Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, grilled bureaucrats from the Department of State, and Department of Homeland Security, over the challenges posed to national security by the failure to deport criminal aliens and others who have violated immigration laws. Chaffetz was outspoken as he condemned earlier testimony by DHS secretary Jeh Johnson and other Federal officials for an alleged failure in both the vetting process for admitting foreigners to the U.S., as well as presidential executive actions that have stymied the deportation process.
Testifying at the December 17 hearing were: DHS Asst. Sec. for Intergovernmental Affairs Alan Bersin; Asst. Sec. of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond; Asst. Sec. of State for Population, Refugees an Migration Anne Richard; and Director of Citizenship Services Leon Rodriguez.
In his opening statement, Chaffetz characterized the United States as the most generous country in the world as to admitting foreigners. He offered several statistics. For example: approximately 10 million temporary entry visas were issued in fiscal year 2015; 131,000 immigrant visas issued; 20 million admitted under the visa waiver program; over 1 million border crossing cards issued to Mexican nationals; and 1 million legal foreign students admitted.
Noting that the commission of fraud by visa applicants makes them deportable under law, Chaffetz said that as a result of “executive actions, such conduct is not necessarily a priority for removal.” He said that law enforcement officers frequently arrest illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. “And then (DHS Secretary) Jeh Johnson comes out and says ‘even if you commit sex crimes, even if you do certain other crimes, you don’t necessarily have to deport them.’”
Speaking forcefully, Chaffetz told the panel “They’re here illegally, commit a crime, and Homeland Security is saying ‘use discretion, we may not want to deport these people. It’s not a threat to public safety.’ You tell a woman who’s been raped that it’s not a threat to public safety to have that person here.”
Members of the panel, including Rodriguez and Bersin, struggled to answer Chaffetz’s questions about whether or not DHS and State monitor social media in the vetting process for the issuance of visas, and deportations.
A State Department official made a startling admission during the testimony. Assistant Secretary Bond admitted that the Obama administration cannot be certain of the whereabouts of thousands of foreigners living in the U.S. whose visas have been revoked over terrorism concerns, and other reasons.
Chaffetz tore into the bureaucrat, saying “You don’t have a clue do you?” When Bond intially admitted that the Federal government had revoked in excess of 122,000 visas since 2001, including 9,500 for terrorism threats, Chaffetz questioned her about their location.