted our well trained people to effectively run the program, with direct supervision when needed and availability when you need them. This speaks well to the training program and the oversight. I would be remiss if I said that at times ICE, their manpower is strained, they're under staffed, and they need additional manpower.
As a sheriff and a participant in the program, I would fully support additional manpower and resources for the 287(g) program. I educated the county about what we were going to do from the start. From the outset, I made the public aware of my intentions and the reasons why. It was well publicized in the local media. I've attended many organizational community meetings where this program has been brought up and discussed at length. The facts were explained. And the rumors were dispelled and the false information was set aside. Again, I listened to the citizens of Frederick County in moving forward with this program.
The negative criticism, yes. Overall public support of and comment about this program has been overwhelmingly positive. Estimates of local public support in Frederick County are as high as 90 percent. There are opponents who have criticized our involvement in the program and had made false assertions and claims. Casa de Maryland, the ACLU, the local chapter of the NAACP have all voiced opposition. But they should be behind this. This is not about profiling, this is not about discrimination.
A couple of points. There are have been absolutely no complaints of profiling or discrimination based on ethnicity since the implementation of the program. The program has not harmful (sic) these immigrant community relations. The program has not been a huge additional cost to the citizens of Frederick County. I would argue that the cost of doing nothing is enormous. All other costs are paid for due to program funding. There has been no special immigration enforcement unit created in our office.
REP. THOMPSON: Chuck, we don't like to espout (ph) folk with badges on, because you might have a weapon, too. (Laughter) But if you could summarize.
MR. JENKINS: Okay. I'll summarize in closing. In the ten months since the 287(g) program was implemented, I can show you with statistics the proof that it's been an overwhelming success. We've been cited as a model agency in the program. The citizens of this country are clearly frustrated. I would respectfully urge the committee to expand the resources and oversight for the program. Mr. Chairman, committee members, Americans are angered, they're tired, they're frustrated. We're dying on American soil. I urge you to listen to them. There is a role for local law enforcement in the enforcement of the immigration laws of America. Thank you.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Members should go to committee. We'll hear one other witness. We'll recess at that point. We'll have four votes, and we'll reconvene right after those four votes.
REP. THOMPSON: Chief Manger, for five minutes.
MR. MANGER: Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, I'm Tom Manger, chief of police, Montgomery County, Maryland and chairman of the Major City Chiefs Legislative Committee.
The Major City Chiefs Association represents the 56 largest police departments in the United States. Each one of these 56 police chiefs is dealing every day with the issues of undocumented residents and the crime committed by a fraction of these residents. Nowhere is this challenge more acute than in this country's largest, urban settings. Local governments have by necessity had to react and respond to the growing number of challenges caused by the increasing population of undocumented residents. Municipalities have chosen a range of approaches. Some are proud to be called sanctuary jurisdictions where not only does local law enforcement not inquire about anyone's immigration status. Some jurisdictions don't honor nor serve warrants from ICE. On the other end of the spectrum, some jurisdictions have adopted policies that prohibit government services going to undocumented individuals and have elected to participate in the federal 287 (g) training.
Most jurisdictions have adopted policies somewhere between the two approaches I just described. The overwhelming majority of major city police agencies have elected not to participate in 287 (g) training. In fact, the last figures I've seen indicate that over 95 percent of police and sheriff's departments in the United States have elected not to participate in the 287 (g) training.
I think it's important to make two points here. One, I'm not trying to be critical of those agencies that do participate; it just would not work in most large, urban jurisdictions. We also believe that there should be strong cooperation and coordination with all of our federal law enforcement partners including ICE. So why have the nation's largest police agencies elected not to participate in 287 (g) First, it undermines the trust and cooperation with immigrant communities that are essential elements of community policing. We need to have strong policies that take into full account the realities of local law enforcement. One of those realities is that public safety increases when people have trust and confidence in their police department. Consequently, unreported crime goes down. Another reality is that immigrants both documented and undocumented are more likely to be victims of crimes than are U. S. citizens. Delivering fair and consistent police service to all crime victims has to be a priority.
A second reason that most jurisdictions are not taking the 287 (g) training is that local agencies do not possess adequate resources to enforce these laws in addition to the added responsibility of homeland security. Enforcing federal law is an unfunded mandate that most agencies just cannot afford to do.
Thirdly, immigration laws are very complex; and the training required to understand them would significantly detract from the core mission of the local police to create safe communities.
Prior to just a few years ago, enforcing immigration law was solely a federal responsibility. It was a specialty like the IRS and tax law. If the federal government comes to the conclusion some day that too many people are tax evaders, will the solution be to authorize local police to enforce tax laws? This is contrary to our mission.
That said, working cooperatively with our federal partners is essential for public safety. Using the IRS again as an example, when we make a case against an individual who is a major narcotics distributor, notifying and working closely with the IRS is the effective thing to do. In the same way, working closely with ICE on human-trafficking cases, gang investigations, fraudulent-document cases, is a proven crime fighting technique.
Montgomery County Corrections sends a list of all foreign-born inmates to ICE once a week. In addition, my police officers and detectives notify ICE on every violent-crime arrest that we make. But the bottom line is this, local law enforcement needs to work closely and effectively with our federal partners, but we cannot do their job for them.
The major city chiefs have sent a clear and consistent message to each attorney general for the past eight years. That message is one, secure our borders, it has to be a top priority. Secondly, remove civil immigration detainers from the NCIC database. In August, 2003 Attorney General John Ashcroft put these civil warrants in a national database that had previously been for criminal warrants. Our current attorney general can remedy this with the stroke of a pen. Thirdly, consulting and involving local police agencies when developing any immigration initiative is imperative if that initiative is to involve local law enforcement.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you, Chief.
As previously indicated, we will recess after only three votes rather than four. And shortly after the three votes, we will reconvene.
REP. THOMPSON: We'd like to reconvene our recessed meeting. We have one witness left to offer testimony.
Mr. Chishti I now recognize you to summarize your statement for five minutes.
MR. CHISHTI: My written testimony has been submitted. I'll just highlight three major areas that I've covered in testimony. One is sort of the evolution of these agreements. The second is about their accountability and supervision. And the third is what costs and public policy issues does this program raise?
The first point we understand on these -- understand that we have been studying them at MPI for the last few months, is their recent dramatic growth and their concentration. As we know, the 1996 law provided for the enactment of these agreements. None were signed until 2002. At the start of 2007, there were eight agreements in effect. In 2007, (126 ?) agreements were signed and 28 more in the last year. The program's growth, therefore, has not only been dramatic and recent, it has also been concentrated. Of the current 67 agreements under this program, 42 are in the south census region of the country.
What is striking, Mr. Chairman, is the majority of these agreements, 47 of them, are in the Southeast. There has been a rapid growth we know in that part of the country about recent immigrants and foreign-born population. We also know a good chunk of that may be unauthorized. But we cannot ignore the fact also that this is a region of the country that comes with a troubled legacy of civil rights violations and racial profiling.
The second point I want to make is sort of the remarkable evolution of the purposes of these programs. If you look at the legislative history of 287 (g), the congressman who introduced it on the floor of the House said that what he meant to be covered by these agreements is what we would today call a fugitive alien. In the (Florida ?) agreement that was signed, it was supposed to cover terror suspects. Beginning in 2005, you heard senior ICE officials coming before committees of this -- subcommittees of this committee, assuring that these MOUs will be focused on issues of high criminal targets and high criminal activity. In fact, if you look at all the ICE public material on this, it is targeted on criminal aliens.
Beginning in 2006, the focus of the program started shifting. No longer did these programs target criminal aliens. There are to be some agencies where, by this point seeking to apprehend as many unauthorized immigrants as possible; as the focus appears to have shifted from dangerousness to -- off targeted immigrants to the raw numbers.
The issues of supervision and guidance I think have been very well covered by the GAO report; and there is very serious concern, I won't repeat them here.
The last point I want to make from the testimony that we offered is that there are obviously very important issues of costs and policy that these agreements raise. Mr. Chairman, we live in a world of limited resources. The core function of law enforcement agencies is to protect the public and keep the community safe. Deviations from that core function must be done for a compelling reason and needs to be done with caution. Focusing on terrorists, on dangerous fugitives, or (repeat offenders ?) can be a high priority of local communities. However, when that focus is lost and ordinary civil immigration violators become the target, there is a significant societal cost and the issues of ethnic profiling, the racial profiling and the impact on community policing we heard so well today from Chief Manger and therefore I won't repeat it.
The last point on the costs I want to mention is immigration laws are complex and ever changing as the two police organizations the MCC and the IACB have mentioned that they obviously come with significant costs of racial profiling and community policing. But the most important fact ultimately may be the federal government's ability to dictate and establish a coherent national immigration enforcement policy. Because of the need to respond to the demands of the applicants of the 287 (g) Program, ICE has lost a great deal of initiative as to where and when and how to deploy enforcement resources. So instead of these agreements advancing a coherent national immigration policy are likely to advance the political mandates at the local level.
So for these reasons, we are making a few recommendations. We are asking that the expansion of the program be put on hold to put a federal review of this program and its design. We would like this committee to hold hearings in those jurisdictions which have these programs and which have chosen not to have these programs. We believe that if Congress chooses to continue this program in the future, you must articulate specific, meaningful programmatic objectives for these programs. And if the program has to be continued, the committee should examine clearly the possibility of limiting it to jail programs for serious criminal offenses. And we should also suggest that Congress should make it clear to the law enforcement agencies that if they consistently seek the authority of the MOAs those MOAs should be terminated.
Thank you very much.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you for your testimony as well of each of you before our last witness.
I'll remind each member that he or she will have five minutes to question the panel. I'll now recognize myself for questions.
Mr. Riley, you've heard Mr. Stana testify that ICE presently has no performance measures or program goals. Do you agree with that statement?
MR. RILEY: Yes, that's an accurate statement.
REP. THOMPSON: If that is correct, how do we determine success or failure within the 287 (g) Program?
MR. RILEY: Right now, the Office of State and Local Coordination that I'm overseeing recently finished a draft of a strategic plan that's currently being vetted through ICE right now. That strategic plan is going to have baseline performance measures for which ICE can then project the success of agreements that are currently in place and future agreements. I'd also like to note that Secretary Napolitano on January 30 issued an action directive to ICE specifically for a full review of the 287 (g) Program. Part of that program is for us to start getting performance measures by which we can judge the success of all the agreements that we have in place.
REP. THOMPSON: So let me be absolutely clear with the testimony. At this point, you've said that there are no real measurements in place but you plan to do that.
MR. RILEY: The measures that we've tracked over the past years, as I did testify that 90 percent of the agreements we have in place were entered into in the past three years. The measures that we have been tracking were the number of state and local officers that have been trained, the number of individuals identified by 287 (g), trained officers that were identified for removal via the Memoranda of Agreement, and the number of agreements that we've entered.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
Mr. Stana, did GAO make any suggestions as to how ICE could determine success or failure within the 287 (g) Program?
MR. STANA: Not anything specific in the report. And this is because first before you articulate what your performance measures are, you have to articulate what the objective of the program was. And since there were some variations depending on which document you looked through as to what the intent of the program was, it's hard to create a measure. But assuming that one measure might be to address serious crime by a removable alien, one measure might be, for example, the percentage of serious criminal activity reduction in a jurisdiction participating in 287 (g). Or, if say 90 percent of the arrests under the program were for crimes that are considered serious criminal activity. Those might be two, but again, the fundamental underpinning of having performance measures is to have a more wide- reaching, control mechanism and a control structure that you're trying to measure success against. And that is also something that ICE said they are going to be working on.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
Mr. Riley, can you provide this committee with the last two fiscal years arrests statistics under the 287 (g) Program? And after providing that information, can you provide us ICE's definition of serous crime?
MR. RILEY: The statistics I'll have to get back to the committee on and serious crime I don't know if we have a specific definition for that. What I will say is that over the past few years, ICE has been enhancing its database systems. One of which is end force, which is our -- DHS's administrative arrest booking system, both Customs, Border Protection, USCIS and ICE use this system. What we plan to do is have a short-term fix in the next few months that will allow us to better track those types of data. Specifically, we're going to be requiring that the state and local 287 (g) trained officers populate additional fields that are going to be added to end force, specifically, that will track if the individual was charged with a felony, misdemeanor or non-driving --
REP. THOMPSON: So, we don't have a measurement or identifier for serious crime?
MR. RILEY: ICE doesn't have a definition that I know of for serious crime. We have aggravated felon, felon or misdemeanor.
REP. THOMPSON: Mr. Stana, I guess what I'm trying to figure out is if we have a Memorandum of Agreement between ICE and a unit of government to, as an objective to stop and apprehend serious crime, but we can't define what a serious crime is, how can we measure anything?
MR. STANA: Well, that's a really good question. I think DRO, the Detention and Removal Office, does have definitions for serious crime. And they might list things such as drug traffickers or sex crimes, things like that. And they put that information out to participating jurisdictions with the idea, and I think Mr. Souder alluded to this, ICE isn't going to come and pick up, or it doesn't have the space to deal with people who fall below a certain threshold. It's not that they don't understand and aren't sensitive to the need to respond to other types of crimes, it's just that there are not enough resources and they try to -- if you look at the statistics that ICE has, you'll see that -- I think it was about 43,000 people were arrested under this program. About 34,000 of which, and this is for the 29 jurisdictions we studied, were accepted by ICE. Meaning there are about 9,000 that they didn't take presumably because it was too low a threshold for them to take them.
Of the 34,000 that were taken, it's interesting to see how they were dealt with jurisdiction by jurisdiction. Some of the large feeder jurisdictions, one in particular Maricopa (ph) County, about three quarters were VR'ed (ph), voluntary removal; indicating it probably wasn't a serious crime that they were arrested for, but they were removed from the country nonetheless. I'm not arguing that they shouldn't have been if they are out of status here, but I am concerned about the focus of the program.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you.
I yield to the ranking member for questions.
REP. KING: First let me say to Mr. Stana, I appreciate your thoroughness. We all agree pretty much on the recommendations.
I want to ask Mr. Riley, is anybody forced into this program who doesn't voluntarily want to join? If so, they should resign so that I can have some of my sheriffs who want to voluntarily join.
MR. RILEY: No, congressman, it's a completely voluntary program.
REP. KING: Because there was some implication here that for example who are other people to decide whether an elected sheriff, who has voluntarily joined the program, is doing what he thinks reduces his law enforcement most, his problems because he's elected by the people. He is subject to reelection by the people. If he makes the decision the best way to reduce my crime is by X, it's a tad arrogant of other people to decide that that should be otherwise.
Now, if it's federal money there can be guidelines, but there was an implication here that one group has a better judgment as to what their pressure is than another group and that should be up to elected officials. I'm also concerned -- I was relieved to hear that basically the big city police chiefs, I was disappointed to hear you get to selectively decide which laws of the United States you're going to enforce and which ones are unfunded mandates to not. I was relieved to hear that you still consider narcotics laws, which are federal, an unfunded mandate on local police that will still be enforced by most jurisdictions.
Because in fact these things have partnerships, what's local crime is also federal crime and it's often the federal law to go across state lines. And I'm a little nervous about this implication that oh well, we're going to pick and choose which federal laws to enforce. We're running into this in medicinal marijuana as well. We already had a civil war over whose jurisdiction supersedes. It is not a question of local authority to decide which laws they're going to enforce.
Also, the ten day or once a week that you faxed ICE most people are released within 48 hours. We'll lose most before they could do a background check. I just wanted to get those things on the record.
I have also some additional concerns about the ability of ICE because really the number one challenge is they don't have enough money to do all the different missions, that's how you wind up targeting. And as Mr. Stana just referred, as I did earlier, when we have this meeting in Indiana, one of the prosecutors, Cornell Linebrenner (ph) from DeKalb County has about 45,000 people, said: Okay, you're saying you're only taking if I get a conviction. Because most prosecutors are having to plea bargain because they have to make the same decisions too. Most marijuana convictions in the United States for possession aren't for possession; it's that they're plea bargaining through making tradeoffs of where they do prosecution for dealing. You don't get a marijuana possession unless you have a plea bargain, basically.
The same thing is true in many of the illegals that they have in the sense of they're showing up as misdemeanors because they're plea bargaining them because they don't have time to go through all this process. They were told by ICE that if they go the conviction for a felony they are to be deported, but they're still there. And that one of my direct questions related to my district to Mr. Riley is when will we have a DRO person in Indiana where we have people who've been meth dealers, cocaine dealers, spouse abusers. In Allentown, they have 40 some felonies, in addition to others who have plea bargained.
They'll say when are we going to get somebody in Indiana to do the removal?
MR. RILEY: I'm going to have to take your question back to the operational components within ICE to address your concerns and get back to you on that.
REP. KING: Thanks, and I forgive me, but we've been frustrated. I'd ask to insert into the record a three-page memo I got this morning from Sheriff Leatherman (ph), from Noble County, who has been raising this to me for four years. He shows that he's got 158 who had felon processes, who weren't picked up in a county of 45,000 people. And it's been very frustrating.
The other thing I don't quite understand is is that at the border -- because you can't use ICE agents, we're having them do immigration issues. They're trained, a lot of them in narcotics and financial type things, and then we have DRO, but sometimes you have to move agents over to do DRO work. Why isn't this contracted out with Wackenhut or people like that like it's done around the border because it's just a matter of taking people out? You don't need trained agents.
MR. RILEY: I'm going to have to consult with officers of Detention and Removal to formulate an answer for you.
REP. KING: Because one of the frustrations here is that if we have costs pressures, it would seem best to try to figure out a way once decisions are made that this person has been convicted, they're out of status. It's part of the problem with local police is unless they get in this program the judgments, based on their driver's license, they don't' have any way to verify whether they are unless they get in this program and if they have a fingerprint system. So it's been very frustrating and in Indiana, there is a lot of frustration with the process.
I yield back.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much.
If the gentleman will provide minority and majority counsel a copy of the information we'll insert it afterwards. We will share it with everyone.
The chair now recognizes other members for questions they may wish to ask the witnesses. In accordance with our committee rules, I will recognize members who were present at the start of the hearing based on seniority on the committee, alternating between majority and minority. Those members coming in later will be recognized in the order of their arrival.
The chair now recognizes the gentle lady from California for five minutes.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for calling what I think is a very important hearing.
Out in Orange County, California we have some jurisdictions where my police chiefs don't want to do 287 (g) and we have others where we have actually implemented the program. In my district in particular, which is a heavily immigrant district of all sorts of people from all different types of countries, for some of the reasons given in the testimony by Chief Manger, they don't want to have this program because they need the information from the community on world criminals and crimes going on in their district.
My concern and it's been reiterated by the written testimony of Mr. Stana. You have a lot of stamina, Mr. Stana to be before our committee so often on so many of these issues, it's great. The objectives and the standards and the overall policies of the program are really not communicated effectively in the MOA and in other program-related materials.
So my question is to Mr. Riley. How do local officials know what the penalties for noncompliance will be if they're not really clearly communicated in the materials and information that are provided to them?
MR. RILEY: All the agreements -- I'll start off with -- can be terminated by either party at any time. As far as the severity of it, ICE initiated starting last year a review of all the existing Memoranda of Agreements by ICE's Office of Professional Responsibility.
REP. HARMAN: Have any been terminated by ICE?
MR. RILEY: No, they have not. OPR to date is projected to do 20 reviews this year and they completed four last year. The increase was based on an appropriation in the '09. So we're projecting that within the next few years, all of the existing agreements will have been reviewed by the Office of Professional Responsibility.
REP. HARMAN: But yet, in reading the testimony of Mr. Stana or the report of Mr. Stana, it was really quite evident given all the different agencies he had spoken to a majority of them didn't understand what the responsibilities were under the MOAs.
MR. RILEY: I believe that is why Secretary Napolitano issued an action directive for a full review of the program. In addition to updating our template MOA that we will use for future agreements, which take into account a lot of the GAO recommendations and also other lessons that ICE has learned through the various different evolutions of the MOAs we've created over the past few years. We're also reviewing all existing MOAs, especially earlier ones to ensure that these directives and the priorities of the program are better spelled out.
REP. HARMAN: What type of oversight do you think is really needed from ICE agents in order to have a good and effective program on the ground? And I'll ask that of the whole membership up there.
What type of supervision is required? Because in reading the report from Mr. Stana, I mean, supervision was all over the place. There were some ICE agents who thought all they had to do was keep the computer program going. There were others who never showed up and did any of that. There were others who thought 25 percent of the time should be towards this.
MR. RILEY: A lot of the MOAs, as GAO noted, did not specify the specific duties. ICE is working to fix those duties, but still remain the flexibility because the agreements are unique in nature. Each one is different. Some range from programs that may only encounter a dozen apprehensions a month to some that encounter hundreds per month. So to have an exact template with that is difficult because it does vary between the different programs. We're looking at instituting SOPs specifically formulated with the field office and in conjunction with ICE's review of the 287 (g) Program to specify exactly what we see as the supervisory needs for each of these individual programs. And that's something we hope to achieve in the near future.
MR. : Congresswoman, I'd like to comment that I think a lot of this goes back to what I said in my statement about the intensive, the quality of the training number one, the intensity of the training and the quality of the people that you put into the program as an agency. What we found that early on yes, we needed constant supervision, constant oversight. And you learn as you go, it's like anything else. And as we moved forward and that ICE felt comfortable in the way we were implementing the program and moving forward, the less we had the need for daily supervision. So again, like I said before, they're there when we need them, you know. And again, every arrest we make there is an agent who looks at the "A" files, they inspect the paperwork. So it's a work in progress. I think it goes back to the quality of the original oversight and the training.
REP. HARMAN: Mr. Stana?
MR. STANA: This is a controversial and even a polarizing program. So I think it requires sort of an extra measure of supervision. It starts with articulating what you want out of the program, collecting performance data, visiting the program periodically and sometimes unannounced to understand what is going on. You know about half of your, half of the jurisdictions told us they were just fine with the supervision. But when you peeled that back a little bit and asked them why they were fine with it, they'd say because they leave me alone. They don't come around. And I agree to some extent that this is a program that is a work in progress; and that might have been true for the first ten, but we're up to number 67 now. We ought to know now what we want out of these jurisdictions in this program.
This is a problem that needs to have, you know, the criminal alien problem needs to have some help and some resolution and some control. This population is like any other population there are bad people in it and we have to identify the bad people and we have to deal with them. But if we spend a lot of time on people who aren't bad, there are other programs to deal with that. These are resources that we want to devote to the worst of the worst. That's what Assistant Secretary Meyers said a year ago. That's what ICE's informal guidance says, but it's just not articulated and not understood by the program participants in all cases.
REP. HARMAN: And Mr. Chairman, I would just like to put on the record that it also is very dependent in what the Sheriff said about what type of person you put to do this type of program. For example, in one of the jurisdictions that I have without the program, I had a particular officer who was picking people up on normal traffic stops, putting them in his police car, driving them down about an hour and a half to the border, to the secondary border area we have, and dropping them off to INS agents.
So this type of officer, I mean obviously just doesn't want anybody that looks, in this particular case, Mexican, in my opinion, in my city. So it's very important to understand who's going into the program; that we have MOAs that articulate what the program and what the objectives are and what the measurement is, and that we have good oversight, as I think Mr. Stana said, if we're going to continue with these types of programs.
MR. JENKINS: Can I make a comment to Mr. Stana's comment? You know, when we talk about what is the worst of the worst, well, is a person who is driving drunk through a school zone during the daytime with a violent criminal past any worse or less a bad person than a drug dealer? How do you measure who are the worst of the worst?
REP. THOMPSON: We want to resolve that issue too; that's one of the issues for the program, and if you had an MOU that was definitive enough, a lot of those questions would not be left to the individual, but they'd be quite specific. And I think that's where this hearing is moving this.
REP. HARMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. The gentleman from Alabama, Mr. Rogers, is recognized for five minutes.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Sheriff Jenkins, I think the answer to your question is, it depends on if it's your kids in that schoolyard.
I want to ask Mr. Riley: This program -- now I know that the Alabama Department of Public Safety has been involved, since the beginning; it is one of, I believe, three states that had participation in the ICE program starting in 2003, and it has been incredibly popular. I get feedback regularly from state troopers about how much they appreciate it and how they want more access to it. Can you, Mr. Riley, tell me a little bit about how you think this task force model works in Alabama and why we aren't hearing more of that kind of feedback from these other states?
MR. RILEY: Yes, the Alabama model, as you said, was one of the first ones. It was the first model where it was the actual state patrol that was using it. Recently, I did a review of that MOA, and one of the findings that we found was that the troopers acknowledged that they wanted additional training on our ENFORCE database system, and we created a specialized training class specifically for the troopers. I believe we trained 15 of them to go back as a train-to- trainer to show them, you know, how the database system has changed since they went through -- I think most of those troopers went through -- four or five years ago, and they hadn't had refresher training.
So that was an outtake of our review process that that was a concern of OPR and a concern of the Alabama state troopers, and we moved quickly to fix that. So I think it shows, that's the kind of partnership we have, and I think it's a successful task force.
REP. ROGERS: To my knowledge, there's not been one alleged incident of profiling by the Alabama state troopers since 2003 when this program was initiated. Do you know anything different than that?
MR. RILEY: I don't. And as part of the OPR's review of the MOAs, although ICE doesn't investigate civil rights violations, the Office of Professional Responsibility does check with the United States Attorney's office, the local Federal Bureau of Investigation, and also the Agency's internal affairs bureau, to see if there were any allegations of racial profiling, and there weren't any reflected in that report.
REP. ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Riley. Mr. Stana, do you know of anything different, anything contrary with regard to the Alabama Public Safety Department's involvement with 287(g), any complaints of profiling?
MR. STANA: No I don't, and I'll add that most of the organizations we spoke with were also positive about the program. It increased public safety, it dealt with recidivists, it performed a function that ICE didn't have the resources to perform. The question isn't was it popular. The question is, is it being put to best use?
With regard to Alabama or any other jurisdiction, there is a complaint process in the MOA. It's a little hazy as to what it's supposed to be about. We didn't see any complaints in the files of any jurisdiction, or in OPR about any jurisdiction, that was filed, and I don't know quite how to reconcile that with media reports about problems with these programs in certain jurisdictions. But we didn't find any in the ICE files.
REP. ROGERS: In your audit, did you talk about the question as to whether or not they're being put to best use. Did you find any concerns like that in the Alabama program?
MR. STANA: Yeah, we didn't look at any individual program, Alabama or otherwise, but you know there are always allegations in some jurisdictions that some people being deported weren't really serious criminals.
REP. ROGERS: There are a few things that programs that we put in place in Congress that I get as much positive feedback about as this 287(g) program, so it's very concerning to me when I hear you use words like controversial and polarizing to refer to, to reference this program, because I don't see that in my world. Can you tell me why I'm wrong?
MR. STANA: I don't think it's a matter of right or wrong. I think it's a matter of perception that we're reflecting in our report. Of the 29 jurisdictions that we looked at in detail that were in place as of October 1st, 2007, about half of them made that observation that the Hispanic communities in their jurisdictions were a little wary of the program. Now some tried to overcome that wariness with public outreach, like the Chief mentioned, trying to put some transparency to the program. Others, we found one jurisdiction that found one woman who passed a bad check, found out her status and she was out of status. Rather than deport her they told her that the crime didn't rise to the level they were really looking at in this program, sent her back to the community with the message that we're after people who are serious criminals, so tell your friends and -- what-not, accomplices -- tell your friends and associates that it's okay to report crimes to us. You're not in danger if you're not a serious criminal.
So I think it is a matter -- you know -- it's not disagreeing with you, it's a matter of how the program is being implemented, and to what end.
REP. ROGERS: Well, it's being implemented very well in Alabama, and I don't want anything that comes out of this hearing to disturb that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. The Chair now recognizes the young lady from Texas for five minutes. Ms. Jackson-Lee.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON-LEE (D-TX): Thank you very much Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing. And let me acknowledge each and every one of the witnesses as patriots and individuals who love this country; and we respect that. It is loyal to note that this Congress has a major responsibility, hopefully in the 111th Congress, to implement comprehensive immigration reform, which will then denote for all of us individuals who will either be able to access, if you will, legalization, and others who are in fact bad actors. No one sitting on the Homeland Security Committee wants bad actors, potential terrorists, individuals who travel up the Southern border, or Northern border, that can integrate in our community and pose a serious threat.
At the same time, we recognize that crime is on the rise and resources are precious. My position is that we should have comprehensive immigration reform. Our resources for crime fighting should go to crime fighting. Those individuals who are comfortable with this particular program, let them continue under the present or lessen funding, because I have constituents in my community who are crying because of crime that has no label of whether or not it's an immigrant or non-immigrant, it is crime. And that's what I see law enforcement, on the local and state level, doing, is fighting the kind of crime that our neighbors are talking about that is not necessarily pointed to a traffic stopping of someone who happens to be non-status, possibly driving to their work.
Now let me just say this: There are problems with people who are non-status and driving without a license who are engaged in criminal activity. But frankly I believe that the normal law enforcement can be as helpful as we provide them with more funding, like cops on the beat. Let me acknowledge, I think it's Sheriff Jenkins, just to thank him for his work. This was not intended to indicate that the program in your community is not working, or that the program in Alabama is not working. But let me speak to -- I'm in an awkward location here. I can't see the head of the National Chief's organization's name.
REP. THOMPSON (?): Chief Manger.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Yeah. Chief, let me pose questions to you, because I think you have a reasonable approach to that, because I frankly am from one of the large cities. My understanding is, do you let any immigrant that may be detained, go without -- it seems that you provide a weekly report, or monthly report, of individuals that are detained or picked up. Is that not true?
MR. MANGER: That's true. And everyone we arrest we run a warrant check on, so if there's any outstanding warrant from any organization, including ICE, we serve that warrant. And once a week our Corrections Department sends a list of all foreign-born inmates to ICE.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: And in doing so, you believe that you are covering the responsibility, frankly, that you don't represent yourself. I heard you say the word sanctuary. That's gotten to be an ugly word, but the point is, you're engaged in law enforcement if someone is in violation, and if they happen to be out of status you make sure that you follow through in providing the federal government with the information.
MR. MANGER: That's correct. We allow ICE to do their job, yes.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: You also have indicated something very important. In large cities with multiple, multi-cultural communities, it's very difficult to extract information on violent crimes, on human trafficking, when there is this sense of intimidation. Is that not true?
MR. MANGER: That is true. In some of our most heavily populated immigrant communities, we know that there is a great deal of unreported crime that goes on, and in order to make those communities, those neighborhoods safer, we need to have the trust and cooperation from the people that live there.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: So, showing up at a laundry with a raid, and you have your uniform on, that would spill through the communities and keep you from finding the MS-13 or anyone else that you might try to find.
MR. MANGER: We believe that be the case, yes Ma'am.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Let me ask the gentleman -- I can't see any names here, but this gentleman here. You have written in your testimony here -- and I'm sorry, what is the name? Mr. Chishti -- because I can't see from over here in this location. But in any event, you've indicated the federal authorities need to focus on their federal authorities or their organizing this particular program. Would you comment on that, and comment on the potential of racial profiling?
And Mr. Stana, in my last period, I noticed that your sentence says ICE lacks key internal controls for implementation of this program. I don't think we've answered that, if that is true, and we need to improve that, and I'd like you to comment. Would you comment on why you think the federal government needs to be more involved?
MR. CHISHTI: Thank you. Well this is a program written for the federal government. I mean Congress wrote it so that the enforcement, so the enforcement mandate of the federal government could be helped by the assistance from local governments. So it's intended to help improve the federal enforcement immigration responsibility. Therefore, these agreements should be seen advancing that enforcement strategy. I think that what we have seen increasingly is that when, given the limited resources that the DHS has for its enforcement, then you are confronted with a number of applications coming in. You therefore have to decide how to spend the resources of enforcement, and if you spend them on 287(g) programs which don't target criminal aliens but principally target regular unauthorized workers, not that they should not be removed, but this is a very expensive program, targeted program. If it targets those at the expense of going at high-interest immigrants who may be committing crimes, out of careless interest, then I think it deviates from the real mission of the federal enforcement function of the government.
So, it doesn't advance federal enforcement policy. It actually advances the local political interests of the people who might be interested in applying for visas.
Now the racial profiling was important because the training that these local cops and state cops get is obviously very limited. It's about four to five weeks, and, as you know, Congresswoman, it's a very complex field of law which constantly changes. The immigration agents who do this on a day to day basis have months of training, years of experience. So when you have to go on the beat in determining that someone is undocumented, in the absence of very rigorous training, and if you have to make those decisions in a very short period of time, you are inevitably going to use race or ethnicity as a proxy for someone's illegal status. And that's, I think, what the MCC, and the police, and the International Association of Chiefs of the Police have consistently stated in their public positions. And it's that cost of doing racial profiling in their function of these new mandates that I think they have chosen not to do it.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chishti and Mr. Manger. I'm sorry, Mr. Chairman, I didn't see their names. Mr. Chief Manger and Mr. Chishti. Maybe Mr. Stana might be able to answer the question later. I posed a question to him.
REP. THOMPSON: That's good.
REP. JACKSON-LEE: Thank you Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: The gentle lady's time has expired. We now recognize the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Olson, for five minutes.
REP. PETE OLSON (R-TX): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And welcome to all the witnesses, and thank you for your service to our country and your local communities.
And Mr. Riley, I have a few questions for you. Last year, the Houston Chronicle reported that ICE was releasing criminal aliens and putting them back on the street. Specifically, the Chronicle said that ICE officials didn't file paperwork to detain roughly 75 percent of more than 35-hundred inmates who told jailers during the booking process that they were here in the United States illegally. Many of these illegal aliens were child molesters, rapists and drug dealers.
A bi-partisan group of the Houston congressional delegation met with ICE officials after the story broke and were told that funding from the FY-2009 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill had helped fix some of the problems that this article highlighted by having Harris County deputies trained in 287(g). And, how have these deputies helped ICE stop this problem in Houston?
MR. RILEY: 287(g) trained deputies in Harris County and I'll note that that's one of the largest programs that we have now in terms of individuals identified for removal -- have helped tremendously. They do the vast majority of the screening in Harris County and identify several hundred individuals per month, alone, just out of Harris County. To us, it's definitely one of the successes of the program.
REP. OLSON: Great. So it does work in a large jurisdiction. I mean, Harris County being the third most populous county in our nation.
It can work there if applied properly, you have people --
MR. RILEY: It works very well there.
REP. OLSON: Thank you very much. And my other question for you is, just regarding the backlog of funding, is it deterring communities from manning the program at this time? I mean can you --
MR. RILEY: The backlog?
REP. RILEY: The backlog of funding for 287(g). Is that deterring communities from enrolling in the program?
MR. RILEY: We currently have approximately 42 requests pending. The slow process of reviewing the agreements -- the reason why there has been a significant delay in the past year is that we weren't looking at enhancing the program, looking at, you know, working with GAO in their audit, and also internally had been working on additional measures to enhance the program, building performance measures, and identifying those agreements where we feel that ICE's priority is the best. So, going back to the program, only really having expanded dramatically in the past two years, it is a growing process, and that's why we do have a backlog.
But we haven't really seen much of a reduction. There's been a slight reduction in the number of requests, but we still have quite a few pending.
REP. OLSON: Okay, great. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I yield back my time.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. The chair now recognizes Mr. Cuellar, the gentleman from Texas, for five minutes.
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to follow up on some of the questions that the Chairman asked earlier today, more of the structural questions that I guess Mr. Riley and Mr. Stana and anybody who wants to answer on that. And if you know the answer, we can talk about this later.
What is mission of the program, number one? What are the goal or goals of the program? What are the specific outputs, performance measures, efficiencies, that is, you know, for every individual they have, for every deputy or police, how much does it cost to have that? And I'm sure every MOA is going to be a little bit different. Do you have those answers, or would you prefer that we get together later with Mr. Stana to work that out?
MR. RILEY: I'd prefer later on, because ICE is actually working with our -- as I entered before -- having a finalized strategic plan which will have our future performance measures and how we're going to extract them. So I think once that strategic plan is approved through ICE, it might be a more productive time where we can sit down and look at those.
REP. CUELLAR: And Mr. Riley, I'm -- believe it or not, I'm a supporter of the program if we have the right definitions as to what is the major offense; if we have the right performance measures; if we have the strategy, the right mission, the right goals on it. Because otherwise a good program -- oh, I don't want to be judgmental -- but a program can be -- with good intentions, might turn bad. And I think for the local officials, I think having that is important. So, I take it that, if you're trying to finalize it, that there's no strategic plan in place right now?
MR. RILEY: There is not.
REP. CUELLAR: Okay.
MR. RILEY: But we are, again, working on our review process. One of the main areas of review is tying in the serious crime issue, working on some of our other programs, such as secure communities in our detention removal that have pre-existing definitions, tying ours to be similar so we have consistent definitions across our various programmatic areas. And, once we have those, then bringing them back out to our partner agencies and showing them these are ICE's priorities, and this is where we want to work within the MOAs.
REP. CUELLAR: Would the executive branch have a problem sharing with the committee the strategic plans before you finalize them with your local partners?
MR. RILEY: I'm going to have to review that through our legal advisor to come up with an answer for you on that, Congressman.
REP. CUELLAR: Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask the committee to officially request the -- Mr. Riley. And, again, we want -- it's not us versus them; it's the theme we've been using. We want to work with you and make this better, but I would like to see the strategic plan before it becomes finalized. You know, Mr. Chairman, because you can have a program with good intentions, but if you don't have the right strategy, the right goals, the right enforcement measures without the outputs and the efficiencies, we might be talking about this a year from now ahead. So I would like to at least have some sort of input, constructive input on this.
REP. THOMPSON: If the gentleman will yield, I think we will share with the secretary of the committee's interest in whatever plan including all those items you've articulated just now. As well as, as you know, our oversight responsibility will allow us to, at any point, look at whatever the department is doing.
REP. CUELLAR: Yeah, and Mr. Riley, just again, in the past there's been a us-versus-them, and I want to emphasize that us, together as a team, and certainly want to work with you on that part.
Moving us from that structural position, let me ask a couple of questions: Why is the Border Patrol, who has primary jurisdiction between the ports of entry and the first responders, along with the state and local, not part of this program? I know that it's an ICE program, but any particular reason how they can get involved, or whether they should get involved?
MR. RILEY: I'm not sure why they're not involved. I mean, they are another agency, and I guess when ICE was formed the 287(g) program came with ICE, when border patrol was shifted under Customs and Border protection.
REP. CUELLAR: Because they do have the (still garden ?) program, where they give money to the local folks? So, an issue that I think we'll follow up at a later time. The other thing I have: What about the Criminal Alien program? How does that work along with this program?
MR. RILEY: The Criminal Alien program is managed out of our office of detention removal and it's one of many outreach programs with state and locals that ICE has under its ICE access umbrella. The Criminal Alien program is ICE officers working in correctional facilities to identify the individuals that have been charged with crimes in the jails, lodging detainers on them, placing them in removal proceedings and attempting to ensure that they come into ICE custody prior to being released to the street.
REP. CUELLAR: Okay, last question. I got about 24 seconds left. I guess, Mr. Chishti, you mentioned this. I'm from the Southwest, from the border through Laredo, right at the border. Why aren't there many other programs, I mean other sheriffs or police departments on the border, the Southwest border, part of this program, since that's the entry into the US, at least the southern entry?
MR. RILEY: I'll have to check to see if any requested that. Primarily, it's a voluntary program, so if a sheriff or a chief or the political entity overseeing that department does not want it, it's not something that we go out and recruit heavily for. We have, we wait for the requests to come in to us.
REP. CUELLAR: I understand it's voluntary, but any, I mean, doesn't that get you to think why there's not any more from the border part of it?
MR. RILEY: Yeah, I don't have an answer for that.
REP. CUELLAR: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. The chair would like unanimous consent to include in the record Mr. Souder's letter from Noble County, the letter from Congressman Ed Pastor, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Ms. Jackson-Lee and the Immigrant Policy Center. Without objection.
The chair now recognizes the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Cao, for five minutes.
REP. ANH "JOSEPH" CAO (R-LA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the witnesses being here today. Based on what I've heard from the panel, it seems to me that ICE does not really have the capacity to arrest and detain and eventually deport the number of illegal immigrants here in the United States. Is that correct?
MR. RILEY: All individuals that may be subject to removal?
REP. CAO: That is correct.
MR. RILEY: Depending on the numbers, I doubt we would have that type of capacity.
REP. CAO: Based on the numbers that are estimated, it's approximately 12 million illegal immigrants.
REP. RILEY: I would have to extrapolate what the actual cost of all of that is, but I've read studies where it would be in the multi-, multi-, billions of dollars, which would far exceed the budget that we have.
REP. CAO: Now, is there a more efficient and effective proposal out there to address the issue of illegal immigration, that you know of?
REP. RILEY: I'm sorry, I --
REP. CAO: Or can you propose a more -- or maybe this question can be posed to Mr. Chishti or Mr. Stana, whether or not there is a more efficient and effective way to approach this problem that we have.
MR. STANA: Well, there are a number of approaches that are already outlined. Of course, the border patrol has been plussed up to over 18,000 agents now. And that's one. The Secure Border Initiative is another. Those are, you might say, the line of scrimmage. In the interior, E-Verify would, you know, show some promise, if we can, you know, work some of the bumps in the road out of it. But that needs some more debate, I think. But that is really addressing the jobs magnet that brings most people in.
But those are just a handful. There are many programs that address the problem. But those are just a couple.
MR. CHISHTI: As you know, Congressman, there have been a number of proposals issued. Our institute has issued a proposal itself. I mean, first of all you have to deal with the presence of 12 million people. And it's hard to see anything else to do other than acknowledge their presence and find a way for them to come out of the shadows and become part of the mainstream society in some form, legalize them towards eventual citizenship.
But a second is that you have to recognize as to what causes undocumented population. And our analysis is that it's significantly the co-factors, the demand in the labor market of the US, and that there are no legal channels for people to come, which has been the outcome of our present immigration system, that our selection system now allows very few people to be able to come legally in our existing preference system. Therefore we have to expand that system to allow people who now come illegally to come through legal channels. And we have to improve enforcement, and I think most of it has to be done at the workplace in a very smart way than we have been able to so far, which respects peoples' rights, but at the same time gets us to the heart of why people come to the United States.
REP. CAO: Now, the 287(g) program allows the federal government to pay state and local law enforcement agencies money for detaining these federal quote un-quote inmates. Is that correct?
REP. RILEY: No, not exactly. Our Detention and Removal branch enters into inter-governmental service agreements to reimburse them for individuals that are being detained in local jails. It's not specifically 287(g), but ICE uses a lot of state and local facilities that can meet our standards and enter into a contractual agreement with them. But it's not specifically -- there is, 287(g) detention bed money, but it's not an authorization within 287(g).
REP. CAO: Now does this lead to certain abuse where possibly law enforcement agencies would just arrest and detain people in order just to get reimbursements from the federal government?
REP. RILEY: Well I haven't seen it. It's a reimbursement for the cost that they've encountered and used to detain prisoners that have been put into removal proceedings.
REP. CAO: Sheriff Jenkins?
MR. JENKINS: I'll address that. The answer is no because we are involved in actually the 287 and the IGSA agreement in which we are reimbursed. However, the vast majority of our reimbursements are for detainees that are brought into our facility by ICE because we do have bed space available. So it does not encourage or it doesn't promote going out and profiling to fill bed space.
MR. CHISHTI: But Congressman, I'm sure GAO studies show it's clearly a disparity between how much the localities get reimbursed for housing these undocumented immigrants and how much it costs to get them, to actually house them. So I think there is a net plus for a number of these local communities which choose to detain them.
REP. CAO: Thank you very much.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you very much. Sheriff, since you raised the question, for the record, how much does it cost you to keep a prisoner that Mr. Cao was talking about, in your facility?
MR. JENKINS: Well there's a couple ways of looking at it. Let me explain. I think right now at the state level, it's looked at as the cost of detaining any prisoner. Anyone incarcerated is 90-some dollars a day, say low 90s. Now. Yes, we do generate revenue off of the IGSA agreement. Looking at the operation of the detention center as a constant expense operationally, a constant expense in staffing, we do have available bed space, so we do actually, if you will, profit from the housing of detainees through the IGSA. The actual cost, over and above the operational cost of the jail, is roughly about seven dollars a day per detainee, for a small amount of medical services, plus the meals. So, in effect, we are generating revenue off of that program.
REP. THOMPSON: So, it's costing you seven dollars per day for a person you detain, and how much per day are you reimbursed?
MR. JENKINS: Oh, I think our rate currently, I think about 87 dollars a day. No, 83, 83 dollars a day.
REP. THOMPSON: Oh, okay. But that's about --
MR. JENKINS: But please understand though, that's only because we do have available jail space, bed space in our jail. If we didn't have that, we couldn't do that. We don't create a problem of overcrowding because of the program.
REP. THOMPSON: Okay. Does that help you, Mr. Cao, in terms of reimbursement?
REP. CAO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP THOMPSON: We now recognize the gentleman from New Mexico for five minutes, Mr. Luj'n.
REP. BEN RAY LUJ'N (D-NM): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Mr. Riley, I want to go back to some of the questions in and around the performance measures. I just want to ask the question again: Has ICE developed performance measures? Because I'm not sure if I've heard yes or no completely.
MR. RILEY: For the 287(g) program, we have -- we've built performance measures into our strategic plan on the 287(g) program. They just have not been approved through ICE yet. So our goal is to not only have the strategic plan, but also looking at the review of the program itself, tying future agreements better into ICE priorities and having them spelled out within the agreement. But we do have performance measures that are in -- (inaudible) -- form that we're trying to get completed.
REP. LUJAN: And Mr. Riley, when were those developed?
MR. RILEY: The strategic plan's been in development for approximate -- at least the five months that I've been the acting director.
REP. LUJAN: And --
MR. RILEY: It started prior to that, so longer than five months.
REP. LUJAN: And Mr. Riley, when was the first time that we entered into an agreement with the local law enforcement agency in this program?
MR. RILEY: 2002.
REP. LUJAN: So between 2002 and 2009, the beginning of the year, there have been no performance measures put together to be able to measure the success or failure of this program?
MR. RILEY: Other than the officers trained and individuals identified in agreements met, no, there haven't been.
REP. LUJAN: So when there's discussion of success in this program or failures of this program, there hasn't been anything identified that has been formalized yet to be able to measure that?
MR. RILEY: No, I don't believe so.
REP. LUJAN: Mr. Chairman, one of the questions I have also in this area is currently -- and I think this was touched upon -- what's the process if someone who is not necessarily well-trained in enforcing immigration law violates what we hope are the parameters of 287(g)? For example, if someone was improperly detained.
MR. RILEY: An individual officer's authority can be revoked. We have policy in place that discusses suspension and/or revocation of an individual officer's authority, based on cause. The allegation is forwarded to ICE's OPR, the matter is reviewed, and the authorization can be pulled unilaterally. And in fact, we recently had an instance where a 287(g) officer was charged with a serious off-duty crime, nothing to do with his duty, but the next day, we revoked his authority and cancelled his access into our system, so there are policies in place that would address the allegations and/or misconduct of 287(g) officers.
REP. LUJAN: And Mr. Riley, are you aware of any comprehensive audits or reviews of all of those that have been detained back to 2002? Have they been reviewed to see if there were any that were detained that were not undocumented?
MR. RILEY: As part of OPR's review of all the MOAs that's ongoing, they do spot-checks on a certain percentage of alien files that were created under the program. They review to ensure that the charging documents were prepared properly and also look to see if there were any complaints filed by any detainees against any 287(g) and/or ICE officers.
REP. LUJAN: And Sheriff Jenkins, you made reference a little bit earlier that there was a certain number -- it was -- sounded like it was in the high 300s -- of arrests, but only of which, 307 or so were actually -- there were violations there. Could you refresh my memory with those numbers?
MR. JENKINS: Yeah. Let me find that here. Just bear with me for one second. 337 persons who were brought in through central booking who had committed, again, some type of crime or an arrestable traffic offense, booked through our central processing, and then were determined to be illegal status. 309 of those persons were placed into removal proceedings.
REP. LUJAN: Okay. Mr. Stana, one question I have for you specifically is, the report includes a troubling point on many agencies. The GAO contact had noted concerns for community members that 287(g) could lead to racial profiling and intimidation. I come from a very diverse district, and -- which is something that we embrace, and where we look forward into having strong relationships with our law enforcement, as the chief has described, where we're able to work closely with one another to be go -- to go after and make sure that we're arresting those drug dealers and those that are committing serious crimes. What do you think of these concerns about intimidation and profiling that are being expressed, and how can we better work with our communities to address these specific concerns?
MR. STANA: I'd answer the question this way. There are fundamentally three different models that this program uses. One is the jail model, and that's when people come in and they're booked, and then they check the status. And most people -- a vast majority of people have no problem with that. You have a felon or at least a very bad person who was arrested or brought before you that did something wrong.
Then, there's what used to be the patrol model, and I believe ICE has stopped that one. But the patrol model enabled officers to, in the course of their normal patrol duties, to identify people who are out of status, supposedly in the course of arrest action. Some allege that this is not being doing in the course of arrest action, but there are people who are arrested for minor traffic violations, cracked windshield or something like that -- this is the allegation -- and they felt that there was profiling going on. That model, I believe, is not in use anymore.
It's -- it was now turned over into what's known as the task force model. These are supposed to be ICE-led task forces. I looked at the list, and I don't know if all of them are ICE-led, but this is to provide another measure of control where ICE is a partner, among other agencies, to work on, say, a drug case or a trafficking -- human trafficking case or something like that. Haven't heard much noise about that one, either. It was the patrol model that seemed to generate the most concern.
Now, the issue is people feeling that they're maybe committing a crime -- a crime is sort of a loose term -- but a relatively minor infraction, but that the officers were just waiting for them. Some of the allegations we had heard were corn vendors on the street, and they were brought in on charges that they didn't comport with food safety laws, or people with cracked taillights and someone who looks Hispanic. And the people who raised the issues were people of Hispanic descent, who happened to be U.S. citizens, were concerned about being pulled over, too.
So those were the kinds of complaints that we're, you know, we're aware of. Now, this is a program that's had a rather high bar of serious crime that is supposed to be the target here. If you want a lower that bar, that's within the, you know, Congress hasn't defined where the bar is, so ICE could reasonably define where that bar should be. If you want to lower it, that would be fine if they articulated that.
But the cost is going to go up. The cost is going to go up in terms of detention space needed, officers needed to supervise, and another cost very well may be what Chief Manger pointed out, a cost in are you going to get community cooperation in your pursuit to root out crime.
REP. LUJAN: Thank you. And Mr. Chairman, I know my time has expired here, but I would just -- wanted to say, Mr. Chairman, that I completely agree with Ms. Jackson-Lee that the answer and the solution to many of these problems is comprehensive immigration reform. And I hope that as we're doing our jobs to make sure that we're protecting our nation against crime, that we do not lose sight that we're talking about real lives and real people with everything that we do and that we keep that in the back of the mind when we're making decisions going forward. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
REP. THOMPSON: Thank you. Gentlemen, his time has expired. Now recognize the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, for five minutes.
REP. SMITH (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. First of all, Mr. Stana, with the GAO, I want to thank you for your suggestions on how to improve the 287(g) program. And I just want to emphasize something that you alluded to a while ago, and I say this because I was a House author of the 1996 Immigration Reform Bill that included the 287(g) program, and that is that there is nothing in the legislation that limits the program to detaining those who have committed serious crimes, and it sounds like, to me, you agree with that. In fact, the goal was not that at all. The goal was to really enable those local law enforcement authorities who wanted to, to enforce the immigration laws in whatever way they thought best, and that might or might not include those who had committed serious crimes. Some people, I think, are under the mistaken impression that somehow that's required by the legislation, and as you pointed out, that's really a decision made by the government in individual situations.
The other thing is, I think, clearly, the program has been a success, in part because of the testimony of various law enforcement officials like Sheriff Jenkins -- and I have a question for you in just a minute -- but also in part because of the dramatic increase in applications, so many applications by local law enforcement authorities, in fact, that the federal government can't even keep up with approving those agreements. So clearly, there's an interest in the program, which I think is to be commended.
I also think -- and I want to allude here, and I don't if Mr. Riley got to it in his oral testimony or not, and I apologize for not being here at that point. I was on the floor. I'm a member of another judiciary committee. We had bills on the floor. So I may have missed it if you said it, but I just want to make sure it's in the record. And this goes to the success of the program.
It is critically important to note, as pointed out in GAO's report, many benefits have been realized by the agencies participating in the 287(g) program. Program participants reported to GAO a reduction in crime, the removal of repeat offenders, and other safety benefits. The cost-savings associated with crime reduction are not being easily quantified, but there has undoubtedly been a positive impact on the community. These partnerships are essential to ICE carrying out its mission of deterring criminal alien activity and threats to national security and public safety throughout the United States. That's a strong statement, which I very much appreciated, but again, I think it points to the success of the program.
I would also say, in fact, that I consider 287(g) to really be a litmus test as to whether we are serious about enforcing immigration laws, whether we are serious about making our communities safer, and whether we are serious about reducing the illegal immigration. That's how important the program is.
Mr. Stana, a few minutes ago, you mentioned that we have 18,000 border patrol agents. Well, when you think that you have to cover 24 hours a day, that means you divide that by three of the eight-hour shifts, there is only 6,000 agents on duty at any one time. We have 4,000 miles of border north and south. That means we've only got three agents for every two miles of border. Believe me, that's not enough, and I don't know of anybody who thinks that that's enough, but that's why we need programs such as 287(g) to augment our efforts to try to secure the border.
Now, let me run through a couple questions, if I could, and Sheriff Jenkins, I'll begin with you. And thank you for being an example of how the program works. And you suggested in your written testimony that we actually ought to expand the program; is that correct?
MR. JENKINS: That is correct, sir.
REP. SMITH: And why is that?
MR. JENKINS: Well, again, I say, you look at the needs of the agencies or the requests of the number of agencies that want to get onboard, and again, I think there is a true role for the need and involvement of local law enforcement. And the reason I say this is because if the resources were available to ICE to provide all those -- all the oversight and supervision that was needed, I think the program would be even more successful.
REP. SMITH: Okay. Thank you, Sheriff Jenkins.
Chief Manger, let me just ask you a question based upon what I read in your testimony. You said local police agencies must balance any decision to enforce federal immigration laws with their daily mission of protecting and serving diverse communities and so forth. I know you have your pros and cons about 287(g), but it sound like to me, from your written statement, at least, that you believe that it should be up to the local law enforcement authorities whether they participate or not; is that accurate?
MR. MANGER: That is accurate. Yes, sir.
REP. SMITH: Okay. That's helpful because I think what we all want to do is try to improve the program, and in my judgment, I think we ought to expand it -- I agree with Sheriff Jenkins in that regard -- and make it, you know, improve it to the point where more and more communities want to use it. But the problem we have is that we need more personnel within the Department of Homeland Security, so that we can get those agreements approved. I just think it is inexcusable to have local law enforcement authorities wanting to participate and not having the personnel in D.C. to approve those agreements, and I hope we could rectify that.
Mr. -- Madam Chair, I'll yield back.
REP. CLARKE (D-NY): Thank you very much. I will now recognize myself for five minutes. I wanted to thank Chairman Thompson and Mr. Souder for the opportunity to address our witnesses today. As a New Yorker, I'm acutely aware that we're in a post-911 world, and it is incredibly important that we protect our nation from terrorist threats. In order to do so, it is important that we identify the bad actors, both documented and undocumented, residing within our borders. But unfortunately, I think we're all stuck at a point where we recognize we're in -- our current immigration system is antiquated and is in urgent need of fundamental reform.
I'm particularly concerned about the lack of internal controls, oversight, and accountability in the 287(g) program. Let me just state that as a second-generation American of immigrant parents and a representative of a congressional district with a substantial and diverse immigrant population, I'm concerned about the potential this program poses for racial profiling and for the lack of trust and the hostility that it fosters between immigrant communities and law enforcement. As noted in both the testimonies of Chief J. Thomas Manger and MPI director, Mr. Chishti, even legal immigrants will cease to report crimes in a culture of fear and paranoia, so that sort of brings me to you, Sheriff Jenkins. I kind of found it interesting that in your conversation here, you said that your department has found a way to make -- what is it -- $80 per detainee. Is that what the -- is that what your reimbursement rate is for a detainee?
MR. JENKINS: It's $83 reimbursement.
REP. CLARKE: Okay. And that could be quite profitable, particularly if your jurisdiction has additional bed space, couldn't it?
MR. JENKINS: It -- I think it's a good use of bed space.
REP. CLARKE: Yeah.
MR. JENKINS: Again, look at helping the overall mission of ICE.
REP. CLARKE: Yeah, okay. In terms of community policing, it is vital that every local police and sheriff department have a strong relationship with the community. Victims of crime and witnesses should be able to come forward and talk to the police freely without fear of being arrested or deported, and I'm concerned that participation in this program may negatively impact this important relationship. I wanted to ask if you believe that undocumented immigrants in your community who are victims of a crime or witness to a crime are reluctant to come forward because they fear of detention or deportation.
MR. JENKINS: The answer is no, not for that reason. I think you will find -- and I'm going to go back to my experiences in working crime and criminal investigation -- that the reluctance is a cultural thing. It's not an issue that you can tie to the immigration enforcement. I mean, there is typically a mistrust of police, government, and law enforcement in most of the rest of the world. We know that. So I think in a lot of cases, it's cultural. I could say --
REP. CLARKE: Could you go a little bit more into detail about what you mean when you say it's "cultural."
MR. JENKINS: Well, I mean, a lot of other countries in the world, let's face it, their police are corrupt, their governments, in a lot of senses, are corrupt, and there is just a general mistrust of law enforcement. Not in -- not necessarily in this country, but other areas of the world, and not tied to one specific country. I mean, I think we know that. I mean, look at the law enforcement -- South America, Central America. I mean, we all know what's going on below the borders.
I'm going to be very frank with you. I mean, let's face it, a lot of other countries, people cannot trust law enforcement.
I don't think the -- I don't think it creates -- I don't think this program creates mistrust. We participate very strongly in community policing. We reach out to the Latino communities, all the immigrant communities. I have had calls, I've had letters from people who -- immigrants who are in this country legally, who -- frankly, they believe in this program.
REP. CLARKE: Well, let me ask you something. If that is, indeed, your premise, then how do you become an effective crime fighter in an environment where we know that we would need the intelligence of individuals within our own community to avoid and avert really, really bad things from happening?
MR. JENKINS: We do, and we --
REP. CLARKE: And so I'm just asking you, I mean, just the two responses just don't jibe.
MR. JENKINS: Okay.
REP. CLARKE: You know, it -- they don't jibe.
MR. JENKINS: But there are mechanisms in this program to protect victims of crime. We make that very clear. I mean, just because you were a victim of a crime and you happen to be an immigrant doesn't mean we won't do everything absolutely within our power --
REP. CLARKE: Yeah.
MR. JENKINS: -- to protect you.
REP. CLARKE: Okay. And Mr. Jenkins, my time is running out, and I'm going to just end with one more question from -- for you. Have you participated in any outreach efforts specifically designed to inform the community about the 287(g) authority?
MR. JENKINS: Yes, I have.
REP. CLARKE: And could you just give us a little bit more detail on that?
MR. JENKINS: I have made myself accessible to any community group.
REP. CLARKE: No, I said outreach, not --
MR. JENKINS: Outreach, yes, yes.
REP. CLARKE: Uh-huh.
MR. JENKINS: I have -- again, from the onset of this program, I have let the community know where we were going to go, the reasons we were getting involved in this program, and have taken an active posture in getting out and letting the community know -- all segments of the community know what this program is. I've been very transparent about it.
REP. CLARKE: Okay. Very well. Let me know acknowledge Mr. Dent, who is your next to -- going based on the -- McCaul. Mr. McCaul, I'm just going by the list here, sir.
REP. MCCAUL (R-TX): I thank the chair.
REP. CLARKE: You're acknowledged for five minutes.
REP. MCCAUL: Thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania, as well.
REP. DENT: Take your time.
REP. MCCAUL: There was an old expression, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." I think this has been a very successful program, and if anything, we should look at expanding it in the Congress, not criticizing it. You know, after 911, we all talked about working together: federal, state, and local. I think that applies to this issue, as well. Our local law enforcement are the eyes and ears.
We talked about the patrol model. That's the model that picked up Tim McVeigh on the streets with a routine traffic stop. I think the American people are frustrated by the illegal immigration issue, but when they see illegal immigrants come into this country and commit crimes, they find that to be intolerable and unacceptable. They certainly do in my district. And this program in the Houston area has been very successful. The only problem that I have seen is that more local police departments want to participate in it that cannot qualify and that ICE does not have the resources that it needs to properly carry this out.
I met in the Houston area with ICE, with our smaller local police departments, and the ICE official literally pointed at me as a member of Congress and said that the local law enforcement officers are saying, "We want to do this. We want to participate. We need ICE to help us detain more of these illegals committing crimes in the United States," and the response from the ICE official was, he pointed at me and said, "Well, you're from the Congress. You need to help us." And I think he's right.
I think that Congress needs to appropriate more money for this program to expand it. I think Congress needs to appropriate more money so that ICE can fully participate in this program, which I believe ICE cannot fully participate in this program, given the limited resources available. So with that question and given that -- this is a voluntary program. We're not forcing any local police department to do this. But given that -- or I throw my first question to Mr. Riley at DHS in terms of, does ICE have the resources to fully participate in this program?
MR. RILEY: Currently, with the workload we have, I believe we do. The Congress has been very generous in appropriating funds. The 287(g) program received over $54 million this current year, and that's up from zero, five years ago. The growth has been dramatic in the past two years, and we have signed on 60 MOAs just in the past two fiscal years, and we have more in the pipeline.
We started tracking the cost -- the full cost expended on the program, as a result of GAO asking what the average cost per agreement was and looking at that, and we've expanded that spreadsheet GAO up to 29. We have it expanded all 67 now, so in the upcoming years, we're going to be tracking what the full impact is at detention bed cost space, personnel cost, and things of that nature, to get a better picture on what the average memorandum of agreement does cost.
REP. MCCAUL: Well, and -- but I'll -- Mr. Stana, is that your experience, as well, with your report?
MR. STANA: Well, the $60 million goes for computers and training, mainly, some equipment, but not for people, not for bed space, not for ICE supervision. They're in short supply there. So to some extent, Mr. Riley's correct. In another plane, I might -- we might want to reexamine. I think that the question people normally ask GAO is, "How well did they spend what they got," not "Do they need more?" But you know, the fact that Mr. Souder can't get in the program, or his jurisdiction can't get in the program and others are waiting would suggest that maybe the resource question ought to be revisited.
REP. MCCAUL: Well, and I agree with that. Mr. Riley, I'd love to invite you down to my district, and you can talk to several local police departments that want to be in this program, but cannot, and the director of ICE in Harris County, who has been very -- I think -- I commend him for being honest with me and very straightforward that they do need more resources, and I think that is an issue that we in this Congress should be focused on. I think it's a very -- it's a successful program. I think it deserves expansion.
And with that, I have a few seconds left. I want to just ask Sheriff Jackson (sic) and Mr. Riley if -- I'd like to hear the successes of your model, Sheriff, and then also ask the question, have there been any complaints filed regarding racial profiling, both in Maryland and also, Mr. Riley, nationwide.
MR. JACKSON: The answer is no. I've had no complaints or investigation -- no complaints of racial profiling or discrimination as a result of the program. It's been a very successful program, and I don't quantify that with numbers.
I look at how well we run the program in partnership with ICE.
REP. MCCAUL: I commend you for that. And Mr. Riley, any -- have you had any complaints regarding racial profiling pertaining to this program?
MR. RILEY: ICE does take the allegations that are out there very seriously, and I believe we've built several measures into it. Although we don't audit the investigative agency for racial profiling, we do have a multilayered approach when looking at the issue. The way the agreements are established, there is a complaint process for any violation of the MOA, which is a complaint process through our Office of Professional Responsibility.
The officers that are recommended for the training, we do background checks on those officers and look at pending disciplinary actions, as well as within the training, there are components of the 287(g) training program that looks at racial profiling and civil rights issues. The officers are advised that now that they are federal officers when exercising the 287(g) authority, that they're bound by the Department of Justice's civil rights policies and procedures on racial profiling and use of race in law enforcement activities. Additional, our OPR reviews, when they go out to the officers and review the MOAs, they do check with the racial -- civil rights entities, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the FBI, to ascertain if there are any pending racial or civil rights issues.
REP. MCCAUL: And are there -- and my question is, are -- have there been any filed?
MR. RILEY: None of our OPR reports have reflected any --
REP. MCCAUL: Thank you.
MR. RILEY: -- with them.
REP. CLARKE: I now acknowledge the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Green, for short -- for five minutes, excuse me.
REP. GREEN (D-TX): For a short five minutes. Thank you, Madam Chair.
REP. CLARKE: The standard five minutes.
REP. GREEN: Thank you very much, and I want to thank the witnesses, as well. And for edification purposes, permit me to share this with you. I've been in and out because we have another hearing in Financial Services, and it's quite important that I attend both of these hearings today, so I may have missed something that I will ask you to share, and I beg your indulgence because of my trying to split my time.
Let's start with some intelligence that I've received, indicating that ICE officials reported to GAO that they're in the process of developing performance measures. Let's go to Mr. Stana. Is this true that ICE has been in touch with you and they're in the process of developing some performance standards?
MR. STANA: That's correct. Mr. Riley and his people are developing a strategic plan. Embedded in the strategic plan are performance measures. We have not seen them. The strategic plan is still in draft form, and I'm not sure exactly when it's going to come out, but we'll be looking to that plan --
REP. GREEN: So that's a good segue into my next question. Have you been given any timetable as to when you can expect this performance plan, if you will, or measure?
MR. STANA: Nothing specific.
REP. GREEN: Perhaps I should move now to ICE, then, and ask you the follow-up question. Is there a timeframe within which the performance measures will be accorded GAO?
MR. RILEY: The draft -- the plan is in final format and with our 287(g) review that we're conducting across the board. I don't have a timeframe. I can check with the -- check on the status of where the strategic plan is and the performance measures and get back to you on a timeframe.
REP. GREEN: Understanding that you do not have a timeframe, is it fair to assume that it will be done within the next six months?
MR. RILEY: I believe so, with the review that's being conducted at the direction of the Secretary Napolitano, I believe we will have it done in the next six months.
REP. GREEN: And would it be done within the next three months?
MR. RILEY: That, I can't answer. I can get back to you on that when I have a chance to consult.
REP. GREEN: So within about three to six months, given that not three, but possibly six. I ask because having gone through this on many occasions now, I've learned that timeframes are important, and if we're going to have an efficacious program, we do need these performance standards, and the best way to get to them is to have some horizon that we're looking to. So I'm going to not necessarily say that I'll hold you to it, but I'll at least expect to see something in about six months so that we can get a better handle on what we're doing.
Next point is this: The MOAs generally do not provide details, according to my intelligence, as to what data should be collected or how the data should be collected and how the data should be reported to ICE; is this true?
MR. RILEY: That's correct.
REP. GREEN: Given that some of this can become standard, why can we not standardize certain aspects of these MOAS so that we can have one that we can use, generally speaking, that we tweak for a given location?
MR. RILEY: Right. That's our goal and that's what we are doing right now is, we have a new draft that has gone through several evolutions of MOA's. They have been templates and standardized and we have added to them over the years. The current ones that we are putting together takes into account many of the GAO recommendations plus other areas that we wish to improve internally with our current review and one of them is the data collection.
For the record, we have data that we extract out of our database system, that's the state and locals are required to put in it. It's not spelled out in any MOA but it is a seamless mission where we give instructions on what needs to be filled out, so that we can pull the data out directly and even that system itself, the N4 System is being enhanced so that the data collection will be better to focus on the individual --
REP. GREEN: Forgive me for interrupting, but I do have one final question and this is rather general and it will help me with many hearings of this type. Is there anything that has prevented you from visiting the GAO prior to the implementation of the program and ascertain what type of acid test might be best used given what your mission was?. Is there anything that prohibits this?
MR. RILEY: I am not sure if there is a prohibition from us consulting with the GAO.
REP. GREEN: I only ask because we find ourselves after the fact making these kinds of adjustments that in many circumstances are based upon what I have seen now. This is my observation. Based upon my observation, we could have prevented this hearing possibly by having had a meeting with someone in GAO and your organization. And this doesn't just apply to you so I am not finger pointing. I am just trying to find a better way to do business and save money for the government.
MR. RILEY: You know Mr. Green from time-to-time other organizations do engage us -- we call them constructive engagements. They ask our counsel on certain things they are thinking about doing.
In this case, if Mr. Riley and his people would like us to have a look at what they have drafted and provide any insights, we would be welcome to do that but we have not been asked yet.
REP. GREEN: It seems like a fairly reasonable thing to do. I thank you, madame chair and by the way, you do look (good in the seat ?).
REP. COLLINS: Thank you very much, but I would now like to acknowledge the gentleman from Pennsylvania for five minutes, Mr. Dent.
REP. DENT: Thank you, madame chair and great to be here and Riley, good to see you again.
MR. RILEY: You too Congressman.
REP. DENT: How did you get this job by the way, can I ask? And why don't you tell them what you did before you were -- when I used to run into you --
MR. RILEY: Prior to my assignment here as acting director of state and local law enforcement I was assistant special agent in charge with ICE's office of investigations in Philadelphia. I worked with Congressman Dent on some significant community issues.
REP. DENT: Interesting issues trying to help facilitate greater collaboration between ICE and local law enforcement, as I recall.
MR. RILEY: Very ironic.
REP. DENT: Some interesting meetings and thank me again.
I have a lot of questions but what I want to say, Mr. Riley, I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you about a situation that just occurred in my district in the last few days. It was again in the Northhampton County where you have had some experience, of an individual entering the United States illegally and then got a green card when he married a U.S. citizen. The individual is now facing his sixth drunk driving charge.
And I guess my question is, what does it take to pull the guy's green card. He is operating under aliases, entered the country illegally, and send him packing? You know I guess, I mean, my constituents are asking me does he have to kill somebody first before we get them out and will there be any relevance to the 287 (g) program in a case like this.
MR. RILEY: If the individual had a green card, he is a lawful permanent resident, only a deportable criminal offence would render him removable. It has been a few months since I have reviewed some notices to appear under the state of Pennsylvania statute, but not known what the exact conviction is for and the severity of it, I would have to --
REP. DENT: I will get it to you, but the individual was convicted of drunk driving in 1993, '94, '96, and 2007 twice, just got picked up for 0.23 and this has been ongoing, aliases and improper, false aliases that sort of thing. So that has to kind of come up and I just want to raise out with you and look forward to working with you on that particular situation. I also want to mention -- I guess my next question is to Sheriff Jenkins.
Can you tell me and this committee how many criminal aliens identified by your agency have been released and not deported because ICE has not had the resources to deport everybody.
MR. JENKINS: I am sorry, sir. To my knowledge -- now again, when we look at the numbers of persons we filed detainers on 337 -- the number that were place into removal proceedings, again, I go back to the program has worked well for us. And we have never been in a situation where the person was removable and it has not occurred.
REP. DENT: Not a lot of situations as you are well aware, Mr. Riley but I just would like to have further dialogue with you on these issues because it is becoming a bigger issue.
As you know, we had some celebrated cases that you have been familiar with and I guess, finally too, I just want to say that we have a lot of people in this country and I am not sure what you fellows can do about this but I know about 139,000 people Mr. Riley in the United States and eight countries who are awaiting removal orders but cannot be repatriated.
I don't know if you any insider thoughts on that, that particular issue, we have got legislation down here pending that will make it -- holding up visas from most countries when these individuals are from foreign places like India, China, Jamaica, Vietnam, Laos. I can go through the list of eight countries. And I don't know if you may want to respond, but I picked on Mr. Riley but maybe somebody else has some insights.
MR. RILEY: Well it's been several years we did some work on the Sabidoff (ph) case, which I think is what you are talking about. This was named after a Supreme Court decision.
REP. DENT: Yeah, we cannot hold these people indefinitely.
MR. RILEY: And that is part of the problem and if I remember right, there needs to be more collaboration between states and Homeland Security and local jurisdictions to make sure that all the paperwork was right and all the appeals were exhausted in concert with law but within that in an expeditious manner but there are some issues that are a tough nut to crack. Laos -- I can name the countries also that will not take them back and they are still languishing in detention facilities.
REP. DENT: At this time, I have no further questions. I yield to Mr. Souder.
REP. SOUDER: Sheriff Jenkins, does the federal government pay any of the salaries on your people who participate in 287(g).
MR. JENKINS: No, sir they do not.
REP. SOUDER: I think it's very important to point out that when we are talking about control that the salaries are paid just like in the HIDA (ph), by the local law enforcement and if we don't include local law enforcement in the decision of what they are allowed to do, we will not have a program because the federal government is merely doing training. Anybody who is watching this today, listening to this, needs to understand Sheriff Jenkins is funding the program. The federal government only did the training.
MR. JENKINS: Correct, sir.
REP. COLLINS: I think it is also important to note that it is a voluntary program. The next person to get their questions at this time is the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Cleaver.
REP. CLEAVER: Thank you, madame chair. I apologize and am apologetic as well, I am on the Financial Services Committee and we are dealing with TARP so we have been in and out and my colleague Mr. Green is accustomed to sitting by me in both committees. He will be lost without me. So I will have to join him, create some comfort for him as soon as I can. But this is a very important subject. I just want to say okay, some highly publicized cases like those that Mr. Dent, my colleague had mentioned.
Although, the kinds of things that really will irritate the American public and I think we have got to clean up our laws and figure out ways to address some of these issues because those are the things that are lifted up to anger the American public. But at the same time, I am also very concerned about xenophobia and I think in the aftermath of 9/11, there is a great deal of that and I think it would be very difficult for someone to dismiss the fact that that is the case.
So I am concerned about that and I know that the American public, as Chief Jenkins you mentioned the fact that there were people, I guess, criticizing your programs, the 287(g) and your operation but I do have to say that sometimes the public is wrong. You know, a politician is not supposed to say that but it is a fact. I mean as a little boy growing up in Texas I can remember this Congress and these walls repeatedly refusing to pass a civil rights bill and the polls showed that they were doing what their constituents said. I think we have to be careful. We are the leaders who have to make sure that the xenophobia is not a part of what we push (flail ?) from these hallowed walls. But I would like to move to Chief Thomas.
Do you believe that the 287(g) creates tension between the police operations and the immigrant community.
MR. MANGER: You know, it's going to be different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
I can speak for Montgomery County, where I police and I can tell you with the number of immigrants that we have, with the number of undocumented immigrants that we have, it would pose a difficult issue for us if that segment of the community saw us as quote, "the immigration police." Yes, it would be a problem.
REP. CLEAVER: I think that would spill over for sure in Latin America and in other places around the world if there is a fear of police and authority. I think minorities, and certainly immigrants, may have that same paranoia and I think someone mentioned it earlier, I think the Chair mentioned that we need some cooperation to adequately fight crime from all segments of the population. Mr. Christi, do you believe that there is something we can do to tweak 287(g) that would make it workable but not oppressive.
MR. CHISHTI: I think so congressman. I mean there are clearly four or five things that you can do. First of all, you can insist that these agreements have a clear narrow objective because the limited resources, they must be spent on high target of interest criminal aliens I think. Number two is that I think that we must have very strict supervision. Right now, the supervision, the language in these agreements is so vague that they make the statutory language essentially meaningless. They must also have very tight guidance as to when they are going to use authorities that they are given by (the agreement ?) and I think they should have very strict compliance procedures and they should be monitored and most importantly you should have very important reporting requirements, which you don't have now.
When we all talked about how many criminal aliens (is it tracking ?) we have no idea today how many criminal aliens have been picked as a result of this operation because the program doesn't allow them to keep numbers like that. And then we must have input from the local community here. I think if the local community buys into the program, it will be a success; without that it won't be.
REP. CLEAVER: Thank you, madame chair. That was all. I will have to go, Mr. Green needs me.
REP. COLLINS: Thank you. I now call upon the gentleman from Florida for five minutes.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Thank you, Madame Chairwoman. I appreciate it very much.
I strongly support 287(g) and believe that it is invaluable tool to help and enhance our ability to deter illegal immigration and detect criminals and others who may wish to do us harm. I believe it would be shortsighted to allow current management challenges in the program to deter us from expanding and maximizing its immigration enforcement benefits and I have a question for Sheriff Jenkins.
Do you believe as Sheriff Bob White (ph) in my district does, that legal law-abiding immigrants are actually more afraid of the criminal aliens in their communities than they are of local law enforcement and that because they lack confidence in the ability of local law enforcement to keep these people off the streets they are hesitant to cooperate with and trust local authorities.
MR. JENKINS: Yes, I believe the local population, and I am speaking again from my jurisdiction, there is a fear among the resident community of the crime that is attributed to illegal aliens in this country. Now, I don't think that they are frustrated with the efforts of police or law enforcement, the problem is enormous.
This problem is not isolated to one jurisdiction, one state. It is an enormous problem from coast to coast. So, I think overall I think people are frustrated by the fact we can't enforce the laws anymore than what we do.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Thank you. I would like to yield one minute to Representative Dent.
REP. DENT: Thank you. Mr. Wright just a question I thought of as I was listening to the discussion. It is my understanding based on our last conversations that much of the resource allocation for removing people who are in this country illegally focuses on these areas: terrorists, human smugglers, and criminals. They seem to -- is that your assessment, that they tend to get more attention in terms of enforcement efforts at ICE?.
MR. WRIGHT: Within the office of investigation that they pursue those areas but our Office of Detention and Removal, one of the top focus the criminal alien population, the criminal aliens in all the areas that we target them both in our gang effort, in our CAP (ph) and things like that and 287(g). Obviously, criminal aliens is one of the top priorities of ICE.
REP. DENT: I yield back at this time.
MR. : If I can just jump in here, one of the problem of the present program is that it allows us no way of knowing whether those priorities are being met. We have no idea how many terrorists are being picked up as a result, how many criminal aliens, how many drug traffickers. What we know is a large number of people are being picked up. So, we have gone from quality to quantity in this program, which is the problem in terms of its long-term effectiveness.
MR. : Actually, just about that one issue that we do know that more than 90 percent of the individuals picked up in the 287(g) program were either picked up in a jail setting or have criminal histories. We will try to tighten those numbers up because they may be higher and also so we can reflect what initial crimes they were charged with or convicted of.
Our system doesn't allow to do it now, but by and large the vast majority of the 287(g) arrests were encountered in jail settings.
REP. BILIRAKIS: Thank you. I yield the rest of my time, the balance of my time, to Representative Souder
REP. SOUDER: One of the challenges here is as Mr. Smith said he wrote the bill and I was in negotiations in my first term because our class was so big and the negotiations on the final immigration bill, Congress did not specify that this is just supposed to be high risk people or people who are violent; that is not there.
It may be a illogical if we are going to have restricted funding and different targets; that may be a logical outgrowth, but it is not a failure of ICE nor was it the intent of Congress that was part of an immigration bill and 287(g) does not fund local law enforcement.
287(g) was to extend because we were not going to use ICE agents to do regular type of immigration work and that the 287(g) was to extend and try to offer a program to people like Sheriff Jenkins who said, "Look I'll take my limited resources and put them into this program and that we will to some degree be changing the intent. I talked to Assistant Secretary Myers in both categories. One is how do we with limited funding which I believe there should be more, target ICE and you do random investigations or you target bigger organizations and then secondly is there a goal that ideally we would pick up more high-risk people, but it is not -- it was -- ideally we'd pick up that but that is not the legislative purpose written or intent.
Now I think there are suggestions now this is going to be a limited program how do we best use the funds, how do we work that pool -- if Congress doesn't ask for money and that's what we're debating here. But there needs to be a good understanding that we narrow it in fact people like Sheriff Jenkins may withdraw, it's their money and it's really important for a program like this to not just be Washington top-down, which is what we have run into in narcotics and we have this back and forth because if you want local law enforcement in, you ask to let them participate in the decision that says that if I am going to put my resources in, what do I think my problem is in my district? In narcotics; they wouldn't do meth. They said we're only going to do cocaine. We're not going to do meth and the sheriff pulled out their funding. In this case, if they feel they have different types of crimes in the district, 287(g) was to allow some flexibility for illegal activity not just the highest kind of violence.
I yield back the rest to Mr. Bilirakis.
REP. COLLINS: Well, I want to thank the witnesses for their valuable testimony and their time today and the members for their questions. The members of the committee may have additional questions for you and we will ask you to respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. Without objection, I have read the statements from several organizations commenting on the 287(g) Program. I offer them for the record. Hearing no objections, so ordered. There will be no further business, the committee stands adjourned.