Border ‘emergency’: Graham, Cuellar urge Biden to tap Jeh Johnson as czar
31st July 2021

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A House Democrat and a Republican senator have joined together in urging President Biden to select former Obama administration cabinet secretary Jeh Johnson as border czar. 

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent a letter to the president on Friday pointing out the need for “a special executive appointment for border issues.” 

“We write to you with a sense of urgency regarding the escalating situation at our southern border. In doing so, we hope to demonstrate that this bicameral concern is neither partisan nor political,” the legislators wrote.

The role would ensure “sufficient federal resources are allocated to overturned U.S. border communities, and to recommend changes to our immigration policies as we work to regain control of the border.” 

The two cited the massive surge in illegal crossings at the United States border with Mexico, calling it a “humanitarian and public safety emergency.”

“Department of Homeland Security (‘DHS’) facilities and personnel are overwhelmed by the growing surge of migrants, many of whom are unaccompanied children. We know this current influx is neither seasonal nor temporary,” they wrote.

“In June, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (‘CBP’) recorded 188,829 enforcement encounters at the southwest land border, the highest monthly total in a decade. This represents a 571% increase over the 33,049 encounters recorded by CBP in June 2020. Moreover, in 2021 alone, these numbers have increased by 255% from the 74,019
encounters recorded in December 2020.

“The total number of migrants apprehended at the southern border has exceeded 1.2 million this fiscal year. In short, this is a humanitarian and public safety emergency.”

Cuellar and Graham recommended Johnson, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, for the role, citing his “exceptional bipartisan reputation for pragmatic approaches to complex border security and immigration challenges.”

Johnson was appointed DHS secretary by President Barack Obama in December 2013 and served in the role until January 2017. Prior to that, he worked as Obama’s general counsel of the Defense Department from 2009 to 2012. He also served in the Clinton administration as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force from late 1998 to early 2001. 

The Biden administration has received bipartisan backlash over the massive surge of migrant crossings in recent months.

Last weekend, Border Patrol authorities in La Grulla came across the “largest group of migrants” in the area for the fiscal year so far, apprehending over 700 individuals. The month of June alone saw nearly 190,000 illegal crossings from Mexico into the US, the most in more than 21 years.

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