Thursday, September 26, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference


5:34 P.M. EDT

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi, everybody.  Thank you for joining.  As the moderator indicated, we'll have brief remarks by three senior administration officials regarding the refugee policy.  Following those remarks, we'll do a short Q&A.  Since we have limited time, we'll go ahead and get started.

     For the ground rules, this call is embargoed until after the call concludes.  Any kind of attribution is on background to senior administration officials.  There will be a transcript of the call; that may take some time, but we hope to get that to later today.

     I will identify the speakers but that is strictly for awareness purposes and not for attribution.  For today's background briefing, the speaker lineup is: [senior administration officials].

With that, I'd like to kick it off to [senior administration official] to start with a few remarks and then follow it up with [senior administration officials].

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Very good.  Thanks.  This afternoon, the State Department, on behalf of the administration, submitted the President's annual report to Congress on proposed refugee admissions for fiscal year 2020.  The official presidential determination on refugee admissions numbers for fiscal year 2020 will be issued following consultation with Congress, which the report will inform.

     In terms of the report itself, the United States anticipates receiving more than 368,000 new refugees and asylum claims in Fiscal Year 2020.  Of them, 18,000 would be refugees that we propose to resettle under the new refugee ceiling.

     This proposed refugee admission ceiling takes into account the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis on our southern border and the massive asylum backlog.  I'll let my colleagues talk about that in a moment.

     New this year, instead of allocating the proposed ceiling by region, the report allocates it by group of special humanitarian interests to the United States.  The reason for this: In the 1980 Refugee Act, which created the refugee admissions program, it says the program aims to provide for the resettlement of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States.

     The previous allocations by continent or region were not directly connected to our national security or foreign policy priorities.  The administration's proposed allocation links refugee admissions directly to U.S. national security and foreign policy priorities.  So what are the groups and proposed allocations?

     First, we're prioritizing those who have been persecuted for their religious beliefs.  The U.S. is committed to advancing religious freedom internationally, including the protection of religious groups across the globe.  To this end, the administration has proposed a dedicated allocation for people who have suffered or fear religious persecution and for those specified in the Lautenberg Inspector Amendments.  So we propose admitting up to 5,000 in that category.

     Next, we are focusing on Iraqis who assisted the United States.  You might have heard of these as Iraqi P2s.  We want to ensure that those who sacrifice their own safety to help U.S. national security have an opportunity to seek refuge in the United States.  We propose admitting up to 4,000 in this category.

     Next, we're also prioritizing nationals of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.  The vast majority of asylum seekers from the Northern Triangle do not meet the definition of refugee or asylee under our law.  But for those few who do, we want to offer an alternative to making the long journey through Mexico, which can be dangerous.  We propose admitting up to 1,500 in this category.

     There is one remaining category, which is 7,500 which covers other refugees not covered by the foregoing categories, including those referred to the refugee admissions program by a U.S. diplomatic mission, family reunification categories.

The total proposed refugee admissions ceiling is 18,000.

Now, let me talk about the anticipated foreign policy impact.  The number of individuals forcibly displaced worldwide is far more than can be resettled or granted asylum in the United States or other countries each year.  So that’s why our support for refugees and other displaced people extends well beyond our immigration system.

The National Security Strategy says the United States will continue to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including the refugees, and that we will provide this assistance as close to their homes as possible in order to meet their needs until they can safely and voluntarily return home.

The full picture of U.S. generosity includes more than $8 billion in overseas humanitarian assistance in Fiscal Year 2018, more than any other country provides.  Our assistance reaches tens of millions of displaced and crisis-affected people worldwide, including those who will never be eligible or considered for third-country resettlements.

Helping refugees and other displaced people in areas close to their homes facilitates their return when conditions allow.  This enables them to participate in rebuilding their homelands, promoting recovery and long-term stability of those countries and their neighbors, which also serves our foreign policy and national security interests.

This refugee admissions proposal reaffirms America's enduring commitment to assist the world's displaced people, while fulfilling our first duty to protect and serve our own.

Now let me turn to DHS.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  And good evening.  Thank you all for joining us.  I want to highlight just a few things and amplify several points that my colleague raised from the perspective of the Department of Homeland Security.

As my colleague mentioned, the refugee proposal is structured to support U.S. foreign policy interests.  And in particular, I would note that it supports the Department of Homeland Security's ongoing engagement with regional and international partners, including our partners in the Northern Triangle.

     In particular, as my colleague noted, the refugee proposal offers nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras -- particularly those who may be fleeing persecution or torture -- the opportunity to seek refugee status close to home, rather than embarking on a dangerous journey to the United States in the hands of smugglers and criminal organizations.

     Additionally, as was also noted, the administration’s proposal for refugee admissions in Fiscal Year 2020 will allow the Department of Homeland Security to focus on addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border.  And the proposal is consistent with the holistic view -- the holistic view of the overall humanitarian workload, and the United States' longstanding role as the most generous nation in the world when it comes to welcoming those in need of protection.

In particular, the administration’s proposal for refugee admissions will allow DHS to focus on reducing a staggering asylum backlog of hundreds of thousands of cases that unfairly delays (inaudible) for those with meritorious claims, and will also allow the Department of Homeland Security, including USCIS, to complete more overall cases and increasingly multifaceted and complex workload that includes not only refugee admissions, but asylum applications, credible fears screenings, and MPP screenings.

     And with that, I will turn it over to USCIS.  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  My name is [senior administration official].  I just wanted to provide some additional context for this year’s number determination and why we are in the situation we’re in.

     As my colleague indicated, we basically have a situation where we have an existing backlog of approximately 1 million individual asylum cases.  Now, that can be broken down further into the 540,000 individual claims that are pending before USCIS through the rest of Fiscal Year 2019, which ends on Monday.

     In addition to that 540,000, there are 475,000 other individual claims that are currently pending before Department of Justice immigration judges as of the same closure of the fiscal year.  That’s in excess of a million individual claims.

     In addition to that current backlog, we are looking at an anticipated additional asylum load of 350,000 people in Fiscal Year 2020.  We not only owe -- we have a legal obligation to adhere to these asylum claims and address them, but we also have an obligation to make sure that their cases are heard before any additional burdens on taken on.

     And I would just note that this year’s refugee ceiling determination recognizes both the realities of our border crisis, which we’ve talked about as length, in addition -- and the limited -- the reality of our resource situation in the federal government.

     And I’m going to pivot back to my colleague for some brief discussion on the executive order.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks very much.  Appreciate that.

     Let me turn now to the Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement, which the President is signing.  At President Trump’s direction, refugees will be resettled only in jurisdictions where both state and local governments consent to receive them, with certain limited exceptions.

     So why are we doing this?  This is about setting up newly arrived refugees to succeed.  Close cooperation with state and local government ensure that refugees are placed communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society.

     State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they have available to devote to sustainable resettlement.  So the administration wants to provide for closer coordination with them and a more clearly defined role for them in the process of selecting sites for initial resettlement.

     With that, I believe we’re ready for questions and answers.

     Q    Thank you for taking this call.  Can you just clarify: Is this a fiscal-year or calendar-year total?  And can you compare it to recent years as to what the ceiling was?  Thank you.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can take that.  This is on a fiscal-year basis.  The Fiscal Year 2019 admissions sealing was 30,000.  The Fiscal Year 2018 admissions sealing was 45,000.

     Q    Hi, there.  Yes, how will these jurisdictions or communities be selected?  And have they already been selected?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  The State Department is going to work out the details of the implementation on this.  But we anticipate we will work with our non-governmental partners that currently do resettlement throughout the country to ensure we are gaining the consent of the state and local jurisdictions where they propose to resettle refugees.

     Q    Hi, thanks for doing the call.  About the requirement that state and local officials consent, the executive order says that the consent letters (inaudible) be receiving will be posted publicly.  What's the point of that?  And isn't that a way just to allow the President or others to target these officials for attacks?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Well, the point of posting the letters publicly is so that people can see what their political representatives are doing.  It's, essentially, about transparency.  And so, through this transparency, we hope to promote greater involvement of states and localities in the resettlement.  Some states and localities may welcome greater resettlement and be prepared for it.  Others are not prepared for it.  And by being honest and letting us know that they can't handle it, that promotes better outcomes for refugees who are resettling.

     Q    Will they need permission to move once they've been placed somewhere?  I mean, it seems a little draconian that these refugees -- unlike anyone else moving to the United States -- will need permission from the state and local government to live where they'll be living.  I mean, can you address that?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, let me clarify.  This does not affect already resettled refugees.  This only affects the Department of State's decision about where to place refugees once they arrive.  Once refugees are admitted into the United States, they have the same freedom to move about as anyone else who's in the country.

     Q    Hi, yes, thanks for doing the call.  I guess, I wanted to get your reaction.  I guess, Trump has made protecting those fleeing religious freedom a key policy priority, and I know that groups advocating for religious freedom said that the prior 30,000 total cap was too little.  How would you address, I guess, concerns that 5,000 is not a very high cap for those seeking that and -- those seeking entrance for those reasons?

     And then, a second follow-up question was just if there will be a moratorium until mid-October for those who were already granted admission for the next fiscal year, or if October 1st there will be refugees heading in?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  I'll take that.  So I would say that, compared to previous years where we had, sort of, broad allocations for regions that did not prioritize protection of believers or religious minorities or people persecuted on the basis of their faith, this is a particular improvement by having a specific allocation.

And I would say this is consistent with the high-level attention of this matter we saw just this week when the President delivered a keynote address at the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom event at U.N. Headquarters.  Secretary Pompeo has also been in the forefront of this, hosting ministerials to advance religious freedom.

     On your other question about the pause in refugee arrivals -- so, it's normal that we schedule a one-week delay for operational reasons at the beginning of every fiscal year.  That's typical October 1 through 8.  This year, we delayed it by two weeks.  So, essentially, the people who were scheduled to arrive will arrive two weeks later, subject to the final presidential determination.

     Now, to your point about when they will enter, no refugees can enter in fiscal year 2019 until the presidential determination issues.

     Q    I'm sorry, just a quick follow-up.  When you say "two weeks later," that would be two weeks after October 8?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, that's correct.  The current pause lasts through October 21st, inclusive.  And so we anticipate refugee arrivals resuming October 22nd, provided the presidential determination issues before that time.

     Q    Hi.  To the point of the designation for persecuted religious minorities, can you provide any more details, given that that includes quite a large number of specific subgroups from specific nations?  Whether there will be, say, like a regional allocation within that, or how that 5,000 will be distributed.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, the proposal is as follows: It includes people who have been -- or, excuse me, refugees who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of religion.  Or those who qualify under the Lautenberg Inspector Amendments, which provide special access to our refugee admissions program for certain religious minority groups from the former Soviet Union and Iran.

     Q    Thanks for doing the call.  So, two quick questions.  Do you anticipate the presidential determination will be signed before October 1st?  And if not, why not?  And should it be signed before October 1st, with a moratorium (inaudible)?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I'll take that.  So, as a legal matter, we have to have consultations -- appropriate consultations with the Congress before the determination, in order to inform the determination.  And so, our colleagues in the administration are working on scheduling those consultations with the Congress now.

     Q    Hi.  Thanks very much for doing the call.  Could you just recap the breakdown?  I think it was 4,000 Iraqis, 5,000 religious persecution, and 1,500 from Northern Triangle, is what I have.

And then, how -- again, could you explain how that compares to years past?  The previous year, we saw a cap of 30,000.  The 12,000 differential, were there any specific groups cut out?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, I can take that.  First, let me recap the proposal for Fiscal Year '20.

So, category one is: Refugees who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of religion, or who qualify under the Lautenberg Inspector Amendments.  That's 5,000.

Next category: Iraqis who assisted the United States, that’s 4,000.  The technical -- actually, more technically defining that, those are refugees -- excuse me, Iraqis who would be resettled under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007.

Next category: Refugees from the Northern Triangle -- that is El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras -- 1,500.

And then, the last is: Other refugees not covered by the foregoing categories.  And that's 7,500, for a total of 18,000.

By comparison, last year's ceiling broke down as follows: Africa, 11,000; East Asia, 4,000; Europe and Central Asia, 3,000; Latin America and the Caribbean, 3,000; Near East and South Asia, 9,000 -- for a total of 30,000.  That was Fiscal Year 2019.

Q    Hi, thanks very much for doing the call.  As you may be aware, Honduras and the other countries with which the administration has signed these agreements to resettle refugees are themselves very dangerous, high levels of violence and homicide.  I wonder if you can respond to some of the criticism that’s come up that you're simply putting these refugees into potentially more risk than they faced in the countries from which they were fleeing.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can take that, from the DHS perspective.  Can you just clarify the question as to whether it's related to the -- are you asking about the refugee allocation or are you asking about the asylum cooperative agreements?

Q    I'm asking about the asylum cooperative agreements.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  All right.  Well, I just -- you know, obviously the purpose of this call is to focus on refugee admissions proposal.  And we have limited time, but I'll just say briefly that all the asylum cooperation agreements are done pursuant to a bilateral agreement and consistent with U.S. law, which includes -- you know, explicitly authorized by statute and includes several steps, which were pursuant to implement those agreements.

I would also say that another piece of the puzzle, which is consistent with the refugee proposal, is to work with our regional and international partners on addressing these issues cooperatively and also building the asylum capacity within our Central American partners so that they too can be receiving, as well as sending, countries and be part of a cooperative, long-term, durable, and regional solution to the current crisis.

Q    Thanks for having the call.  I have a question about the 1,500 from the Northern Triangle.  Obviously, far more people than that are fleeing, and people are receiving asylum here from those countries.  Do you think the 1,500 will be amenable to the Presidents of those countries, (inaudible) that Homeland Security is working with to try to curb mass migration?  Have they agreed to that?  Do they think that's okay?  Have you floated that to them?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  If I may, this is our -- this is the administration's proposal to the President -- excuse me, the administration's proposal to the Congress before the President issues the presidential determination.  It's not something that is normally discussed or negotiated with foreign governments in advance.  This is a matter of U.S. immigration law and U.S. foreign policy.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And if I could just add with respect to the numbers, I think as my colleague highlighted at the top, something that’s very important is that there is -- you know, very few of the folks from Central American countries that come to this country are found to have meritorious claims.  But if, in fact, they have meritorious claims, we would encourage them to seek protection, potentially -- you know, look --

This proposal offers them the opportunity to seek protection close to home rather than making the dangerous journey to the United States, which is often facilitated by smugglers and criminal organizations.

And we'll obviously have to see how the year goes.  But again, the vast majority of the claims are not meritorious.  And if you look at last year's numbers based on a regional allocation, we're now shifting to a more -- an allocation that's more closely tied to the U.S. national interest.

We did not fill all of the available slots in Latin America this past year.  And so, I think this would be an opportunity -- this proposal is an opportunity, it goes hand-in-hand with our regional strategy, to encourage folks that if you do have a meritorious claim, seek protection as a refugee close to home.

Q    Hi, thanks for having this.  I know you mentioned that this decision partly stems from the screenings that USCIS has to do for credible fear and also those for migrants placed in the migrant protection protocols or Remain in Mexico Policy.

So is it also within the administration’s strategy to hire more asylum workers to be able to do this, not just cut these spots available for refugee status?  Because I know, for example, Border Patrol has a pilot program to start conducting some of these screenings, but is USCIS planning on hiring more officers?


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I can take that one.  We are in the process of hiring.  I mean, this is public information and we do understand that part of that is -- part of the ability for us to tackle the problem we’re seeing at the southern border is to obtain more people who are qualified to do the screenings.  But we’re in the process of doing that, and this is public domain information.  So, yeah.  But we are working on it.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And just more broadly, again, you know, part of solution could be more manpower, but if you think about, sort of, the two lines of effort -- refugees and asylees -- we’re so far -- the backlog is staggering, just, you know, with the new (inaudible) asylum.  Yeah, 300,000-plus cases; more than 500,000 individuals.  And that doesn’t even include other lines of effort and some of the folks that are in these Department of Justice EOIR system.

That when you’re talking about a non-discretionary caseload of folks who are already here, by the hundreds of thousands, and you’ve got folks who have meritorious claims unfairly delayed, and then you’ve also got folks that do not have meritorious claims that are remaining year after year, it is common sense from the perspective of good government, from the perspective of what we owe folks, and from the perspective of national security and foreign policy to focus on that massive non-discretionary backlog.  And to not just do refugee admissions in isolation, but holistically as part of the overall humanitarian workload that allows America to remain the most generous nation in the world.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you, Moderator.  I think that will be it.

Everybody, thank you for joining.  Again, we’ll work on a transcript.  And in the meantime, if you have any follow-up questions, please feel free to each out to DHS, State press offices, and as well as NSC.

As a reminder, this call is embargoed until the call concludes.  And everything on the call is for attribution to a senior administration official.  That’s it for me. 

                         END                 6:02 P.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary


“A responsible approach to refugees is one that seeks the eventual return of refugees to their home countries so that they can help to rebuild their own nations.” – President Donald J. Trump

MOST GENEROUS IMMIGRATION SYSTEM IN THE WORLD: America continues to lead the way in worldwide refugee efforts, both in financial contributions and permanent resettlement.

  • The United States expects to receive more than 368,000 new refugees and asylum claims in fiscal year (FY) 2020 – continuing our generous record of providing humanitarian protections.
    • This includes a proposed 18,000 refugees and more than 350,000 individuals in new asylum cases.
  • Considering refugees and asylum seekers as part of the same relief effort is an accurate reflection of America’s generous protection-based immigration.
  • This proposed ceiling takes into account the ongoing security and humanitarian crisis on our border and the massive asylum backlog, which now includes nearly one million individuals.
    • The overwhelming backlog is completely unsustainable and needs to be addressed before we accept large numbers of refugees.
ENHANCING STATE AND LOCAL COOPERATION: President Trump signed an Executive Order to enhance State and local involvement in refugee resettlement.  
  • Today, the President signed an Executive Order to ensure refugees are placed in an environment in which they will have the greatest opportunities to thrive, prosper, and contribute to their new American community.
  • At President Trump’s direction, refugees will be resettled in jurisdictions where both State and local governments consent to receive them.
  • Working with State and local governments on resettlement will ensure communities without the resources or capacity for refugee resettlement do not face this burden.
  • This Executive Order will also have the benefit of increasing transparency into our Nation’s current refugee resettlement operations.
AMERICA FIRST: The President will always put the welfare of American citizens first.  
  • The primary goal of our refugee policy is to enable refugees to ultimately return home, where they can help rebuild their communities – which also supports our foreign policy interests.
  • The United States spends billions of dollars resettling refugees that could be invested in our citizens here at home.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spent more than $96 billion on programs supporting or benefitting refugees between 2005 and 2014.
  • HHS surveys show that 45 percent of refugees arriving between 2011 and 2015 were receiving cash assistance and 49 percent were receiving Medicaid.
PROTECTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: President Trump is prioritizing the safety and security of the American people by making sure we do not admit more people than we can vet.  
  • The United States can only admit so many refugees while ensuring we maintain a high standard of screening.
  • Proper controls are vital, as many refugees come from countries that are known sources of terrorism or lack the modern recordkeeping to help us identify their nationals.
  • Law enforcement has apprehended a number of alleged terrorists in recent years who passed through our refugee program.


Office of the Press Secretary


South Lawn


4:52 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  They're starting to see the changes that we've done in their communities all across the country.  A tremendous progress has been made, even on the border.  The border is like a different place.  And we have 27,000 Mexican soldiers guarding our border.  And I want to thank the President of Mexico because they've been great.  Plus, we've changed laws and we've done many different things.

We can't get the Democrats to do anything.  They won't change any of the loopholes, and would make it so much easier, as you know.  They won't change loopholes.  They won't change asylum.  They won't do anything with asylum.  They want open borders, and, frankly, I think they want crime.  But they want open borders.  They want drugs.  They want human trafficking.  And it's a disgrace.

     But, Sheriff, that's a great honor.  And I really appreciate -- this is a big -- to me, this is a very important award.  This is a great honor.  And I have tremendous respect for the people standing alongside of me.  It's a tremendous (inaudible).  (Applause.)

     SHERIFF HODGSON:  I know I speak for these sheriffs and American sheriffs across the country that you've done more in two years than the past administrations and Congress has done for 20 years, Mr. President.


     SHERIFF HODGSON:  You know what?  We salute you.  And God bless you for what you've done for us.  Thank you so much.  (Applause.)

On behalf of America's sheriffs, we're presenting to President Donald J. Trump, in appreciation for your strong leadership, unwavering efforts to stop illegal immigration and the burden it places on our citizens, families, neighborhoods, and our nation, America's sheriffs and the Angel families of America salute you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

     (Plaque of recognition is presented.)  (Applause.)

     Really importantly, Sheriff, on behalf of the other sheriffs and everybody here at law enforcement said that we've done more in the last two and half years for safety and security than the last 20 years' worth of administrations.  And I'll tell you, that's an honor.  And I'm a big fan of the people alongside of me.  I'm a big fan.  And I want to thank you (inaudible) and thank everybody.

     PARTICIPANT:  We're your fan too!  (Applause.)

                             END            4:55 P.M. EDT


Executive Order on Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Refugee Resettlement

Office of the Press Secretary


- - - - - - -



     By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

     Section 1.  Purpose.  In resettling refugees into American communities, it is the policy of the United States to cooperate and consult with State and local governments, to take into account the preferences of State governments, and to provide a pathway for refugees to become self-sufficient.  These policies support each other.  Close cooperation with State and local governments ensures that refugees are resettled in communities that are eager and equipped to support their successful integration into American society and the labor force.

     The Federal Government consults with State and local governments not only to identify the best environments for refugees, but also to be respectful of those communities that may not be able to accommodate refugee resettlement.  State and local governments are best positioned to know the resources and capacities they may or may not have available to devote to sustainable resettlement, which maximizes the likelihood refugees placed in the area will become self-sufficient and free from long-term dependence on public assistance.  Some States and localities, however, have viewed existing consultation as insufficient, and there is a need for closer coordination and a more clearly defined role for State and local governments in the refugee resettlement process.  My Administration seeks to enhance these consultations.

     Section 6(d) of Executive Order 13780 of March 6, 2017 (Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States), directed the Secretary of State to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions could have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and to devise a proposal to promote such involvement.

     I have consulted with the Secretary of State and determined that, with limited exceptions, the Federal Government, as an exercise of its broad discretion concerning refugee placement accorded to it by the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act, should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State's Reception and Placement Program (Program).

     Sec. 2.  Consent of States and Localities to the Placement of Refugees.  (a)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall develop and implement a process to determine whether the State and locality both consent, in writing, to the resettlement of refugees within the State and locality, before refugees are resettled within that State and locality under the Program.  The Secretary of State shall publicly release any written consents of States and localities to resettlement of refugees.

     (b)  Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall develop and implement a process by which, consistent with 8 U.S.C. 1522(a)(2)(D), the State and the locality's consent to the resettlement of refugees under the Program is taken into account to the maximum extent consistent with law.  In particular, that process shall provide that, if either a State or locality has not provided consent to receive refugees under the Program, then refugees should not be resettled within that State or locality unless the Secretary of State concludes, following consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Homeland Security, that failing to resettle refugees within that State or locality would be inconsistent with the policies and strategies established under 8 U.S.C. 1522(a)(2)(B) and (C) or other applicable law.  If the Secretary of State intends to provide for the resettlement of refugees in a State or locality that has not provided consent, then the Secretary shall notify the President of such decision, along with the reasons for the decision, before proceeding.

     (c)  Subsection (b) of this section shall not apply to the resettlement of a refugee's spouse or child following to join that refugee pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1157(c)(2)(A).

     Sec. 3.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

               (i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

               (ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

     (b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

     (c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


                              DONALD J. TRUMP


    September 26, 2019.

Bill Announcement

Office of the Press Secretary

On Thursday, September 26, 2019, the President signed into law:

H.R. 1200, the "Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living
Adjustment Act of 2019," which provides for a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for the beneficiaries of veterans' disability compensation and dependency and indemnity compensation equal to the Social Security COLA.

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP UPON AIR FORCE ONE ARRIVAL Joint Base Andrews Prince George’s County, Maryland

Office of the Press Secretary


Joint Base Andrews
Prince George’s County, Maryland


1:00 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  I just watched a little bit of this on television.  It’s a disgrace to our country.  It's another witch hunt.  Here we go again.  It's Adam Schiff and his crew making up stories and sitting there like pious whatever you want to call them.  It's just a -- really, it’s a disgrace.

     It's a terrible thing for our country.  They can't do any work.  They're frozen -- the Democrats.  They're going to lose the election; they know it.  That’s why they're doing it.  And it should never be allowed, what's happened to this President.

And despite that, I think I've done just about more than any President in his first two and a half years in office.  If you look, I think you'll see very few could compete with the things we've done for our military, for the economy.  We have the best economy anywhere in the world, by far.  We've rebuilt our military.  We've done so many things that are so incredible with tax cuts and regulations.  And I have to put up with Adam Schiff on a per- -- on an absolutely perfect phone call to the new President of Ukraine.  That was a perfect call.

But Adam Schiff doesn’t talk about Joe Biden and his son walking away with millions of dollars from Ukraine, and then millions of dollars from China.  Walking away -- in a quick meeting, walking away with millions of dollars.  He doesn’t talk about Joe Biden firing a prosecutor, and if that prosecutor is not fired, he's not going to give him money from the United States of America.  They don’t talk about that.

My call was perfect.  The President, yesterday, of Ukraine said there was no pressure put on him whatsoever.  None whatsoever.  And he said it loud and clear for the press.  What these guys are doing -- Democrats -- are doing to this country is a disgrace and it shouldn’t be allowed.  There should be a way of stopping it -- maybe legally, through the courts.  But they're going to tie up our country.  We can't talk about gun regulation.  We can't talk about anything because, frankly, they're so tied up.  They're so screwed up, nothing gets done --except for when I do it.

I'm using Mexico to protect our border because the Democrats won't change loopholes and asylum.  When you think of that -- and I want to -- I'll tell you, I want to thank Mexico.  Twenty-seven thousand soldiers they have.  But think of how bad that is -- think of it -- where we use Mexico because the Democrats won't fix our broken immigration system.  We need their votes.  If we don’t get their votes, we can't do it.

And the Republicans are all onboard.  They want to fix it, but the Democrats won't do it.  They don’t want to talk about infrastructure.  They don’t want to talk about lowering drug prices.  They don’t want to talk about anything because they're fixated on this.  And Nancy Pelosi has been hijacked by the radical left, and everybody knows it.

Thank you. 

                         END                 1:03 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary


James S. Brady Press Briefing Room


11:01 A.M. EDT

     ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Good morning.  Thank you for joining us.  My name is Matt Albence.  I'm the Deputy Director of ICE and the senior official performing the duties of the director.

     Before I begin, I want to take a moment to recognize and thank the dedicated law enforcement professionals that are here on the stage with me.

I have Sheriff Jim Skinner from Collin County, Texas; Sheriff Wayne Ivey from Brevard County, Florida; Sheriff Harold Everson -- Eavenson, excuse me -- Rockwall County, Texas; Sheriff Matt Saxton from Calhoun County, Michigan; Sheriff Sarah Warner from Hettinger County, North Dakota; Sheriff Jesse James Casaus, Sandoval County, New Mexico; Sheriff Sam Page Rockingham County, North Carolina; Sheriff Dale Schmidt, Dodge County, Wisconsin.

We have Mike Davis, who's the Deputy Principal Legal Advisor for ICE.  He's the highest-ranking career official within ICE, also legal advisor, which is one of the most critical enforcement arms within ICE.

And we have Chris Cronen, who is the Assistant Director for Enforcement within Enforcement and Removal Operations.

     We are here today to help the public understand the human cost of sanctuary laws and policies which ban and prevent local law enforcement agencies from working with ICE, to include even the simple sharing of information about criminals already in their custody.

Laws and policies like these make us all less safe.  Plain and simple.  This isn’t a political matter, it's a public safety matter.  And it's past time to put aside all the political rhetoric and listen to the facts.

And the fact is: People are being hurt and victimized every day because of jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with ICE.  As law enforcement professionals, it is frustrating to see senseless acts of violence and other criminal activity happen in our communities, knowing full well that ICE could've prevented them with just a little cooperation.

The type of cooperation we seek is simple.  ICE utilizes a decades-old process in which we all issue an official immigration form, known as a detainer, to advise our law enforcement partners that we have established probable cause to believe than an individual -- who, again, has already been arrested for an unrelated criminal violation and placed in that agency's custody -- is an alien whose removal from the United States under this nation's immigration laws.

The detainer asks our law enforcement partners for two simple things: advance notice of an alien's release from custody and a brief, continued detention of the alien in the partner's custody until ICE can be present to take this individual into federal immigration custody in a safe and secure environment.

The fact is that 70 percent of the arrests ICE makes are at local jails and state prisons across the country.  But we used to make more.  And we used to get more criminals off the street before sanctuary laws and policies prevented us from doing so, leaving us with no choice but to expend significant digital resources to locate and arrest criminal aliens and other immigration violators out in the community, including at their homes and places of employment -- a more dangerous undertaking for our officers and a more disruptive action within our communities.  And simply put, a less effective method.

There will be criminals we don’t find.  And sometimes, when we do find them, it's only after they've been arrested for another subsequent criminal violation.  Our at-large criminal alien and fugitive operations teams are working in your community every day.  We'd much rather take custody of criminal aliens in the safety of a jail environment instead of sending our officers out to perform the dangerous and difficult task of finding them all over again because a local law enforcement agency has refused to allow us to exercise our lawful federal authority to make an immigration arrest. 

     There's a lot of misinformation out there with regard to how we do our operations and what is required.  So I'm going to give a little bit of information and context to dispel some of those myths and misinformation that's out there.

One myth is that sanctuary jurisdictions, along with many politicians and members of the media continually perpetuate, is that ICE doesn’t prioritize its limited enforcement resources.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Ninety percent of the people that we arrest in the interior of the United States are convicted criminals; individuals who have been charged with a criminal violation; are immigration fugitives; or are illegal reentrants -- meaning they’ve been through the immigration court process previously, been deported, and reentered illegally, which is a federal felony and one in which we received 7,000 convictions for last year.
And immigration fugitives, to be clear as well, are those individuals who have had their day in court, have exhausted all forms of due process, have an order to be removed by an immigration judge, and who have failed to comply with that removal order.

Last year, we made more than 105,000 criminal arrests and removed more than 145,000 criminal aliens to include the arrests of nearly 10,000 gang members and the removal of another 6,000.

Many sanctuary jurisdictions will also incorrectly assert that they cannot hand over custody of criminal aliens in their jails unless ICE provides an arrest warrant signed by a federal judge.  Those that say that are either willfully ignorant or patently disingenuous.

The truth is that federal law does not provide any mechanism for judicial warrants to be issued for civil immigration violations.  There is not a single judge, magistrate anywhere in this country that has a lawful authority to issue a warrant for a civil immigration violation.  By statute, Congress has given this authority solely to supervisory immigration officers.  This is one of the ways in which our system -- the immigration enforcement system -- differs from the criminal justice system.  And it's perfectly lawful.

If law enforcement entities that have criminal aliens in custody want to release their aliens back to the street, as opposed to cooperating with ICE, they should not justify their actions through a flagrant misstatement of federal law.

The truth is that every community is safer when law enforcement works together.  Some of the sheriffs standing beside me worked with ICE for the 287(g) program, the authority for which, again, comes directly from Congress.  This program has proven to be an incredibly successful mechanism for state and local enforcement agencies to work with ICE, and is responsible for the removal of hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens and public safety threats from our communities.

However, there are numerous other ways that law enforcement agencies can work with ICE.  And the bottom line is that we are here to collaborate with every law enforcement agency we can in the interest of public safety and national security.

To further illustrate, just this week, the dedicated women and men of ICE conducted a targeted, intelligence-based, at-large criminal alien operation.  Many of the subjects we were pursuing had been released from uncooperative sanctuary jurisdictions.  Of the nearly 1,300 arrests made this week, our officers arrested nearly 200 who could’ve been arrested at the jail if the detainer had been honored.

Of the criminal aliens we took into custody this week, three had convictions for manslaughter or murder.  One hundred had convictions for sexual assault or crimes, with the victims of nearly half of them being children.  Seventy had convictions for crimes involving drugs.  And more than 320 had convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

For example, in Boulder County, Colorado, our officers found and arrested a 56-year-old illegal alien who had previously been released from the local jail after his arrest for felony sexual assault on a child.  We had lodged a detainer with the Boulder County jail, but it was ignored.  And he's again out on the streets, until yesterday.

Regrettably, despite our best efforts, we are not always so fortunate.  Like in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, earlier this year, an illegal alien was arrested for a DUI.  ICE lodged a detainer, but it too was ignored.  Then, in June, that same alien was arrested again.  But this time, it was for two counts of assaults on a female -- assault by strangulation, assault with a deadly weapon, and another DUI.  We lodged a detainer again, but it went unanswered.  And Mecklenburg County released him from custody.  Hopefully, we will find him before he hurts or kills another innocent victim.

     So far, in 2019 -- FY2019 -- ICE has lodged more than 160,000 detainers nationwide.  For those that are honored, we are notified in advance of an alien's release.  The system works, and we are able to place that criminal alien in removal proceedings, or execute an existing, lawful removal order.

     On the other hand, if a jurisdiction chooses to become a sanctuary for lawlessness, or chooses to put politics over public safety, we simply won't know that a removal -- often-dangerous, recidivist criminal alien is no longer in law enforcement custody.

     What I can tell you, in my almost 25 years of experience, is that we have seen numerous tragic incidents of aliens, being released from custody after having been arrested for a state or local offense, go on to commit other often more egregious crimes.

     For those who support victims' rights -- and who among us doesn’t? -- how we do tell a grieving victim that the person who hurt you or your loved one that the crime was preventable if local law enforcement had merely honored a detainer, or even given us a phone call?

     Who are these sanctuary cities really protecting?  The answer, sadly -- and often tragically -- are criminal aliens.  Sanctuary jurisdiction proponents have a well-scripted talking point that they like to recite when confronted with the real-world implications of their ill-advised rules and policies.

They proclaim that community trust and local police will be disrupted or degraded if these local agencies work with ICE.  But what these pro-sanctuary advocates do not acknowledge is that when these released criminal aliens commit further crimes, their first target is often the very immigrant communities that sanctuary advocates claim to be protecting.

And what does it say to the victims that do report crimes, when the law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to the illegality of the person they just arrested and released into the street, knowing full well that ICE was willing and able to remove that threat from the community?

ICE actually has a rare ability within the law enforcement community to prevent crime.  We can arrest and remove criminal aliens before they can harm anyone else again, immigrant and citizen alike.

Now, I want to take the time to thank our law enforcement partners who understand that working with ICE isn't an immigration issue, it's a public safety issue.  It's time to publicly call out those who have put politics over public safety; those who make our communities less secure; who create safe havens in which criminal aliens and gangs are allowed to flourish and can victimize innocent people with impunity.

Today, ICE senior leadership is holding press conferences in sanctuary jurisdictions throughout the country to highlight the dangerousness of these laws and policies.

California, with a recidivism rate among some illegal alien cohorts is 46 percent.  King County, Washington; Chicago; New York City; New Jersey; Mecklenburg County, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado.

You may be the first we're calling out, but you won't be the last.  This needs to stop.  Work with us.  Find a way that we can jointly prevent murderers, pedophiles, rapists, drug dealers, and domestic abusers from being released back into our communities.  It's plain and simple.

To the public who want to live and raise your families in safe neighborhoods, we ask you to hold your lawmakers accountable before you or someone you love is unnecessarily victimized by a criminal that ICE could have removed from your community.

I'll answer questions in a minute, but, first, I'd like you to hear from a couple of our partners.

First off is Sheriff Jim Skinner from Collin County, Texas.

SHERIFF SKINNER:  Good morning.  My name is Jim Skinner,  I'm the sheriff of Collin County, Texas.  That's in the northeast quadrant of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

I am the legislative director for the Sheriffs Association of Texas.  And I also serve on the legislative committee for the National Sheriffs' Association.  So, "howdy" from all the sheriffs in Texas.

I want to first start by thanking President Donald Trump for his leadership seeking rational and meaningful immigration reform.  I also want to thank Matt Albence for his dedication on matters of border security and for his ongoing efforts to remove criminal aliens from the United States.

Lastly, I want to thank the -- my fellow sheriffs from across the United States and other law enforcement officials for all that you do to fight crime and protect our citizens.  You put your lives on the line every day, and we're grateful for you.

All one has to do is look at the nightmare occurring on our southern border to understand that all Americans are safer when federal, state, and local law enforcement officials cooperate with ICE in their efforts to remove criminal aliens from our country.  Not all aliens are DREAMers whose parents brought them to the United States in childhood.  As a matter fact, a substantial number are criminal aliens -- persons who have violated other United States law.  And make no mistake, they are a threat to public safety.

Like thousands of other sheriffs in this country, I oversee a county jail.  When I checked the files of inmates under federal immigration detainer request, I find that they're most often charged with crimes other than being in the United States in violation of immigration laws.  To be clear they're in my jail because my deputies and other local law enforcement officials have arrested them based on probable cause for violations of state and federal law.

In these circumstances, to help keep our communities safe, it takes effective communications, in close cooperation with ICE, to close the loop.  We know that, too often, in the wake of these criminal aliens, are left nothing but a trail of victims.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with Angel families up on the west side of the Capitol.  These are folks that have lost their loved ones at the hands of criminal aliens here in the United States illegally.  As I looked into their faces, I saw the pain and the anguish that these people are experiencing because of the death of their loved ones.  They have pictures of their daughters and their wives and their husbands and their grandparents.  And most importantly, their children, who have perished at the hands of criminal aliens.

It makes me ask myself when I see this, you know, what is that oath that you took?  I'm a part of the Thin Blue Line along with every other sheriff and every other law enforcement official in this country -- federal, state and local.  I raised my right hand.  I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the laws of this country.  But I expect that, as law enforcement officials, we all understand that and that we all are going to work hard towards that end.

So in spite of the fact that a peace officer may work in a jurisdiction where politicians or lawmakers are willingly ignorant or willfully blind to the rule of law and our God-given rights enshrined in our Constitution, we, the law enforcement officers, are the ones who must ensure that the rule of law is respected and adhered.

My word to them is: Push back.  Be brave.  Remember your oath.  Remember that your first responsibility are those citizens that you serve.  In these times, it's that collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement that best enables us to protect the communities and the citizens that we love.

There's two ways to cooperate with ICE.  The main two ways, of course, are compliance with the federal immigration detainer request that Matt was speaking about a few minutes ago, and then, of course, participation in the Section 287(g) program. Both of these are vital, and both of these are vital for any community that's interested in keeping their citizens safe.

To honor our oaths, we have to be willing to work with all levels of law enforcement in order to protect our citizens.  We're thankful for ICE, and we're thankful for the invaluable service that they provide to the citizens across this nation.

Like so many other state and local law enforcement officials across the country, I, in Collin County, Texas -- I'm better prepared to serve my citizens and my communities because of my relationship with ICE.  We are grateful for the men and women of ICE.  Thank you.

SHERIFF IVEY:  Good morning, everyone.  I'm Sheriff Wayne Ivey of Brevard County, Florida.  I don't have a "howdy" or anything like my partner from Texas, but good morning.  (Laughter.)

SHERIFF SKINNER:  We'll send you a hat.

SHERIFF IVEY:  Like all the law enforcement officers standing here with me today, and the many around the country, we're honored to stand with our Director of ICE and our teammates from ICE as we all work together to combat the illegal immigration crisis that is currently impacting our country.

In order for us to properly address and combat this growing problem, it is imperative that local and federal law enforcement officers work together just as they would to battle any other crime that puts our citizens and our country at risk.

Unfortunately, though, some in our country think that local law enforcement should not work with ICE on this critical issue, and as such, have created the concept of sanctuary cities to block enforcement efforts.

To be clear, the concept of sanctuary cities is perhaps the most ridiculous and outrageous idea I've ever encountered in my almost 40 years of law enforcement.  To think that there are those in power who took the same oath of office that we did to uphold the Constitution, who would be willing to oppose the rule of law, is completely insane and unacceptable.

That is why I'm extremely proud of the state of Florida.  As under the direction of our great Governor, Ron DeSantis, we recently banned sanctuary cities, creating a partnership environment for local law enforcement officers to work hand-in-hand with our partners at ICE and CBP.  That same law also mandates that rather than releasing illegal aliens back into our communities, county jails must enter into agreements with ICE to temporarily house persons subject to immigration detainers.

Governor DeSantis further directed the Florida Department of Corrections to join in a federal immigration enforcement program known as the 287(g) that enables permitted law enforcement officers to perform immigration law enforcement functions after they have received the appropriate training.

In addition, our governor recommended that Florida sheriffs across the board participate in the 287(g) program as well as the Warrant Service Officer program, both of which are working perfectly to enhance partnerships between local and federal agencies while making a difference in keeping our communities safe.  I'm proud of the state of Florida for taking the lead on this initiative.

I can't begin to tell you how important it is for local law enforcement to be un-handcuffed so that we can work with ICE and CBP to enforce the law to combat illegal immigration and to protect our citizens.

I challenge you to find any other crime where elected officials would want federal and local authorities to not work together, where they do everything in their power to stop them from working together on a homicide, on a missing child case, on drug cases, or even human trafficking cases.  The answer is unequivocally, "no."

They would want them to work together to do everything possible to solve those cases and bring that criminal to justice.  Yet, by creating a sanctuary for illegal aliens to hide, they're actually protecting criminals who commit homicides, narcotic violations, commit sexual assaults, and prey upon our citizens.

As I said earlier, for some elected leaders in our country to ignore the rule of law and create a sanctuary that protects those who entered our country illegally is not only outrageous but, in my opinion, is criminal and an immediate violation of the very oath they took to support, protect, and defend our Constitution.

It's time to hold those accountable that create sanctuaries for criminals, and it's time for Congress to stand with our federal law enforcement partners instead of standing in the way of justice, and most importantly, in the way of protecting our citizens.

In closing, I have a very simple message for those who want to create a sanctuary that harbors criminals and those members of Congress who have become obstructionists in the protection of our citizens: You need to stop standing with criminals and start standing with the heroic men and women who are putting their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens.  Either become part of the solution or get out of our way, because I can assure you that nothing is going to stop local law enforcement from working with our federal partners in the protection of our great nation.  And I mean absolutely nothing is going to stop us.

Thank you, sir.


Q    Thank you.  You mentioned your frustration with passionately obstructionist local governments and, in some cases, even statehouses.  What is your message to the people who live in those communities?  Not government officials and not those who have a political agenda that might be opposed to ICE in particular.  What's your message to the people who live in those places about why it's important you all do what you do and the help that you need?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, my message to them would be: They should be challenging those lawmakers and policymakers within those communities as to why they aren’t cooperating with us.  Why are they choosing to put politics above public safety?  Why do they want these criminals being released back to the street as opposed to being removed from the country, if we have a removal order for them?

It's kind of incredulous for me to think about that these jurisdictions will want their law enforcement agency to expend the resources to arrest these individuals for a criminal violation that they're sworn to uphold, but yet they will prevent another law enforcement agency from exercising that same responsibility.  It doesn't make sense.

And I can't believe we're at this point in my 25-year career that I have to go ask another law enforcement agency to help me.  When I started in 1994, we had something to do.  We had a warrant to serve or we had someone go out and arrest.  You had to beat away partners with a stick because there were so many people willing to help.  And, frankly, most of them will.  I could have had 50 sheriffs up here on the stage if I had the room for it.

So, it's really few jurisdictions.  It's unfortunate that they're having to be in areas where there are very large populations of criminal aliens.

So that's what I would tell them.

Q    And your position as far as what the President has said to you with respect to his desire to --

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I haven’t discussed this with the President.

Q    Have not?  Okay.


Q    Yes.  I was wondering if you could give more detail on plans to expand family detention, if there will be additional facilities built, or if you will convert other ICE facilities.  And what is the goal of detention capacity for families?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Okay, so I'm happy to answer that question.  I'd really like to (inaudible) the topics, but family detention, we can only expand to the level that Congress appropriates.  So we can only expend funds that Congress has appropriated for family detention.  Right now, that gets us about 3,300 family beds.

So, in the absence of additional appropriations, we're not looking to expand; we will look to utilize those beds as efficiently as we possibly can.


Q    On this detainer issue, to what extent do you find yourself arresting undocumented immigrants in courthouses?  There have been some lawsuits that have been publicized recently.  And are there standards with your agency as to when to arrest and when not?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  That's a great question.  Thank you.

So, the fact that we have to arrest people in courthouses is largely necessitated by the fact that law enforcement agencies will not honor our detainers.  Four or five years ago, before this whole sanctuary city issue exploded, we didn’t really have to go into court rooms because we'd be able to get the individual while they're sitting in the custody of another law enforcement agency.

With regard to our policy, we worked very closely with the State Association of Chief Justices and State Court Administrators several years ago.  Myself, when I was the Assistant Director for Enforcement, worked hand-in-hand with the leadership of those two agencies to develop a policy.

The policy that exists today with regard to how we conduct enforcement operations in courthouses came out of that process.  Their feedback, their input was integrated into that policy.

    Q    Is it a disruption?  Is it a disruption to the judicial process?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  It's a disruption to the safety of the American citizens who are being victimized by these individuals.  You go to any courthouse in this land and these sheriffs will tell you they will have law enforcement officers from every agency nearby arresting somebody in their courtroom every day.

Criminals are mobile; most of them are recidivist.  So I guarantee you, I can go into Fairfax County today and there will probably be sheriffs from Loudoun County, sheriffs from Prince William County, maybe a couple of marshals guys that are there waiting for somebody.  It's a common occurrence in law enforcement.  The only reason it's being made controversial is because politicians are looking to exploit it.


Q    The sanctuary jurisdictions often have large immigrant populations.  And you called this a talking point, but local law enforcement will often say that if they're simply seen as an arm of ICE, they won't get cooperation from those communities to solve other crimes.  Why do you not find that to be a valid argument?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, I haven’t seen any statistics that prove that.  What I can tell you is that the number of immigration alien queries, which those are, is when an individual gets arrested by a state or local law enforcement agency -- for whatever criminal violation they were arrested for -- we get the fingerprints through the FBI, and it bounces off of our databases.  Those numbers have gone up every year, which means that more and more crimes involving aliens are being reported.

So the numbers don’t bear out that argument.  I would think the more chilling effect, as I mentioned, is that those victims that do come forward asking the local police to take this illegal alien out of their house or out of the community, that the police arrest him and he bonds out and goes right back to the same community to victimize that he was in the first place.  What does that do to the victims?

They're not going to be willing to report those crimes.  And I would say I've also heard, you know, with regard to crimes of violence and reduction in crimes of violence, in the past three years, we have arrested more than 157,000 people that were involved in crimes of violence to include domestic and family violence.


Q    (Inaudible) in the administration is making it harder for people to apply for asylum.  Does you agency anticipate more people crossing illegally?  And what are you doing about it?  And I'd like to hear from the local authorities as well.

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Okay.  I'm going to answer -- be the only one answering questions right now.  ICE does not deal with direct border enforcement.  That’s Customs and Border Protection, so I would defer the question to them.

What we have seen, though, with regard to some of the very important measures that we have put forward and the administration has put forward over the past couple of months, with regard to asylum cooperative agreements, federal regulation with regard to say a third country with the migrant protection protocols -- what we have seen, which is consistent with my experience as we have seen time and time again, that when individuals cannot come into this country illegally and be released from detention, the numbers of those individuals that try to come to this country decrease.


Q    Thank you, sir.  You mentioned a number of sanctuary cities by name -- Chicago; Mecklenburg, for instance -- that you say are not cooperating with law enforcement.  Is it your belief that those cities -- the mayors of those cities -- are not interested in protecting their own citizens?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I'm not going to cast my thoughts onto the thought of a mayor.  I would say it's antithetical to public safety and for those of us in law enforcement.  It's hard to imagine that there would be any sort of framework within a jurisdiction that would prevent local law enforcement from sharing information.  I mean, why would you kick us out of gang databases?  Who is against us arresting illegal, criminal alien gang members?  Why would you shut your gang database to us?  Again, I think it's people putting politics over public safety.

Q    Have you asked that question that you just posed to leaders of those cities?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I haven’t spoken with them.

Q    Wouldn’t that make sense to ask that question to those leaders?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I can tell you -- and I was up here in D.C. working in this space during the prior administration, Secretary Johnson must've made at least a half a dozen trips to Chicago to try to convince them to cooperate with us under the Priority Enforcement Program to no avail.


Q    Yes.  You said you arrested 1,300 people this week.


Q    How is that different from any other typical week that you do targeted enforcement actions?  And so what's the timing of this particular campaign nationwide to lash out against sanctuary cities?  What is the timing of that, since it's not a new problem?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  It's a not a new problem, but it's one that's not getting enough attention.  I wish it was a new problem and we were at the front end of it, and we get in front of it.  Unfortunately, it's a problem that's been mushrooming year after year after year, and more and more of these jurisdictions are choosing not to cooperate with us.

There was no particular reason for the timing of this operation.  We conduct daily operations every day throughout the country.  This was a concerted surge operation in which we had a large number of individuals, many of whom came from these sanctuary jurisdictions that we went out and tried to effectuate the arrest.  Just like state and locals will do warrant searches occasionally, as well, when the backlog rose.


Q    I want to ask about the asylum deal reached with Honduras.  Many asylum seekers are fleeing violence and corruption.  Why should they be sent to Honduras, a place with violence, corruption, and one of the highest murder rates in the world?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  You know, again, I'm here to talk about what we're talking about.  That asylum deal was dealt with by Secretary McAleenan and those higher at the department.  I'm not involved in that.

Q    Doesn’t (inaudible) for Honduras defeat the purpose of (inaudible) give them safe haven?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Next question.  Ma'am.

Q    Thank you.  Sir, I wanted to ask you about the timing of this briefing.  There are some people that are going to say that, obviously, the Acting DNI is testifying on Congress.  Can you speak to the timing of this and why this is happening right now?  Why not wait until after the this (inaudible) big news day in D.C.?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, we started planning this several weeks ago.

Q    Why not reschedule it?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, I'm going to answer your question.

Q    Yes.  Thank you.

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  So we started planning this several weeks ago.  We wanted to do it concurrent with the end of the operation.  As you can imagine, a large-scale criminal alien operation where we're targeting several thousand criminal aliens takes time to plan.  We're not in a position to try to change our operational footprint.  We've done surveillance.  We’ve done investigations.  We've got information where we think these targets are located.  We need to act upon that.  So, doing the press conference contemporaneously with the operation only makes sense.

Q    Is it urgent to do it now, would you say?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I think it's urgent every single day to get people that continue to victimize communities, out of those communities.

     Yes, sir.

     Q    Yes, thank you, sir.  Do you find that having -- the administration having eliminated DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, actually helped ICE in terms of actually making people who were legally working in this country -- even though they were undocumented?  They were actually at least documented within the system.  Now they’re illegal.  Does that help ICE?

     ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, as I understand it -- and, again, it’s not something that generally we get involved in -- but those individuals’ status still remains.  So the court does an injunction.  So those individuals with DACA still have DACA.

     So the individuals that have DACA that we come in contact with, just as most of the individuals that we come in contact with, is a result of their interaction with the criminal justice system -- meaning they’ve been arrested for another crime by some state or local law enforcement agency.  We received information, generally via the biometrics that are taken upon that arrest, that notifies us this individual was arrested for that crime.


     Q    Sir, thank you.  In Montgomery Country, Maryland, nine illegal aliens were arrested in just over a month with sex-related charges.  Some of them were released back into the community because of the sanctuary policies there.  Is national ICE leadership following that case?

     And in a situation like that, what can you do on your end, in lieu of a local policy change, in order to increase cooperation with your agency?

     ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, we work closely with both the law enforcement partners, as well as elected officials within these cities.  We try to find ways to work with them.  I can speak specifically to that: We’ve had meetings with the commissioner of the county, and trying to find ways in which he will cooperate with us so they don’t turn these dangerous criminals back out into the street.

But I don’t think anything encapsulates the issue any more so than what’s happened in Montgomery County in the last month.  If I worked in Montgomery County, I would be ashamed of the fact that I was turning criminal aliens back out into the street, seeing the criminal histories and the victimization that these individuals are causing.

Q    And the County Executive, Mark Elrich, claimed that he was cooperating more with ICE since the national attention has been brought on that case.  Have you found that to be the case?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  It’s been really recently since our field officer director met with him, so I really don’t have the information on that.


Q    Thank you.  I wanted to ask you about the effect of the “Abolish ICE” protests.  I covered one at the headquarters in D.C.  I know there was another recent one where ICE workers were trying to get into the building but were blocked by protestors.  I know these have happened all over the country.  I was wondering if you could talk about the effect that has on morale of employees, and whether that has any effect on how you enforce the law.

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Well, I couldn’t be more proud to stand here and represent the dedicated professionals at ICE.  I have met no batch of government employees and civil servants in my career that are more dedicated, more committed, and more professional than the men and women of ICE -- despite the challenges that are placed in front of us, despite political rhetoric that, as we have seen, is putting our officers and agents at risk.

In the past several months, we've seen individuals shoot into one of our buildings where we have officers working at a command center dealing with criminal aliens.  We have seen individuals try to blow up a detention facility.  We have been called -- told that we’ve run concentration camps, knowing full well that we don't run concentration camps.

Anybody can go to our website or go to the media over the past several months and look at the -- our detention facilities. We have opened up our detention facilities to the media completely. We‘ve had tours at the Northwest detention center in Tacoma, which is one an individual tried to blow up.  We've had more than 30, 40 media down to our family residential center in Dilley.

And let me say something about that.  Everybody in this room has seen -- for the past year, year and a half -- pictures of the challenges that CBP was facing with the overwhelming numbers of family units that were coming to the border during the height of the surge in early spring.  Every media outlet showed those pictures.  I had 40 cameras from every media outlet, locally and nationally, that were invited to come to our family residential center and show them what the real conditions are for individuals that are actually being detained within ICE.

Not one national network showed one clip of that.  But feel free to go to local affiliates that all these media outlets in here had that were at that, and look at that video, and then come back and tell me that we run concentration camps.


Q    Sir, there was a case where the city of Oakland was tipping people off about ICE raids.  Are there certain sanctuary districts and municipalities that are particularly dangerous?  Like, have you been tracking the attacks on your officers?  Is there any way that that's a trend you've identified?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I mean, we certainly are following them closely, and obviously we have intelligence that we that we follow up on.  I think what we’ve seen is that, in a lot of these places that are sanctuary cities, that’s where that -- where the rhetoric is spewed continually, that where those threats and those challenges come across.

I don’t think --

Q    Are there particular sanctuary districts that are more dangerous?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I don’t think in Sheriff Skinner’s jurisdiction he’s going to have people marching on his jail.


Q    Sorry, I just wanted to follow up really quickly on the family detention.  In order to enforce -- to end catch and release and to enforce the new rules that replace the Flores settlement, how can you do that without further facilities to detain families?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  So, family detention is just one -- as we’ve gone through with publishing the regulation on the Flores settlement agreement that was required by the court in order to end that settlement agreement -- that’s just one tool.

We have the migrant protection protocols, which are requiring family units to remain in Mexico while they wait for their hearing.  We have regulations which will prevent family units from being able to apply for asylum here in this country if they pass through a safe third country.

So there’s various things we’re working on, such to the point that we may not need to use all those beds -- at least for those that are initially arrested.  What we have been using them for is for those families that have gone through the immigration court process -- most of whom don’t even show up for their first hearing, and have been ordered removed by an immigration judge -- we use them to detain and stage prior to their removal from the country.

Ma’am, you have one, I think.

Q    Was the Obama administration doing something differently?  Or were they more successful at forging local law enforcement partnerships?  Because their removal numbers are far lower than what they are now.

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  So, it’s kind of apples and oranges.  The removal numbers that you’re talking about that were higher in the Obama administration was -- were the result of the fact that most of the people coming across the border were individuals that were Mexican nationals that could be returned almost immediately, if not shortly thereafter.  That was the largest population that was coming across the border, which is why you have those numbers.

If you look at what we've done over the past three years: Our numbers of criminal aliens being removed from this country have continually increased.  And I will note, though, that one of the things when we’ve talked about with the crisis at the border of it being a humanitarian crisis, a border security crisis -- it’s also a public safety crisis.

We’ve had to actually redeploy a lot of our interior enforcement resources that would be taking criminal aliens off the street to deal with the onslaught of the surge that was occurring.  As a result of that, we have fewer people out there performing criminal alien work, which is why this cooperation is so essential.

But as a result of what's on the border, there's going to be a double digit drop in criminal alien arrests this year directly related to the fact of what's going on at the border and the fact that we had to put more people in detention than we had room for.

Sir, last question.

Q    Then why did that demograph- -- why did that demographic change?  Why was it Mexicans then, and now, you know, more violent criminals?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  The UAC and family unit surge started in 2014.  We established family detention in 2015, at which point the numbers of those individuals precipitously dropped because we were able to detain them for a short period of time during the pendency of their immigration process.

When the courts in California -- the Ninth Circuit -- made a decision that the protections given to UAC, under the Flores settlement agreement, should also be applied to children that were with their parents -- not UACs -- and we could no longer utilize family detention, as soon as that happened, the numbers spiked.

Sir, last question,

Q    I’m sorry if you said this.  Forgive me if I missed it.  But did you say how many sanctuary jurisdictions you guys think there are in the country right now?

And then, secondly, what would you say to a mayor of a city who might point to some of this litigation around the detainers and say that, hey, this is sort of a murky legal area for them, and that that’s their concern?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  I don’t have an -- I don’t have an exact number.  I’m happy to follow up with you.

With regard to the detainer, the detainer and the legality of it has been upheld by the Supreme Court.  But we’ve also created ways, working very closely with our partners in the National Sheriffs’ Association and some of the sheriffs here on stage to create new programs and utilize existing programs to help alleviate that issue.

So those officers that are 287(g) -- these departments that have 287(g) -- when those officer effectuate an arrest for an individual’s immigration violation, they are doing so as federal officers.  It’s just as if one of my officers is sitting in that jail making that same arrest.

So any liability -- and that’s what the sheriffs come down to: They don’t want to be liable, and they don’t want to be sued by ACLU and other groups that are attacking them for cooperating with us.

So we’ve created -- the 287(g) program has been in existence for many years.  We created the Warrant Service Officer program this year, which gives limited authority to state-level jurisdictions to effectuate immigration arrests at our direction.  Those two programs alleviate most of those problems.  But we’ve been working with Congress for years to help guide draft legislation that would codify the detainer, indemnify these jurisdictions that do cooperate with us, and, shockingly, Congress has failed to act on that as well.

So I appreciate it, everybody.  Thank you for the time.

Q    Can you guarantee criminal victims won’t be deported if they come forward?  Can you speak to the victims, sir?  Can you guarantee criminal victims won’t be prosecuted if they come forward?

Q    And, sir, do you have to redefine what ICE is in any of these communities where they don’t --

Q    Could you just speak to the victims, sir?

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Actually, I am going to speak to that because that’s another myth.  And --

Q    That’s one of the -- yes, that’s one of the biggest -- one of the biggest concerns, one of the biggest criticisms is --

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Again, we don’t know who victims are.  The reason we’re there in those courtrooms is because we know who the criminal is.  The criminal has his fingerprints run, they bounce off our databases, we know who he is --

Q    (Inaudible

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  Let me finish.  You asked a question, I’m going to finish it.

Q    Yes, sir.

ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  We know who he is, and we’re there to make an arrest on that individual.  We don’t know who the victim is.  We don’t randomly go in and ask individuals that we don’t have probable cause to detain for their status.

To this gentleman’s prior question, we have a policy which guides that and dictates that.  And, frankly, we have a robust victim witness program within ICE to assist victims that are on (inaudible).

     So, thank you.

     Q    Well, that’s one of the criticisms is that you don’t -- that you prosecute victims.

     ACTING DIRECTOR ALBENCE:  It’s not a fair criticism.  It’s not true.

                             END                11:45 A.M. EDT