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 TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default 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 PelosiPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default 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.”