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Obama-Era DHS Officials Implore Democrats to Pull Back from Border Decriminalization Positions

Obama-Era DHS Officials Implore Democrats to Pull Back from Border Decriminalization Positions

Even Obama-era Democratic officials are calling out the left’s position on border decriminalization for what it is: open borders.

Top DHS officials from President Barack Obama’s administration have taken a strong stand against the border decriminalization positions held by 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The Hill reports:

In an op-ed in The Washington Post this week, former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that decriminalization would attract hundreds of thousands of new migrants to the southern border. He described the proposal as “tantamount to declaring publicly that we have open borders.”

Several of former President Obama’s top homeland security officials interviewed by The Hill went on the record to express shock and dismay after eight of the 10 Democratic presidential contenders on stage at the second night of the debate raised their hands when asked if they support the decriminalization of border crossings.

“We can’t go too far to the left for what people could describe as open borders,” said Marsha Catron, a former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama administration.

“I think all of those people onstage who raised their hands will have to walk it back if they make it to the general election or the White House. I understand the emotion involved, we want for people to be treated humanely and with respect, and that’s not happening with the Trump administration. But Jeh Johnson, [former Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano, these people who have worked in these situations understand, you just can’t have it this way. It’s unworkable.”


Juliette Kayyem, who was on the Homeland Security Advisory Council during the Obama years, said she was “shocked” by how many Democrats announced their support for decriminalization at the debate. She said that even if section 1325 is repealed, the Trump administration would find some other justification for separating families.

In response to Johnson’s op-ed, candidate Julián Castro suggested Obama’s former DHS Secretary parroted right-wing talking points:

“I would say that Secretary Johnson is wrong, Vice President Biden is wrong on this and Congressman O’Rourke is wrong on this,” Castro said.

Castro noted that “until about 2004, we treated crossing the border as a civil violation, not a criminal violation,” and said by conflating that with the notion of open borders, Johnson was repeating a prominent political argument on the right.

“Secretary Johnson has suggested somehow that people will take that as open borders. Open borders are a right-wing talking point,” he said, pointing to current enforcement mechanisms on the U.S. southern border, like existing fencing and the presence of Border Patrol agents.

Johnson, in particular, has been the primary Obama-era Democratic official on the frontlines of pushing back on some of the more alarmist rhetoric coming from the likes of Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (NJ), and others. On Friday, he told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that the ICE raids currently underway were “not extraordinary”:

“Deportations occur all the time. Of those who have been ordered deported by an immigration judge, hopefully after they have exhausted their appeal rights and had an opportunity to have their asylum case heard, we simply have to enforce the law, particularly if someone has been ordered deported,” Johnson said on Morning Joe Friday.

“In other words, they’ve exhausted all their appeal rights. And so, it’s important for migrants to know they have rights. But enforcement actions themselves are not extraordinary,” he added.

On the issue of deportations, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) talked about final orders of removal on Chris Wallace’s show on Fox News a few weeks ago and described Democratic party’s position is “in essence, open borders”:

“President Trump has also delayed a roundup that was supposed to begin today of migrant families that have already been given their deportation orders. He said he’s giving Congress two weeks to work out and reform the asylum system, and otherwise, he’ll impose the roundup. I don’t have to tell you. You have a little bit of a look on your face. The likelihood – you talk about healthy skepticism — Congress isn’t going to reform the asylum system in two weeks sir,” host Chris Wallace said.

“So Chris, I was going to say healthy skepticism is warranted for dealing with Democrats when it comes to immigration,” Cotton responded. “Let’s just think about the Democrats position here, Chris. These are people who have claimed asylum in our country. They’ve had their day in court.

“They’ve had their claims rejected, and now they face a valid and final order of removal. If they can’t deport people like that, who can we deport? That’s why the Democrats’ position always comes back to, in essence, open borders,” he said.

Watch video of the exchange below:

In an interview earlier this month, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) also explained the open borders position of Democrats:

“What they really want is no enforcement, this is the crux of it. They don’t talk about what the actual problem is which is tens of thousands of people coming across and overwhelming our system,” Crenshaw added. “And then they have to answer the question, should we have a system at all? And they say no. Well what is the point of even having a border? Why even have custom agents at airports if we are not going to enforce any kind of management over who comes in and out of our country? They don’t want to answer these tough questions because in the end they want open borders.”

In other words, Democrats don’t have to actually say the words “open borders” to let people know that they’re for open borders. When you support border decriminalization, want to get rid of the detention centers, eliminate the CBP and ICE, and don’t want a wall, what do you want? You want a wide-open border with no enforcement.

It’s just that simple.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —


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Setting aside that as of Monday, Trump has proposed a solution – denying non-Mexicans asylum automatically save a few narrow exceptions because they had safe countries to apply in already – Schumer’s rhetoric is a problem of presenting two things as if they are not two sides of the same coin.

If you go after criminals, you will separate families. That is true for immigration, that is true for domestic law. There is no third option. America does not throw out citizen children for nothing; America does not throw children into prison alongside their parents because of crimes committed by the parents. You cannot go after criminals without separating families. It is not possible.

    MrE in reply to JBourque. | July 15, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Having children – being a loving parent – ought to be a deterrent to unlawful behavior for the sake of the children for which the parent is responsible. Children ought encourage a parent to live a righteous life and be an example for their children. Using children like a human shield in the conduct of illegal activities ought be basis for separating parent and child – prosecute the parent, protect the child.

      MattMusson in reply to MrE. | July 15, 2019 at 12:52 pm

      Nobel Prize Winner Milton Friedman made it clear.

      “You can have Open Borders or a Modern Welfare State. You cannot have both.”

Johnson is not admitting the real problem. To the D’rats, open borders are not a disaster to be avoided. If the popular suspicion—that the D’rats want to pack the country full of illegals in preparation for an amnesty and voting rights which will cement the D’rats permanently in power—is even slightly correct, then open borders are part of the plan. After that, all they’ll need is a little bit of “immigration reform” (sounds harmless, right?) and they’ll have a permanent and unbeatable voting block which will do whatever it’s told, lured by promises of free everything forever.

    A few weeks I recall reading on one of the conservative web sites that illegals were being dumped in heartland / red states. That alone speaks to the intent of the resistance.

    Paul in reply to tom_swift. | July 15, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    But now the “centrist” Democrats are crapping their pants, because the radicals in their party are also pursuing open borders, but for a different reason. As you say, the “centrist” Dims want to pack the country with illegals and then cry “amnesty” until they get it, thus cementing a voting block that pushes them to power on the promises of “free shit for everybody.”

    But the new radical wing wants to pack the country for a different reason; they’re pursuing the full-blown Cloward-Piven Strategy which is meant to fully bankrupt the country so that our Republic can be replaced, first by anarchy and then by Communism.

Too late – they encouraged this nonsense with their Never Trumping attacks, now dems can live with the consequences. You gave the radicals power, now you have a radical far left party.

TheOldZombie | July 15, 2019 at 12:18 pm

This is something Trump and his campaign need to pound on daily until the election.

Just take what the Democrats are saying and point out that if they got their way that it would essentially be open borders. Democrats are either for open borders but don’t want to say it publicly or the Democrats are so stupid they don’t realize their policies are open borders which means they shouldn’t be in office.

“You want a wide-open border with no enforcement.”

No borders means no country. The U.S. simply can’t say “everybody come on in.” We’re already being inundated with hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens swarming over our southern border every month, most claiming to be “refugees.” Over 90% of these co-called refugees fail to appear at their asylum hearings, because they know they’re not qualified for asylum. They just use the asylum claim as a dodge, because they know it will get them released into the U.S. and protected from deportation for at least three years. The vast majority of these illegal alien “refugees” are simply economic opportunists and welfare-seekers, coming to the U.S. for money or benefits, and we can’t afford them.

More than 60% of current immigrants (both legal and illegal) are on welfare, and we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars each year on all sorts of “free” services and benefits for illegal aliens. Add millions more poor, welfare-seeking foreigners each year, which is what we’re currently getting, and we’ll soon be unable to sustain even the illusion that we can afford this. We have $21 trillion in public debt, hundreds of trillions more in unfunded liabilities, a health care system that is already straining at the seams, a dysfunctional education system that is failing our own kids, and yet we’re somehow going to take on the responsibility for feeding, sheltering, educating, and providing health care for all the rest of the world’s poor and criminal classes? No, no, and hell no.

The U.S. belongs to Americans, and if we Americans don’t start acting like we understand what that means, we won’t have a U.S. much longer.

Amazing … If you google Jeh Johnson you get the exact opposite , even a claim that ODumbass didn’t separate families when he actually did!

    notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to euragone. | July 15, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    That’s Googlganda for ya……

    They’re starting to go after him too.

    Schumer is pretending that they still want to go after criminals “instead of” families. But we know better. Their goals cannot be achieved unless America stops going after criminals. It is really as simple as that.

What is overlooked is that Jeh Johnson has an extensive background as a civil rights attorney. His perspective should not be dismissed by the left. He has a unique perspective having led Homeland Security and dedicating much of his career to ensuring civil rights. If democrats won’t listen to him, it is a powerful indication they cannot be reasoned with.