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What Obama's homeland security secretary thinks about Trump's immigration policy

Jeh Johnson says there is, indeed, a "crisis" on the border, just not the one the president is talking about.

by Michael Moynihan
Apr 6 2019, 1:44pm

President Barack Obama’s former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson would prefer not to be the frequent recipient of President Trump’s praise. But despite his party allegiance and previous employer, the president, his son, and the White House’s official Twitter feed have all recently praised Johnson for telling multiple interviewers that America’s southern border is “truly in a crisis.”

When VICE News sat down with Johnson to discuss Trump, the politics of immigration, and his tenure overseeing border enforcement, he was quick to point out that the president and his surrogates truncated his quote, leaving out his criticism of administration policies.

“I said that 4,000 arrests on our southern border — one hundred thousand in a month — is truly a crisis," he said. "I then went on to, in the same interview, prescribe all the things I think should be done to deal with the crisis and what we seem to be doing wrong. The one sentence ‘it is truly a crisis’ went viral.”

Johnson, who began his career in politics interning for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a centrist Democrat, acknowledges that his party is lurching to the left — and that the Obama administration’s aggressive immigration policies would get a tougher reception these days.

“I believe in the pendulum theory of American politics that for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction," Johnson said. "And I tend to believe that what we're seeing now is because of the presidency of Donald Trump; he's making militants out of all of us. But after this particular phase is all over, somebody has got to be around to put it back together again.”

This segment originally aired April 5, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.