— -- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told a mayors conference today that border security and efforts to fight domestic terrorism could be hindered if Congress doesn't fund his agency by the end of next month.
The Department of Homeland Security is operating on a continuing resolution which runs out at the end of February. Johnson says he wants lawmakers to pass a complete appropriations bill to fully fund his department.
“I can’t print money and I can’t appropriate money,” he told the US Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. “If I don’t have a bill I cannot pay for all the things I’ve put in place for border security.”
Johnson also said other Homeland Security programs including fighting homegrown, lone-wolf terrorists and reforming the Secret Service could be at risk.
“As long as I’m operating on a CR I cannot fund new initiatives. I cannot fund new grants,” he told the elected officials.
Johnson spent most of his speech discussing immigration reform and President Obama’s executive action in November that made it easier for about four million undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States.
Johnson told the mayors that when it comes to deportation, the Obama administration wants to concentrate on illegal immigrants who commit serious crimes.
“We want to remove criminals as a matter of public safety,” he said.
He noted there are an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. “We can’t deport all those people,” he said.
But he believes under the president's executive order more of those immigrants will come forward. “It will encourage people to come out of the shadows, get on the books and pay taxes,” Johnson told the mayors. “From my perspective it’s a good thing. I want as many of them on the books as possible.”