- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2014

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Monday that President Obama’s deportation amnesty gives his department a chance to get serious about border security, freeing it up to put more resources on the border instead of tracking illegal immigrants inside the U.S.


In a statement prepared for delivery in Texas, where he was visiting a new detention facility, Mr. Johnson vowed to try to prevent a repeat of last summer, when tens of thousands of illegal immigrant children traveling alone, and tens of thousands more families traveling together, jumped the border, overwhelming his department.

He announced three new task forces he said will coordinate border control efforts across the three agencies that handle immigration, and said that should convince smugglers and would-be illegal immigrants not to try crossing.

“The message should be clear: As a result of our new emphasis on the security of the southern border, it will now be more likely that you will be apprehended; it will now be more likely that you will be detained and sent back; and it will now be more likely that your hard-earned money to smuggle a family member to the United States will be seized and will never reach its intended source,” Mr. Johnson said.

His remarks did not address the 40 percent of illegal immigrants who are believed to come legally into the interior of the U.S. and then overstay their visas.

Mr. Johnson, a former defense department lawyer, will spearhead Mr. Obama’s new amnesty, which carves most illegal immigrants out of any danger of deportation. Many of those illegal immigrants will be given proactive amnesty from deportation for three years and will be entitled to work permits as well.

The administration argues that its amnesty gives it a chance for a do-over, saying if agents don’t have to focus on most illegal immigrants in the interior, they can target serious criminals and more recent illegal immigrants at the border.

Critics counter that by announcing an amnesty, Mr. Obama is inviting a new wave of illegal immigration — something Mr. Obama himself warned about a few years ago, when he declined to take the steps he’s now taken.

Mr. Johnson testified to Congress earlier this month that he disagrees with that prediction and has vowed to step up border security to try to head off a new surge.

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