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Immigration Executive Order News: Homeland Security Gives Details on Strengthening Border Security

First Posted: Nov 28, 2014 01:15 PM EST
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U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has released detailed plans to improve security along the country's borders following President Barack Obama's immigration reform executive orders.

Johnson published a series of memorandums to several U.S. agencies connected to immigration, including the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Johnson's memorandum noted that "illegal immigration" into the U.S. peaked in 2000, when more than 1.6 million people were apprehended by U.S. law enforcement. Illegal migration into the U.S. has declined since 2000 and are at its lowest levels since 1970s. According to Johnson, the estimated undocumented immigrant population has stopped increasing for the first time since the 1980s and more than 50 percent of these individuals have lived in the U.S. for approximately 13 years.

"This summer we saw an unprecedented spike in illegal migration into South Texas," wrote Johnson. "Almost all of this migration came from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It consisted of large numbers of unaccompanied children and adults with children. We responded aggressively, and beginning in mid-June, the numbers of illegal migrants crossing into South Texas went down considerably."

Johnson said the worst of the sudden "spike" has ended, but such circumstances could be seasonal and could occur again. Johnson added, "The poverty and violence that are the 'push factors' in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador still exist. The economy in this country - a 'pull factor' - is getting better."

With Obama's executive order and the unprecedented spike of undocumented immigrant migration during the summer, Johnson commissioned three Joint Task Forces. Two of the task forces are geographically based while one is fictionally focused. The three Joint Task Forces will have elements from the CBP, ICE, USCG and USCIS.

"Joint Task Force East will be responsible for the Southern maritime border and approaches. Joint Task Force West will be responsible for the Southern land border and the West Coast," wrote Johnson. "Joint Task Force Investigations will focus on investigations in support of the geographic Task Forces."

As part of Johnson's Southern Border and Approaches Campaign, 10 objectives were outlined, ranging from terrorism to enforcement of immigration laws and economics.

The 10 Southern Border and Approaches Strategy objectives are:

1. Minimize the risk of terrorism
2. Increase the perceived risk of engaging in or facilitating illegal transnational or cross-border activity.
3. Interdict people and goods attempting to enter illegally between ports of entry.
4. Increase situational awareness in the air, land, and sea border and approaches.
5. Decrease or disrupt the profitability and finances of transnational criminal activities at the optimal points.
6. Dismantle criminal and terrorist organizations and networks.
7. Prevent the illegal exploitation of legal flows.
8. Maximize the resiliency of key nodes, conveyances, pathways, and transportation infrastructure.
9. Minimize the cost to travelers and delays to shippers in being screened and vetted at ports of entry.
10. Maximize the number of travelers and value of imported goods that undergo screening before arriving at ports of entry.

The Joint Task Forces directors are also tasked with conducting operations with six identified objectives including reducing terror risk against the U.S., combating transnational criminal organizations, preventing exploitation of legal flows of entry ports, countering illegal flows at maritime ports of entry, managing lawful flows of people and good transit and "disincentivize" illegal border behavior.

Johnson's memorandum was submitted following Obama's immigration executive order announcement on Nov. 20.

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