Chairwoman Roybal-Allard Statement at Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Hearing
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Request for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
I welcome everyone to this morning’s hearing on ICE’s FY 2023 Budget Request. Today, we welcome Tae Johnson, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Acting Director Johnson, as a career civil servant, you have been asked to step into this interim role as ICE Director and we appreciate your service in this capacity.
There are significant disagreements about immigration policy in this country and among members of this Subcommittee.
My own view is we should work together and focus our limited resources on those who threaten our public safety and national security and to find appropriate solutions that balance immigration enforcement with due process, and balance removals with humanitarian considerations. I believe the Administration’s actions are moving in that direction.
We have seen many important retractions in the last 16 months of the prior administration’s policies that abrogated the rights of asylum seekers and other migrants. Those policies drove a wedge between ICE and many communities, particularly those with large migrant populations.
I have also been heartened to see that ICE has taken additional steps to better focus its resources.For example, when you were before us last year, we discussed the draft Enforcement Priorities Guidance, you issued in February 2021.
This draft guidance focused ICE’s resources on the pursuit and removal of aggravated felons and other serious criminals, compared to ICE’s less targeted approach in the past. In late September, the Secretary updated that guidance to ensure ICE focuses its resources on the apprehension and removal of noncitizens who are a threat to national security, public safety, and on our border security.
I was also pleased to see ICE’s announcement this spring that it was providing and directing its attorneys who represent ICE in immigration court proceedings to exercise discretion in accordance with these priorities.
But more remains to be done. I continue to be concerned about the state of ICE detention facilities and how individuals are treated while in ICE custody.
One issue I’m particularly alarmed by is that those in ICE custody continue to have difficulty obtaining access to legal counsel and then communicating with their counsel.
For example, a 10-15 minute monitored phone call is not nearly sufficient given the sensitivity and complexity of the legal issues and necessary evidence one needs to present their case. I look forward to discussing these continuing issues.
Lastly, I would like to recognize the important work and accomplishments of the Homeland Security Investigations workforce, including their work in disrupting transnational criminal organizations.