tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN February 5, 2016 9:00am-11:01am EST
of the unknown, but every generation has to learn that the price of freedom is constant vigilance and sometimes it has to be paid in blood. and that's why it is so fitting that on a day dedicated to justice, to decency, to equal opportunity, a day dedicated to action, we're gathered by the national action network because progress is never passive. progress does not simply arrive. it doesn't just come because we wish for things to get better. because in this extraordinary nation that still has so much to offer to all of us, a nation created by and for the people, progress, progress is the product of a steady drumbeat of marching feet. it's the result of a sustained campaign through hardship and oppression. and as our president, president obama said, in his final state
of the union address just last week, progress is not inevitable. it is the result of choices we make together. and at a time when nothing, nothing about their success seemed foreordained, the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement chose to keep going. after each night in jail, they chose to press on. after each thought of a billy club, after each police dog, after each fire hose, they chose to get up and keep going. after each church bombing, after each cross burning, after each house bombing, dr. king and his followers confronted their doubts. they faced their fears and they chose to march on. rosa parks chose to take her seat on that segregated bus. john lewis and amelia boynton and others chose to take that first step onto the edmund
pettis bridge, knowing what they would face, they chose to step forward. time and again. no matter how tired or bloodied they were, the men and the women and the children of the civil rights movement summoned their courage. they leaned on their faith and they chose to taking that next step. even without knowing what lay ahead. and so my friends, as we come here today to celebrate the life of dr. king and as we seek to apply his lessons to the challenges that we face today, here's the question facing all of us. what will we choose? what will we choose? when we witness discrimination against others, what will we choose? when we see the right to vote rolled back, what will we
choose? when we hear voices saying that we should be satisfied with the progress that we've made, you've come stow so far, look how much you've achieved. look who's in the white house, when we hear people telling us that it's time to stop, what will we choose? will we choose to remain silent? will we choose to stand aside and quietly acwe can ses to the forces of apathy and inner shah? or will we choose to remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing? will we choose to keep this country marching toward audio freedom? will we choose to speak up and to stand out against the voices of bigotry and prejudice? will we choose love over hate? will we choose hope over despair? what will we choose? my friends, as i stand before you now, i commit to you as the attorney general of these united states that this department of justice will always choose to act. we choose to act.
[ applause ] we choose to act. to ensure that the promise of america, the equality and the opportunity that is america is within the grasp of all americans. we choose to act. we choose to act to lift up the essential humanity and the dignity and the equal rights of every american regardless of what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or the god that they choose to worship. we choose to act. we choose to act to use the law to push us forward, not because the law is perfect, but because it pushes us towards our better selves. we choose to act always, always on behalf those who have been left out and left behind. now, it doesn't mean that the
road ahead will be easy for any of us. and i wish that i could, as i talk to people across this country and hear about the struggles and the spheres, i wish that i could bring tolerance tons every soul and humanity to every heart. but while i cannot guarantee the absence of prejudice, i can guarantee the presence of justice and i do so. [ applause ] and despite all the questions and despite the concerns that i hear, as i travel this beautiful country of ours, i still remain optimistic about everything that we can achieve and everything that we can do together. despite the pain, despite the troubles and the agonies that we see on the nightly news every night, i have two reasons why i am so optimistic. first, despite the pain, despite the agony that we see, played
out on the daily news, captured in the cell phone videos of 100 foot soldiers of justice, we have opened a conversation about the pain that goes on in this country that has been larger than we have ever had before. we are at that point. and dr. king knew that what we had to do was push forward to make our case known to everyone in this society and become part of the dialogue of this society. and i'm also optimistic because i'll see so many young people fighting this fight. i see so many young people leading this charge. as they did 50 years ago. with energy, with different ideas, pushing all of us forward, keeping all of us on our toes. that's what we do. impatient they should be. eager they are. energetic, i thank god for that because that's where we were 50 years ago and all those voices
came together. all the different thoughts and theories of how to accomplish so many of the things that we've done today. we do face challenging times. we're at a crossroads. we have choices to make. but we have the strength of our history, we have the faith of our fathers. and we have the energy of our future all coming together to prepare us like no other moment in time to seize this opportunity, to choose to act. so my friends, choose to act. choose love over hate. choose hope over despair. choose peace over violence. and most of all, choose to continue the fight for the essential equality, the dignity and the beauty of every human being. i thank you so much for giving me a few minutes to come talk to you today. i thank you so much for carrying on this fight. [ applause ]
>> i told y'all she was a preacher's daughter. give her a hand. attorney general loretta lynch. [ applause ] after that, i'm tempted to raise an offering, but that wouldn't be appropriate. i thought as she was speaking about when i was 18, i was youth director for a ladies campaign for president named shirley chisholm. and i thought about we have a young lady in -- one of the
things i try to do is encourage and bring and give leadership plat fors to leaders of the generations behind me as those like reverend hicks and others did for me. and i'm proud that our youth leader, nationally, who's formed chapters all over the country is with us today. she's 17 years old. and she's the president of the freshman class at spelman as she leads the youth department of nan from our atlanta office. mary pat hector. where is mary pat? [ applause ] mary pat, now, i want -- i want mary pat -- i want you to sit with me. i want you to go right there where i was sitting a minute.
i want you to take a picture between the only two black attorney generals in the history of the country that you can showing this to your grandchildren. that's what this is all about. [ applause ] and as i said, she's president of the freshman class at spelman and we're going to make her stay in school with activism. i got active and dropped out of college. reverend jackson and hicks and them tried to make me stay in. that's why when i got on msnbc, i had to learn how to read the cue cards right. so you stay in spelman so you can read your cards right. and they won't be doing saturday night live on you and eric holder will be laughing about you. i also want to thank our washington bureau chief ho done such a great job. i'm so proud of ebony riley. stand up here. give ebony a hand. [ applause ] and our legislative chief, faith blackburn. [ applause ]
and to show young women of our community is not just nan, one of the things that president obama has done, among many, and he's been the best president that i've seen -- [ applause ] -- he has also elevated young women, and now heading the my brothers keeper alliance who was in the office of engagement in the white house, strong young sister that the whole world's going to know because she has done such a wonderful job. i see her in the audience. stand up. give a big hand. [ applause ] and is stephanie here? and stephanie young who's in the white house now in the office of
engagement, another young black female leader who's the daughter of a preacher. stand up stephanie young from the white house. [ applause ] all right. thank you. i want to, before bringing on the secretary of education, start with our first three awards. and reverend jay david cox is going to help me present the last three. and but i think it is important that we honor first a lady that symbolizes and stands for what the attorney general spoke to. last year when there was a videoed police shooting in north charleston, reverend nelson rivers called me and told me what happened that night. and i flew down and preached to the church that sunday.
and trudy who's here had the mayor of north charleston and police chief come. and they immediately took action on that videotape. we went to the scene of the shooting. and a minister led us in prayer. two months later, reverend nelson rivers called me and said that minister was conducting bible class in his church, than very same minister had been shot and killed along with eight of his members in the middle of bible class. a man, young racial arsonist, terrorist that had sat there and prayed with them an hour, but hate made him kill. and as we headed to charleston and saw the funerals and i went
to several of them and spoke at some and then the president came to the funeral of that minister and sung "amazing grace," it was not the president singing amazing grace, it was the families of the charleston nine that showed amazing grace to this country. which showed that what reverend pinckney was teaching that night was not a for malt but what they really believed. it was our grace under fire, our grace despite the pain, our grace even in the face of murder that brought us from the back of the bus to the front of the white house. and it's that grace even in painful times like this thattal keep us going. dr. king was a man of faith. he was a man of grace.
he was a preacher first. you can't celebrate dr. king's day and divorce him from what he stood for. and we wanted to honor today the widow of reverend clemente pinckney because her and her members showed this nation our community and our country at its best. showing that even through our tears, our faith remains steady. even through our pain, our steps will keep moving forward. we refuse to become part of the hate we fight. we refuse to succumb to those that see us the less than what god made us to be. and we honor jennifer pinckney who became the bride of reverend pinckney in 1993. she was jennifer benjamin. now mrs. pinkney raises his children and leads on. pre day of her life, bearing the
pain of her soul mate gone, but having the knowledge that she and others must continue to personify what he stood for or his living and teaching would be in vain. may you help me in honoring the legacy and memory of reverend clemente pinckney as we honor his wife, jennifer pinckney. [ applause ] this is also reverend pinckney's sister. if you ever saw reverend pinckney, you're looking at him.
voiceless. he believed in seniors getting affordable health care. before his untimely death, he was working with an organization and trying to -- that was trying to develop a mobile health unit because he lived -- his area was a rural area. it was a large centered area and so now they're trying to work with me so that they can raise the $250,000 to actually get this mobile unit into action. he believed in public education. there was never an issue when our daughters were born where they were going to go to school. they're going to public school. i went to public school. i was in a poor district, a poor school. but look at me.
that's what he would say. i'm a product of public schools. and our daughters will be products of public schools. another issue that he was working on before his untimely death were body cameras for policemen to have body cameras at all times. these are just a few of the issues and things that my husband worked on and believed. a lot of people knew him as senator. a lot of people knew him as reverend. family members like his sister called him clem. but he was my te.
i called him te. before we were even married, it was te and all of my friends started calling him te. on behalf of myself and our two beautiful daughters, ages 6 and 11, we want to thank you for this prestigious award. te was a humble and spiritual man and i know he would say that he wasn't deserving of any type of award. but since this has happened, the family has been very grateful for the love and support that we have received.
the community, our state, and our country. many people all over the world have prayed for us and expressed their love in so many different ways. we're blessed for the service of my husband. he loved his work as a senator. he loved his work as a pastor. and i am committed and it is my hope to continue his work and all of the issues that he stood for and that's why i've created a foundation in his name.
i want to make him proud. he always said, i got to do for my girls. me and eliana and malana, we were his girls, and because he lost -- they lost my mom, my mother-in-law at a young age or about 15 years ago rather, he adopted my mom. my mom became his mom. so instead of him having three girls, he had four. i got to take care of my four girls. i'll leave you with this. i miss te. the girls miss their father. on that fateful day, he was at work in the senate.
he knew he had to drive two hours to charleston to be a pastor. and i said, i'll go with you. i'll go with you so that i can help you drive and you can relax and do the things that you need to do, make phone calls. i'll go with you. at first he was like no, you stay home. but for some reason, i wouldn't let it go. i kept texting him. i'll go with you. i'll go with you. so he finally gave in and he said, i'll be there to pick you up 2:00. be ready. because i have to get to church.
so i told our 6-year-old, i'm going to church with daddy. and, of course, she says i'm going with you. i told our 11-year-old i'm going to church with daddy. and your sister's going with us. well, i'm going to stay home with grandma. he told malana on the trip to charleston, baby girl, when i'm finished, i'm going to take you to mcdonald's. unfortunately, we never made it to mcdonald's. unfortunately, my husband never
came back home. continue to pray for the victims' families. continue to pray for my family. continue to pray for the survivors. there were five survivors. and out of the five, i was one of them. and so was our 6-year-old daughter malana. i have work to do because i'm going to make my te proud. i'm going to continue to honor
would make them facing biting dogs and facing jail cells saying we shall overcome. and i thought as i grew older maybe they had a belief if they looked in the future that their sons and daughters would vindicate their sacrifice. as we honor people like robert smith who has become the most successfuler. if this industry, as we honor our labor leaders, i think our parents, grandparents that some in those dangerous dangerous days looked and saw a young lawyer that would remain grounded even in heady times. and would stand for justice that they never saw.
they had to dream and imagine something that became physically manifested in our times. in the body of eric holder who went to the justice department, grounded and firm and who and what this country was supposed to stand for. and despite being castigated and criticized, that "we shall overcome" theme never left his spirit and soul. when you're the children of those that took dog bites and church bombings and vicious murders, it would take more than some partisan members of the senate top of the turn you around.
we honor him today by showing that from good trees come good fruit. like i have the force to acknowledge, like others. and he not only went to the top of the justice department, but he brought others with him who have now spread out themselves. one that worked with him in justice was a strong young attorney justice firm named tony west who the left justice and is now the executive vice president of government affairs and the general counsel at pepsico. but he's brought the same spirit with him to show the continuity and to show the fruit from his tree. i have said that i wanted to step back and have his own brother, his own -- one of his own coworkers, one of the fruits from his tree, tony west, present eric holder with the award this morning.
tony west. [ applause ] >> thank you, reverend. if i could just take a minute and just say to you, mrs. pinckney, this weekend attorney general holder and i were in south carolina and yesterday, we had the great pleasure and privilege and honor to attend services at mother emmanuel. and when reverend sharpton talks about the amazing grace that your church family shows, in a moment when they were still grieving, the love and the welcoming arms that they
extended to us and to the other guests who were there yesterday not only enriched us, it uplifted us and your presence here today enriches us and uplifts us. so thank you very, very much. [ applause ] so i know the hour is getting late so i'm going to be very brief. and my brevity should not be taken as any indication of a short shrift for our honoree because you know him well. it's a cliche to say that a person needs no introduction. he truly needs no introduction in this crowd. we know him as a man with beigen roots, a man who is the son of immigrants who has justice as his north star a man that we know as not only the nation's first african attorney general but someone who used the
authority of that office to stand up for the least of us, to make his voice heard, to work with many of you to defend voting rights whether he they were under attack and they continue to be under attack. someone who used the power of his office to reform the criminal justice system that is too often defined by race and by class. someone who fought for the equality of all americans. regardless of who worship or who they are or who they love. so this is someone who certainly needs no introduction and i know him as my doj leader. as my boss, but even more important and more enduring as my mentor and my friend. it is an honor to present to you the 82nd attorney general of the united states, eric h. holder. [ applause ]
>> thank you. take pictures now? all right. well, good morning. it's a pleasure to be here. and i want to thank the national action networking for recognizing me with this great award. i want to thank tony for those brief remarks. we came up together on his plane. this is where tony is now, he's got his plane. and he was banging away on his computer, a much longer and nicer introduction. what's that all about, man? you know? i was helping him with it actually, you know? and obviously, i want to thank
reverend sharpton for heading a great organization that has really stood at forefront of a great deal of the progress that we have made over the recent years. miss pinckney, i want to say a special word of appreciation to you. i know that through you and you feel it that your husband work is going to go on and that you're going to be a major force on your own, on your own. [ applause ] loretta lynch, a great attorney general. a good friend who is on her own crafting her own path for justice at the united states department of justice. wade henderson, my man. you know? my man. when things got rough -- [ applause ] -- when things were tossed at me, that was a phone call to
make. you know? and he mobilized the troops and i could not have gotten through all the stuff i had to get through without you. we're going to miss you. i know although your position is going to change, your commitment to the cause will always remain and we thank you for all that you have done and all that you will continue to do. as tony said, we were at mother emmanuel this weekend. and one of the things that reverend goff said there and i just want to kind of pick up on, is that he talked about in his sermon the time is now. and it was kind of a play on and what dr. king said about the fierce urgency of now. we have made progress, but our journey is clearly not yet complete. we can't be complacent. we can't be satisfied. there are new challenges that we have to face that have their roots in some of the old things that we and our predecessors had to confront.
1960s, we fought for voting rights that resulted in the culmination and the passage of the 1965 voting rights act, and yet, here we are in 2016 still talking about voting rights. criminal justice reform. something that has been needed in this country for decades if not centuries. talked about it before it is still something that we must confront. we see in this presidential year i think a real disturbing recurbs of things that maybe i thought we had put in the past. hateful language around issues of ethnicity, race, and religion. there are too many people led by call it out, led by donald trump you know, taking one of our
storied parties in a direction that i think is inconsistent with the great legacy of that party. that after all is the party of abraham lincoln. would lincoln -- would lincoln look at these candidates and look at the things that they are saying as they race to the bottom and think that that is in some ways consistent with what he did for that party and for our nation? i hope that at some point, sanity will raise its wonderful head and people will see the wrong way in which the party is now going. there are new forms of old issues and we have to recognize that. and what we have to do is coming up with new solutions to deal with these new problems. national action network has consistently been at the forefront of crafting 21st century solutions for these 21st
century problems led by a person who has been a supporter of mine, an advisor and a person who is indeed a personal friend. we need the same commitment. we need the same courage, we need the same perseverance as martin luther king. people often said to me how did you deal with all the stuff you had to deal with in those congressional committees. i said nobody was hitting me over the head with a billy club. nobody was putting dogs on me or giving me death threats. so to sit up there and listen to, i'll be charitable here, [ laughter ] listening to some folks with whom i disagreed and get yelled at, speak to me afterwards and i'll tell you the words i really wanted to use, it was like really? is that the best you got? you know, first of all, i grew up in new york city. you know, really? you can do better than that. and we also have to understand that you know, the positive change is not a given. positive change is a function of
hard work. and that is what the people in this room i know are committed to. and that is what i know loretta is doing at the united states department of justice. the status quo will always resist change. always has, always will. you know, i think about these young people, i was going to say kids. well, kids. i'm old enough to call them kids in the black lives movement. and they disrupt, you know? they annoy. they get in the way. but guess what? that's how progress is made in this country. that's -- [ applause ] you know? in another generation, and i think loretta was right, we put dr. king in a place where he's kind of -- guess what, he disrupted. he got in the way. he annoyed people. john lewis did the same thing.
and before them a. phillip randolph, marcus garvey, certainly malcolm x. but listen to this, guess who else got in the way and annoyed and challenged the status quo. people like george washington, benjamin franklin, john adams, thomas jefferson, who looked at an unjust status quo and decided that they would foment revolution to change and make the country that we now have. so you know, before we get too upset with these young people, we need to understand the tradition that they come from and what their aims actually are. [ applause ] our job is to apply the pressure that needs to be applied in a political way, a moral way and a social way. we have to make the nation ask itself some hard questions and face some difficult truths. we are really adept as americans in kind of putting aside not focusing on, not addressing
issues that come before us. i gave a speech i remember in february of 2009. people gave me a lot of grief about that about this nation not looking at racial issues being afraid to confront racial issues. i thought it was right then. i'm more convinced now that what i said then was, in fact, true. and unless we are willing to confront these issues and come up with solutions to them, we're never really going to make progress. we'll feel comfortable. you know, people in. the '50s, people longed for the '50s. you know, abby grew up in the '50s. it seemed like a nice time but that was a time, you know, when racial segregation was the law in the south. you know, we had white picket fences, "father knows best" it was great on television. "leave it to beaver." black folks were suffering. you know? under the weight of an oppressive system at that time.
and these are the realities that we have to acknowledge, the realities that we must continue to confront. we have to prepare the future for those who come after us in the same way that people sacrificed, bled, died and made the present better for us. now, having said all of that, boy, he's kind of a down guy. i'm not. i am ultimately very optimistic. because i am convinced that the arc of progress really does go in an appropriate way. it bends every now and again. there are short circuits. it's not always a continuous line, but you know, if we persevere, if we commit ourselves, if we stay dedicated as those who came before us did, we will get to the place that dr. king talked about. we'll get to that promised land. so i want to thank you for this wonderful award.
and i want to pledge to you that though i have left the justice department, i will pledge my best efforts to remain involved in the fight. as i said in the white house on the day that i announced my resignation, i'll never leave the work. i will simply never leave the work. [ applause ] and i would hope that you all would feel that same sense. in all the things that we do that go beyond what we are here today to commemorate and to note, there are i know 9:00 to 5:00 jobs to be involved in. there are kids to raise. there are television shows to watch. but there's also a place you should find in your week in your day to be dedicated to the work. be dedicated to the work. so that we leave a country better than we found it. it won't be perfect.
but we can always make it better. and that's why i'm optimistic because i know that you'll be committed in that way. i will be committed to you in that way and with great leaders like this man and great organizations like this one, i am confident that a 21st century america can be better than the 20th century america that dr. king helped to shape in so many fundamentally good ways. so thank you again for this wonderful award. and i look forward to working with all of you in the years to come. [ applause ] >> eric holder. [ applause ] i mentioned robert smith who we'll be honoring who's such a model citizen. and we also have eric young, outstanding labor leader as well
as liz powell. but both of the attorney generals can referred to education. and the need to build the internal character and information of our young. when arne duncan left the administration, president obama looked around the country for who could continue that work. he came and glazed at the state that i was born. and found a courageous educator, visionary, one that we knew in new york well. for standing up against those that he had vested interests, for those that were supposed to be the object of what education is all about. and that is the students.
he did not waiver in the face of being questioned. he did not capitulate in the face of controversy. and he earned the respect of new york as he has now the nation. i bring you the acting secretary of education for the united states, the honorable -- from, brooklyn, home boy, so don't -- you know, he and i are the two different looks of brooklyn. i'll let you all decide what that is. the honorable dr. john b. king junior. [ applause ] >> good morning. >> good morning. >> thank you, reverend sharpton,
for that warm brooklyn introduction, and for your incredible leadership on behalf of civil rights and young people. it's an honor to join all of you this morning. it's humbling to follow mrs. pinckney, whose example is an inspiration to me and to the country. thank you for your words. it's an honor to follow the two attorneys general, attorney general lynch, it's a privilege to work with you to try to expand educational opportunity for folks who are incarcerated or leaving incarceration. and attorney general holder, inspired by your example and your unwavering commitment to continue the work even after leaving the administration. grateful to the national action network board for bringing us all together and pleased to be a part of a celebration of the life of dr. king. i want to spend a few moments reflecting on the principles of dr. king's life and their implications for how we think about the future of education in the united states.
dr. king dedicated his life to a few simple principles. equality, justice, compassion, hope. and to urgency. almost 50 years ago in a sermon about new year's resolutions, dr. king described a conversation with his children. he told them, i don't ever want you to forget that there are millions of god's children who will not and cannot get a good education. and i don't want you feeling that you are better than they are. for you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be. and so the question i ask us to reflect on this morning is, are we what we ought to be? we are closer, no doubt. we are closer than when dr. king spoke those words 50 years ago.
we are closer than when president obama entered the oval office. but are we there yet? i submit, we are not yet where we ought to be. we are closer, for sure.closer,. last year we announced the highest graduation rate we ever had as a country at 82%. we got there because of dramatic reductions in the dropout rate for african-american students for latino students. today there are more african-american and latino students in college than there were when the president took office. last year we had not only our largest graduating class from college ever but our most diverse graduating class from college ever. that's progress. we should recognize and celebrate that progress and celebrate the principles and the teachers and the students and the families and communities that made that progress possible and that thrive every day for equity and excellence. and, yet -- and, yet, for every
emmitt terrell we have a terrell rice. bias of institutional racism still in fact our promise of equality under the law. and so too inequality undermines our promise of educational opportunity. violence is black children going to school for 12 years and receiving six years of education. we worried that no matter what indicator you look at, our african-american and latino students have a gap. our low-income students have a gap. we see that gap in graduation rates and achievement. we know too often our students, our african-american, our latino students are receiving less, less resources, less effective
teachers, less access to art less advanced course work. we know it's still true an affluent student is six times more than likely to graduate from college. statistics suggest african-american man today a young african-american man is more likely to go to prison than to earn a bachelor's degree and yet we have far to travel. we're not yet where we ought to be. we are not yet who we ought to be. in a nation that imprisons a higher proportion of black males than did south africa at the height of apartheid, it is still no time for what dr. king once called the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. we must bring to the work of improving educational opportunity tremendous urgency.
it is an urgency that's deeply personal for me. reverend sharpton said i grew up in brooklyn, i went to ps-276. when i was in fourth grade in october of my fourth grade when i was 8 years old my mom passed away. career educator. she would come to new york from puerto rico. growing up in the bronx. became an educator. she passed away when i was 8. i lived with my father, himself an educator, grew up in brooklyn, went on to become a deputy secretary of education in new york, highest ranking african-american educator in the late '50s and early '60s. i lived alone with my dad after my mom passed and he was sick what we now know was alzheimer's, unknown diagnosed. home was a scary and unpredictable place.
i lost my mother. my father was so sick. school saved my life. school is the reason i'm standing here today. school is the reason that i was able to survive that period. teachers, new york city public school teachers made school this place that was compelling and interesting and engaging and safe when home was not. i became a teacher and a principal because i wanted to try to do for other kids what teachers had done for me. education is the difference between hope and despair. it is the d)=lence between life and death. and we are now at a crossroads moment as a country in education. last year the president signed into law that of every student succeeds act. that replaces no child left behind. so we have a new education law and the question is, how will we use that education law to
advance equity? that law, we authorize elementary and secondary education act. i was a high school social studies teacher so i have to put that in historical context. that act was first adopted in 1965 signed into law by lyndon johnson himself a former teacher. it must be viewed in the civil rights act of 1964 and voting rights act of 1965. it is a civil rights role. the education law is a civil rights law. the question for us will this new law advance equity? importantly it sets out every state must aspire to high standards. state chose standards but standards that reflect college and career readiness for all of our students. importantly it require that states act when schools are not meeting those standards. when schools are not helping student to meet those standards. there's been a lot of talk about this law giving more flexibility to states and, indeed, it does
and should, but we understand that our responsibility at the department is to ensure that the law is enforced in a way that advances equity and civil rights. that's our responsibility. we also understand that this greater flexibility for states is a call to action, a clearing call for the civil rights community to engaging every state capital on how states use this new flexibility. the question for our states will be, how do we define success, what do we do when there are inequities, and importantly, how do we ensure our schools reflect the diversity we value as a country. it will be critically important for the civil rights community to engage every state on these questions. yes, we know english and math performance are necessary but not sufficient for success in life. we know test scores don't tell us all that we need to know. there's an opportunity for states to look at. are students getting access to
advanced course work. are students getting access to art and music? are students in high need schools getting access to health care services and wraparound services that they may need? there's an opportunity for states to look at students not just their academic development but social development. those indicators can be valuable at a state's way looking at a school's performance but not if they paper over inequities. not if they distract us from the goal of ensuring equality of opportunity. and so this law can be equity enhancing but require the partnership of the civil rights community and the demands of parents and communities around equity. states also have an opportunity in this new law to get smarter about how we serve our students. ensuring all student have access to a well-rounded education. ensuring all students have access to quality pre-school which we know is a fundamental difference maker in students.
life trajectory. states have an opportunity to ensure that they hold to high standards. that politicians don't roll back higher expectations because we know it's often us, african-american students, latino students, low-income students for whom folks hold lower expectations. it's important states hold to those high expectations. whether or not states approach this new law in this way will depend on the engagement of the civil rights community. states have an opportunity to tackle the school to prison pipeline, to work to reduce solutionary discipline. work to change the relationship between law enforcement and schools such that schools are not a pathway to prison but a pathway to college. but that will require state leadership. and six decades after brown versus board of education, states have an opportunity to make smart decisions to ensure
that our schools reflect the diversity we value as a society. six decades after brown versus board of education there are communities around this country that have schools that are more segregated today than they were ten years or 20 years ago. will states use this new flexibility to advance locally driven voluntary efforts to create more diverse schools. we know when students are in schools that are diverse and strong, all students benefit. we know that there are smart changes that states can make to create magnet schools and regional schools and dual language schools and opportunities for students to engage cross culturally in school and we're albert for it, our democracy is stronger for it. will states do that? that will depend on the leadership of the civil rights community. we are at a crossroads moment in criminal justice as attorney general lynch and attorney
general holder spoke to. we're at a crossroads moment in education. the question is will we fulfill the promise of equality of opportunity through our schools? and the answer to that question is up to us, will we be who we taught be? the answer to that question stoup us. i'll close with this. my father, as i mentioned was a teacher in new york city public schools. and he also played basketball a lot. his brother was a famous basketball player, played in professional basketball before african-americans were allowed to play with white folks. and my father always wished he was as good of a basketball player as his brother pep loved to play on the weekend. one weekend they were playing and my father broke his wrist. so he came into school on monday and the principal said, oh, mr. king, you can't teach. and he said what do you mean i can't teach? the principal said we have a
rule, there's a regulation that says if you have a cast you can't be in your classroom. and my father said but my students are waiting for me. principal said i'm sorry that's just the rule. so this story my father used to tell whenever somebody would say something was too hard he would tell this story and say his wrist was feeling sort of sore, whenever it would rain. so he said to the principal, really i need to teach my las. my student need me. the principal said there's no there's rule. in new york city they have these very high desks. my father went to that very high desk and he smashed the cast and he brushed the pieces into a trash can, put his hand in his suit pocket and said i'm going to teach my class now. so whenever someone would say something was too hard or too much work my father would just hold that -- he didn't have to repeat the story.
[ laughter ] but my father understood that school saves lives. he could not have known then school would save his son's life. school saves lives and what happens in the classroom is tremendously urgent. my father understood that. he went to class that day to make sure we would become who we ought to be. so the challenge for us is will we act? will we take the actions necessary to become who we ought to be? let us act with urgency on behalf of the civil rights of our children. let us ensure that school is a pathway to opportunity. thank you so much. [ applause ]
>> honorable dr. john king. educated at cornell university, born in colorado, dr. king fought his last battle around economics. the man that has personified that who has been committed to human rights and civil rights. and is an outstanding entrepreneur and an outstanding philanthropist. he's now head of vista equities. he manages equity capital commitments of approximately $14 billion. and he's performed unequalled by any other in his field. he's been a firm supporter of
not only causes and education and in civil rights, but in opening the doors for others, and we're honored to honor him on this, the 30th anniversary of the martin luther king day holiday. will you join me in honoring robert f. smith. [ applause ] >> thank you for that wonderful introduction. when he gave me a call and said that he would like to and the national action network would like to honor me he told me who else was being honored i was
completely intimidated. how would i ever follow his speech and the attorney general loretta lynch and the attorney general eric holder? and now dr. king. i must say i think the greatest thing today that i really can celebrate i have my son here, my nephew, my cousins who get a chance to see two black attorney generals in my lifetime. [ applause ] our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. these words were so powerfully spoken by dr. king during the height of the civil rights movement. and continue to hold great meaning in america today. his invocation to stand up for what matters, despite the odds and despite the risk, holds great salience as we check in on
the state of the dream today. poverty blight our communities and fear pulls us apart. and our future remains uncertain, the by product of a very perilous present. all too often as a society we focus on what divides us. we aren't focusing on things that bring us together. in light of these challenges it would be easy to turn away, to feel daunted and throw in the towel and frankly throw up our hands in the face of this enduring struggle for equality. but to do so would fly in the face of dr. king's great dream. it would cut against the great power and responsibility that he believed each and every one of us had. and we have the power to heal the world through unity.
dr. king taught us not to live in a culture that encourages tolerance because tolerance is not enough. he taught us to covet a culture of respect, empathy, understanding, and love. in my family we live by very simple doctrine it was inspired by his teachings. you are enough. it's very much built on dr. king's lesson that each of us has a god given choice and a god given voice and with that voice comes responsibility to serve, to strive for excellence, to improve the lives of those in our community and those who are less fortunate and to bring peace into this world. and despite the many challenges we face i'm optimistic. because every day beneath the headlines of division, i see signs that we are giving cause
to this noble action. i see it in the innovative programs we offer our young people in the stem programs. learning to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow and efforts to expand their access to the arts and help them to come and know and appreciate the great outdoors that's america. in our work to preserve and cherish the vital pillars of the african-american cultural experience. in short, i find hope in the work that each of you do and the work of men and frankly the dream of dr. king's unity of reality -- i'm sorry unity, equality and opportunity are one step closer to reality with all the work that we do together. we will never become silent to the things that matter. we will always stand up for what matters and in doing so we'll pay the most valuable tribute to the life and vision of the great man that we honor today. i want to thank you, i want to
thank you attorney general holder, attorney general lynch for being who you are in standing up every single day for the rest of us. thank you. [ applause ] >> as we prepare to honor eric young, our labor leaders, i want to acknowledge -- i acknowledge morris who is an outstanding entrepreneur and a board member -- only board member of naacp national urban league, rainbow and the network. but his most distinct honor
today is that he represents cam newton. [ laughter ] and if nate miles think i had to pray for him, i was praying in the fourth quarter yesterday for cam newton. yeah. but where he advises and counsels cam newton, he and i have a better coach than he is to him and that's his mother. please stand up, bertha mcmorris is with us this morning. that's our special guest. [ applause ] growing up in the church we had bishops, attorney general holder we had elders, we had preachers, people that could preach but weren't ordained. and i want you to know that the
afl-cio and nan has the pre-eminent preacher in the world, jay david cox, president of afge to present the next award. give a hand. reverend cox is in the house. >> well, reverend i would prefer to think of myself as a bootleg preacher. i just don't have credentials. but i do believe that, you know, god calls all of us and my mother did want a preacher. i can promise you that. but, you know, last year we were here celebrating the king holiday and one of the honorees was miss augusta thomas who was one of the original people that did the sit in at the woolworth
lunch counter in greensboro, north carolina. she wasn't able to be with us because she was wrestling with leukemia. but sister thomas kicked jim crow and kicked leukemia. we're so glad you can be here with us. [ applause ] and, you know, it is such a great honor for me today to introduce one of our honorees, one of our afge own, mr. eric young. and i know attorney general holder knows eric. these two erics have done a lot of good work together. it would be an honor on any occasion but a special honor to be able to link his name with that of the reverend dr. martin
luther king. eric young deserves this award from the national action network not only because through his works he's a living example of dr. king's dream for america, eric you know how much we love you. it's also because he's an exceptional human being. a person of great courage, principle, compassion, and righteousness. our nation's history includes so many, many examples, far too many examples of law enforcement being at odds with the struggle of the civil rights and equality in this country. we've come so far in so many ways but the number of people who have been beaten and killed under, shall we say, questionable circumstances, the number of times that law enforcement has stood against those who were on the streets fighting for their rights,
fighting for their jobs, fighting for their very lives makes eric young all the more remarkable. eric young is the elected leader of a very diverse group of law enforcement officers in the american federation of government employees. that diversity includes different races, different religions, different politics, different sexual orientation, gender, regions of the country, and, yes, different ideas of about how criminal justice should be administered in this country. these are a very special kind of law enforcement officers. they are correctional officers in federal prisons. these are people who put their lives on the line every day doing one of the toughest jobs in america. incarcerating criminals. there are,er and i stand before
you brothers and sisters clearly acknowledging as brother eric will, there are thousands, tens of thousands of prisoners who are there for nonviolent drug offenses but trust me brothers and sisters there are thousands of rapists and murderers and people who prey on the children and elderly the worst of the worse and correctional officers face them each and every day so that we don't have to worry. it is not often brothers and sisters that one meets a leader of correctional officers who campaigns openly, actively and aggressively for sentencing reform in this country. it's not often, brothers and serio serious, that a correctional officer speaks out against prison overcrowding because it is inhumane for the inmates and dangerous for the correctional officers and inmates alike.
it is also not often that one meets a correctional officer who advocates for jobs and job training and education so, yes, inmates are able to behave better in prison, get out earlier and return to society, be productive citizens and enter the workforce and help the economy of this country. brothers and sisters, i am proud to tell you that afge is a union that believes so much in civil rights and we believe in law enforcement. both are deeply ingrained in our identity and our principles in afge. and brothers and sisters, i want to tell you, my brother eric young is the example of all examples. he's our first african-american president of our council of
prison locals and we're so proud of that. but most of all, brother eric, i take so much pride in telling you this day is a day about the content of people's character and you have the best content of character that i have ever seen in my life. brother eric, please know, afge, brothers and sisters love you with all their heart. please come on down because you deserve this award and we are so proud of you and the stance that you take for the american people for civil rights and for a better and greater america. [ applause ] i love you. god please. >> thank you very much. [ applause ]
>> now see this pulpit is sometimes turned over to me. now i'll tell you one thing, i'll take that offer. >> good morning. this is truly an honor and i would like to give praise to one whom all my blessings flow and my heavenly father who is first and foremost in my life. [ applause ] i thank the national action network for gracing me with the unprecedented opportunity to receive this martin luther king leader award. a humbling experience in having this award being bestowed upon me in front of my daughter. it forever will be a hallmark in my life. you all give it up for my baby. [ applause ]
it's even more special to have my niece here as well. she and my daughter traveled here from virginia to be with me. they were raised together in miami and now they are at the same college together. they are the first in my family to ever go to college. [ applause ] coming from a city on the other side of the bridge in miami where there are no beaches, i hope that i am an example to them and what is possible thanks to the leaders in this room who supported me and believed in me, my friend and colleagues alike. some here and some not here. next month will make 21 years that i have been involved in the labor movement. and it has not been an easy journey. it has been very hard. in fact, tumultuous at times. like many people in this room i
lost hope at times. life challenges including the death of two young brothers. i persevered only through trust and believing in god, only in god. i got through it because of the wise counsel he bestowed upon me. you know who you are. i thank you for being there. i thank you for believing in me when i didn't believe in myself. i had a moment two short years ago when i was contemplating quitting. jeff you sent me a scripture when i was dealing with the death of my baby brother. acts 17, veerse s through 17. when moses got tired and weary, they urged the israelites to
lose but there was a rock to sit on to hold up his hands until the battle was won. clifton buchanan, mike rule, robert swanson, you are my rock. you have been able to sit there with me, supporting me through these two years when i grew weary and i was tired. i lost two, but god gave me back three. your prayers got me through, brothers. [ applause ] like king, i learned to pace myself for long hard fought battles. i owe a lot to the afge an organization that's a sanctuary. it gratifies me to see many members here for the ceremony. lindsay lohan would be remiss if
i didn't acknowledge my livelihood to give me the opportunity to able to put my daughter in college, federal bureau of prisons. acting director who was here today mr. thomas cain and assistant director judy, i thank you all for coming. i'm sure in this moment and this momentous occasion. there's some people with whom i worked alongside for two years along with my other colleagues to represent the largest federal law enforcement agency within the department of justice. it's not easy task, responsibilities, 39,000 staff, finding common solutions to problems facing an agency that incarcerates more than 200,000 offenders. because we do this so well, you all know peace in your communities. we are the people who protect the people in america.
america spent $80 billion on incarcerating 2 million offenders. as criminal justice reform comes to forefront it needs include preventative programs. i'm a product of a prevention program, mr. holder. i attended junior high that was part of one of those programs that kept me from being at risk kids and dropouts. here i stand. while snenzing reform is ringing in the halls of congress i pray that this is the new civil rights movement that will continue to make this a priority for all our children. our children are our future. and far too many are losing their way and being raised in single family homes with family members incarcerated. one such program today i helped organize and helped model. which is the choices program at
my home institution at the federal institution in miami where we partner with the attorney's office and schools in miami to beer in little children to hear stories of offenders who are serving time and hoping to ensure they will make the right choices not the wrong ones. while sentencing reform is a worthy effort let's try to keep our children who are our future out of prison in the first place. [ applause ] as a professional law enforcement officer i'm ready for work even on those things not popular among my constituents like sentence reform to make it safe and my community better. continue do this in a comfort zone. dr. martin luther king had a dream but his dream didn't allow him to live comfortably. we are in the urgency, it's now as you heard two attorney generals come up here and speak.
rosa parks funeral al sharpton said something that stuck with me for something for many years. he stated that it amazes me that we act like we don't have work to do. you are correct. we do have work to do. trust in the matter -- truth of the matter is i would like to stand, i wouldn't be standing here for visionaries like dr. king. so i accept this award humbly and on behalf of my colleagues who believe in all things are possible when we come together to do the right thing for our peers and our community. before i close i do want to acknowledge the former attorney general mr. eric holder. you called me and you met with me after my election two years ago congratulating me on being the first african-american elected in my position in my organization in the 60 year history. to know that i served during an
era with the first african-american president of the united states, the first african-american attorney general, the first african-american director of the bureau of prisons who just recently retired is a momentous occasion and now i serve with the first female african-american and current attorney general who was your keynote speaker. just unprecedented. [ applause ] i try to put god first in all that i do. and i believe he blesses me with the divine favorite to see all things promising. for a man who attended an at roots dropout program at mays junior high. for a man not raised with mother or father. a man who is grateful to survive
the streets of miami on the other side of the street. for a man who lost two younger brothers trying to inspire their two sons and i'm hoping to be an inspiration of those coming behind me. and under similar circumstances. breaking barriers and ending generational curses. let's continue to seek the dream. dr. king's dream. thank you. [ applause ] as an only child, liz powell was born in the state of west virginia and graduate d in loga,
west virginia where she received a scholarship and attended west virginia state university. she joined the postal service in 1970 as aíic06áu time clerk, working in hemstead, new york post office on long island while at the same time working as a teacher's aide at the hemstead school district. she became actively in the hemstead local. in 1979 she was elected as the first female president of the hemstead apwu local now known as the western nassau. liz served member censorship as a national business agent from 1983 to 199 when she was elected as the first and only female member of the apwu national executive board. she believes that the membership is the most important faction of
the apwu and has consistently extended herself as well as the national business agents within the northwest, northeast region to provide local unions assistance necessary to be successful. this woman is an amazing young lady. most of us in this room know her. that's why she wins or been awarded this year's breaking the barriers award. why don't we all put our hand together and bring up elizabeth "liz" powell, secretary treasurer for apwu. [ applause ] >> thank you. it's amazing how are you history goes from place to place. i'm going where did he get that from?
giving honor to god, special recognition to the founder and president of unanimous, to make sure i had all the right information to be where i needed to be this morning and would has done i think a magnificent job of putting this breakfast together. [ applause ] to all of the honorees and each one of you assembled here, good morning. i had a lot of firsts in my life. but here's one my apwu colleagues over in that corner don't even know about. my cheering squad. one month after arriving in new york in 1963, i attended my first civil rights meeting. where i became secretary of the long beach new york naacp. that was a thursday. on that following monday i was
challenging a white establishment known as the robert lipton real estate agency who had gone on record for months saying that he would hire black but no one had applied who was qualified and could type. that, my friend, became my first official job in new york. because i could do both. if you think about the subjects that those of us who attended the mlk conference this weekend, you can take that moment and you can take this one and you can see that the movement created by dr. martin luther king in the fight for social and economic justice, civil human and workers rights is still an ongoing movement. although most of us remember the i have a dream speech the march on washington was organized to fight for jobs because it was recognized freedom without jobs of not really freedom at all.
and there's very few people today who know that the march would not have been possible if it had not been for the support of the labor unions. however, we're bress blessed an strengthened by one piece of certain information and knowledge and that is there are no lost causes that the fight is never over. that as long as we stand together and the blood is in us, there can be no final defeat on any battleground. that's why we have to keep the fight going because if we give up the fight we give up the struggle. and while we may not move mountains, if we do the work that falls to us to the best of our ability we may rest into consciousness of a job well done. our message must be loud and clear. and more important, whether we win or lose, is how we play the game. but then on the other hand how we play the game determines whether we win or lose.
as i progress up the ladder in american postal workers union i stood on the shoulders of my brothers as well as my sisters but more importantly the shoulders of the american postal workers union membership and i am deeply honored this morning to be one of the honorees because in reality you don't just honor me you honor the fight for economic and social justice for all working people. therefore, on behalf of my sisters and brothers in the labor movement with special recognition to my president, apwu officers, members and friends who are here with me this morning i respectfully accept this award and will cherish this moment as i continue to be a part of the movement that continues to fight for social and economic justice and i will be with you. sister pinckney, i know i don't have to tell you this, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. god is good all the time.
you have a lot of love from those of us who express our sincere sympathy and if there's anything that we can do in anyway to assist you let us know. god bless each and every one of you and thank you so very much for this award. [ applause ] in economic news the u.s. economy added 151,000 jobs last month. a slow down from recent months but still a sign of a solid job market. the associated press writes that employers raised pay, more people felt confident enough to start looking for work, and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.9% and that's the lowest level since 2008. coming up live today on the c-span networks at 2:00 p.m. eastern secretary of state john kerry and colombian president
will hold a joint press conference at the state department. we'll have that live for your on c-span 2 again starts at 2:00 p.m. eastern. coming up littler this evening hillary clinton and senator bernie sanders will speak at a new hampshire democratic party dinner hosted by the 2016 mcintyre shaheen-100 club. taking place in manchester, new hampshire. that's live starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on our companion network c-span. citizens of the granite state are not easily won. the country meeting places are hot beds of political discussion. voters brave bitter snow and sleet to cast their vote. >> thanks to the people of new
hampshire. >> great to be back in new hampshire. >> first in the nation primary. >> new hampshire. >> new hampshire. >> new hampshire. >> he's from new hampshire. >> great to be back in new hampshire. >> one reporter called new hampshire's primary the most cherished of american travel rights. [ cheers and applause ] >> governor, thank you so much for coming to new hampshire. >> this is a place where you can observe a candidate in the heat of a dialogue, in the heat of getting tough questions about their positions on the issues. it's not just a place where there's a scripted speech. >> new hampshire takes its first in the nation primary status really seriously. >> this is one of a whole series of town hall meetings we're going to be having. >> this is my 20th town hall meeting. >> welcome to our 115th town hall meeting here in new hampshire. [ laughter ]
the house homeland security committee held a hearing earlier this week examining the visa process for refugees who are seeking to vetle in the united states. witnesses include administration officials from immigration, the state department and homeland security. >> committee on homeland security will come toward. committee is meeting today to receive testimony regarding the threat posed from the exploitation of our nation's refugee and visa programs by violent islamic extremist groups such as isis.
i now recognize myself for an opening statement. today we're in the highest threat environment since 9/11 yet there's a crisis of confidence. over the past few weeks i've traveled around the country to discuss the terror threats we face and how to thwart them. the american people are concerned and rightfully so. the president believes terrorist groups like isis are on the run but the truth is that they are on the march. gaining ground across the world. make no mistake they want to send their foot soldiers to our shores. that's why we're here today. we must be clear eyed about our enemies goals and do what it takes to prevent them from exporting their violence to america. this morning our focus is on our nation's refugee and visa programs. terrorists have used these routes to get into our country, exposing security vulnerabilities into our systems. just last month the fbi arrested
two iraqis in the united states on terror related charges. both were inspired by isis. one had traveled to syria and both had entered our country as refugees. in december two isis fanatics in san bernardino launched a heinous attack that left 14 dead and 22 wounded. one of these terrorists came into the united states already radicalized on a fiancee visa. jihadists see these programs as a back door into america and will continue to exploit them until we take action. isis has vowed to send its operatives into the west posing as refugees and it has done so to brutally murder civilians on the streets of paris. our intelligence community has told me that individuals with terrorism ties in syria have already tried to gain access to our country through the refugee program. what's even more concerning is that top officials had testified
before this committee that intelligence gaps prevent us from being able to confidently weed out terrorists from these groups. that is why i drafted the safe act which passed the house with a veto proof last year. it will add additional layers to the process of adding refugee from the conflict zone. sadly the white house has chosen to let partisan politics get in the way of national security and pushed for this bill to be blocked in the senate. without these enhanced protections in place more violent extremists will be able to slip through the yacracks undetected. our visa programs are even a bigger concern. on the chart behind me you can see the terrorists have used student visa, tourist visas and more to infiltrate our country and plot significant acts of terror but time and again we have failed to close the
vulnerabilities in the system quickly enough. every one of the 9/11 hijackers came into america on visa and we failed to connect the dots to stop them. several overstayed their visas and nothing was done. we saw this again in 2012 when the fbi arrested a morrocan national planning a suicide bombing. in a report to congress issued looft mon last month dhs admitted there's hundreds if not thousands of aliens in this country. they came in legally but did not leave when they are supposed to. that's why we must fulfill one of the remaining recommendations of the 9/11 commission by moving forward with the biometric exit/entry system to track those
who overstayed their welcome. we're currently working on legislation to close other glaring gaps in the system. and to bring visa security screening into the 21st century by incorporating social media data into screening. more broadly speaking this committee has led the effort in congress to shut down terrorist pathways in to our country. our bipartisan task force on combatting terrorists and foreign fighter travel led by the gentleman from new york made more than 50 actionable recommendations to improve our defenses. i'm proud to say that as of yesterday we have taken legislative action typical pleament nearly half a million. this includes a major security overhaul, through effort spearheaded by this committee's vice chair miss miller. however we're deeply concern despite signing this law the president does not plan to implement it faithfully. this failure of implementation
is not the topic of today's hearing. the committee will convene one week from today to question witnesses from dhs and the state department on their inaction. let us not forget we're engaged in a war against islam terrorists. americans expect us to act like it and to do what it takes to respond to the evolving threat and secure our homeland. with that now the chair recognizes the ranking member the gentleman from mississippi mr. thompson. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for holding today's hearing. i would also like to thank the department of homeland security and department of state for being witnesses here today. given the evolving threat environment it's proper that this committee examine both the visa security and refugee vetting process. last month in separate incidents two iraqi refugees accused of
having ties to the islamic state were arrested in sacramento and houston. in december of last year the united states was stunned when a mass shooting and attempted bombing were perpetrated by two attackers in san bernardino, california. the perpetrators were husband and wife and the wife entered the united states on a fiancee visa. also in november it was reported that a fake syrian passport was found with one of the terrorists who carried out the deadly paris attacks directed by isil. consequently i understand the concern that is presented here today. however, as i've stated in previous hearings it's important that we as federal policymakers embrace facts not fear. our refugee screening process includes the most thorough vetting any visit or immigrant
to the united states. with dhs conducting an enhanced review of syrian refugee cases. throughout the refugee application process applications continue to be checked against terrorist databases to ensure no new information has come to light. if there's any doubt about whether an applicant poses a risk, that person will not be admitted. with proper vetting we should continue to welcome vulnerable populations to this country. including syrian refugees in keeping with our history and values as americans. providing safe harbor to individuals who no longer have a home because of war and violence is the humane and american thing to do. today i hope to hear from the department of homeland security about information that the agency can publicly share about
its improvement to the refugee vetting process. advancements in technology and keep evolving threat environment require continuous evaluations how the agency use vetting and screening processes. it's been reported that united states citizenship and immigration services is using social media in vetting refugee applications. while we understand social media can play a role in refugee vetting, we should remember it is only one part of an extensive process. frankly, the more explicit we are about our refugee vetting process in public, particularly with respect to social media the more valuable information we stand to lose. users have the ability to control their social media, so we do not want to tip them off.
additionally, while the overwhelmingly majority of visa holders are legitimate visitors who comply with the terms of their visas and depart in a timely fashion, some have exploited the system. in the wake of september 11th, attempted christmas day 2009 attack and other incidents we strengthened our visa security by pushing out our borders, conducting screenings early in the process, and enhancing how we vet visa applicants. i want to hear from dhs and the state department about what needs to be done and what resources are necessary to address security vetting challenges. i'm particularly interested in knowing whether there's a way to improve the vetting process to identify people that seek to do us harm, but on whom we have no derogatory information, which i under was the case with one of
the san bernardino perpetrators. as we consider the review of the refugee and visa security process we need to make sure that if there are improvements that need to be made, congress will commit the funding for them. we cannot make substantial changes to these programs if they are not properly funded. finally, mr. chair, in december the house came together and passed legislation to strengthen the visa waiver program. i understand as you've already indicated that next week the committee will hold a hearing on the visa waiver program and specifically how our administration intends to implement language including the recent enacted bill to prohibit individuals with citizenship in or recent travel to iraq, iran, sudan, syria from coming to the
u.s. under the visa waiver program. instead, such travellers would have to obtain a visa. i strongly support giving the secretary discretion to waive a visa requirement when doing so is in the interest of our national security as provided for under the law and, in fact, supported some discretion for certain individuals on a case by case basis who travel to one of the four countries for viaable, legitimate purposes. i'm concerned about recent statements indicates that will the department of state and homeland security may attempt toeksempt broad categories of travel from the requirements of the law and i look forward to hearing some comment at some point on that. mr. chairman with that i yield back the balance of my time. >> other members are reminded
opening statements may be submitted to the record. we're pleased to have a distinguished panel before us today. first mr. francis taylor assumed his post at the department of 2014. in this role he provides secretary johnson, dhs senior leadership, dhs components and state local tribal private sector partners with the homeland security intelligence and information they need to keep the country safe, secure, and resilient. thank you for being here and thank you for your service. previously, he served as assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security and director of the office of foreign missions. mr. leon rodriguez was confirmed by the united states senate in june, 2014, as the director of the united states citizenship and immigration services. he previously served as the director for the office of civil rights at the department of health and human services, a position he held from 2011 to
2014. part of that time he served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the department of justice. mr. kubiak assumed the role -- our next witness -- of assistant director for international operations at u.s. immigration and customs enforcement on june 30, 2014, and in this position he is responsible for a budget of more than $130 million and operational oversight at 63 offices and 46 countries and eight department of defense liaison offices of over 400 personnel. and finally ms. michelle bond was sworn in as assistant secretary of state for consular affairs on august 10, 2015. she leads a team of 13,000 consular professionals and almost 300 locations across the united states and around the world who protect the lives and interests of u.s. citizens abroad. i want to thank all of you for
being here today and i now recognize mr. taylor for his testimony. >> chairman mccaul, ranking member thompson, thank you for allowing us to be here to discuss dhs's refugee visa and other admission screening and vetting efforts. i prepared a statement for the record, sir, but i will just highlight in my oral comes a few other items. dhs, together with our law enforcement intelligence colleagues leverage a range of information and processes to carry out screening and vetting supporting our operational missions including preventing terrorism. screening and getting are key to refugee visa and other administrative admissions processes. everyday dhs with our interagency partners vet millions of individuals traveling to, from, or within the united states applying -- those applying for citizenship
and immigration benefits and those applying for credentials and special accesses. as screening and vetting efforts include biometric and buy graphic information collection, in-person interviews, detailed research and analysis, database vetting and bulk data screening, publicly available information vetting including social media and identity verification. because of the technological advances and evolving nature of the threat environment we face, we have efforts continuously under way to enhance our screening and vetting processes. additionally, since in december secretary johnson asked me to lead a review of the department's current use of social media in our vetting and identity processes to develop a future state that optimizes the use of social media vetting across our department.
a review found while social media efforts are under way across departments, social media use as a vetting tool by components is varied and, could benefit from a unified approach that leverages the strength of the entire department and state-of-the-art technological capabilities. the next step for us to to address these issues which we are aggressively working to do. while i cannot get into the specifics of many aspects of our screening and vetting efforts in an open hearing, these are the broad steps dhs is taking to further improve our screening and vetting of refugees and visa applicants. one, developing policies in a framework to systematically leverage all information and intelligence available to the u.s. government to inform our vetting programs and
adjudication decisions. second, screening applicants at every stage of the vetting process to ensure new information regarding applicants informs our admission decisions. third, continuously refining and enhancing our policies, processes, capabilities and systems as we have since 9/11 to ensure we leverage emerging technologies and capabilities and adapt to a constantly evolving threat environment while we are protecting privacy and civil liberties. and fourth determining the appropriate investment strategy needed to automate a process that enables bulk data screening and analysis in a manner that protects both individual liberties but produces information of value. these are just a few of the steps dhs is taking to meet this challenge and we will continue to seek new ways to solve our most pressing national security
issues and fulfill our border security, immigration and travel security and other homeland security missions. chairman, ranking member thompson and members of the committee, thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you, i look forward to answering your questions. >> the chair now recognizes director rodriguez. >> good morning chairman, ranking member, members of the committee. thank you all for convening this very important hearing. chairman and ranking member as both of you observed, there are very active and dangerous individuals in organizations who were sworn to the destruction of our country. every morning when i quake up to do my work i think about exactly that. i want to talk about where the refugee program sits in the context of those threats. we have heard the refugee program described as a purely humanitarian and optional undertaking.
i am here this morning, among other things, to suggest to you that the refugee program is, in fact, a vital part of both our foreign policy and national security. let's talk about the specific syrian case. the four million refugees now dispersed throughout the middle east and europe are on the whole the victims of the very individuals sworn to destroy us here in the united states. they are now scattered throughout both the middle east and europe, 400,000 syrian refugee children are not in school and i do not need to dwell too long on what the consequences of that could be in terms of human trafficking, potential for radicalization, a long list of other risks and harms which should be intuitive to this body. and so therefore refugee admissions are a critical element of regional stability, stabilizing the regions where these individuals are located which, in turn, has important
consequences to the united states in uniting together with our european allies are facing while we are talking about taking 10,000 roughly here in the united states, many of my european colleagues are dealing with many, many times that already in their borders and, in fact, in many cases without any patrol at all. the 10,000 we're talking about is merely a quarter percent of the four million who are currently refugees and an even smaller fraction of the number of syrians who are displaced either within syria or elsewhere in the world. they also represent about one three hundredth of one percent of the overall population of the united states so i would suggest to fail to admit refugees who were, in fact, the most immediate and most severe victims of that sort of terrorism of those sorts of threats would cede a vital part of the battlefield to the people seeking to destroy us.
now, in order to admit those refugees, we need to do it safely. that's the critical topic of this hearing today. and i'm here to talk about refugees and more generally about our immigration system and what we do and have been doing for a very long time to ensure that those who seek the benefit of coming to the united states and staying there the united states are not those who mean us harm, either as threats to national security or otherwise threats to our society. in fact, refugees go through a very lengthy process involving multiple interviews, is multiple screenings. they are checked against databases of the united states law enforcement, the intelligence community customs and border protection, state department advisory services, and many of these are tools that, for example, when we talk about september 11 did not exist
at that time, were not in utilization at that time. everybody when we talk about individuals who came in 2009/2010, some of the most powerful tools we use now are tools that were not in existence at that time. let me talk about one particular example, it's a tool that we call the interagency check that is now used in the case of virtually every syrian who is admitted as a refugee, in the case of every iraqi admitted as a refugee. that sort of check goes against the entire universe of intelligence holdings and law enforcement holdings of the united states. as evidence of the effectiveness of the use of those tools alongside the 2,000 or so syrians who have now been admitted there are also 30 individuals who were denied outright because they failed either the check or the interview process and there are several hundred who are on hold as our fraud detection national