New DHS chief to make first border visit

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is visiting the United States border in Texas and Arizona next week to inspect border security operations.

Department spokesman Clark Stevens confirmed on Twitter Friday Johnson will visit next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The visit will mark Johnson’s first trip to the border since he was sworn into the Cabinet position Dec. 23.

Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) said Johnson’s trip comes after he invited the secretary to visit his southeastern district in Arizona, which covers portions of Tucson.

“The issues facing the people I represent who live and work on the border can only be understood by talking to them and seeing firsthand the concerns they have regarding border security,” Barber said in a statement Friday. “I will continue my work with the secretary and my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House to secure the border and make sure our agents have the resources and support they need to get the job done.”

Barber is a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Just a few days before Johnson was sworn in, Barber invited him in a letter to tour the border to give him a first-hand look at the area where “smuggling of illegal drugs and continues to have one of the highest rates of apprehension for people entering the country illegally.”

During the confirmation process, Republican lawmakers accused Johnson of lacking experience on border security issues.

President Obama nominated him in October to succeed Janet Napolitano, who now serves as president of the University of California.

Johnson previously served as general counsel for the Defense Department during Obama’s first term.

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