Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson implied on Thursday that more illegal immigrants may try to enter the country as the economy improves.
After saying that he was “not declaring ‘mission accomplished’ on stemming the tide of illegal immigrants from Central America, Johnson acknowledged that “much of illegal migration is seasonal” and noted that “the President and I are committed to building an even more secure border, and a smart strategy to get there.”
“The poverty and violence that are the ‘push factors’ in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador still exist,” he said at an address at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. “The economy in this country – a ‘pull factor’ — is getting better. There is still more we can and should do.”
Tough more illegal immigrants may try to enter the country as the economy improves, recent polling has found that even a majority of Hispanics want tougher laws against businesses illegally hiring illegal immigrants.
Johnson said that “today’s Border Patrol has the largest deployment of people, vehicles, aircraft, boats and equipment along the southwest border in its 90-year history. This includes a budget of $3.5 billion, a total of 23,000 personnel, and 20,833 border patrol agents.”
He mentioned that the number of illegal immigrants from Central America dipped after more resources were put on the border and highlighted the administration’s “ontinuing aggressive public awareness messaging in Central America and elsewhere” to discourage illegal immigration. He said he even wrote “wrote another open letter in the Spanish language press to repeat the message” last week.
The Homeland Security Secretary also accused opponents of President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty of using the Homeland Security funding bill as a “political football” and said his department needed the spending bill to carry out critical tasks. But Johnson also said that Obama would veto any funding bill that defunds his executive amnesty, implying that executive amnesty to Obama was more important than the needs of the Johnson’s Department of Homeland Security.
The House passed a Homeland Security funding bill with amendments that would defund Obama’s executive amnesty. The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week, and Johnson criticized the House bill for including “politically-charged language to defund all our executive actions to fix the immigration system.”
“I urge Congress to pass an appropriations bill for DHS, free and clear of politically-charged amendments,” he said.
Johnson said his department will not be able to pay for additional border security and hire new Secret Service agents without a spending bill. He also said that “our ability to fund aviation security, maritime security, port security and homeland security is severely constrained as long” a funding bill is not passed.
“I cannot print money. I cannot appropriate money,” he said. “We need a continued partnership with Congress. We need a FY 2015 appropriations bill.”
Regarding Obama’s executive amnesty, Johnson said that the “reality” is that illegal immigrants who qualify for Obama’s executive amnesty “are not enforcement priorities.”
“Therefore, we want to encourage these people to come out of the shadows, be accountable, pay taxes, and get on the books, so we know who they are,” he added.