Jeh C. Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a statement on border security and immigration enforcement priorities in July, 2016.
Johnson said that DHS is enforcing immigration laws consistent with priorities set by President Obama in November 2014, including public safety and border security. According to Johnson, more than 99 percent of people in immigration detention fit those enforcement priorities, and about 85 percent are in the top priority for removal. 60 percent of people deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement today are convicted criminals, compared to 35 percent in 2009.
According to Johnson’s statement, the Border Patrol effected 34,463 apprehensions on the southwest border in June 2016, a decrease from May and April, but higher than the number of apprehensions per month in the first quarter of 2016. Overall, apprehensions are higher this year than in fiscal year 2015, but lower than 2014 and 2013. The number of apprehensions is indicative of the number of attempts to illegally cross the border, Johnson said.
Johnson said that he visited Central America in May, for the third time in two years. He said there was a need to provide a legal and safe path to the United States, and that many immigrants from Central America should be regarded as refugees. He also said that the “ultimate solution” is long-term investment to help with the humanitarian crisis and underlying problems in the region.