Robert Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration and defense support of civil authorities, testifies on the deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexican border at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Washington, June 20, 2019.
Good morning. I’d like to start by welcoming our witnesses who are here today to provide information on the support that the Department of Defense is lending to the Department of Homeland Security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Though DOD’s presence on the border is not new, their support of DHS operations has indeed evolved over the past year. And right now, it would appear that this administration is testing the limits of that relationship. Since the first large group of migrants began traveling north from Central America in April of last year, fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution within their home countries, the President and DHS have relied heavily upon the DOD to support their border security operations. It is important to note here that the April 2018 caravan, the President’s principle reason for first deploying the National Guard, shrunk down from an estimated 1,500 migrants to approximately 300. Nevertheless, the President issued a memorandum at that time directing the Secretary of Defense to deploy as many as 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border. And today, approximately 2,300 National Guard troops remain deployed in Texas and Arizona to support more than 16,000 Border Patrol agents who are also currently assigned to border region. In early October 2018, there were more reports of another caravan originating in Central America. Despite advanced warning and ample time to plan and scale their response, CBP seemingly did not prepare for the surge in arrivals, nor did the department ask Congress to increase its capacity so that it could more effectively process migrant families. In fact, no such request was made of Congress until earlier this year. Instead, the President preferred a show of force and requested the deployment of 5,200 active duty military personnel to the southern border a week before the 2018 midterm elections. Most of these personnel were tasked with hardening ports of entry, providing aerial surveillance between ports of entry, as well as providing medical care, transportation, and other services to support Border Patrol. By December 2018, there wasn’t much more for these troops to do, and their days were largely devoid of any meaningful duties. Recently, Congress was notified of similar deployment of DOD personnel to paint one mile of border barrier in California. Personally, it’s difficult to believe that the administration is doing everything in its power to resolve the humanitarian crisis at our southern border when Congress receives notifications such as this one. In February, the President declared a national emergency after a 35-day government shutdown which was caused over a fundamental disagreement over the necessity of a border wall. After Congress denied this funding request, the President sought to divert billions of dollars in previously appropriated defense funds to build this wall. And now, it seems the administration is planning a multi-year deployment of active duty soldiers to the southern border. Taken together, these actions point to a steep escalation in the DOD’s role at our southern border. And these policy decisions will have consequences and long-term effects. Broad questions remain about whether the actions this administration has taken are an appropriate use of DOD and DHS resources. Continued reliance by DHS on the DOD for handling the southern border will likely have ramifications on both departments’ ability to carry out their respective missions. Both Departments are accountable to the American people through Congress, and I ask that both DHS and DOD leadership commit to transparency by sharing any and all requested information with this committee and the other oversight committees moving forward. I thank our witnesses for joining us for this discussion today and I now recognize the ranking member of this subcommittee, the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Higgins.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I thank you gentleman and Madam for your service to our country. The situation at the southwest border is beyond a crisis. Even the liberal New York Times editorial board, the Wall Street Journal editorial board, the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, calling on House Democrats to act. Unfortunately our majority has denied the House multiple opportunities to fund a supplemental humanitarian assistance that’s been called for 17 times. 17 times House Democrats have rejected immediate humanitarian border aid. Increasing numbers of migrants are bringing children on the dangerous journey to our border more than ever before with the most significant inflection point being the weakened immigration laws caused by the Flores settlement extension to families. There are more than 17,000 migrants in Customs and Border Protection custody along our southwest border in facilities designed to hold 4,000. My colleagues are quick to point out that people have died. But the majority has repeatedly rejected our effort to provide immediate humanitarian support. Customs and Border Protection have been forced to release more than 77,000 people who have entered our country illegally on a notice to appear, a summons. This fuels the cartel propaganda that if you step foot on U.S. soil, you can stay. We’re seeing an increase in apprehensions of migrants originating outside the Western hemisphere including Africa underscoring that this crisis has a global security scope. More than 40% of law enforcement officers tasked with securing our border are tied up doing administrative and processing tasks. They’ve been pulled away from their primary security mission. Further, six Border Patrol interior checkpoints which catch a significant percent of hard narcotics brought into our country have been closed to redirect agents to process migrants. Hundreds of Department of Homeland Security employees are now at the border to assist with processing which diminishes the readiness of all the components that carry out their mission. Worsening this crisis, my colleagues across the aisle have zeroed out funding for additional Border Patrol agents, refusing to provide backup for the men and women on the frontlines. This hearing is well timed. Today we have the opportunity to hear more about the national security aspect of this crisis at the border. There have been documented media reports that terrorist groups are calling on followers to blend in with migrants to gain entry into the United States. We know from DHS intel sources that cartels are openly chartering buses to drop hundreds of people at a time in remote areas of the border and cartels run large drug loads through while agents are occupied by the migrant group. Criminal organizations are charging up to $7,000 per person to smuggle the human beings across the border. It’s incredible. More than 144,000 migrants were encountered by Customs and Border Protection in the May timeframe at the border. That’s more than a billion dollars last month alone potentially flowing to criminal cartels. I’m encouraged by the DOD presence at the border to bolster Customs and Border Protection efforts and help return agents to the line. Such a deployment is not a new concept. CBP and the National Guard have a longstanding working relationship on the counter-drug task forces as well as past operational deployments to the border under President Obama’s administration and President George W. Bush. National Guard personnel are assisting with logistical and administrative support, operating sensoring and imaging detection systems, providing mobile communications, augmenting border-related intelligence efforts, and many other functions. Separately in response to nearly 8,000 person caravan approaching the border in November 2018, President Trump sent troops from the Army Corps of Engineers, military police, command and control teams, and aviation, engineering, and medical, and pilots to fly helicopters to drop Border Patrol agents in areas where border breaches had occurred. The Army Corps has efficiently constructed enhanced physical barriers in some places along the border where it is needed. We need more. DOD personnel are also manning CBP sensors and surveillance equipment to alert the field agents of illicit activity. I’d like to thank the witnesses before us here today and I ask that they speak to the situation on the ground and the current threat environment, the resource constraints you’re operating under, and the long term strategy for the mission. Your service is to be noted. You’re deeply appreciated. Madam Chair, I yield back.
Thank you, Mr. Higgins. I now recognize the Chairman of the full committee, Mr. Thompson, for an opening statement.
Thank you, Chairwoman Rice and Ranking Member Higgins for holding today’s hearing. Using DOD resources for border security purposes is not new, but I support Congressional oversight of the evolving use of these resources by the Trump administration for what appears to be an immigration-based agenda. I don’t think it’s any secret that I disagree with many of the Trump administration’s policies affecting the border. Some of these policies directly contradict shared goals of addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis on the southern border. For example, last summer the administration moved to drastically limit or meter the number of asylum seekers processed through land ports of entry along the southern border at the same time DHS Secretary asserted that going through ports was the only legal pathway to claim asylum. Then-Secretary Nielsen and the Department called this effort queuing or queue management. I call metering a violation of U.S. asylum law, our laws do not place a limit on the number of people who can apply for asylum. A DHS Request for Assistance to the DOD from December 2018 confirms that DHS was seeking to deter people by stating that, “The successful deterrence at “the ports of entry has resulted “in attempted entry between the ports of entry.” This is stated as a reason why DHS would need DOD’s support on our southern border. This begs the following questions, why has the Trump administration actively aggravated the challenges on our southern border? Are military resources truly necessary to handle these challenges? I specifically would like to hear from our DHS witness on this matter. In early March of this year, then-Commissioner McAleenan stated that the Border Patrol is on track to apprehend more than a million people this year. This is not a new feat, as Border Patrol has accomplished this 19 times over the last 40 years with less agents, technology, and other tools than what Congress has provided over the past decade. However, the committee acknowledges that the demographics of people presenting at the border, namely families and unaccompanied children, present a unique and difficult set of challenges for the Border Patrol. We need to reach a mutually agreeable solution to these immediate challenges in short order to truly begin addressing the crisis. But despite seeing this growing trend over the past five years, the only solutions the Trump administration continues to implement are ones that prevent people from reaching the United States instead of solutions to manage the reality at hand. The most wasteful of all is the President’s continued obsession with building a big, beautiful border wall. The President has resorted to testing the bounds of his authority by diverting money from the Department of Defense in order to build his wall faster as he phrased it in February of this year. His efforts to claim a national emergency and use previously appropriated Defense funds to build the wall have encountered multiple lawsuits. These machinations continue at the same time DOD’s manpower and other resources are being deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. I am eager to hear from today’s witnesses about the work and coordinated efforts being undertaken by the National Guard and DOD with DHS at the border. I would also like to learn more about the costs, both literally and figuratively, of having an extended presence of military personnel in our border communities. What we discuss today will help the committee address the issues at the border in a productive manner. And I thank our witnesses for informing our efforts in this by joining us today. I yield back, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Other members of the committee are reminded that under the committee rules, opening statements may be submitted for the record. Without objection, members not sitting on the subcommittee will be permitted to participate in today’s hearing. I welcome our panel of witnesses. Our first witness, Chief Carla Provost, leads the U.S. Border Patrol. Chief Provost began her career with the U.S. Border Patrol in the Tucson sector. Since then she has served in a number of positions in the Yuma, El Paso sectors until becoming Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol in 2016. Prior to joining the U.S. Border Patrol, Chief Provost served as a police officer in Manhattan Kansas. Our second witness is Mr. Robert Salesses, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities. In this position he is responsible for the development of national homeland defense and security policy and oversees DOD’s response to national emergency operations in support of civilian entities. Mr. Salesses has a long history of service with the federal government including time spent as the Deputy Special Assistant for the Homeland Security Task Force. Mr. Salesses is also a retired Marine Corps officer. I now recognize the gentlelady from Arizona Ms. Lesko to recognize today’s minority witness.
Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. I am proud to welcome Major General Michael T. McGuire the Adjutant General for the great state of Arizona from where I’m from who concurrently served as the director of the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military affairs. He is responsible for managing the day to day activities of Arizona’s Army and Air National Guard joint programs and the Division of Emergency Management. He leads an 8,000 member department of which 2,400 are full time federal, military, and civilian personnel and 600 are full time state employees. General McGuire received his commission from the United States Air Force Academy in 1987. He attended undergraduate pilot training at Shepherd Air Force Base Texas followed by several operational combat and training assignments in the F-16 fighting falcon. He joined the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing Tucson International Airport in 2001 as an F-16 instructor pilot, in 2010 commanded the 214th Reconnaissance Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Arizona where he flew the MQ-1B Predator and led the unit in combat operations in support of overseas contingencies. Prior to assuming his current duties, he served as commander, 162nd Fighter Wing. General McGuire is a fighter weapons school graduate and a command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours and 250 combat and combat support flying hours. I’m proud to welcome our very own Arizonan who has served our country well and continues to serve our country and state. Thank you, sir, for being here.
Thank you, Ms. Lesko. Without objection, the witnesses full statements will be inserted in the record. I now ask each witness to summarize his or her statement for five minutes. And we will begin with Chief Provost.
Thank you. Good morning, Chairwoman Rice, Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member Higgins as well as the distinguished members of the subcommittee. I couldn’t be more proud to represent the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol and to speak to the critical support our DOD partners are providing us each and every day. In the Border Patrol, we know what it takes to secure the border, what we call operational control, also known as OPCON. OPCON requires the right combination of technology, physical barriers, and manpower to identify, impede, and respond to illegal cross-border activity. As you are all aware, I have been forced to divert 40 to 60% of Border Patrol’s manpower away from the border as we process and care for nearly 435,000 families and children that have flooded across our southern border so far this year. As the chief of the Border Patrol, I know every agent that I am forced to pull away from border security directly harms our ability to achieve OPCON. People often ask why we need to secure the border when so many families are turning themselves in? But think about the number of agents who must abandon their posts to assist when a group of over 1,000 illegal aliens walk into the U.S. at four o’clock in the morning. This happened just last month and it set a record for the largest group in the 95 year history of the Border Patrol. With 193 of these large groups so far this year, our operations are now being overwhelmed on a daily basis. At the same time our border security mission has not gone away. Many illegal aliens and smugglers are trying to evade law enforcement. We have apprehended more than 224,000 single adult aliens on the southern border, a 28% increase compared to last year. We’ve arrested more than 6,800 criminal aliens and gang members. We’re seeing more high-volume drug seizures, a sign that smugglers are becoming more brazen. In just one incident at the Rio Grande Valley, we seized more than 700 pounds of cocaine crossing the river. And just last week, agents in RGV again seized a large load of methamphetamine with an estimated value of over $5.6 million. This is why the support we receive from DOD is invaluable. With fewer agents available to maintain situational awareness along the border, DOD camera operators have contributed to more than 15,600 apprehensions and the seizure of more than 3,800 pounds of marijuana, and $2,300 in currency. On the ground and in the air, the situational awareness helps keep the limited number of agents we have on the border safe and aware of illegal activity. So far this year, we have observed more than 100,000 people who have successfully evaded arrest. A five year high in what we call got aways. And these are just the ones that we know about. Even with DOD support, I fear that we are missing far many others. Not only does this show the value of situational awareness but that it’s only effective when combined with a timely law enforcement response. Additionally the National Guard through Operation Guardian Support is assisting our operations in a range of areas including air support, radio communications, maintenance, and brush clearing. In Fiscal Year 2019 to date, the National Guard has provided more than 5,800 air hours and contributed more than 94,000 apprehensions and the seizure of more than 24,000 pounds of marijuana, 231 pounds of methamphetamine, and $7,000 in currency. Like the hundreds of agents that I have redeployed to the southern border from other locations, I know the sacrifice our DOD brothers and sisters are making to support us. To all the men and women out there on the border every day, I cannot thank you enough for the sacrifices you are making. Many of you are away from your families, working long hours in harsh border environments, and facing overwhelming challenges. I wish I could tell you when our operations will return to normal but as long as we face this crisis, I will continue to ask for DOD support. Additionally, I will continue to ask Congress to address the gaps in our immigration framework that encourage this flow. Smugglers falsely advertise a safe journey to the border, misleading families that anyone who arrives with a child will not be deported under current U.S. policies. While smugglers primarily target the northern triangle, family units from 52 countries have illegally crossed the southern border so far this year. In just two weeks, more than 740 individuals from African nations, primarily family units, have been apprehended in Del Rio sector alone, compared to only 108 who crossed the southern border in the first eight months of the fiscal year. Families from countries like Brazil, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Cuba, Peru, Romania, and Vietnam are taking the same pathways through Central America and Mexico to take advantage of the gaps in our system. We are now entering the hot summer months, increasing the risk to migrants and placing more demands on my agents. If Congress continues to ignore the needed changes in law, I don’t know when I will be able to refocus my agents toward our border security mission or tell DOD their assistance is no longer needed. What I do know is without a doubt DOD support has made a difference in Border Patrol’s ability to carry out our mission. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, Chief Provost. I now recognize Mr. Salesses to summarize his statement for five minutes.
Good morning Chairwoman Rice, Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Higgins, distinguished Members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on the Department of Defense’s support to the Department of Homeland Security in securing the southern border of the United States. As already pointed out, DOD has a long history of supporting border security efforts. Since the early ’90s, active duty National Guard personnel have supported federal, state, and counter drug activities with detection and monitoring, transportation, communication, and engineering support. More recently DOD has been called upon to support Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Health and Human Services to include in 2006 to 2008 Operation Jumpstart, nearly 6,000 National Guard personnel deployed to the southwest border. From 2010 to 2017, CBP’s Operation PHALANX, National Guard personnel again deployed to the southwest border. Between 2012 and 2017, DOD provided shelter for approximately 16,000 unaccompanied children for HHS on DOD installations. Since April 2018, DOD support to DHS has evolved as the border crisis continues. On April 4th, the President directed that DOD support DHS in securing the southern border. Responding to the evolving challenges of the border and a marked rise in illegal migration of approximately 36,000 migrants per month, DOD surged military support to CBP in all nine Border Patrol sectors in all four southwest border states in support of CBP’s Operation Guardian Support. National Guard personnel have been supporting CBP with aviation, engineering, communications, vehicle maintenance, planning, and other non-law enforcement missions. This support provides badges back to the border by freeing Border Patrol agents to execute their law enforcement duties, enhancing situational awareness along the southern border of the United States. As of today, there’s 1,900 National Guard personnel supporting CBP’s Operation Guardian Support. In October of 2018, a series of large migrant caravans, some deploying violent and dangerous tactics towards Guatemalan and Mexican authorities, approached the U.S. southern border ports of entry. At the request of CBP in response to the magnitude of these caravans coupled with the unprecedented and simultaneous influx of 60,000 illegal migrants per month, DOD surged support to CBP’s Operation Secure Line with active duty personnel to enhance security at U.S. points of entry. Military engineers hardened points of entry by placing over 200 miles of concertina wire, barrier obstacles, in and around 33 ports of entry in California, Arizona, and Texas, provided rotary wing aviation support to expedite movement of CBP agents between ports of entry, and provided military police for force protection of CBP agents performing their federal functions. In February of 2019, another caravan of approximately 2,000 migrants secured transportation in Mexico arriving at the port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas within days, not weeks. DOD surged support to Eagle Pass, Texas to assist CBP. Following this incident, DHS requested DOD make available a contingency force, a crisis response force, including engineers, medical, force protection, to support and assist at the ports of entry along the southwest border. As of today, there’s 2,600 active duty military personnel are supporting CBP’s Operation Secure Line. In February 2009, facing an influx now of over 76,000 migrants in multiple caravans per month, DOD expanded its support from hardening ports of entry to enhancing the security between the ports of entry, principally by providing additional detection and monitoring capabilities. DOD was asked to provide 1,200 military personnel to man 146 CBP mobile surveillance camera system trucks between the ports of entry across the nine sectors for southwest border states. In May of 2019, CBP’s capacity to process incoming migrants was exceeded by the approximate 100,000 migrants entering the United States per month. To deal with the migrant processing challenge at the Border Patrol stations, DOD is assisting CBP by providing military drivers to transport migrants in CBP vehicles and military personnel to distribute meals and conduct welfare checks at Border Patrol stations. DHS has also requested DOD assistance in establishing temporary detention facilities to house 7,500 single adult migrants at six CBP designated locations in Texas and Arizona. DOD is being asked to provide tents and some support services at these locations. The Department of Health and Human Services has also submitted a request for facilities or land to accommodate up to 5,000 unaccompanied children. On the 10th of June the Acting Secretary of Defense approved the use of facilities at Fort Sill Oklahoma for HHS to shelter approximately 1,400 children. Since early 2000, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has worked regularly with DHS and CBP on various border barrier projects. In February of 2019, as a result of the increasing flow of illicit drugs across the southern border, DHS requested that DOD use its authority in Section 284 Title 10 U.S. Code to block drug smuggling corridors. The Acting Secretary of Defense approved this request specifically by directing the transfer of $2.5 billion into the Defense Drug Interdiction and Counter Drug Activities Account for construction of 129 miles of border barrier fencing which will block drug smuggling corridors in California, Arizona, and Texas. The Department is also assessing the use of Section 2808 authorities for military construction and support of the President’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. In summary, the Department of Defense continues to adapt its support to DHS and CBP as it responds to this evolving crisis at the border. I have visited the border on several occasions and have witnessed the tremendous efforts of our military personnel supporting and working with their DHS and CBP counterparts. Chairwoman Rice, Ranking Member Higgins, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your continued support of the Department of Defense and the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces. I look forward to your questions.
[Rice] Thank you very much, Mr. Salesses. I now recognize Major General McGuire to summarize his statement for five minutes.
Good morning, Chairwoman Rice, Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Higgins, thanks to all the distinguished members of the subcommittee for allowing me to come here today and testify before you on behalf of the 7,800 citizen soldiers and airmen of the Arizona National Guard. As you know the National Guard of today dates its heraldry back to 1634 and the modern day militia is funded by Congress under Title 32 authorities since 1903. The National Guard clearly is the first choice for homeland defense missions. We’re forward deployed in 3,300 communities at 2,700 different installations in 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia each of us serving in three unique statuses. First and foremost, Governor Doug Ducey can call the members of the Arizona National Guard to state active duty to support state requirements. Second, he can collaborate with the federal government to call us to duty under Title 32 authority as state’s status which is federally funded which is currently what’s happening in its fourth iteration this time with Operation Guardian Support. Or he can call us forward under Title 10 authority, the President can, to support contingency operations overseas as we have for nearly 12,000, since 9/11. Since 9/11, the 7,800 soldiers and airmen of the Arizona National Guard have deployed for 12,000, that means that if each of us had served continuously since 9/11 we would have spent one year and four months overseas. We proudly support this mission. Governor Ducey came to me and I’d like to give you some specifics since we’re talking about Guardian Support today about how we got to the position we’re in today. In April 2018, President Trump directed the DOD to support U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Defense then directed the National Guard to deploy up to 4,000 soldiers and airmen to meet the mission requirement to provide aviation, reconnaissance, situational awareness for the southwest border region. This directive did not have a formal named operation but was named Operation Guardian Support by Homeland Security. Governor Ducey complied with and agreed to do this under Title 32 authority and on April 6th 2018, the Arizona Joint Task Force joined a planning cell. Three days later we deployed 225 soldiers and airmen, all of them organic to the Arizona National Guard to be in support of the supportive command in this case our border protection in JTF West and Chief, as the operational element subordinate to Chief Provost. Today we have 546 soldiers and airmen deployed from 16 states supporting 17 directed missions as requested through RFAs from DHS. The missions include under the category of operational support, radio communications, motor transport maintenance, motor transport operations, range safety officers, heavy equipment operators, paralegal support, administrative and clerical support, information analysts. Under the category of surveillance support, camera and remote camera operations, imagery and sensor maintenance, unmanned aerial sensor operators. And in the area of air support, light and medium rotary wing lift capacity and fixed wing reconnaissance capacity. The relationship between the Arizona National Guard and DHS is not new. For over 30 years, the Arizona National Guard has collaborated with the border protection agents that serve primarily in our border counties, four of them, on the 389 miles of border between Arizona and Mexico. So there is no misunderstanding, Arizona National Guard does not act in a law enforcement capacity. None of our citizen soldiers are placed in a position to come in contact with migrants and are there for the sole purpose of providing support to surge posted and armed officers to do their enforcement duties. Although not constrained by the Posse Comitatus Act under Title 32 duty, law enforcement is not our directed mission and the agreement between the government and the President has stood since April of 2018. I yield back the balance of my time, ma’am, and I look forward to the questions of the committee. Thank you.
Thank you, Major General. I thank all the witnesses for their testimony. I remind each member that he or she will have five minutes to question the panel. I will now recognize myself for questions. Chief Provost, we, the subcommittee, in planning this hearing, invited the military adviser to the Secretary of Homeland Security to testify about these efforts but we were informed that he was not ready to do so because he was newly reassigned to that position and did not feel that he could get up to speed even with two weeks’ time. My question to you is, is the U.S. Border Patrol the sole entity within DHS that’s coordinating these joint efforts with the Department of Defense at this time?
Thank you for the question, ma’am. No, Chairwoman, we are not the sole ones. I will tell you we work very closely with DOD. We do have planners that are embedded with them because the majority of the support is supporting my men and women between the ports of entry. Though as discussed earlier a lot of work has been done within CBP as well at the ports of entry. So, we are probably the main receivers of the support from the Border Patrol side of the house.
My question is when you are in need of something and you’re reaching out to DOD, are you doing that directly?
We have planners embedded with them and we create from Border Patrol and from CBP we do create the request for assistance in conjunction and then we work with our partners at DOD. So, that is being handled by some of my personnel.
And so, before you make any requests are you running that up the chain through DHS and the leadership there?
[Rice] And do you have conversations with anyone in the administration outside of DHS?
Outside of DHS, do I? No, I do not.
Okay. I just want to continue with you Chief Provost because you spent some time during your testimony talking about the seizure of drugs that we know happens at our border and my question to you is has DHS conducted any assessments on the impact that DOD’s planned or proposed border wall projects for areas between ports of entry might have on the volume of illegal narcotics entering the country?
When it comes to the illegal narcotics coming across there are really are two types, there’s what we know, meaning what we have seized, and then what we don’t know which is a difficult thing. And I know Congress has asked numerous times on that. The area of 2,000 miles along the southwest border with Mexico, though, is a very vast and expansive area. As I stated in my opening statement, my concerns are what’s getting across that I do not know about. I do now that the cartels are taking advantage of the humanitarian crisis. The example that I gave.
No, no, I don’t mean to interrupt but I have a limited period of time. Prior to DOD going ahead with, as Mr. Salesses talked about, them building actual barriers at the border, did DHS conduct a study to see if they were building in the right areas and what impact that would have on the drugs that are coming across the border?
Border Patrol has identified where we need barrier. We have done that through a field-driven process where my field leadership in each of their respective areas identifies and through the border security improvement plan we have identified those miles where we have high traffic of whether it’s narcotics, illegal activity. So, we had already.
So, you do the assessment. Can we see that assessment that you’ve done?
The border security improvement plan?
And any updates to that that are driving where DOD is doing their work?
We have provided that to some. I will ensure that you have our border security improvement plan.
Okay. In May of this year, both acting secretaries of DHS and DOD announced their intent to continue joint efforts on the southern border. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later confirmed this by announcing that the Pentagon is working with DHS to develop what they called a multi-year plan for the border suggesting that DOD will deploy personnel to the southern border for at least the remainder of this current administration. My question is to you, Mr. Salesses. You mentioned previous instances where there was this collaboration. That seemed primarily on a temporary basis. When you use the word multi-year, that doesn’t sound so we’re trying to address a crisis that is happening right now. That seems more like you’re planning on embedding yourselves on the border for the long haul. So, my question is what is the status of this planning effort and what are its objectives?
Chairwoman, it’s actually a joint venture. We have provided military planners to DHS. We actually provided a general officer to work with DHS and CBP to develop a longer term plan. We know that the crisis continues but we want to know what the future looks like and to plan for that. So, there is a team that’s been put together. They’re developing what we refer to as a campaign plan to make sure that we understand where all the deficiencies are and the gaps are. Not just at the southern border but within the whole immigration system starting from what happens in Central America to what happens in the immigration process all the way back to DOJ and all of that.
Okay, thank you. I know I’m out of time but Chief Provost and I guess to you Mr. Salesses, it seems to me that the reason why DOD has to come in is because you as CBP and higher up the chain to DHS have decided that you’re going to take trained Border Patrol agents away from the jobs that they’re trained to do and have them doing different things that independent contractors could be hired to do so that you wouldn’t create the crisis and need DOD to intervene. So, I just wanted to throw that out because it seems to me that you know to take Border Patrol agents away from what they’re trained to do and have them doing, you know, activities that can be done by hiring independent contractors which you’ve been given the money to do seems a little shortsighted. But I don’t have time for any more questions. So, I just wanted to comment on that. I now recognize the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from Louisiana, Mr. Higgins, for questions.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Chief Provost, you mentioned that the decisions made regarding enhanced physical barriers, the specific miles of those requested barriers and some that are under construction was field-driven. What do you mean by that, ma’am? Would you clarify, that means it’s based upon data provided by actual boots on the ground knowledge of where enhanced physical barrier is needed? Can you clarify that, please?
Certainly, sir. I have nine sectors along the southwest border. In each of those sectors I have Border Patrol agents, ground agents that are involved in the process of identifying where barrier is needed. That goes all the way up through the respective chief of each sector. And they identify within their areas of responsibility where they believe that barrier makes sense in supporting our mission.
And not to interrupt you madam, but you’re not referring to one continuous long barrier. Are you talking about 17 miles here, 15 miles there, 10 miles the next place, etc.?
That is correct. It is dependent upon the traffic. We look at, when we talk about operational control we look at the need for situational awareness which often comes through technology or personnel, the response which is our personnel, and impedance and denial which is what that barrier brings.
Yes, ma’am. You also mentioned and thank you for clarifying that. ‘Cause nobody’s talking about putting a 30 foot wall on top of a 200 foot cliff.
There’s already a 200 foot wall there.
Big Ben Sector would be an example of natural barriers.
You mentioned layers of security in your opening statement, you mentioned technology to detect an incoming illegal crossing, you mentioned physical barriers to deter, I believe was your language.
To impede and deny.
Causing to delay it and you mentioned enhanced capacity to respond. This is generally the layered security that we have referred to in this subcommittee. Would you concur that that’s the type of security that we need, that these elements work together?
In my 25 years now that I’m coming up on on the border, I have seen the benefits of a mixture of these resources. And that mixture varies depending upon locations but it is a mixture, it’s not one or the other. We need some of all of those.
Thank you. I’d like to give you an opportunity to address the status of the spirit of your men and women as they face unending stress and crisis every day. I commend you, ma’am, and the American men and women that serve our country on the border. I just cannot imagine how they can continue day after day after day. Would you please address what I might refer to as a humanitarian crisis growing within our own forces there?
Certainly, sir, and thank you for that question. First and foremost, my men and women are the ones doing the real job out there and I am just honored to have the opportunity to represent them. This crisis, and it is a crisis, I have stated it before, is certainly having an impact on my men and women. The hours that they are working, the things that they are seeing, the time it is taking them away from their families. This is like no other crisis that I have seen in my career when it comes to the humanitarian side of the house. It is certainly draining on my men and women. When I go out and see them, I am extremely impressed with their resiliency but they are working long hours. Many of them are detailed away from home supporting the over time hours. Border Patrol agents already work a 50 hour week and then I’m asking them to work even more with over time to be able to deal with the crisis. So, it certainly puts a strain on them personally and it has an impact on their families because they are away from home as well as they are dealing with this. Not to mention the things they are seeing.
Well, they’re to be commended and given great honor for their service. Do you think that it would do well for the spirit of your men and women to know that Congress had their back, that Congress was gonna provide the resources that they’ve been requesting for a long time and is badly needed?
Yes, sir, that would certainly help.
Thank you, ma’am. General McGuire, I give you my remaining time, 15 or 20 seconds just to address the military readiness and if your deployment has impacted your overall mission from military preparedness as these hours, these flight hours, etc., this active duty time, has it been helpful?
It actually has been very helpful for us to develop readiness, I’ll give you one example. At battalion headquarters deployed down from a state, it was Wisconsin a year ago. They were converting to model Black Hawks and they were able to do all their readiness level progression training in support of border protection there from Silverbell Army heliport. Got up on step in the new helicopter much quicker than if they had been home throughout that entire year.
Sir, this mission has actually in your opinion, General, enhanced military readiness and preparedness?
It doesn’t degrade military readiness. We assign soldiers based on their military specialties and airmen based on their military specialties to expand skills that could be adapted back. The biggest risk to mission long term is our ability to make sure that in states like Arizona and Texas that are providing the majority of the force that is in support, that they have the opportunity to do the mission command tasks back at their units. So, senior NCOs, Warrant Officers, and Officers have the opportunity to train to platooned company level readiness for those formations on their drill weekends.
Thank you for that clarification, General, and for your service. Madam Chair, I yield back.
[Rice] Thank you, Mr. Higgins. The Chair will now recognize other members for questions they may wish to ask the witnesses. In accordance with our committee rules, I will recognize members who were present at the start of the hearing based on seniority on the committee alternating between majority and minority. Those members coming in later will be recognized in the order of their arrival. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes, the gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Thompson.
Thank you, Madam Chair. Chief will you provide the committee how you’re measuring the effectiveness of this joint deployment with DOD? What are your metrics?
Thank you, Chairman. There are numerous metrics that we track when it comes to the benefits that, whether it’s my men and women or the DOD are bringing and that has to do with border security and operational control. We track our interdiction effectiveness rate. I spoke to got aways earlier, that’s one of the things that we track as well as apprehensions, seizures, all of these types of things. We are tracking the specific numbers as I stated. DOD has specifically helped us with over 100,000 apprehensions as well as drug seizures, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine. That support as my agents are being pulled away to deal with the humanitarian crisis is key when it comes to us having situational awareness on the border because my resources are depleted.
So, do you have any resources at this point based on the Chairperson on the subcommittee’s comments to contract for any of those services you’re taking the agents away?
We have numerous contracts, I’ll use the medical for example. When it comes to medical care we have expanded our contracts there when it comes to transportation, we do have contracts, that is just not sufficient to keep up with the amount of transportation that I need. Part of that has to do with the contractor’s ability to get enough individuals into the area so our most recent has been.
So, is it a matter you don’t have money for the contracts or is it the contractor you’re using, just as you said, doesn’t have the ability to find people?
It’s both, sir. When it comes to the amount of money that we have been spending on the humanitarian, we need more funding to support those contracts. At the same time, working in remote locations, it’s difficult to get personnel into those locations at times. There are not necessarily individuals with the correct background to be able to work in the positions that we need them in.
Well, what I’d like you to provide for the committee is your efforts to extend the contracts for services that you presently contract for that your are now deploying your agents to do. Can you provide?
Certainly, we have the information on our contracts to include our transport and our medical contracts, we can.
I’m looking for your efforts to expand those contracts, you gave medical, and any other contracts. Thank you. Mr. Salesses, at this point how much can you provide the committee in terms of the cost of the deployments up to this point?
Chairman, the estimated cost for the military support is about $400 million.
To this point?
[Salesses] Yes, sir.
Are you familiar with Section 2808?
[Thompson] Okay. So, if you looked at that, have we accessed any of those funds to build a border wall?
Sir, we have not, there’s no decision been made at that point. The Department continues to assess the use of 2808.
You have any idea when the assessment will be complete?
Sir, I don’t. You know we’ve had a number of reviews and analysis of the border barrier and support of 2808 and that decision is pending. It could come in the next couple of weeks.
The reason I ask is the deployment was predicated on the national emergency and we’ve been at this a good while. So, if it’s a national emergency, you know, it either is or it’s not. And if it’s this emergency, is that decision a DOD decision or is it a decision at the White House?
Sir, it’s a DOD decision.
[Thompson] It’s a DOD?
Yes, sir, it is. It’s the Secretary of Defense’s, it’s military construction that’s necessary to support the use of the Armed Forces is what the authority says so it is the Secretary’s decision to make that determination and again he’s working with the Chairman and others to assess the proper use of that as you know.
I understand, but we’ve all been told that we need to build this big, beautiful border wall and so that’s an issue. So, do you think it’s appropriate to use DOD assets to paint a border wall?
Sir, in fairness to you and I, the reason the wall is being painted is CBP and DHS asked us. This paint that is being applied has indicated that there’s anti-climb feature so if people try to scale the wall, that makes it very difficult. So, this is a test of one mile to see how effective that anti-climb paint is going to be.
[Thompson] So, you’re saying it’s fine?
To support this effort, with everything that’s going on, it seems like a reasonable.
[Thompson] Chief can you tell why we didn’t contract for the painting of the wall?
I cannot speak to the funding aspect of it. I identified the operational requirement that I have when it comes to barriers.
[Thompson] So, just for the record then, who determined to paint the wall with military assets?
DHS and CBP asked for our assistance to do that, asked DOD for that assistance. We’re using engineers to do that. The same engineers that put the concertina wire on top.
So, Chief, you asked for the military to paint the wall?
So, we have asked for that support I believe in one of the RFAs. RFA seven I believe.
[Thompson] Well, can you provide the committee with whatever direction that request to paint the wall by the military went to?
[Thompson] Thank you, I yield back.
[Rice] Thank you, the Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentlewoman from Arizona, Ms. Lesko.
Thank you, Madam Chairman. I’m gonna start by reading an article that was published six days ago in the Arizona Republic. “The body of a seven year old girl was found Wednesday “about 17 miles west of Lukeville in a remote desert area, “U.S. Customs and Border Protection said. “Officials believe the child was from India trying “to cross from Mexico into the United States with “a group from that country, according to the agency. “Border Patrol agents believe human smugglers dropped “the group near the Mexican border where they were told “to cross the terrain into Arizona alone, the agency said. “Agents search for the missing people “north of the border in remote terrain. “They eventually found the little “girl’s body after a few hours. “The remote area where she was found is a rugged, “desert wilderness with few roads and resources. “The area had a high temperature “around 108 degrees Wednesday. “After agents found the girl’s body, “they continued to search for the other two people who “had been traveling with her, the release said. “The National Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection “sent out aircraft and helicopters to search the area.” And I’m not gonna read the rest of it because I only have three minutes and 40 seconds left. But the point of reading this is that we have a crisis at the border. We have had a crisis at the border. I live in Arizona, I’ve been to the border. And so, it wasn’t so long ago that Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer said this is a manufactured crisis. So, I’m very happy to hear today from both the Chairman and the committee Chairman that they are actually acknowledging that there is a crisis now. And so, I really hope that we will work together as I said before to try to change some of these policies because as you can tell from this story, the smugglers could give a darn about these migrants. The smugglers are making money off these people. So, instead of blaming President Trump, I wish we would put the blame where it belongs with the smugglers, with the cartels, with the people that are abusing these migrants and also with us quite frankly because we are not changing our policies. Last year we had two pieces of legislation that I know of where we could have changed our policies to help stop this flow of the smugglers exploiting migrants but not one of my Democratic colleagues voted yes. Now, fortunately, we have in the Senate some type of potential agreement to fund the humanitarian crisis over there at least which has been rejected, I think, 17 times by my Democratic colleagues in the House. So, I want to work with you. I’m not trying to be disparaging but I do have a quick question for you, Chief Provost. How would the funding for the humanitarian crisis, the $4.6 billion that is being proposed help you to solve the crisis at the border?
Thank you, ma’am. Well, in numerous ways. You just mentioned it when you talked about the tragedies that we’re seeing out there. The rescues, we’ve already rescued over 3,300 people crossing the border. As you identified the temperatures are rising, this is a dangerous time of year. That funding would help in relation to all of the humanitarian expenses that are coming out of my operating budget right now, help support those medical contracts, transportation, help support when it comes to air support and being able to get out into those remote areas, all of the consumables of taking care of these folks when they are coming into our custody and our care. Those are expenses that are not in my baseline budget. They are just not there because of this crisis coming up here over the last year. And it would support all of those efforts, the care of the individuals in our custody when it comes to the humanitarian crisis and then dealing with just what we see on a day to day basis on the border.
Thank you very much and with the short time we have left, General McGuire, can you provide some examples of the positive impact the National Guard has had working with CBP and the border?
Well, ma’am, you mentioned the unfortunate incident we had just a couple weeks ago. Fortunately, the aviation and rotary wing support that we have had has led to no less than one humanitarian save of a life in the desert every time we’ve done this is and this is our fourth iteration of this. We have a great relationship with the JTF West command and the Tucson and Yuma sector chiefs. Because of the nature of us only getting involved when there’s an emergent condition to answer the call we have picked up a number of their 911 calls and been able to be in support of them. The other thing I would say that’s been hugely successful is it’s great for our soldiers and airmen because they get the opportunity to contribute to their local communities. We just redeployed 400 soldiers from Afghanistan a month ago. All of them had been there for 10 months, so 400 of them redeployed, 58 of them asked immediately to turn around and try to fill the 200 soldier and airmen gap we have between what we presently have on the border and willing to go forward. Their motivated to help. 15% of our Guardsmen serve in their civilian capacity in police and law enforcement. It’s the number one sector for our National Guard formations. So, they have a strong kinship with the border protections and Customs OFO and all the groups that they work with along the border. So, it’s been a great opportunity for all of them.
[Lesko] Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you for all the men and women that work in CBP, Department of Defense, the National Guard. You guys are heroes, thank you.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentlewoman from New Mexico, Ms. Torres Small.
Thank you. Thank you, Chief Provost for your long tenured career and service in Border Patrol. Thank you as well Mr. Salesses as well as Major General McGuire for your service to our country. I have the honor of representing New Mexico’s second Congressional district. I’m the only member of the Homeland Security Committee that represents a district directly on the U.S.-Mexico border and I serve on both House Armed Services as well as Homeland Security. So, this is an important issue and Chief I also just want to thank your staff, Dana’s been great to work with. Thank you for that. So, back to this issue. When DOD redirected $1 billion from military personnel to build 57 miles of wall, a lot of it is in some rural parts of my district. And that’s why the analysis of why that’s going to make impact really matters to me. And part of that needs to be with everything that’s going on in the border, part of that is about the drug interdiction, sector by sector. And I know that the committee has actually asked for that information, the sector by sector analysis and hasn’t received it. So, I just, Chief would you commit to providing that sector by sector drug interdiction information?
I will go back to the Department and see whether or not. I know we provide national, I am not sure when it comes to specific sector by sector. But I can tell you in the border security improvement plan that that is part of the analysis that we do and we will ensure that you get that plan.
Well, thank you. And the most up to date information is very helpful. We have to make sure we’re adapting to changing circumstances. I really appreciate that your office has provided the El Paso sector information, drug interdiction information to my office recently, so I know it is possible to do. So, if you can commit to it, I’d deeply appreciate it.
Thank you so much. Moving on I deeply also appreciate Border Patrol’s investment in these potential support positions to do some of the work that is currently taking Border Patrol agents and Customs officers off of the line and from the ports of entry when it comes to, for example, hospital watch or transportation. And we’re excited to support that effort. And so I wanted to get some more information from you specifically on the qualifications that you see will be necessary for that position.
Certainly, we’re in the process, as we you well know, of developing that position and ensuring that as well as the training that will go with that new position that we’ve created. It is in the final phases of determining everything that will go into it so I do not have the full analysis. Of course we have our attorneys and everyone involved when it comes to what they need for all of the legal aspects of the position. But that being said we are very, very close to having all of that completed. And we’d be more than happy to get that to you.
Thank you. As Congress looks at what and how to fund this humanitarian crisis, as much information about this position would be helpful. The other conversation that you had about contracting support and the challenges as well as, I’m pleased to hear that you’re working to expand that support. Will these supplemental, the support positions supplement the contract support or replace it?
And I apologize, ma’am, if I didn’t understand the question. The supplemental positions?
[Torres Small] Yes, these.
Those would be helping in processing, transport, some of those, so it would support it. I would tell you obviously the time to hire and those types of things will take some time to hire and train individuals. So, to say depending, whether it would ultimately fully take away the need for the contract support, I can’t say at this point.
Okay. And our sense is that the need is so strong that it doesn’t necessarily require replacement. We would be eager to see you expand as much as possible some of the needs here.
Thank you. And do you have a hiring target for these support positions?
I do not have the total number yet on that. That is one of the things that we are trying to finalize right now.
In my short remaining time, I just want to switch to military readiness. As a member of House Armed Services, how is, sorry, Mr. Salesses, how is the DOD tracking potential impacts and declines in readiness?
So, Congresswoman, you can imagine from your experience on the House Armed Services Committee, we watch that very closely. And so the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary, the Service secretaries, the Service Chiefs, all monitor the readiness and, in fact, I just received the readiness briefing last week. Predominantly it’s Army and Marine Corps forces being deployed right now.
Just with four seconds left, how are they monitoring that?
They monitor through it the process, the DRRS process that we have which allows you the commanders at the local level, at the higher levels, to input the readiness of the units based on personnel, based on equipment, based on their training, those kinds of things. So, there’s a very, the DRRS system is a sophisticated system that allows.
[Torres Small] And you’ve tracked on the continued impact?
Yes, ma’am, we are.
[Torres Small] Thank you, I yield back.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Joyce.
Thank you for yielding Madam Chairwoman. And thank you for convening this hearing on one of the most critical and important topics that we face in Congress today. There is an unprecedented crisis that we as a nation face on our southern border. Over 144,000 immigrants attempted to illegally enter between ports of entry along the southwest border in May of 2019. A 622% increase over the same month just two years ago. In the face of the inaction by Congress on this matter, President Trump has had to declare a state of emergency and direct the Secretary of Defense to deploy National Guard troops to the border to help CBP deal with this incredible crisis. It is necessary to point out that the reason for our National Guard presence at the border as I learned from talking to Border Patrol agents in Arizona just a month ago is that we currently are overwhelmed at Border Patrol. And we are overwhelmed because my colleagues across the aisle refuse to take up the necessary legislation to fix the loopholes in our asylum system. And because of the refusal to allocate the necessary $4.5 billion in emergency aid that the Department of Homeland Security has asked for in order to feed and shelter the families and unaccompanied children. In fact, they blocked legislation that would do so 15 times in the last month alone. The unwillingness of Congress to solve this problem prompted me and four members, colleagues from the Pennsylvania delegation to ask our governor to send Pennsylvania National Guard to the southern border. Unfortunately the governor called this a stunt and he called the crisis on our southern border hyperbole. So today, I intend to find out from you, our experts whether the governor’s assessment of the situation is correct or whether more National Guard troops are needed and could be effective at our border. Chief Provost, I understand multiple states have sent National Guard troops and assets to assist with the Operation Guardian Support mission. Today’s statements indicate that there are currently 546 soldiers and airmen deployed out of the necessary 764 that are authorized in positions. If the state of Pennsylvania tomorrow offered you additional National Guard forces, would you be able to make use from them and would you be able to better secure and protect our southern border?
Thank you, sir. Certainly, as I stated in my opening statement, the support from the Guard and DOD has been invaluable, particularly as my resources have been diverted away. 40 to 60% of my resources being diverted concerns me about border security. We’re dealing with a humanitarian crisis but that is negatively impacting our ability to secure the border and border security’s national security.
Additionally, Chief Provost, do you think that describing the current situation at our southern border as hyperbole, do you feel that is correct?
I would disagree wholeheartedly with that. This crisis, as I said before, is like nothing I’ve seen in my 25 years. It truly is a crisis. I’ve been saying that since at least February to Congress when I testified back then. We need your support, we need the funding as well, that you have mentioned to support throughout DHS, not just for the Border Patrol, because when my partners don’t have the funding they need it negatively impacts my operations as well because I’m the only one. The Border Patrol is the only one who can’t say no. When these folks are coming in, they end up in our custody and our care and we can’t say no. So, I need funding as well for my other partners along the way, ICE, HHS, to be able to do their portion of this, all the way through DOJ.
Thank you, Chief Provost, thank you for addressing the real crisis that you and your team face. Madam Chairwoman, I yield.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentleman from California, Mr. Correa.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and I want to thank our witnesses, Chief Provost, for being here today. I do a lot of good work with your folks out in Orange County as well as at the border San Ysidro. Secretary of Defense, also thank you very much and General McGuire. I want to thank you all of you for your service to our country. You’re absolutely right, Chief, we do have a crisis unprecedented. I think it’s one not just in our part of the world but Central America, we have two million refugees, Venezuelans spread around Central America and you see this when you see violence, you see people doing what they need to do which is flee for their lives. So, this is a challenge for all of us. Chief, President Trump on June the 8th praised Mexico for a huge deal on immigration and he says, and this is New York Post June the 8th, “Mexico agrees to keep Central American migrants “seeking asylum in the U.S. on the Mexican side “of the border until their cases are decided.” Tell me how this will affect your job or how we’re gonna implement this new immigration policy?
The program that you’re discussing, Congressman, is a program that we have been working with the government of Mexico on certain individuals.
[Correa] Before June the 8th?
How long have you, so was it a big deal on June the 8th or was it a deal that had already been in the works?
The government of Mexico has agreed to expand that operation. We had been doing it with California.
How are you expanding it?
Accepting more individuals back to wait for their hearings.
So, how many were they accepting and how much are you expecting?
There wasn’t a set number per se but we had started it in California and in the El Paso area.
And I’m not trying to be argumentative with you, I’d love to talk with you about this, but I’m trying to figure out as this program expands in this humanitarian crisis in terms of these refugees being now housed, if I should say, on the Mexican side, how is that gonna address our resource allocation north and maybe on the southern border to make sure that we do the right thing when it comes to a humanitarian crisis?
Well, we work very closely with the government of Mexico when it comes to.
[Correa] Do you have any specifics on that, though?
Are you asking for numbers or you asking for?
Specific, yeah, do we have any thoughts of how we’re gonna implement this expanded plan?
Yes, we have coordinated with the government of Mexico, and depending upon them having the ability to take a certain number each day. We have already expanded that number. It does vary from day to day because it is dependent on numerous factors.
Let me shift real quick, I’ve got two minutes unfortunately. Secretary Kelly when he was head of Homeland Security he was in this committee and I asked him a question, in my words his answer we talked about border security, he said it’s not about border security, it’s about regional security and coordinating with our allies around the world and he considered Mexico as one of our allies. And you mentioned your issue is you don’t know, you’re concerned about the things you don’t know. So, my question, are you coordinating with the Mexican authorities to identify, are you in coordination from Mexico and maybe Colombia on the issues of immigration and possible drugs?
We have coordinated with Mexico for years. And we work very closely with our partners in Mexico. We also have individual states.
We’re not going at this alone.
And we have individuals stationed worldwide in various countries specific to immigration issues, drug trafficking and such working closely with various governments.
I’m glad to hear you say that because when I was in San Ysidro about six months ago. I went in and I looked at your station there and I looked at their board, they have a blackboard or a whiteboard with the names of the individuals they had actually apprehended that evening or the evening before. Half the names were Hispanic the other half were actually Indian surnames. And I say this to you because you’re right when you talk about this refugee crisis it’s not just regional, I think it’s worldwide. Finally, in the 20 seconds that I have, another article, the Wall Street Journal two days ago, “U.S. seizes massive haul “of cocaine aboard a ship in Philadelphia. “This is the latest in a series “of large cocaine busts along the east coast.” You mentioned some numbers on drug seizures. How would you compare the drug seizures along the border inland versus those at sea?
Well, I don’t want to speak for my partners at the ports of entry.
[Correa] Because I’ve talked to the Coast Guard my subcommittee addresses and they told me that seizures off the coasts are record breaking as well.
I would say that we are having a lot of seizures everywhere, sir.
[Correa] Thank you very much and look forward to talking to you a little bit more. I yield.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes or five minutes the gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Guest.
Thank you, Madam Chairman. To all of our witnesses, first I want to thank you for your service to our country. I want to thank you for what you’re doing as you’re attempting to manage what is a very difficult situation along our southwest border. I want to speak a little bit on drugs kind of follow up on the question that you were just asked. Do we continue to have a drug crisis along our southwest border? And that would be to each witness, would you agree, would each witness agree that we currently have a drug crisis along our southwest border?
Yes, I would agree.
And General I think you addressed that in your report, your written testimony that you gave, you state that through FY 2019 with the National Guard support, CBP has over 26,500 apprehensions, 18,000 pounds of marijuana, methamphetamines, and fentanyl have been seized. Could you expand on that just a little bit, please, sir?
Those are the numbers that we have through the Counter Drug Task Force and working with a multitude of law enforcement, both federal, state, and local entities. The flow of illicit narcotics continues on the southwest border and unfortunately the Arizona corridor is a heavily trafficked corridor. There’s been quite a bit of violent activity in that area over the last six years. Most recently, with the opioid crisis, the huge increase in Mexican black tar heroin has been the one thing that we’ve seen as a big uptick over the last two years.
And Chief maybe you can speak on this, how does the current immigration crisis that we’re seeing along our southwest border, how does that affect your operations as you attempt to stop the flow of illegal drugs into our country?
It’s pulling my manpower away from the ability to deal with the border security mission and I can tell you that the smugglers are certainly taking advantage of that while my men and women are dealing with the humanitarian crisis. We have had examples where they have run large groups. We have apprehended over 193 groups of 100 people or more at a time already this year, fiscal year to date. They’ll run a large group of people and then while my agents are distracted dealing with that they’re running narcotics in other areas and this a tactic that they use.
And so because of a lack of manpower to basically perform both missions simultaneously, the drug cartels are using the human trafficking and the immigration as a way to distract, to tie up your manpower, your resources, and then at the same time, they are using that as an attempt or an ability to smuggle illegal drugs into our country would that be correct?
That is correct.
[Joyce] And you’re saying that the drug cartels and drug organizations in Central and South America are aware of this problem and they are using this problem as a way to continue to get illegal drugs into our country?
Yes, they are.
And how have you seen this recent crisis that we are experiencing, how does it differ from past immigration crises that we’ve seen along our border?
The key is the demographic shift. When we’ve had numbers of, and it was mentioned earlier, of a million apprehensions previously we have, that demographic has been generally single, adult Mexican nationals who could be voluntarily returned and many of them were. It also was a difference of, the numbers are I call them apples and oranges, you’re comparing apples and oranges. I personally would catch the same group in Douglas, Arizona back in the 1990s three times, so that was counted as three apprehensions. This, the numbers that we are catching now, we do not have a high re-apprehension rate because most of them are being brought into the country. So, the demographic has changed. It takes a lot more for my manpower to process these individuals. And then there’s the humanitarian care issues that we’re dealing with, too, and the time that it takes to deal with that. 76 trips to the hospital a day with individuals that we’re apprehending.
And, too, very quickly before my time is up, if additional funding was appropriated by Congress, could you use additional manpower along our southwest border to prevent illegal drugs from flowing into our country?
[Joyce] And if Congress were to change our current immigration laws or asylum laws so that we did not have the flood of individuals coming into our country seeking asylum, would those changes, in your opinion, would it also help you and your agency better be able to keep out illegal drugs from coming into America?
Yes, it would.
[Joyce] Thank you. Madam Chairman, I yield back.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentleman from California, Mr. Peters.
Thank you, Madam Chair and Ranking Member Higgins for allowing me to join the subcommittee today. The San Diego Sector has seen tens of thousands of migrants including unaccompanied children, family units, and single adults arrive at our border since October. The city and the county of San Diego, the state of California and many local organizations and volunteers have stepped in to take care of the migrants entering the community. I’m certainly grateful for their dedication and hard work. And the relationship between the CBP and Armed Services is not new in San Diego as you well know. Particularly, I visited with Border Patrol officers most recently in March. And saw how the Coast Guard supports border security operations in a pretty seamless way. The Coast Guard medical corps has been asked to assess CBP’s medical programs which is critical to make sure that the migrants are being taken care of especially after these treacherous journeys. I think the concern we have is that federal government has relied on its military forces to enhance enforcement outside of the normal relationship and that maybe we’re deploying the military in places where that’s really not the appropriate personnel. And I want to talk a little bit about that today. Mr. Salesses, the DOD’s currently reviewing, I understand, a request to house an additional 1,400 unaccompanied children, is that correct?
Sir, that’s actually been approved. We’re gonna house those children at Fort Sill. And they should start being housed there sometime mid-July.
Tell me how you assign the duties. How did the Department work with CBP or HHS to set up and maintain facilities and who staffs them and who oversees it?
Sir, HHS is responsible for the children as you point out and we work very closely with them. They come to us and ask that we identify facilities and potentially land to house the children. They would establish soft-sided facilities if they were gonna use the land. What we’ve done is they go out and do a site assessment at a military facility like they did at Fort Sill. They look at the facilities that are available to them to house the children. They make an assessment based on the location and their ability to provide the services that are needed. DOD does not provide any services we just provide the facility. They provide the care to the children and that’s the way that it unfolds.
I wanted to say that when I visited the border in March, it was made very clear to us that the DOD understands its role. They were providing logistics support and reconnaissance and I guess that’s within the scope of their expertise. But the other thing we heard, Chief Provost, was that there were authorized positions in CBP that you couldn’t fill. So, I understand that there must be some obstacles to getting people hired. Can you tell me what those are?
Certainly, there’s a lot of competition in the law enforcement world in general right now when it comes to hiring. That being said, we have made, last year was the first year we made progress. We hired more people than we lost and we are on track to do that again this year. But I certainly need many, many more resources. We have expanded our recruitment program. We are seeing more individuals come in to the pipeline as we would call it. My academy is currently full which is a good sign. First time it’s been in a few years, all the classes are full through the fiscal year. So, I am happy to see those kinds of numbers coming in but it does take time to hire for federal law enforcement and particularly into CBP through the process. We have expedited the process, the hiring process, and taken several steps in that area as well.
It’d be my preference, I suspect that most of my colleagues would like to see CBP doing the CBP jobs and for you to hire up so that the military could go back to more characteristically military functions rather than border staffing. But the other side of that is this processing coordinator which is a new role, too, for CBP. You may have touched on this with Ms. Torres Small but are the qualifications gonna be different from typical agents for that kind of position?
It is a lesser qualification and Ms. Torres Small did ask about it. We are in the process of finalizing exactly what that position would be like, the training that is involved. But the duties will be to able, the position is there so that I can put my border patrol agents back doing their main job.
What would be the expectation about the processing coordinator developing relationships with local organizations that are providing these kinds of humanitarian services?
I cannot say at this time in relation to working with them. We work very close with several nongovernmental organizations across the southwest border.
I’ve run out of time, but I just ask you to look at that because a lot of people are on the ground responding to the Trump administration’s change of policy back in October. I think we could learn a lot from each other and I look forward to that. I yield back, thank you, Madam Chair.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentlewoman from Texas Ms. Jackson Lee.
I’d like to thank the Chairwoman for her courtesies extended and I want to thank the Ranking Member for his. And also let me thank all of the witnesses that are here today for their service to the nation. This is a committee that I’ve served on before in the midst of, however, the terrorist act of 9/11 as this whole department was being created, so there’s a longstanding relationship with both the Homeland Security Department, its creation, the broadness of its jurisdiction, and then, of course, the committee that has oversight. And I would say that though we have certainly had common interests with the Department of Defense, this is an issue of the utilization of the Defense Department has always been of concern. So, let me first of all ask to General McGuire, how many troops are there on the border now?
We currently have 564 Arizona soldiers and airmen deployed and, or 546, we have a resource allocation and could be up to 764 in Arizona. The total number between Arizona and Texas operating under gubernatorial authority I think is just over 2,000.
So, these are National Guard?
All of the forces that are subordinate to Governor Ducey and myself are National Guardsmen. There are additional Title 10 active component, Mr. Salesses has mentioned primarily Marine Corps and Army folks, don’t have those specific numbers.
Are they in the hundreds? You’re saying there’s over 2,000 military personnel?
[Salesses] Ma’am, if it’s helpful I could answer those questions.
Yes, ma’am. So, there’s 2,700 active duty military members deployed in support of CBP. They’re deployed in all nine sectors and all four border states. As General McGuire pointed out, there’s roughly 2,000 National Guard personnel deployed. The predominance of the National Guard folks are deployed, military members that are deployed in Texas and Arizona. There are a small number in California and New Mexico.
Alright, so the larger numbers are in Arizona and Texas. Who is defining on a day to day basis the role that the military plays? First there’s a leadership directive from Washington I assume. Who’s doing that, but who’s giving them assignments day to day?
The assignments are done at the operational level. We receive requests, the Department of Defense receives requests from the Department of Homeland Security for the specific requirements that they would like us to assist with whether that’s helicopters or mobile surveillance camera operators, the type of military support that we’re providing right now. That’s approved by the Defense Department, by the Secretary of Defense, and then the operational commanders below that, in this case the Northern Command, for the active component and the individual TAGs like General McGuire who’s managing the National Guard for Arizona and the TAG from Texas.
Thank you, my time is short so. I appreciate it. Chief let me ask questions very quickly. People are appalled and we will providing as much money. I want to put on the record, it shouldn’t be a Republican or Democratic matter. But the conditions of the border are compounded by the administration’s rules and policies and precipitous announcements. Tell me, have you gotten a more credible health structure? When I was there, Coast Guard were working off of a table with some chairs as it relates to health care. And then have you improved the conditions that women and children are living in, particularly those who manage to get across the border. I know their conditions on the other side of the border in Mexico, but the conditions and the visuals are dastardly. And children shouldn’t be treated that way. So, if you can answer that and then the second component is, what participation will you have if the President goes ahead with, again, a thoughtless proposal of deporting a million people next week? What role will you have? Chief?
If I may address that first and foremost, the role of interior enforcement is Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
I know it is but they have to cross the border so you all are at the border. If they’re not flying they’re crossing the border. I understand that.
I do not have a role in relation to.
So, you have not heard from them on the policy as to what you all will be doing?
That is not something within CBP, that CBP.
That you have heard that you would be participating in? You have not heard anything?
I have not heard that. To address the issues and you point out very relevant concerns that we all have. My facilities were never built to house this demographic. They were built in the ’80s and ’90s mainly focused on housing single adults. And, once again, CBP does not do detention. It’s my goal to get everybody out of my custody and care as quickly as possible. This is why Health and Human Services, when it comes to unaccompanied children needs the beds to be able to take them into their care. And when it comes to single adults, I need ICE to have funding. The family units we are processing and removing and releasing as quickly as we possibly can. That being said we have added some soft-sided structures to expand. We have added shower trailers things like that. All of the consumables for humanitarian care, this is part of the reason that I need funding to help deal with this humanitarian crisis. And on the medical we have expanded the contract. We have a medical contract, we have expanded that. We are continuing to try to expand that further. My facilities are restricted somewhat in relation to what I have available for them to work in but we are trying to do the best that we can with what we have.
Well, this is as the supplemental that is being worked on. You are absolutely right. We should, in a bipartisan manner, nonpartisan manner, get you the dollars that you need to deal with the population that you have. You’re not establishing the policies. So, I hope that we can work together to get that done. Thank you, Madam Chair, very much.
[Rice] Thank you. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Green.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and I thank the witnesses for appearing as well. I, too, would like to echo the premise that this is not about conservatives or liberals, Democrats or Republicans, it’s really about people and about our border. And I believe that we have a responsibility to secure our border and I believe we also have a responsibility to deal with refugees, persons who are fleeing harm’s way. And my suspicion is each of you would concur with the necessity to secure the border as well as follow the law and deal with persons who are fleeing harm’s way. Now, if someone differs with me on what I’ve said I would kindly ask you to respond. Thank you, I take it you agree with me. And a lot of what we are doing in responding is based upon perceived facts, perceived facts. You’re all honorable people and you deal with facts. We do have some porous borders south of Mexico. Is it fair to say that El Salvador has a porous border, I was there just recently. Chief would you kindly respond?
Yes, I would say so.
[Green] Is it fair to say that they don’t have the level of border security that we have?
I’m not an expert on their security but I would say that is correct.
Same thing would probably apply to Honduras and Guatemala, that would be my speculation. Like you, I’m not an expert but I’ve been reading about these things and it seems like they have some porous borders. And that contributes to some extent to what’s happening at our border, fair statement?
Yes, I would certainly say as I stated in my opening statement, there are many individuals, not just the northern triangle folks that are traversing through those countries to come up to our border.
And Major would you concur that we have these problems with these countries and their borders?
Congressman, I have only visited Guatemala, I can’t discuss at all El Salvador and Honduras but yes, I’ve been briefed that they have similar problems with inability to secure cross border transnational activities.
It seems to me that our military was deployed based upon facts that were submitted. Is that a fair statement in terms of the deployment of the military conditions at our border? Is that a fair statement?
[McGuire] Yes, Congressman it is.
One of the facts that seemed to be in dispute is the fact that our border is the weakest in the world. Our border’s not weaker than Honduras or El Salvador or Guatemala. We have a border that we want to secure but I think we should acknowledge that it’s not the weakest in the world. If you think our border’s the weakest in the world, please speak up. I take it you agree that it’s not the weakest in the world. I mention this not because of your honor and your integrity but the chief executive officer of the United States of America, known to all of us as the president, that’s his statement. He made some of his decisions based upon his belief that our border is the weakest in the world. we ought not deploy our assets based upon malicious information. Assets should be deployed based upon certainty and facts. I lived around military people for a good deal of my life. All honorable people. This was not a fair statement to be utilized to deploy our assets. The weakest in the world. We don’t have the weakest border in the world. I do believe that there are some things we can do but we ought not fabricate stories to deploy assets. I yield back the balance of my time.
Thank you. We’re gonna go into a second round of questioning. I recognize myself for five minutes. Mr. Salesses, on May 8th 2019, Acting Secretary Shanahan issued a memo conveying a new policy for sharing information with Congress and the GAO, the Government Accountability Office. This policy states that access to plans, operational orders, and executive orders will be limited based on a number of factors and could be used to limit access to important information needed to support Congressional oversight. Can you tell me what those limitations are?
Congresswoman, I don’t know what those limitations are. I do know that we’re working very closely with the GAO right now to share information on what the Defense Department is doing. I know there’s a GAO audit under way. I’ve met with GAO personally. We do have a process in place to share a lot of information that has been published by the Defense Department and we’ll continue to do that. I don’t know the specifics of the memo in regards to what will be shared and not shared.
[Rice] Were you part of putting that together, were you consulted at all?
The memo? No, ma’am, I wasn’t.
So, you can’t tell us right now what the limitations were that then Acting Secretary Shanahan was talking about.
No, but I’m sure I can find out and provide that information.
Well, if you could please let the committee know
[Salesses] Absolutely, ma’am.
Because it seems to me that there are far reaching implications if there are going to be limitations put on information sharing for this committee to do our appropriate oversights. So, I would appreciate you sharing with us those limitations. In response to DHS’ April 2019 request for assistance, Acting Secretary Shanahan announced that DOD would make an exception to its practice of prohibiting DOD personnel from serving in roles that requires interaction with migrants in their daily activities. What limitations or restrictions remain in place for DOD personnel who are deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border and what are the DOD’s red lines for what active duty personnel cannot do in terms of border operations.
Specifically as it relates to that request, that was the request for the drivers. We’re gonna provide 160 drivers. We’re also providing 100 military personnel to assist with handing out meals. We’ve worked very closely with DHS and CBP in the conduct of our military personnel that will be in and around migrants specifically on buses. The Border Patrol will have a Border Patrol agent. There will be no custodial requirements for any DOD personnel in that process of either handing out the meals or driving the buses and that’s what that’s focused on.
Chief Provost do you have anything to add to that?
I would just say that is correct. There are certain duties that of course are inherently law enforcement related and we retain those duties. Mr. Salesses was exactly correct on how that is being carried out when it comes to transport and the meal prep and assistance.
Okay, thank you. And Mr. Salesses, if you could follow up and provide the committee with those limitations that we spoke of before I would appreciate that. Thank you. The Chair now recognizes the Ranking Member Mr. Higgins.
Thank you, Madam Chair. On April the 4th 2018, President Trump launched Operation Guardian Support which directed the Secretary of Defense to deploy National Guard personnel under Title 32 authority to support Customs and Border Protection in securing the southwest border. Operation Guardian Support relieves Border Patrol from non-law enforcement duties allowing them to focus on border security. Chief Provost would you agree with that assessment?
Does that clarify what we’re talking about regarding the DOD support?
Certainly, as well as other support.
My colleague mentioned the need to return to, I believe the quote was military role rather than border staffing. Let’s clarify for the American people watching please. Mr. Salesses, you are the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities for DOD, is that correct?
That is correct, sir.
And the DOD forces that are deployed to assist in Operation Guardian Support, are they not serving in an MOS specific military operational specialty specific roles?
They are providing support to DHS.
[Higgins] According to their MOS?
In the vast majority of them, yes, sir.
In other words, you have pilots and air crews flying planes, you don’t have ’em doing vehicle maintenance do you?
There are individuals doing vehicle maintenance.
[Higgins] You have vehicle maintenance MOS guys doing vehicle maintenance?
We do, yes, sir. Correct, sir.
You have truck driver MOS driving trucks, you don’t have them monitoring cameras? So, just to clarify for America, the DOD personnel deployed in Operation Guardian Support are performing their military role according to their training? They’re not just randomly performing border staffing, is that correct? General, please answer.
Yeah, to the max extent possible, we align them with their MOS. So, an 88 Mike truck driver will be driving trucks, an engineering soldier will be operating heavy equipment to support movement of our formations, our aviation maintenance guys will be repairing the helicopters that we sustain, the pilots are flying them.
Thank you, General, for clarifying that. I’d like to also clarify my colleague who I greatly admire, Mr. Green, wish he was here. He quoted the President as saying that we have the weakest border in the world. I’d just like to clarify that the quote was actually that we have the weakest immigration laws anywhere in the world and that Congress must change our weak immigration laws. I don’t believe that the President has stated that we have the weakest border or border security forces in the world. And I’d just like to clarify that. Chief, again, please share with us your thoughts on what would happen within your forces should Congress act and approve the supplemental funding and provide the resources that you’ve asked for? What would happen with your staff, your morale, what would be the response within your ranks, ma’am?
Well, certainly part of what we have been asking for is more manpower as well as retention incentives to support the amazing that my men and women are doing. But on top of that, all of the support that is needed. Currently I am using operational funds to deal with the humanitarian crisis and that is taking away from equipment and resources that my men and women need to do their jobs. As well as I stated before, the funding that is needed for ICE, I needed Immigration and Customs Enforcement to have beds to take these single adults out of my care and custody. I have approximately 8,000 in custody right now that I cannot release single adults. If I release single adults, we will lose the border. I have said that before. If we do not have some kind of consequence for violating the law and illegally crossing our borders, then I don’t know what I’m here for in all honesty or my men and women. Go ahead.
[Higgins] Would you concur, Chief, that the sovereignty of our nation is at stake?
It is and I will tell you that the borders that I am concerned with and the ones that I am responsible for are our borders.
[Higgins] Thank you, Madam Chair, I appreciate the second round of questioning. I yield back.
[Rice] Thank you, Mr. Higgins. The Chair now recognizes for five minutes the gentlemen from Mississippi, Mr. Guest.
Thank you, Madam Chairman. Chief, just want to follow up a little bit on what Ranking Member Higgins was just talking about. In your written testimony on page four, the conclusion, you state “Border security is national security, “there is no difference and the crisis on our “southwest border puts our national security at risk. “I’ve repeatedly asked Congress to act to address “the outdated legal framework “and broken immigration system that has “caused dangerous mass migration with no end in sight. “Without legislative solutions “CBP expects the need for continued DOD support “to help address the diversion “of resources away from the border “mission to the current humanitarian crisis.” And just giving you a platform, Chief, what do you believe that we can do as Congress to help stem the crisis that we’re seeing along our border?
Well, first and foremost we need to address the legal framework issues as I stated. Specifically, we have to have the ability to hold families together in an appropriate setting throughout an expedited immigration process. We have to do that. That’s why families are flooding into this country because the word has gotten out, smugglers tell them bring a child, you will be released into the country. We have to have that ability. We need to eliminate the double standard for non-contiguous unaccompanied children and that is where we have no ability to return children to their homeland if they’re not Mexico or Canada. We also need to tighten up the asylum process to address the low bar for credible fear as many of those who meet the bar for credible fear do not meet the bar for asylum. As well as the supplemental funding that we so desperately need.
And let me talk about that Chief. Because Congress has failed to bring to the floor a bill that would provide the supplemental funding to deal with the ongoing humanitarian crisis, has that made the situation along our southwest border better or worse?
It has definitely made it worse.
And has our lack of ability to, again, pass a supplemental funding request, has that affected the morale of the men and women who serve in your agency?
Yes, I would most certainly say so. As I stated before that supplemental is more than just the funding that I need because my partners don’t have the funding they need. That has a negative impact on my workforce. We have to maintain custody, for instance, longer of single adults and that is not the responsibility of my men and women. They should be out securing the border.
And I want to talk a little bit about the detention centers there along the southwest border. Are you familiar with those detention centers, Chief?
Alright. Recently a member of Congress has referred to those detention centers as concentration camps, remarks which myself and other members of Congress find highly offensive. Would you care to comment on that matter particularly in light of the fact that you and the administration has repeatedly requested supplemental funding so that we can better in a more humanitarian fashion house individuals, Congress refuses to act on that and yet we continue, as certain members of Congress continue to criticize what you are doing with the limited resources that you have. So, in the last minute or so of my time, would you care to comment on those remarks?
I personally find them offensive. My men and women as well as the men and women in ICE are doing the best that they can with the limited resources that they have. I’m calling agents who are bringing toys in for children and buying them with their personal money. Agents are bringing in clothes, they’re feeding babies, they are going above and beyond day in and day out to try to care for these individuals to the best of their ability and this is not what they were trained or what they signed up for to do. So, I am extremely offended by those comments.
Chief, again, I want to personally thank you and the men and women that serve under your leadership for the way that you all are handling this very difficult crisis. And I want you to know that there are members of Congress who will work to try to see that you have the resources that you so vitally deserve. Thank you, Madam Chairman, I yield back.
Thank you. And I too want to thank all the witnesses for their valuable testimony and the members for their questions. The members of the committee may have additional questions for the witnesses and we ask that you respond expeditiously in writing to those questions. Without objection the committee records shall be kept open for 10 days. Hearing no further business the committee stands adjourned.