Jeh Johnson, who served as former President Barack Obama's Homeland Security secretary, called out Democratic presidential candidates for embracing "extreme" policies on immigration, like rejecting the deportation of those here illegally and decriminalizing illegal border crossings.
"We cannot, as some Democratic candidates for president now propose, publicly embrace a policy not to deport those who enter or remain in this country illegally unless they commit a crime. This is tantamount to a public declaration (repeated and amplified by smugglers in Central America) that our borders are effectively open to all; this will increase the recent levels of monthly apprehensions at our southern border -- about or more than 100,000 -- by multiples," Johnson wrote in a Washington Post column.
"For the same reason, we cannot formally decriminalize unauthorized entry into this country, though first-time illegal border crossers are, in fact, rarely prosecuted for that misdemeanor (except for last year's disastrous "zero-tolerance" policy)."
Johnson, who served under Obama from 2013 to 2017, wrote that Americans deserve "straight talk" on the issue of illegal immigration, touting the previous administration's handling of the problem. He said the Obama administration ramped up assistance to Central American countries and prioritized the deportation of felons.
Johnson defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., against far-left critics who claimed she was defeated by Republicans after the House passed a more moderate bill to deal with the influx of migrants at the southern border.
"Give her a break. Those who govern in a democracy know that progress requires compromise, and the speaker made the obvious calculation that it was more important to deliver prompt help to those facing inhumane conditions on the border than it was to delay and hold out for everything House Democrats wanted," he wrote, pointing to an overall "alarming trend" on both sides of the aisle.
"To win support from a vocal and committed segment of a major party's base -- and simply for the sake of a good applause line -- candidates for office now espouse extreme policy proposals that are unworkable and have no hope of winning the broad support of Congress and the people they represent," he argued, adding those who put forth policies that have no chance of becoming law are "doing a disservice to our democracy."
"Here is a radical proposal: a presidential candidate who is willing to educate, enlighten and tell voters the hard truths. This trait has all but evaporated in U.S. politics, but it is the single best job qualification for those who aspire to lead. I'm a Democrat, and whoever among the current Democratic field of candidates demonstrates this profile in courage will earn my vote," he concluded.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back Saturday night after Pelosi criticized her and other far-left freshmen congresswomen for voting against a $4.6 billion border bill that President Trump signed into law on Monday.
“All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,” Pelosi said. “But they didn’t have any following. They’re four people and that’s how many votes they got.”
Ocasio-Cortez criticized the Democrats who decided to vote along with Republicans on the spending plan to address issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I don’t believe it was a good idea for Dems to blindly trust the Trump admin when so many kids have died in their custody. It’s a huge mistake,” she wrote. “This admin also refuses to hand over docs to Congress on the whereabouts of families. People’s lives are getting bargained & for what?”