Ex-Obama DHS Secretary: 'The Mexican government needs to do a lot more to build their own system of dealing with refugees'

The Mexican government is not doing nearly enough to deal with refugees, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served in the Obama administration, told “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

Johnson made the comment responding to host Brian Kilmeade asking if he likes what the administration has been doing at the border.

“I'm concerned that the agreements we’ve made with the government of Mexico need to be sustainable,” Johnson replied.

“The Mexican government needs to do a lot more to build their own system of dealing with refugees, dealing with asylum, building up their border security on their southern border with Central America because you have a lot of people who are still venturing all the way through Mexico north to get to the United States and they’re stopped at our border and that number is probably piling up as we speak.”

Johnson also reacted on Thursday to protesters interrupting former Vice President Joe Biden’s closing remarks during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday night by shouting “You deported three million people.”

RAICES Action, an immigrant rights group, took credit for the protest in a Twitter post that referenced the Obama administration’s deportation record.


When Kilmeade asked Johnson if he was surprised by the protestors, Johnson said, “No. I can't say I'm surprised after having lived with this issue for three years.”

“The former vice president has said it took us a while to get it right,” Johnson said, adding that he knows Biden was referring to the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, which afforded protections to immigrants who were brought into the country illegally when they were children.

“Then in March 2014, my third or fourth month into the job, President Obama said to me, ‘Hey, let's figure out a more humane way to do this. Let's reprioritize and focus on the criminals,’ which is what we did, which is what ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] actually did,” he continued. “So the overall number of deportations went down, we weren't just rounding up everybody but, the percentage of those deported that were convicted criminals went up, which was good for public safety.”

“We made deals with a lot of sanctuary cities to get them to work with us together again on public safety and in the meantime, my second full year in office, the number of apprehensions at the border, which is an indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally was the lowest, second-lowest number since 1972,” he added.

Johnson went on to note “that the numbers stayed low and they were a fraction of what they were last year in 2019.”

The demonstrators at Wednesday night’s debate also shouted “No kids in cages!” and “Don’t look away!” before they were removed from the theater, Vox reported.

"We disrupted the Democrat debate tonight because candidates have consistently refused to address the immigration crisis, and it’s simply not good enough,” the group said in a statement, according to The New York Times.


On Thursday, Kilmeade brought up an interview posted on Facebook this month where Univision journalist Jorge Ramos took issue with a claim that Biden made in September during a debate in Houston that the Obama administration never put migrant children in cages, unlike the Trump administration.

“All the unaccompanied children coming across the border, we tried to get them out. We kept them safe and get them out of the detention centers… that are run by Homeland Security and get them into communities as quickly as we can,” Biden said during the interview.

“Many people would say they were cages,” Ramos responded.

“Well, look you know you are not telling the truth here about the comparison of the two things,” Biden shot back.

Johnson explained on Thursday that “any time you have a surge in the number of people crossing our southern border, men, women, children, the existing infrastructure can't handle it and so the solutions are not pretty.”

“And so very often when we’d have a surge of kids, we’d have to go out and find a very large space, like a warehouse, and you’d have to partition the young men from the young women, the kids from the unrelated adults with chain-link partitions, which some people would call cages,” he continued. “It is not pretty.


“DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has a legal obligation to transfer the kids to HHS [Department of Health & Human Services] within 48 hours, but in that 48-hour period, we have to hold them until HHS can take them,” Johnson went on to explain.

Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.