(Washington, D.C.) — U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson revealed that there were an estimated 480,000 illegal immigrants apprehended along the Southwest border in fiscal 2014, with more than half arrested in Texas.
During an October 9 discussion sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Johnson added that President Obama is “very committed” to taking executive action on immigration reform between the midterm elections and the end of the year.
Preliminary DHS estimates made public by Johnson show that there were 479,377 undocumented immigrants arrested along the U.S.-Mexico border in fiscal 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 thru Sept. 30, 2014).
Of those arrests, “about 53 percent” occurred in the U.S. Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley sector in Texas, said Johnson.
More than half of the estimated 2,000-mile long U.S.-Mexico border lies in Texas.
The apprehensions in 2014 mark an estimated 15 percent increase from the 414,397 illegal aliens captured in fiscal 2013.
U.S. Border Patrol arrests have been steadily increasing since fiscal 2011.
The increase this year was primarily fueled by an influx of unaccompanied children.
“This summer we saw an unprecedented spike in illegal migration into South Texas. Almost all of this migration came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador,” said Johnson. “And, as everyone knows, it consisted of large numbers of unaccompanied children and adults with children, which presented a humanitarian dimension to the problem.”
There were a total of 68,551 unaccompanied children apprehended along the southwest border in 2014, marking a nearly 80 percent increase from the 38,759 arrested the previous year.
In dealing with the unaccompanied children issue, “Our message was simple: our border is not open to illegal immigration, and that, if you come here illegally, you will be sent back consistent with our laws and our values,” said Johnson.
He told the audience at the CSIS event that President Obama is “committed” to reforming the immigration system by executive fiat if Congress fails to act.
“The president is very committed to taking executive action to fix our broken immigration system in the absence of action by Congress and so am I,” said the DHS secretary.
“We’re developing a set of reforms that I will characterize as comprehensive in nature, but within our existing legal authorities,” he continued. “There are a number of things we can do and we should do to fix our immigration system, which I anticipate will be announced somewhere between the midterm elections and the end of the year.”
He did not elaborate further on what the executive actions would entail.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), in a joint statement, accused the president of employing “raw politics” by pushing executive action on immigration until after the midterm elections.
Both GOP House leaders oppose executive action on immigration.