Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson announced the “immediate deployment” of approximately 150 Border Patrol agents to the area of the border seeing the most traffic of unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors.
Johnson announced the added resources during a visit Monday to the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities in McAllen, Texas to see the ongoing crisis of unaccompanied minors and family units flooding across the border. He was accompanied on his visit by Health and Human Services Sec. Sylvia Burwell and Maryland Democratic Senator Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained crossing the southwest border alone. The majority of the children are from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Most of the apprehensions in that timeframe — or 37,621 unaccompanied minors — have occurred in the Rio Grande Sector, where DHS is sending the 150 additional Border Patrol agents.
“This deployment enhances efforts to execute joint, targeted enforcement operations in order to disrupt and degrade criminal organizations that are responsible for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs throughout the South Texas Corridor,” the Department of Homeland Security explained.
The additional deployments came as Utah Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) expressed outrage at Ronald D. Vitiello, Deputy Chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for saying that Border Patrol was “adequately staffed, and even better staffed than we were this time last year” in testimony before a House panel last week.
“They misled Congress and then blamed Congress. That’s how unorganized they are. We’re hearing testimony from the leader of the Border Patrol saying they have adequate staff. Nobody believed them when they said it. Then, a few days later, they changed their mind,” Chaffetz told Breitbart News Monday.
Johnson’s deployment announcement coincided with President Obama’s request to Congress for additional powers and appropriations to deal with the ongoing crisis. That day, Monday, Obama also announced he would be taking executive action to enact some kind of immigration reform alone.
“America cannot wait forever for them to act. That’s why today I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, explaining he was moved to act by a conversation with House Speaker John Boehner, in which the Ohio Republican said the House would not act on immigration this year.
House Speaker John Boehner responded that House Republicans do not trust Obama to enact an immigration law as passed.
“In our conversation last week, I told the president what I have been telling him for months: the American people and their elected officials don’t trust him to enforce the law as written. Until that changes, it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue,” he said.