On Sunday, Jeh Johnson, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under former President Barack Obama, said that President Biden believes there is “no level of defense that can counteract the powerful push factors in Central America” that impel the huge surge of illegal immigration at the southern border.
Johnson spoke with Margaret Brennan on CBS News’ “Face The Nation.” Brennan pointed out that the Biden administration and the CDC were planning to lift Title 42 — the coronavirus public health directive that was implemented in March 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) during the Trump administration and restricts asylum claims, being responsible for deporting roughly 1.7 million migrants — then commented, “When we hear from the administration that they could see as many as 18,000 migrants per day crossing that border, it seems incredible. Senate Democrats have said the administration is not prepared. Do you think they are?”
After claiming that DHS officials had informed him that they were “making preparations, that they are prepared, that there are resources, transportation in place for this level of of migration on our southern border,” Johnson admitted, “Without a doubt, these are large numbers. DHS, I believe, has learned lessons from the past, in surges in the past, including when I was in office. But, still, numbers at these levels are difficult to handle on the southern border. Communities on the southern border, catholic charities, the volunteers, difficult to absorb these types of numbers under almost any scenario. It’s challenging for the Border Patrol, for ICE to properly process and track these individuals.”
Brennan noted that both President Biden and Vice President Harris publicly called for migration to slow in 2021, then asked, “So why haven’t we heard anything like that now? Is it because the administration took so much heat from progressive Democrats?”
“Margaret, I can only tell you about my own experience dealing with this very, very difficult issue,” Johnson replied. “I have learned that you have to repeat a message dozens and dozens of times before people actually do begin to hear it.”
“The longer-term lesson, however, is that migration is a market sensitive phenomenon. It reacts sharply to news in the information marketplace about enhanced enforcement, decreased enforcement on our southern border,” he said. “We can repeat these messages over and over again, and we should. But, as long as the underlying conditions exist, the poverty, violence in Central America exists, the numbers are going to always revert back to their longer-term trend lines. There is no level of defense that can counteract the powerful push factors in Central America. That’s something that I know President Biden believes in. We discussed it extensively when he was vice president and I was secretary of Homeland Security.”