Border security compromised without DHS appropriations bill, Johnson says

Jeh Johnson, secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said Tuesday an appropriations bill for the department is necessary for border security. | U.S. Department of Homeland Security

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday urged Congress to pass an appropriations bill for the department for fiscal year 2015.

Johnson said the funding should come “unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform. The President has made plain that he will veto a bill that includes such language.”

The continuing resolution (CR) the department is currently operating under expires Feb. 27. Johnson said issuing another continuing resolution would mean the department would be unable to complete several activities related to homeland security and public safety.

“The public must be aware of the real impacts to homeland security as long as DHS is funded by a continuing resolution, or, still worse, if Congress were to permit our funding to lapse altogether and the Department of Homeland Security goes into government shutdown,” Johnson said.

Johnson said investments in border security technology, including replacing remote and mobile video surveillance systems in the Rio Grande Valley, can't be initiated if the department is operating under a continuing resolution. He said increasing the country's situational awareness of illegal border crossings and “prioritizing frontline personnel and capability deployments” won't be done without a full appropriations bill. 

“Added border security is also a key component of the President’s FY 2015 and FY 2016 budget submissions to Congress,” Johnson said. “But as long as this department is on a CR, and not a full-year appropriations bill, our ability to strengthen border security, to include maintaining the resources we put in place to respond to the surge in illegal migration into south Texas last summer, is constrained.”

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