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Jeh Johnson: Democrats need 'straight talk' on immigration

Jeh Johnson: Democrats need 'straight talk' on immigration

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is calling for “straight talk” from Democratic presidential candidates on immigration policy that better incorporates public support for both compassion for migrants and improved border security.

“This broad consensus is drowned out in the current political debate, but it is actually the place from which the Obama administration tried to govern,” Johnson, who served from 2013 to 2017, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published late Saturday.

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“We fought for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress, created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in 2012, tried to expand upon it in 2014, focused our resources on deporting major felons and saw some of the lowest numbers of apprehensions on our Southern border in decades,” he added.

The influx of migrants crossing the border, which has led to reports of extreme overcrowding at border detention centers, can only be properly addressed by further investment in reducing violence and poverty in Central America to reduce the factors driving migration, Johnson wrote.

Earlier this year, President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE announced the U.S. would cut millions of dollars in aid to the “Northern Triangle” nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, which Johnson wrote was “the exact wrong thing to do.”

Johnson also wrote that Democratic White House hopefuls should reject proposals to allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. unless they commit a crime or to decriminalize illegal border crossings.

By contrast, “the Obama administration’s immigration priorities for deportation included both those who committed major crimes and those who were apprehended at the Southern border,” Johnson wrote. “Those apprehended at the border were allowed to remain this country while their deportation and asylum cases proceeded to conclusion.”

Johnson also condemned criticism of Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 After vote against coronavirus relief package, Golden calls for more bipartisanship in Congress Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (D-Calif.) for accepting compromise legislation that provided humanitarian aid at the border, writing that Pelosi “made the obvious calculation that it was more important to deliver prompt help to those facing inhumane conditions on the border than it was to delay and hold out for everything House Democrats wanted.”