Obama’s DHS secretary returns to Fox to sound the border alarm: ‘It’s a crisis’

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson repeated his agreement with President Trump that there is a crisis at the southern U.S. border and it exceeds anything he saw serving under the Obama administration.

Johnson spoke about the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border as a “crisis by any measure” during an interview on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

 

“Are we in a crisis at the southern border in America?” co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Obama’s former DHS Secretary who served from 2013 to 2017.

“By any measure, 4,000 arrests in a day, 100,000 in a month — that’s the population of the city of Albany, New York, that suddenly shows up on our southern border in one month — is a crisis,” Johnson responded.

“And it’s a crisis because it overwhelms our Border Patrol and our immigration officials’ ability to deal with it. And it’s a crisis because you have to absorb that population somehow into southern border towns. And so it overwhelms the humanitarian effort on our southern border, it overwhelms our DHS personnel,” he explained.

“And frankly, it all emanates from the crisis that’s been going on for some time in Central America,” he added, noting that a “long-term investment” has to be made in addressing the poverty and violence in Central American countries that fuel the migrations.

“A lot of people don’t want to hear that. They want quick, easy answers. They want some legal lever to pull to do something dramatic and different,” he said. “But it requires a sustained political commitment through, I suspect, multiple administrations.”

Co-host Ainsley Earhardt pressed him on the response of many Democrats who dismiss claims of an emergency as a “manufactured crisis” by the president and Republicans.

“I know what 1,000 a day looks like. I saw it myself at Border Patrol holding stations. I cannot begin to imagine what 4,000 a day looks like. It must overwhelm the system,” Johnson said. “I think we have to get away from Democrat vs. Republican and ‘crisis’ vs. ‘no crisis.’ This is a crisis by any measure.”

Johnson repeated an assertion he made last month that the crisis along the southern U.S. border that the Trump administration has been warning about for years is 100 percent real and not “manufactured,” as some among the far-left have alleged.

Johnson cited the smaller immigration crisis the Department of Homeland Security faced in 2014, noting that the Obama administration acted to decrease the number of illegal immigrants through “messaging about the dangers of the journey,” getting the Mexican government to help on their southern border with Central America, and expanding their detention capability, specifically for families.

“That was controversial but it got a lot of people’s attention. So by late summer 2014, the numbers were down and they stayed low for the next year, year and a half, lower than we had seen anything since the 1970s,” Johnson said.

Another former Obama official sees the exit of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as an opportunity for a “new direction” at the agency.

“I think any time you have a change at that level, I think it kind of gives it a jump start and maybe a new direction,” former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan told “Fox & Friends” on Monday.

Johnson’s “advice” to Trump and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle was to “come together” with a bipartisan solution.

“Look, my advice to the president, to the Congress, to my democratic friends in Congress: this is a big problem. And this is the kind of thing the American people look to their political leaders to fix. The fix is inevitably bipartisan. It must be bipartisan,” Johnson said Thursday.

“When I was in office, I worked with a Republican House for the entire three years I was in office. And for two of those three years, a Republican Senate,” he explained. “The need for resources, the call for additional resources, the calls for changes in law require a bipartisan approach. I recognize it’s a year before an election. We are ramping up for a new election. People are going to their neutral corners.”

“They are not so neutral,” co-host Steve Doocy interjected.

“They are going to their corners, this is a big problem,” Johnson doubled down. “And it is times like this when the public should say to their leaders we need to you come together and fix this.”

But with Democrats fully committed to resisting anything Trump puts forward as a solution, a group hug and non-political cooperation seems out of reach. And it seems it’s only a matter of time before Democrats and others on the left turn their attacks on Johnson for speaking the truth.

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Frieda Powers

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