(CNSNews.com) - Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served during the Obama administration, told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Wednesday that there is a “crisis” on the southern border, but he cautioned against suspending aid to Central America or closing the border.
He said that what DHS faced in 2014 is “a fraction of what we’re seeing today.”
“We had 100,000 apprehensions or encounters in the month of March, another 100,000 in the month of April. That’s the highest it’s been in 12 years, and think of it this way, that is the equivalent of the population of the city of Orlando, Florida showing up on our southern border in the course of two months,” Johnson said.
“That creates a crisis first of all emanating from Central America, traveling through Mexico along the Mexican side of the southern border and on the U.S. side of the southern border,” he said.
The former secretary said DHS was able to contain the spike in illegal border crossings in 2014 by working with the Mexican government “constructively to do more on their southern border with Central America, which is a smaller, more discreet border.”
“They stepped up to it, and they kept it in place, such that in 2015, we saw the second lowest number of apprehensions since 1972. The number started to creep up again in ‘16. Then they fell off dramatically in ‘17 as soon as President Trump took office,” Johnson said.
“The message, the lesson from all of this is you can do certainly things short-term to affect the numbers, but as long as the underlying conditions of poverty and violence in those three countries in central America persist, we’re always going to see things revert to their longer-term trends and patterns,” he said.
Johnson said that “200,000 people in two months on our southern border is a crisis.”
“Everyone paid attention a month ago, when I said it was a crisis.I’d like people to pay attention to what the solutions are. I owned this problem for three years, and you have to address it at the source,” he said.
“Suspending aid to Central America is the exact wrong thing to do. Not only do we need to continue that investment, but when you send the signal that you’re suspending aid, you’re giving people no hope. When you say I’m closing the border, you’re telling people, go now. You’re encouraging the coyotes to sell to migrants in Central America,” Johnson said.