The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion on Wednesday, June 26, focusing on the crisis at the border. Former ICE acting director Thomas Homan, Texas sheriff Andy Louderback, and the Center’s Andrew Arthur highlighted the national and local impacts and solutions to this looming humanitarian and national-security disaster.
WHEN: Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: National Press Club, Murrow Room, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.
Introduction and Moderator
Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
Thomas Homan is the former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a role to which he was appointed in 2017. He had previously worked for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and served as a Border Patrol agent and investigator before being named executive associate director of ICE in 2013.
Sheriff AJ "Andy" Louderback
Andy Louderback is the Sheriff of Jackson County, Texas, where he is currently serving his fourth term. He is a 35-year law enforcement veteran, and is currently the Legislative Chairman of the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas (SAT), where he previously served as president.
Andrew Arthur is Resident Fellow in Law and Policy at the Center for Immigration Studies. He formerly served for eight years as an Immigration Judge at the York Immigration Court in York, Pa., as well as performing oversight for Congress and in the INS National Security Law division.
MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. And we’re hosting a very timely event on the disaster at the southern border.
The House just yesterday passed a supplemental funding bill to try to deal with some of the problems that have cropped up in the news, which are driven by a lack of funding and an overwhelming responsibilities that the Border Patrol, CBP, ICE, HHS have to deal with with this enormous flow of people coming across the border. Senate panel has passed its own version and the Senate is likely to pass its own vision of the supplemental funding bill, but it’s not clear whether they will be able to come up with a common version and approve it before the 4th of July recess, and it’s not clear whether the president would even sign it because he’s already issued a veto threat against the House version or the version from several days ago.
And this is an imperative both humanitarian issue, as well as a security and sovereignty issue with what we’re facing on the southern border. People are – in Congress and elsewhere seem to be talking past each other about what’s going on there. So we figured it would be a good idea to have some authorities who actually know what they’re talking about to discuss this issue.
Speaking first is going to be Tom Homan, former acting head of ICE. He started as a police office, then a Border Patrol agent, and has worked his way up. Is one of the most knowledgeable people on this issue in the country.
Then Sheriff A.J. “Andy” Louderback, who is from Jackson County in Texas. It’s not right on the border, but actually in a sense that’s maybe more informative to tell us about what’s happening not literally on the border, but back from the border, because in a sense every county is now a border county, every state is a border state.
And then Andrew Arthur, with the Center for Immigration Studies, will be talking in some specifics about what these loopholes are that Congress needs to deal with and, you know, how they’re driving the immigration disaster on the border – on the southern border today.
The one thing I’d ask is no video recording, please. We are recording this for ourselves, but there’s no video recording of the event. We’re going to have a transcript up maybe today, probably tomorrow for people who weren’t here.
So we’re going to start first with Tom, then Sheriff Louderback, then Art. And then we’ll take some questions. I’ll field the questions.
THOMAS HOMAN: Is this on? Can you hear me?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes.
MR. HOMAN: I probably don’t even need this. I appreciate the –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, you do. You do for the –
MR. HOMAN: OK. I appreciate the invite.
So let’s just talk briefly on the Southwest border. I think President Trump has been right from day one. Whether you like to hear that or not, it’s just a fact.
He said there’s caravans. People said there wasn’t. There was caravans.
He said there’s a national crisis on the border. No, it’s a manufactured crisis, a lot of people said. Well, I think we all got to agree there’s a crisis on the border. It’s a humanitarian crisis which causes a national security crisis, and let me explain that.
We all know the criminal cartels control the northern border of Mexico. Nothing happens on that border without the blessing and paying off of the drug cartels that control that area. For a criminal organization to smuggle aliens through their territory, they have to pay a plaza fee. They got to pay off the cartels. So what’s happening right now with what’s going on on the Southwest border, this humanitarian issue, is making these cartels very, very rich. We’re bankrolling the very same cartels that smuggle drugs – smuggle drugs, weapons, the same cartels that have murdered Border Patrol agents in the past. That’s who’s getting rich off all this.
So let me tell you why I think this has become a national security issue. It’s because these cartels, these criminal organizations – transnational criminal organizations – they control the flow of what comes across that border. So when you see a group of 100, 200, 300 family members coming all at once through one sector, that’s not by accident. They’re tying up Border Patrol assets so they can move bad people and contraband through unguarded parts of the border. The Border Patrol said a couple weeks ago 40 to 60 percent of Border Patrol agents are no longer on the line. That means our border is less secure than it was just a couple years ago. And if people don’t think they’re taking advantage of that, they’re just wrong.
So we got to be concerned what’s coming across those unguarded parts of the border. And I said a few weeks ago that if you’re – if you’re a person in this world that wants to do harm to this country, you’re going to take advantage of the chaos on the border and come through unprotected parts. It’s hard to get a ticket to come to this country now because when you get it – when you try to buy an airline ticket into the United States there’s a lot of checks that are done. After 9/11, there are a lot of databases that are checked. There’s no-fly lists. There’s various things that this government does before you can get a ticket into the United States. To get a visa to come to the United States, ICE along with CBP has a very extensive visa security program. Again, databases are checked, intelligence are checked before someone can get a visa to come to the United States. So if you’re somebody who wants to come into this country to do us harm, you’re not going to try to get a plane ticket. Used to be that way. You’re not going to get a visa. Used to be that way. You’re going to come across that border the way 12 to 20 million others did illegally and take advantage of the chaos on the border. That’s what makes this a national security crisis.
Now I want to address a couple of the most recent false narratives being pushed by the left about detention facilities. First of all, ICE family detention facilities are – they’re not jails. They were set up as a dormitory-type setting. I know because I was involved with the – when I was with ICE we built these facilities. These women and children are in a – in a nice facility. I’m sure they don’t want to be detained, but they’re not jails. They have access to food, drinks 24/7. There’s child psychologists onsite. There’s medical professionals onsite. Many times the first pediatrician these children see are the ones we provide. Sometimes we’re the – we’re the first one to provide vaccinations.
I’ve been to those facilities and seen the staff interact with these families. These are – this is a staff that are also parents. They have children of their own. And they treat these people with dignity and respect.
And when you got people out there saying people are dying in ICE custody, no one’s ever died in a family residential center. No child has ever died in the custody of ICE. At the family residence centers, if they’re – if they’re ill beyond the care there, then they’ll be moved to an outside hospital.
People talk about deaths in custody of ICE, like Congressman Cortez from New York. Does she realize the City of New York has eight times – eight times – deaths in custody that ICE does, based on the population, if you compare the ratios? ICE deaths in custody are lower than almost every state penal system in this country. So when people say people are dying in ICE custody, actually, when you talk about a total population – many come from a Third World country, that when they come into ICE custody they’re in very bad shape; many of them have never seen a doctor – I think ICE is doing an outstanding job. ICE is spending almost half-a-billion dollars a year on this.
When we talk about Border Patrol facilities, we’ve been very clear these facilities weren’t built for families. And it’s tough when you’ve got a facility that holds 100 adults, now you’ve got 500 family units. The men and women of the Border Patrol are doing the best they can. They want to move them to an HHS facility. That’s the rules. HHS is usually well prepared for it, but they’re having a budget crisis now because Congress has not passed the supplemental. So those same people that are claiming terrible conditions at Border Patrol facilities, some of those are the same people that are not passing legislation to get the money to get them out of those facilities. Border Patrol are the first ones that will stand up to say we need money to get these people out of our custody sooner and to a more adequate setting.
So the same people that argue about the conditions in Border Patrol facilities up on the Hill, what have they done? What have they done to address the border crisis at all? As I said, the president declared a national emergency. The president has taken a series of executive orders, many being held up by the Ninth Circuit. He sent unprecedented assets to the border – DOD, other DHS entities down there. He wrote immigration legislation, an immigration bill. He’s done a lot. What has Congress done? When has the speaker of the House offered up – one thing to help solve this crisis? Name one.
So this border crisis is not a manufactured crisis by this administration. This border crisis is real. And the men and women of the Border Patrol, the men and women with ICE, and even the White House are asking for help from Congress, so they need the help quickly.
I want to be clear on something, though. Back when I was the ICE director and even after I was director, I’ve been out there talking about what needs to be done to solve this crisis. And I know Art Arthur’s going to talk to you extensively about it. There’s three things they can do that would take a majority of the border crisis away.
They need to change the Flores Settlement Agreement so we can detain families long enough to see a judge in a family detention center, not a jail. Why would that work? Because I did it. In the first crisis in FY ’15 we built the first family detention center in Artesia, New Mexico. We held them long enough to see a judge. I think it was around 45 days they were in our custody. Ninety percent lost their cases. We put them on airplanes and sent them home. And guess what? The border numbers went down. So we need to fix that – we need to fix that rule and we need to keep these families long enough in a family setting to see a judge. That’s the only way you can guarantee they see a judge. Immigration court just released a stat that 90 percent of their orders are in absentia, which means they’re not showing up. We want to keep families together. They came across the border together; they should be staying in a family residence center long enough to see a judge.
The other thing they ought to fix is the TVPRA, the Trafficking Victims Act. Children from Mexico need to be treated as – children from Central America need to be treated the same way as children from Mexico. The way the act – when they first wrote that act, it had a great purpose: to try to address trafficking of children. So once a child from Central America comes across, if we ascertain they’re not a victim of trafficking, they should have the same rules as the children from Mexico and be returned to their homeland. We’re having a whole different process beyond those from Mexico, and Art will explain that.
The last thing they can do is we need to change the asylum rules. When 88 to 90 percent pass that first interview, then if they show up in court 90 percent lose, that delta’s too big. It doesn’t make sense. And I can’t understand why that isn’t being changed. When the data is clear that 90 percent of the – 90 percent of Central Americans that claim fear on the border don’t get relief from the government. If that’s not a broke system, if everybody don’t understand that we’ve got 90 percent, that’s a system that needs to be changed. Those things alone would be a big – work on this, on the border crisis.
Now, I’ll leave – I’ll leave my comments here, that I’m sick and tired of those on the left that want to vilify the men and women of the Border Patrol and the men and women of ICE who are simply doing their jobs. These men and women leave their homes every day, strap a gun to their hip, leave the safety and security of their home to enforce the laws that Congress enacted. They’re not making this up. So for members of Congress to vilify the men and women that are doing what their oaths told them to do, doing what their job is, and enforcing laws that they enacted, do not vilify these men and women. This is – this is a national crisis and they’re doing the best they can, and I’ll stick up for them every time I get a chance. If Congress don’t like what they do, then change it. Change the law. Let’s stop the rhetoric against the men and women who serve our nation.
And I’ll – and I’ll pass it over to the sheriff.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Tom.
SHERIFF A.J. “ANDY” LOUDERBACK: Thank you. I’d like to start first with thanking the Center for Immigration Studies having my colleagues here. I’d like to thank the audience here for taking the time out to come and listen to a subject that those of us in Texas have taken very seriously. Sheriffs all across this nation have come together on certain areas of this, and none so more than the – than the Texas sheriff.
Geographically, I sit on a corridor out of Mexico from the Rio Grande Valley sector. It’s the 77-59 corridor. Now, this corridor leads to Houston. So I sit a hundred miles from Houston, along with many other counties that have partnered with the federal government in order to try and stop the flow, to do what we can in Texas on these corridors, on these travel routes, to the number-one human trafficking hub in the U.S., which is Houston, Texas.
So as I – I am here to validate and give credibility to the issue that we have faced for decades in my career. I’ve been doing this for quite a few days now, and it has only grown worse. And I can – I can only assure the public that what is being done to this country, to the state of Texas, this is terrible. I probably lack the proper vocabulary to go into some detail about the ridiculousness of what we’re having to face on these travel routes, on our Texas border, the New Mexico border, Arizona border, the California border, and in this country.
The framework – the situation that has been created by Congress has enabled the cartel, as Tom talked about. I’m here to tell you, I mean, these are real – these are real stories that affect Texans and Americans. This has – this has been going on for some time. We have dealt with the narcotics, the human trafficking. I can validate that for you. I could validate that for anyone who cares to check the facts on the situation and remove the politics from an area that has no room for political gain.
This is an American issue. It affects the border states in a different manner than it does other states. But it’s true that all of our states are border states today. All or our law enforcement are impacted by what has happened. There’s not one single law enforcement agency in the United States that’s not dealing with cartel involvement. I mean, this is – this is what we do.
In Texas, in methamphetamine for example, we make very few arrests for methamphetamine cooks today. And why is that, you may ask? We used to make that – just five years ago we would arrest thousands of methamphetamine cooks in the United States and in Texas alone. Today, pharmaceutical-grade methamphetamine out of Mexico run by the cartels is what we catch, and we’re catching a lot of that. Whether it’s methamphetamine, whether it’s a very dangerous drug, fentanyl, which is making its way from the border, from the cartel system into Texas and throughout the United States, we still have massive amounts of these drugs. Marijuana, obviously, is being reduced a little bit now from the other drugs, but large amounts of cocaine. We’re talking tons of the stuff that are still coming through.
And if we – and Tom mentioned about the fact that the cartels run the border and they may run even more so than that. Are they in Texas? Certainly. Certainly. Is Texas law enforcement dealing with cartel involvement? Absolutely. That’s unquestionable. It’s ridiculous for someone to question whether or not that the cartel plays a major role in what’s happening in our – in our state of Texas and in other states. So these are real, validated, unquestioned issues that we face as Texans and Americans in this country.
The power, the strength, the ability, the penetration of the – of the cartels is profound. It is profound. If you care to check into that, if you want to find out exactly what’s going on, well, then contact me. I’ll take you down to the border and we’ll show you exactly what’s happening down there.
Now let me – let me quickly address a couple of things that are – that are bothersome with the – with the press and some of the things that come from the opposition to our laws in this country. As a rule of law person, as a professional peace officer in the state of Texas, you know, I operate under the rule of law, and people who advocate breaking that law, you know, I have an issue with that. That’s what I’ve done my whole career, so.
The issue on humanitarian care, you know, I’ll be back at the Rio Grande Valley Sector on the 8th of July again, and the ridiculousness of what is being told on the treatment of the kids – and quite frankly, many of the kids are being caught over and over again. This is a number over 30 percent where kids are being rented. And this is where I’ve said before that the framework for kidnapping and human slavery and these things have been created by Congress’ inaction. I mean, this is what they have put in place. They’ve developed a framework where this has enabled the cartel to do this over and over again. So this is – this is just what the inaction of our – of our Congress, those who oppose the laws that have been emplaced by Congress, have done to us.
But the – I can assure you that the humanitarian concept there, whether it’s diapers, whether it’s medical care, whether it’s any type of psychological issues, those folks are there and they’re being provided, even as funding is not being provided to CBP. So we have a situation in America here where you won’t fund it, and then you’ll complain loudly that they’re not being taken care of, even though CBP is finding a way. And this is money out of those agents’ own pockets, in some of these cases, to take care of small needs for these folks. But food, water, that’s much better care than what they’re used to on the trek over, and the money they pay to the cartels to put theirself in this position.
So I would implore a fact-based approach to this instead of listening to the rhetoric folks who – I don’t know if they’ve been to the border or not. You know, in our business we call that, where you can’t tell the truth, then you know, those are issues with folks that I have. If you can’t tell the truth, in our business, who I deal with, when you can’t tell the truth then there are some issues here.
So I’m telling you, I’m here to validate. I’m here to quantify the issues that are going on, not only in Texas. We just happen to be a border state with 1,200 miles of border, and that border is – needs to be – can it be secured? Absolutely it can be secured. Will it be secured by the federal government? That’s where at some point in time I believe the American people are probably going to have to step up and do the right thing and enforce our laws as a rule-of-law country.
And again, I would thank the members of this group for taking the time out to come here today and discuss this issue, and lend some credibility and lend some truth to what’s going on in this country and the changes that we’re – that we’re experiencing. The opposition to the rule of law in this country, our president, I can – I can simply tell you that as a rule-of-law person, that I am most proud of this president for standing and standing up for law enforcement and the members of the federal government and federal law enforcement that is attempting to do their job despite a tremendous amount of opposition within our own government. And that is – that is reprehensible to me personally, and I believe it is a disservice to the American public.
But again, I thank each and every one of you for coming; again, to the Center for Immigration Studies for putting this forum together in such a fashion where we make and can send out a truthful message about what is happening in this country. Thank you.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Sheriff.
ANDREW ARTHUR: Thank you, Mark. I greatly appreciate it.
Director Homan had stated before that I was going to explain some of the laws and the problems, and I will do that. But first thing that I’d like to do is try to quantify the issue, the problem at the border that we’re looking at right now.
Since reaching a low in the number of aliens apprehended along the Southwest border in April 2017 of 15,798, the number skyrocketed to 144,278 aliens last month, an increase of 913 percent. If current trends continue, more than 1 million aliens will be apprehended at and between the ports of entry this year.
People will tell you that this will still be below the 1.6 million aliens who were apprehended in FY 2000, but in reality the crisis at the border is significantly worse by a factor of God-knows-what than it was 19 years ago. Most of the aliens who were apprehended entering the United States illegally up until approximately 2014 were single adult males. They were generally from Mexico and they were usually coming to the United States to work. They attempted to evade apprehension, but Border Patrol generally had the resources to arrest the vast majority of them. The Border Patrol was able to process and – those aliens in approximately eight hours and return most back across the border.
And when I talk about 1.6 million aliens, let me put that into context. We’re not talking about 1.6 million individuals who came to the border once, didn’t get in, and turned around and went back. Most of those people would come back five to seven times and would attempt to reenter the United States over and over again. So you’re really just looking at the same population of people. So it was much lower than 1.6 million; it was probably close to about 300,000 to 400,000 individuals who got caught and returned.
In 2014, however, we saw a surge of unaccompanied alien children, or UAC, entering illegally; and also a significant number of family units, or FMU as we call them, coming across the border. Aggressive U.S. detention policies that Tom Homan talked about and enforcement of its southern border by Mexico were able to slow the number of UAC and FMU crossing illegally, and by 2015 the numbers diminished. If people tell you that detention doesn’t work, just look at that. Listen to what Director Homan told you and look at the numbers between 2014 and 2016.
Then, the Flores Settlement Agreement comes into effect in 2016. We can’t hold families, can’t hold unaccompanied – or we can’t hold accompanied alien children for more than 20 days. Families come in with kids and the number gets bumped up again. We see a huge surge coming again in 2016.
Most of those aliens did not evade apprehension, but turned themselves in to the first law enforcement officers that they came to. Why did they do that? Because they wanted to take advantage of the loopholes in our immigration laws that they knew were going to facilitate the release into the United States.
Understand how smugglers think. Smugglers are selling a product, and they want to successfully sell that product. And the way to successfully sell a product is to have a lot of satisfied customers. They went to get their customers into the United States so that they can go to the other people who live in their towns and tell them, look, I got that family into the United States, I’ll get you into the United States. They also sell a bill of goods. They never really talk about how awful that journey is, and most people who come to this country and make it, who go through hell to get to this country – women who were raped, men who were robbed, men who were raped coming to this country – never discuss what happened during the journey. They send pictures back to their home countries.
How do I know that? Because Guatemalan Minister of Governance Enrique Degenhart said that two weeks ago. That’s not Art Arthur saying that; that’s a Guatemalan government official saying that.
In any event, the surge has overwhelmed the Border Patrol and stretched immigration to the breaking point. Alien children languish in Border Patrol custody because there are no resources to process them. On May the 30th, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said there were 2,350 alien children in Border Patrol stations that did not have the capacity to hold them. May the 30th he said that. Congress acted yesterday.
How does that happen? Seven days from Memorial Day Weekend? Why? Did they not believe him? If you wanted to go, go and check it out on May the 30th. Things are bad because Secretary McAleenan told you they were bad.
They needed the money. Director Homan explained this. HHS has to take custody of those children before they can be placed with sponsors in the United States. That’s by law. That’s a law that was introduced by Zoe Lofgren and a law that was subsequently amended by a Democrat House Judiciary Committee in 2008. I’ll talk about that in a second.
HHS doesn’t have the money to take custody of those children because they have to place them in private shelters, or place them in other shelters, but they don’t have the money to build the shelters. Those kids are sitting in Border Patrol stations because Congress didn’t give HHS the money to take custody of those children. And Congress should take custody of responsibility for what happened to those children. Sorry.
In any event, a big part of the reason why we’re seeing such a problem at these Border Patrol stations is the demographics has changed. About 70 percent of all the people who are coming into the United States today are family units. Another 10 percent are unaccompanied alien children. So that’s about 80 percent, a little bit less than that. But actually it’s about 70 percent. The other 30 percent are single adult males, what we’re used to seeing previously.
It takes, on average, 78.5 hours to process those family units and those unaccompanied alien children. We need to figure out how they were smuggled into the United States. We need to check them out for medical issues. Director Homan referred previously to the fact that many have not been inoculated, have never received medical care, and have gotten sick on the journey to the United States. The Homeland Security Advisory Council issued a report in April – which, by the way, didn’t get any press – that talked about the hell that these kids go through, that their parents force them to go through on their way to the United States. Families are held for ransom. Smugglers know that they have the parents when they have the kids. They can demand anything that they want. And you could imagine what the worst criminals on the face of the earth are going to demand, and they do.
In any event – I’m going to discuss the three major loopholes in depth that Director Homan alluded to: the Flores Settlement Agreement; that 2008 law I was talking about before, the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act, also known as the TVPRA; and a low screening standard for aliens apprehended at the border claiming asylum, known as credible fear.
With the election of President Donald Trump, in anticipation that he would crack down on illegal immigration, not only did the total number of illegal entrants plummet, but the total number of FMU and UAC dropped to less than 20 percent of the total number of those apprehended. Now remember what I said before. Seventy percent today are FMU and UAC.
In April of 2017, 20 percent were FMU and UAC because Donald Trump said he was going to enforce the law. As foreign nationals, and especially smugglers, determined that President Trump was not able to address those loopholes administratively, and his courts blocked his efforts to do so, the number of aliens apprehended – in particular, the number of FMU and UAC – again surged, as I noted, 70 percent last month.
The primary loophole that those migrants were seeking to exploit is the aforementioned Flores Settlement Agreement, originally signed in January 1997. That agreement was supposed to terminate five years after the date of final court approval. The termination provisions were modified in 2001, however, such that they will not terminate until 45 days after publication of regulations implementing the agreement.
Kids were being held, the Reno Justice Department – and I served under Attorney General Reno – signed a settlement agreement on the conditions of those kids. That was back in 1997. Three administrations later, we’re finally getting regulations that will implement that agreement. That is unacceptable. The worst part is, however, under a July 2016 decision from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit interpreting that then-19-year-old agreement, DHS can only detain alien minors for 20 days, regardless of whether that minor arrived unaccompanied or with his or her parents.
Flores encourages UAC to enter the United States illegally and encourages the parents of UAC to hire smugglers to bring them to the United States because they know that those children are almost guaranteed to be released into their custody. Further – and this is the worst part – it encourages people to bring their own children – why are those kids going through hell? Why are people bringing their – or why are parents bringing their kids with them – or the people who they claim to be their kids with them to make that perilous journey to the United States? Because they know it is likely that they are going to be released within 20 days of getting to this country if they travel with children.
In fact, the April 16, 2019, Final Emergency Interim Report from the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s bipartisan – bipartisan CBP Families and Childcare (sic; Children Care) Panel, to which I alluded earlier and on which there was no press, concluded that, quote, “the dramatic increase in FMU apprehensions over the past year is directly linked to the U.S. government executive, legislative and judicial branches creating pull factors that incentivize migrants to bring a child with them to gain entry to and release into the U.S.”
Every time you hear about a child dying on the border who is brought with a parent, you know where the responsibility lies. This is the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel that draws people to the United States. It’s unacceptable, it should be changed, but don’t expect it to be.
In September, DHS finally published a proposed regulation to address Flores. That will change. Most significantly, that regulation “would create an alternative to the existing licensed program requirement for family residential centers so that ICE may use appropriate facilities to detain family units together during their immigration proceedings consistent with applicable law.” Close quote.
This is important because Flores stipulates that the government must transfer minors to a, quote, “non-secure,” close quote, program licensed by an appropriate state agency. At present, however, there are only about 2,500 beds to detain FMU. About 60 percent of the people crossing the border are FMU. Out of 144,000, we’ve got 2,500 beds.
This has been a problem because, as a result of litigation, many states did not have and have not succeeded in putting into place licensing schemes governing facilities to hold family units together. The uniform federal standard is appropriate given that immigration is a core federal function – that’s a no-brainer – but also, families are detained under local laws. If you get a speeding ticket, they’re not putting you and your kid in jail. So there really aren’t that many states that have licensing requirements for family facilities. I was a judge in York, Pennsylvania. Berks family shelter at that time was the only one.
Expect that regulation, which should be published soon, to be subject to significant litigation before it finally takes effect: thirty-seven injunctions against the Trump administration in the first 2 ½ years; two injunctions against the Obama administration in their first two years in office. Activist federal judges are more than willing to step into an area of the law they know nothing about and create unanticipated consequences that they really just don’t seem to care about.
In any event, as I mentioned, the TVPRA has also encouraged the flow of UAC illegally across the border. Let me give you some background. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 vested jurisdiction over the care and placement of UAC and removal proceedings with the Department of Health and Human Services. Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee pushed that into the HSA. Passed subsequently in 2008, the TVPRA distinguishes between UAC from contiguous countries – and I have alluded to this – Canada, Mexico – from aliens who are nationals of non-contiguous countries. A UAC from a contiguous country can be returned if the alien has not been trafficked and does not have a fear of harm.
Under the TVPRA, however, if you’re not from Canada, you’re not from Mexico, we refer to these as OTMs – we just don’t get that many people from Canada. They have to be transferred to the care and custody of HHS within 72 hours and placed in formal removal proceedings even if they haven’t been trafficked. Again, this encourages aliens who are illegally present in the United States to pay smugglers to bring their children to this country. How do I know that? Because 78.7 percent of those children are released to parents and guardians without status in this country.
More than five years ago, Federal Judge Andrew Hanen complained that DHS was completing the criminal conspiracy between parents and those smugglers, instead of enforcing the laws of the United States, by literally delivering the minors into the custody of the parent living illegally in this country. The Homeland Security Act and TVPRA essentially mandate that process, and Congress should, again, amend those laws to eliminate the distinction between OTMs and all other aliens. If you don’t have a fear of harm and you haven’t been trafficked, you should be home with your family in your home country.
The final significant loophole involves deficiencies in the credible fear process. Aliens caught entering the United States illegally are supposed to be expeditiously removed from this country without seeking an immigration judge. If the alien claims a credible fear of return, however, that alien must be interviewed by an asylum officer. If the asylum officer finds that the alien has established a credible fear, the alien must be placed into removal proceedings to apply for asylum. Credible fear, as Director Homan alluded to, is found in 75 to 90 percent of all cases, but only about 12 percent of aliens who claim credible fear get granted asylum at the end of the day.
In 2009, the Obama administration began releasing aliens found to have credible fear. Likely as a result, the number of aliens claiming credible fear skyrocketed. Why do I say likely as a result? We went from 5,000 credible fear claims in 2009 to 99,000 in FY 2018. In fact, prior to 2013, only 1 percent of arriving aliens claimed credible fear. By my calculations, last year 19 percent of arriving aliens claimed credible fear.
The most egregious example of abuse of the credible fear process occurred two weeks ago when alleged cartel members showed up at the Douglas, Arizona, port of entry seeking asylum after fleeing a gun battle in Agua Prieta, Sonora. This was a result that Congress could not have intended when it passed the law 20 years ago. Our immigration laws don’t exist to protect the losing side of a gun battle in a cartel, sorry.
The standard for credible fear is too low. Congress must fix the loophole. It should apply the same credible fear standards that it does to asylum. We drafted those laws in 2005, and they’re good.
Congress must also make it clear that credible fear should only be found where it’s more probable than not that the statements made by the alien are truthful. All too often asylum officers believe they have to accept the aliens’ statements at face value.
Third, Congress should raise the standard of proof for credible fear, as Director Homan alluded to earlier, to ensure that the number of cases in which aliens claim credible fear more closely matches the number of aliens who are granted asylum. Until these loopholes are closed, an increasing number of aliens will pour over the border to exploit them.
Two-thirds of aliens are subject to violence during that journey. Keep that in mind: two thirds. One-third of female migrants are sexually assaulted during that journey to the United States. Those are not the only perils. Just this past weekend, a young woman, a toddler, and two infants were found dead near the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County, Texas, probably from dehydration and exposure.
For their sake and for the sake of those who would attempt to follow them, Congress has to act. And I thank you for your time.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Art. We have a mic in the back for questions – if you could identify yourself.
I’d actually – since I’m paying the bills, I’ll ask the first question. And give me some, you know, sort of quick, short responses because what I want to ask is tonight and tomorrow night, 20 of the Democratic presidential candidates are going to be participating in televised debates. If you were the moderator of those debates, as unlikely an event as that might be, what would your one concise question to the Democratic presidential nominees – hopefuls be?
Tom, why don’t we start with you and go around?
MR. HOMAN: OK, before I answer the question, I need one correction. I looked at my notes. The deaths in custody in New York were three times higher, not eight times higher when I left as ICE director, so I apologize for that. But three times higher is significant.
The first question I would ask, how are you going to fix the border? How are you going to fix this? What are you going to do to address this crisis? I haven’t heard one idea from any of them. So that would be my question. How would you address this crisis? How would you fix it?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Sheriff?
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: I think the real answer is no border – open border. Anybody can come – I mean, I think that’s the ultimate goal here. I think that’s the ultimate plan. I can’t see any other plan that the opposition to this has factuated at all.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Art, what would your one question be for the –
MR. ARTHUR: Do you agree with Barbara Jordan when she said the credibility in immigration law can be succinctly summarized as those who should get in, get in; those should be kept out are kept out; and those who should be removed are removed?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Very good. Thanks. The first question? Yes, ma’am. If you will wait for the mic –
Q: Hi, I’m Penny Starr with Breitbart News. And I have a – kind of a two-part question on the detention centers with children.
Recently some activist lawyers were visiting some Texas shelters, and they did the rounds of the media. And they described children sleeping on cement floors, in cages, traumatized, not getting treatment – just horrible, horrible conditions. And so I know you’ve discussed it somewhat, but I wonder how they have access because that’s not easy, and how they come up with these descriptions.
And secondly, there’s a lot of criticism about them being for-profit detention centers, that somehow the people who are running these centers are making money, and there’s, in fact, a walkout today by the employees of a Wayfair home business who walked out because they were selling beds to these centers.
MR. HOMAN: OK, let me address a couple of those –
Q: OK. Thank you.
MR. HOMAN: – right off the bat because you’ve got like six questions there.
First of all, the – I think we’ve all been clear the Border Patrol facilities were not built to care for children. And these men and women are doing the best they can. As Art explained, if we can move them within 72 hours as required by statute to a more – to a facility that’s more situated for them, that can care for these children better than we can, we would do it. But again, Congress has not funded HHS to do that. They just put a bill up yesterday which will address the humanitarian crisis of women and children. It’s not – it’s extortion because they want to shut down enforcement. So I don’t agree with the bill.
As far as – I want to – I’m glad you brought up cages. I’ve been to that facility where they talk about cages. That facility was built under President Obama, under Secretary Jeh Johnson. I was there because I was there when it was built.
So this message from the Democrats – there was one – I saw testimony not too long ago where Bennie Thompson asked, are you still keeping kids in cages? And Secretary Nielsen at the time, you know, she answered the question. I would have answered the question: The kids are being housed in the same facilities built under the Obama administration. If you want to call them cages, call them cages. But if the left wants to call them cages, and the Democrats want to call them cages, then they have to accept the fact that they were built and funded in FY ’15, and I was there.
As far as are detention facilities for profit, these companies that work and bid for these contracts do it a hell of a lot cheaper than the government can do it. I can tell you, I was the ICE director. The facilities that ICE owns, those beds are the most expensive beds in the country. The federal government just don’t do things that good.
So the private sector and each facility that – the private detention facilities built for families are extraordinary facilities. You can hate them all you want. But they’re treated – these families are treated well and with respect and dignity and these facilities are not lockdowns. They’re family detention facilities. They have the medical stuff, there are child psychologists, educational program.
These facilities serve a purpose and they’re well run facilities. The inspector general has done numerous inspections on those facilities and they’ve never come back saying those facilities are inadequate, and these are unannounced inspections. I’m talking about when I was director. Last year – I’ve been out for 11 months now. And, you know, with the money situation where it is, we have to look at – if these private companies can give an adequate facility that takes care of these children, this is the way the government works. I mean, private contracts run this country. Every government agency uses private contracts.
And I see Bill Weinberg in the audience. I’m not trying to call Bill out, but he was the head of acquisitions. He knows exactly what I’m saying. They do it better and they do it cheaper.
MR. ARTHUR: If I could just, before moving it on, I think a lot of the misunderstanding is that ICE detention facilities are one thing. The Border Patrol is holding some of these kids until they can be transferred. That’s the Border Patrol itself and, in fact, the agents themselves are going to Costco and buying stuff with their own money.
So, in other words, these are two completely different things. The sort of cages stuff, which is chain link fence is what it is, those are, as I understand it, for the most part, Border Patrol holding areas where the kids are supposed to be transferred into shelters.
MR. HOMAN: They are Border Patrol facilities and, you know, I’ve been there. There’s the chain-link fence dividers that keeps children separate from unrelated adults. It’s about protecting children.
The last thing I will say is I’ve seen a lot of legislation lately or a lot of state decisions where they want to stop private detention in those states. They don’t realize that’s going to hurt the illegal alien himself, because if you shut down the facilities or a place that ICE tries to contract to put beds in, let’s say, you know Homan County, California, and you want to shut that down, ICE is not going to stop enforcing the law. Now that person they arrest are not going to be local to their family. They’re not going to be local to their legal assistance. And if they shut down the state then they’re simply going to arrest them and put them on a plane and move them to Texas or move them to Arizona.
It serves no purpose. None. This is just an attack on the enforcement of immigration laws and trying – they think they can starve ICE of beds so they can’t be as successful. ICE has plenty of beds, have plenty of people that do contracts with beds. So they’re just simply – it does nobody any good to do that because then you’re taking the arrested alien away from his support, away from his legal counsel, and move him someplace else. If they think they’re going to shut down immigration enforcement, they’re not.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Sheriff?
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: One quick thing. Just like we hold Americans in our American penal system, we use chain link fence and we use concrete floors in our American penal system today. Same thing.
MR. ARTHUR: If I could, whatever – and it’s actually a very good question and I’m reminded of the story that Abraham Lincoln used to tell about the preacher who was out on a ride and find himself in a storm and he took shelter under a tree, and all of a sudden lightning struck the tree and he fell to his knees, and he said, “A little bit more light, Lord, and a little bit less noise,” which I think actually, you know, is essential in this particular instance.
You ask the question how they got access. Those attorneys, as I understand it – and, again, there’s a lot more noise than there is light on this – but I believe that they were attorneys who are allowed to have access to the children under the Flores Settlement Agreement. I don’t believe that they actually went into the facilities but, rather, base what they said on the interviews that they had with the children.
Now, I may be wrong about that. But that’s how I understand that that occurred. But I could tell you that I was the judge who had jurisdiction over the Berks Family Shelter and I can tell you right now that there’s fresh fruit in refrigerators, and beds, and I swung on the swings and I kicked a soccer ball on the soccer field at that facility. You know, do I want to see any child detained? No.
But in order for us to enforce our immigration laws, in order to prevent the hell that these people are going to go through, that these migrants are going to go through on their trip to the United States, we have to. It’s absolutely necessary.
And with respect to the not wanting to sell beds to these places, if you’re complaining that they don’t have proper facilities, how is not selling beds going to help? Is Colgate not going to sell toothbrushes and toothpaste?
Q: Well, they said they didn’t have toothbrushes and toothpaste.
MR. ARTHUR: In the Border Patrol facility and even then I’m not – that doesn’t actually jive with what I know and let me tell you what I know. When I was in Yuma, Arizona, in January I was told that Border Patrol was going to need $1.2 million for humanitarian aid. A lot of these folks show up sick, and the smugglers don’t care. I mean, they’ll toss kids off 30-foot fences. They don’t care. You’re in the United States. You got the benefit of your bargain. Contract done. So we have to hospitalize these folks. We have to give – you know, if they show up sick, if they show up injured, especially kids, and we have to pull a Border Patrol agent off the line to do that.
They’re paying for diapers. They’re paying for formula for these facilities. Again, as Mark alluded to and I can’t underscore this enough, by law they can’t be placed with a sponsor in the United States until they go to HHS. But HHS doesn’t have the money. They’re sitting in the Border Patrol station until HHS can take custody of them, and the same people – I can give you some names – who are complaining about the way that the law is being implemented are the same people who wrote the law.
And I associate myself with the statements of Director Homan. Don’t complain about a law that you wrote, and if you are a member of Congress and you complain about what’s going on right now, you don’t like the law, change the law. I can’t do it. Five hundred and thirty-five people have the ability to do that. I’m not one of them.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Next question?
Q: Yeah. Sorry. I have a three-part question here.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Say where you’re from.
Q: Oh, yeah. Sorry. Holly Kellum, NTD Television.
So you talked about the cartels. Well, any of you can speak to this. But what should the U.S. do – what can the U.S. do about cartels? And then if the immigrants – if there aren’t as many coming through, are the cartels going to just sell more drugs into the U.S.? And, lastly, if Mr. Homan can comment on the funding proposal not having money for ICE beds.
MR. HOMAN: OK. About the cartels – what can we do about the cartels – I’ve been saying for months what we need to do is offer the government of Mexico assistance. We have – ICE has Homeland Security investigations. They know these cartels well.
Now, if you see what Mexico has agreed to, because President Trump got an agreement that no other president has gotten, Mexico is stepping up enforcement and, as you see, they sent a lot of their national guard to attack the cartels, and when I say attack I’m talking about identifying and dismantling. They’re going to do it two ways. They’re going to attack the transportation infrastructure that moves these aliens from southern Mexico to northern, and they’re going to attack their financial infrastructure.
The goal is to dismantle them, and I’ve been saying that for months that’s something that needs to be done and what Mexico has promised they’re going to do that. ICE HSI can certainly assist in that because they know how to – they know how to track money. They know how to do these large conspiracy cases. We’ll offer – I keep saying we – the U.S. government will offer that assistance needed. And, look, this is a business. A lot of these – a lot of these transnational criminal organizations they’re moving aliens right now rather than drugs because, number one, it’s more profitable right now, and number two, the consequences aren’t nearly as high when you smuggle a person than smuggle a kilo of cocaine. So it’s a business. So once they – once they attack these cartels, it’s going to make it harder.
And, you know what, and that’s one thing Congress needs to understand. As Art said, their failure to act is bankrolling cartels. You know, President Trump tried to say if you enter between the ports of entry you can’t claim asylum and the ACLU sued and they won. Well, congratulations. You took an alien who would have went to a port of entry to claim asylum surrounded by federal agents and put them back in the hands of the criminal cartels.
It’s just the same thing the Democrats did when the FY ’19 appropriations bill, when that finally passed that the government shut down. They added language ICE cannot go after a parent or sponsor or anybody in the household of a UAC. Well, congratulations. And I said when that happened if – with that language UAC numbers will skyrocket because you just said – you just put every person in the United States who wants to smuggle a kid in this country or they want to put a child in the hands of a criminal organization you can do it and there’s no consequence now because ICE is not allowed to take that action.
And I said at the time watch the UAC skyrocket and the UAC skyrocketed because there’s no consequence and no deterrence. So when the Dems say how dare ICE do zero tolerance, how dare – how dare the administration separate any families – they talk about the separation of 2,500 families. But no one talks about the 15,000 kids that were separated by their parents and put in the hands of a criminal organization just to be smuggled to the United States. That’s what I call inhumane. U.S. government is taking better care of these children than putting them in the truck of a car or the back of a tractor trailer.
MR. ARTHUR: And just to modify that, it’s actually 59,000 unaccompanied alien children that we saw come this year. the cartels actually work in a couple of different ways. Well, you asked what we can do. We could stop doing heroin, we could stop doing meth, and we can stop doing blow. That’s one way. I mean, that’s how they make their money.
We’re the only country on the face of the Earth that gets the majority of its heroin from Mexico. The Mexicans saw when we had the marijuana legalization they had a problem. They couldn’t sell marijuana anymore. The sheriff talked about that.
So they couldn’t sell their marijuana so they, you know, tore up the marijuana and they put in poppies and they started growing heroin, heroin that – you know, I live in Baltimore. We have what’s called the Baltimore lean where people will sit on the sidewalk or lean up against a door jamb because they’re on heroin. They can’t stand up. That heroin comes from Mexico. That heroin comes from the cartels.
Choking off those cartels is good for the United States. It’s good for Mexico. Last year was the deadliest year in Mexican history. I think there were 33,000 murders in Mexico last year. Consider that fact. Last year was the deadliest year in Mexican history. Remember “Sicario”? That was set in 2014. Last year was worse.
You know, Juarez had actually calmed down. Back in ’14, I think we had bodies hanging off the bridges in Juarez. Now we’re seeing Juarez blowing up again because there is turf battles going on amongst the cartels. The cartels are selling death in the United States. They’re selling heroin and now methamphetamine. The sheriff alluded to that. They’re selling death in Mexico because they’re fighting for territory.
But what the cartels do is they don’t primarily move the aliens but they charge you. That area along the border is their area. They’re going to charge generally about a thousand dollars a head for every alien that crosses over. So 144,000 aliens crossing over the border times a thousand dollars I believe is $14 million, for doing nothing. They don’t have to grow a single poppy.
They don’t have to make a single pound of meth. They just get the money, and if you don’t pay you’re dead. Smugglers are smart people. They don’t want to die so they’re going to pay. So we’re funding death in Mexico and we’re funding death in the United States because of these misguided policies.
MR. HOMAN: And I’ll answer your last part of the question about ICE detention. Why are they trying to choke the beds? Because they know if they’re not detained they won’t leave, ever. Ninety-five percent of everybody that ICE removes are removed from a bed, and the numbers are clear. Ninety percent of the final orders issued by EOIR are in absentia. It means that they didn’t show up in court.
So this isn’t about attacking private prison or private corporations. This is about not enforcing laws because they know. Like, right now, why are Central Americans keep coming? Because they don’t see anybody going home. That’s what I’ve been saying for months. We need to do interior enforcement operations, look for people who have been processed at great taxpayer expense, have been ordered removed by a federal judge, and follow those orders out.
I’ve shown every time we’ve built – (inaudible) – detention, numbers went down. When I did a similar operation in FY ’15, numbers went down. There has to be a consequence and deterrence to illegal activity and bad behavior. So the attack on the beds are simply one thing: ICE can’t do their job. They don’t want people detained because that means they’re probably going to be removed. That’s my opinion. I’ve been doing this for 34 years. I know who we remove and how we remove them.
If you’re not in detention, you’re hard to find because you’re in the wind. That’s why they’re not showing up in immigration court and they’re hard to find. And I’ll tell you, these family groups that come across now it’s, like, 200,000 the last couple years – that’s your next DACA population. This whole thing started after DACA because now families coming across, well, I’m going to be the next DACA – I’ll be the next DAPA. They’re hiding out waiting for the next giveaway rather than being – rather than them being – rather than the laws be enforced.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Sheriff?
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: Let me address – that’s a great question, and let’s look at some strategies that we think will work. You got two areas. You’ve got Mexico as a country and then you’ve got the United States, so how do we deal with the cartels strategically? How do we – how do we work on that immediately?
So on the Mexican side, I have little faith in the Mexican government being able to control the cartel at all. This is why probably on the U.S. side that terrorist organization is – has some validity as to what we can do there. The other part is that the federal government can’t do this alone. This has to be a coordinated, organized effort between state, federal and local, working on the same sheet of music to combat the cartel. The travel routes into this country are the main conduits for what they do. The travel routes. You choke the travel routes down as a strategy, and you put that in place as a national framework to start dealing with the cartels on a real-time basis, with all of your assets combined in a strategic manner, then you start making an impact on what your cartel – and how they operate in the United States.
Q: I have, like, a 50,000 foot question. We’ve talked a lot about the national security, and we’ve talked about drug trafficking and crime. Are there – does anyone want to address – and even you, Mark – more mundane reasons to enforce the law? Don’t we have a concern – the reason we enforce our laws, isn’t it because we’re concerned about job competition at the bottom end of the labor market between illegal immigrants and the least educated Americans? Aren’t we concerned about the impact on our schools and our hospitals and infrastructure of illegal immigration? Isn’t that also part of the reason, in addition to the profoundly important questions of national security and crime? And I wonder if we could – because no one’s mentioned that. And I just thought maybe that’s a really important point to think about.
MR. HOMAN: I’ll address the first. When I was the ICE director, as you know, I made big news because I made a statement that we’re going to increase worksite enforcement at 400 percent, which they did –
MR. KRIKORIAN: And I made you say that.
MR. HOMAN: Yeah. Yeah. (Laughter.) Because we got to take away the magnets, right, about – and one of the things, they’re coming here and getting jobs. So we got to – look, if Congress has passed E-Verify, again, that would certainly help, you know? And no one hires an illegal alien out of the goodness of their heart. They hire them to undercut their competition. Let me give you an example of that. The last storm we had here a few months ago, I had shingles fly off my roof. I had to call six roofing companies until I got one that guarantee a legal workforce. And when the – when the – when the – when the guy finally show up – it was a father and a son. He had a roofing company. And they used to put entire roofs on homes. They can’t do it anymore. He can’t compete with the companies that pay someone 10 bucks an hour to be on a hot roof in the summer when, you know, other companies, you know, of course, it costs more. He lost his business. Now he and his son just repair roofs, do small repair jobs, they can’t compete. He shared that story with me.
And that is something the media should put out there. Anybody can check E-Verify as of now. Francis Cissna did a great job when he was there. He expanded E-Verify. We can all go to E-Verify to see if the company or the corporation we work with is a member of E-Verify. If they’re not, why don’t we do what other people do and say, you know what? I’m going – I’m going – we’re not going to use your business anymore. It’s like that mattress company.
So I tell you, I do it. If I’m going to work with a company or a corporation, I’m going to see if they’re members of E-Verify. And if they’re one – if there’s a roofing company that is, or if there’s a lands company that is, or a plumbing company there is, I’m using them. So we got to – we can also – you know, the American citizens – you don’t have to carry gun and badge to help this president secure our border. I want – there’s something I always say. I’m going to say it again. And I hope you put it in the paper. There is no downside in securing this border. Please give me one. Give me one downside on securing this border. There’s no downside on less illegal immigration. There’s no downside on less drugs coming to this country. There’s no downside on stopping bankrolling criminal organizations.
If we need help, the Congress can fix the guest worker program and do whatever you can – if that’s what you think we need. First of all, you got to prove there’s a need. Then fix it. Have people coming here legally. If you – if we really, really need them, have them coming here legally. That doesn’t bankroll the criminal cartels and it helps control the border. So I’ll leave with that.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Art?
MR. ARTHUR: I think we have another question.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK, yeah. Because we’re – yeah. We’ll take two more questions, yes.
Q: Thanks, Mark. Paul Bedard with the Washington Examiner.
Director, is the turmoil – or, I guess, it would be the revolving door at DHS a problem for the immigration agencies? Do we need a border czar? And how close to you are – are you to accepting the nomination? (Laughter.)
MR. ARTHUR: Tell me if you want me to answer any part of this in lieu of you.
MR. HOMAN: Look, I’m not going to second-guess the president of the United States. You know, I’m sure there’s reasons he’s making these changes. I think he’s hitting the reset button and coming up with some fresh ideas. As far as the people that are leaving, the people that are replacing them, I got – you know, I think they’re all good people. I think anybody that serves in this administration and takes a beating every day by some media, takes a beating every day by the Hill, don’t make a lot of money, god bless them. Like I said, you know, I had 80 protestors at my house on a Sunday morning. Working with this administration is tough because, you know, the far left has controlled what’s being done. And, you know, you’re a bad person for working for this administration.
Now, as far as the border czar, as I said, you know, I have not taken a job with the administration. I unretired once. Would I unretire again? I would never say never, because I think – look, you can hate this president or love this president. But I tell you, I worked for six presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan, and this president has done more to try to secure this border than any other president. I respect all the presidents I worked for, because they’re presidents. But, you know, he’s done more to try to secure this border than any other president. That’s just a fact. So I think he’s – I think he’s doing the right thing. And, you know, I support him. And as far as the changes in DHS leadership, there’s got to be a reason. I’m not on the inside of that. But I support the president and what he’s doing. And hopefully this – it’s going to result in more control on the border.
MR. ARTHUR: And, Mr. Bedard, if I could address the question of whether we need a border czar: Yes we do. Right now we have DHS, DOS, DOJ, HHS, and DOL, all of which have jurisdiction over immigration one way or another. The activities of those organizations need to be coordinated. Somebody needs to do it. When I worked for Janet Reno, we had an assistant deputy attorney general who could actually control the activities of the courts and INS, which included what is now USCIS, and ICE, and CBP. So we need somebody to coordinate those efforts right now. That person has to have jurisdiction over all those departments. We need a czar.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, I mean, this is – we’re going to take one last question and then give people a chance to have closing remarks. But it seems to me the logical solution is a Cabinet-level secretary of immigration that removes all of the pieces that are in those five separate Cabinet agencies and puts them in one agency. It just doesn’t make sense to do it this way, in my opinion.
So we have one more question somewhere? Yes, sir. Yeah.
Q: Scott Jenkins, sheriff in Culpeper, Virginia, about an hour south of here.
We’ve watched Congress lack the will on both sides to secure the border for years. President Trump has done a lot and doesn’t have support. We’ve now watched the fake news and the far left push a multiprong attack on law enforcement, such as Border Patrol, for a long time. Not only do they vilify Border Patrol, what you were just talking about, at our centers with undocumented children and mothers and so forth, making the Border Patrol to seem as though they don’t have feelings. They’ve gone so far, such as myself – as you said, every county is a border county. I’m an hour south of D.C. I just a few weeks ago successfully fought a lawsuit from the ACLU trying to stop me from having the only sheriff’s ICE 287(g) program in Virginia.
And that is nothing more than a screening process where it’s a force multiplier for ICE, where we screen arrested individuals housed in our jail to see if they are to be deported by ICE. But that’s my point. We’ve gone so far in the attack on law enforcement that we don’t even want law enforcement to enforce the laws, just like Border Patrol. When a criminal alien is in our jails, we don’t even want cooperation from local law enforcement to assist in getting them out of the countries. It’s not talking about the families living in our communities doing nothing wrong other than being here illegally. They don’t even want criminals who are murdering, killing people by DUI and other things, in our counties, all over our country. So it’s gone that far.
So two points. One question is: I cannot fathom, and I’m concerned. The morale of the Border Patrol, knowing they have no support from the top. Granted, President Trump supports them and wants them to succeed in their efforts. But when they see the country slowly turning against their efforts more and more, and its futile, and now they’re being vilified in the way they are in recent weeks, is there concern that at some point they’re going to start to slow their efforts or modify their enforcement efforts because of the lack of support and the fear of the attacks that they’re going to be under – much like we’ve seen in Baltimore, or Charlottesville, and other places? They cannot hardly hire police now because of the lack of support from the administration above them. That’s a fear for Border Patrol. And I know the country, our law enforcement, worry about that. And we support Border Patrol.
But the other point, I was wondering is there any federal issue, law, restriction – since the president was unsuccessful in trying to move these illegal aliens to San Francisco and other places as they come in – why don’t we as sheriffs find our – Texas is a good example. Check with our local governments, find funding. All we need is a bus – a group of buses, a relay system, county line to county line, starting when they come in. Bus them one county to the next, all the way to the target location of San Francisco, D.C., wherever it is. I cannot help to think that at the local level we can start to have an impact where they’re shutting down our federal government’s efforts.
And then lastly, Tom, would you consider running for office? Because I know there’s a lot of fans in this country that would love to contribute to your campaign after hearing you so much in the news media in recent months and years.
MR. KRIKORIAN: So why don’t we do this – if each of you could – well, but take the question, and also if you have any sort of final wrap up remarks as well. So do you want to go first, Sheriff?
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: Yes, sir. Thank you. Listen, I appreciate what you’re saying. I like your comments and what you’re saying. I like some of your ideas. But let me tell you what I see across this nation. We just left the National Sheriffs Association. But prior to that, whether I’m at CBP headquarters in the Rio Grande Valley sector, whether I’m talking to a sheriff from any state, whether I’m talking to a city police chief from any state, from any city around here, there’s a tremendous amount of support for the law enforcement efforts from the federal, state and local authorities – rank and file police officers in this – in this country. Certified peace officers here in the U.S. who back everything that we’re talking about here. And it is – it is a – it’s a movement. It’s there. It’s quantifiable, as far as from what I can see, and from what I’m told.
And when I’m approached about it, with the texts I get and the phone calls I get from this country, that – because law enforcement in this country are all facing the same issues. We all are. Are we vocal about it? No. Are we part of that 5 percent that are acting like they’re 95 percent of this country? No. No. But the real concerns are there. They are – they are real. So there is a – there is a large amount of support for what ICE does. They’re a federal law enforcement agency. We work with them. Appreciate you being in the 287(g) program. It’s one of the few programs where a local agency can assist for enforcement of the laws. And I simply said in Texas that I want to be a 287(g) partner in Texas, because I don’t want to let someone out of my jail that I shouldn’t. And that’s – and that’s something that many sheriffs in this country support. So I appreciate your comments about that, and I’ll let Director Homan finish up – or –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, let’s have Art go next and then Tom will finish up.
MR. ARTHUR: OK. First, I just want to clarify. Culpeper’s only an hour south of Washington, D.C. if you’ve got lights on top of your car. Fridays on 66, it’s a three-hour drive, thanks. (Laughter.) But well worth the trip.
You asked a question about 287(g). And we didn’t touch on this. I hope we touch on this more on a future panel. It amazes me whenever we get pushback, whenever I hear pushback – and I testify in favor of it a lot – to 287(g) programs, because the only people that are affected are criminals. What you almost always hear in response is: Most illegal aliens, or most aliens, are not criminals. Fine. I’ll accept that. You know who is a criminal? Alien criminals are criminals. (Laughter.) And the place that you find them is jails. So why don’t you make those individuals who staff those jails able to identify those alien criminals and get them off the street? Well, you – Art, you’re being hard-hearted. You’re just a hard-hearted guy. Actually, it doesn’t affect me.
The communities that are affected the most by illegal alien crime are immigrant communities – legal and illegal. We had a horrible case in Kensington, Maryland last year involving an underage girl who was here illegally who had been trafficked to the United States. And she was being forced into prostitution by MS-13. She did not meet up to their standards in the – in the job that they had forced her into. So they beat her with a baseball bat. Kensington, Maryland is 12 miles away from the White House. How in the name of Christ can that happen? Because Montgomery County, Prince Georges County – I think it’s Montgomery County is a sanctuary jurisdiction.
But let me underscore this even more, because we had the question about cartels. Whenever you hear – most of the people that we get coming illegal, right now – the FMUs, the UACs – are from three countries – El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. And you’ll often hear they’re fleeing violence. Well, what kind of violence? Generally, it’s gang violence. And generally, that gang is Mara Salvatrucha Trece, or MS-13. Where does MS-13 get its funding from? Some’s in country. But a lot comes from this country. How do I know that? Because the Obama Treasury Department said that in 2012 when they designated MS-13 as a significant transnational criminal organization.
The very horrors that people claim they are fleeing in Central America come out of that house in Kensington, Maryland. You want to stop the problems in El Salvador? You choke off the funding. You’re a sheriff. You’re a sheriff. You were a cop. You want to stop crime? Take away the money. But these organizations don’t do it, because they know that most voters only hear the noise. They don’t see the light. They don’t actually see the implications of the decisions that they make. They don’t see those criminals that are turned back out into those communities that make those communities crime ridden. People live in fear, not of the cops, not of ICE, but of the criminals.
How do I know that? Because I live in Baltimore, the home of stop snitching. I’ll tell you who runs those towns, who runs those sections of towns where these criminals are released to. The criminals. And you know who benefits? The sanctimonious politicians who talk about how awful it would be to deport families. There are no families sitting in the Baltimore County Jail. Criminals are sitting in the Baltimore County Jail. Get those criminals out. Make the entire community better. Sorry.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Art. Tom, if you could finish up for us.
MR. HOMAN: I’d say a couple things. Sheriff, thank you for your service. It takes a special person that, again, straps a gun to a hip to protect this country and their communities. So hats off to you for your service. I love Culpeper. You got a great diner there on the corner. I had a great hot roast beef sandwich. (Laughter.)
MR. ARTHUR: Good barbeque place too. Pardon.
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: Barbeque?
MR. ARTHUR: Oh, yeah. (Laughter.)
SHERIFF LOUDERBACK: Let’s talk barbeque.
MR. HOMAN: I love the 287(g) program. As far as the 287(g) program, it’s a great program. And I think I was ICE director when we first started talking to you about it. And it’s a great program because, I don’t care what anybody says, it’s a colorblind program. Everybody – if anybody here gets arrested tonight for DUI, you’re going to be fingerprinted. It’s going to be sent to NCIC and also to DHS. And if you have an immigration record, they’re going to flag you. Everybody. If I get arrested tonight, I’m going through the same process. So it’s a colorblind process that works, because releasing a public safety threat back into the public is just stupid, especially when they’re in the United States illegally and they can remove from the community.
And for the Democratic congressman who says: ICE, you’re out of control. You’re supposed to be concentrating on criminals. But you can’t come in our jails. You need to concentrate on criminals, but I’m a sanctuary state. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t not allow ICE into a jail and try to shut down a 278(g) program and tell us to concentrate on criminals. So and let me tell you something, why sanctuary cities are bad, because what they don’t want to talk – number one, you release a public safety threat – illegal alien from the jail, he’s going to go back to the same immigrant community and victimize that community. So that doesn’t help the immigrant community. In all the sanctuary cities, supporters say, we’re protecting the immigrant community. No, you’re not because this person will go back and reoffend in the community he lives in.
And ICE – now ICE has to go into the community and arrest them, so rather than arresting a bad guy in jail, we’re going to go into the community and arrest him. And what happens there? People will run under the radar; we won’t find them – because there’s going to be others.
Where do most collateral arrests happen – people that are arrested that weren’t targets of the operation? Sanctuary cities. Why? Because they force us into the neighborhood and worksite to arrest the bad guy we could have gotten in the county jail. And sanctuary cities is another enticement for people to come to this country that bankroll the criminal cartels, 33 percent of the women will be raped, there’s going to be more children die because we entice these people who put themselves in the hands of criminal cartels because they think they can get to a sanctuary city, and even commit a crime, and no one is going to call Immigration.
And the last thing I would say, not one of these politicians that supports sanctuary cities – they should go to the community – the immigrant community and ask them, would you rather have ICE in the jail or in your community? What do you think they are going to say? So that whole sanctuary argument is just – it’s just a false narrative.
I want to end with this. You know, when I was the ICE director, I took a lot of hate. They had protests at my house. I was called every name you could think of on social media. My public affairs officer says, do you do Facebook or Twitter? I said, I’m going to have to because yours were dumb. (Laughter.)
But you know what? I didn’t care. I don’t – I don’t care what people think. If I can go to bed every night and lay my head on my pillow, and know that I’m serving my country and trying to secure that border, I’m fine. Hate me all you want. And I see – when they came to my house, they called me a racist, they called me names. You know what? I served my country. I’m proud I served my country.
But let me end with this. Everybody says, why are you so emotional on TV? Why do you take this so personal? Because I did it for 34 years. You just don’t turn it off. And if people saw what I saw in 34 years, they wouldn’t be arguing with me. When I was a Border Patrol agent, I found aliens that died on the trail, that were abandoned by the smuggler because he can’t call for medical help because there’s another 11; they won’t pay. What a horrific death, in the middle of nowhere to die on a trail. And somebody had the ability to call for help but they didn’t. I found them.
When I was a cop in upstate New York, when I first got in the Border Patrol, I just couldn’t believe it because people didn’t know about it. I had one – and I’m on a back road, one alien is walking by me with a human leg in his hand, found on the border. Coyotes to him, and he’s carrying – and he’s drunk, and he’s carrying around a leg. So finding dead bodies – we have to stop the enticements. We’ve got to fix this system.
When ICE was first created in 2003, I was in headquarters helping the transition team. They sent me to Dallas to talk at an IACP event. While I was there I got a call from the commissioner, the director, Garcia Maquildori (ph). There is a horrific event in Victoria, Texas. We know you know alien smuggling; you spent your career on it. Please get down there and take control of that investigation. So I took an air Marine flight down to Victoria, Texas.
The Texas Rangers kept it hot – the scene hot. So I get there, I’m walking around in the back of a tractor-trailer with 19 dead aliens at my feet, including a five-year-old little boy who suffocated in the back of that tractor-trailer. And I had a five year old at the time. I didn’t sleep for three days.
If anybody still doesn’t think we should stop these enticements and stop this, think of what that child went through the last 30 minutes or one hour of his life – locked in the back of a tractor-trailer, can’t breathe, in the dark. (Pause.) What do you think the father went through the last hour of his life knowing he put his child in that condition, in that location? He couldn’t help his child. What do you think that father thought when other people were talking about tearing that child apart and throwing him out the windows or throwing him out the openings – they took the brake lights out to draw attention to their situation? When I got to that scene, that father was holding that child.
I stayed there for a few weeks, and we ended up getting everybody, and they’re all in prison that caused that horrific event. Then after that, they sent me to Phoenix, Arizona, to deal with Operation Ice Storm, where criminal cartels were smuggling people into the United States with an agreement they would pay a certain amount of money to get to Chicago or New York – let’s say 5,000 (dollars). Once they got them on the U.S. side into their safe house or road house, now they want 15,000 (dollars). So the families get a phone call: you owe us 15,000 (dollars) more to this account. I don’t have 15,000 (dollars). You’d better find it or we’ll kill them. And they did. They killed people that couldn’t pay the fees. They beat them.
I remember one time we tracked a phone – actually, one family called us to say, hey, they’re holding my brother. We can’t afford – and they said they’re going to kill him. Can you help us? And we did. We tracked the cell phone, we found the place, and we found the brother in a closet, duct taped hands and feet behind him, and his entire face was duct taped with a hole poked in it so he could breathe through a straw – for days. One person who couldn’t pay their fees was stabbed in the face numerous times; that’s how he died – a knife to the face.
So when you’ve seen what I’ve seen for 34 years and experienced what I’ve experienced for 34 years – there’s another side to the story no one wants to talk about: the horrific cartels and what they do to these people. So if we can stop enticing them, we’re going to save lives. So this isn’t just about enforcing the law. This is about less women being raped, less children dying, and stop bankrolling the very people that mistreat these people. That’s why I do what I do, and that’s why I’m emotional.
As far as running for office, I will never say never. (Laughter.) I will never say never, so I end it there. (Laughter.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: So is this – so should we take this event as the beginning of the Homan 2024 campaign? (Laughter.)
Thank you, Tom, and Sheriff Louderback, and Art. Thank you to everybody who is here. We’re going to have the transcript up – probably tomorrow – of the event, and hope to see you at our next panel discussion. Thank you. (Applause.)