SOUTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson is traveled to Arizona Wednesday to tour Border Patrol facilities amid the ongoing crush of immigrant children and families from Central America.
Johnson says his trip to the border was focused on getting a firsthand view of what Border Patrol agents are dealing with as they process record numbers of child immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border alone.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who's county rests along the border says he's reached out to Secretary Johnson to discuss the ongoing issue of illegal immigrants flooding his jails and being let out, but that Johnson "snubbed" him.
"He knows I'm here you'd think he would want to connect and meet with me," says Arpaio. "In fact when he was in Texas I put the word out there I'd fly or drive to Texas." Arpaio says he sent a letter of invitation to Secretary Johnson once before and he'll do it again. "I don't expect him to meet with me but he'll be getting a letter again from me next week on the situation I have in the jails where these people who are charged with criminal offenses and happen to be here illegally keep on coming back to the jail."
Most of the more than 52,000 immigrant kids that have crossed the border, crossed illegally in South Texas, the busiest area for illegal immigration along the Mexican border. Because so many children have been found this year, the Border Patrol is routinely flying groups of them from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to be processed in Nogales, Arizona. Arpaio thinks this is putting public safety at risk.
"Having worked in Central America, Honduras and those areas – they cant even keep records of the good restaurants – you think they're going to keep records of these kids?" says Arpaio. "How do they know if these kids have been arrested before if they're gang bangers or if they don't have disease."
Last week Secretary Johnson visited Texas and made it clear that the country faces an "urgent situation," where CBP has apprehended twice as many unaccompanied children this year as the year before.
"We've been talking about this for a couple of months now," says Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) "A lot of the children are being housed in Corpus Christi on their way to meet someone in the United States. I actually questioned the Secretary at a judiciary hearing about a month ago and his best solution then was to start an advertising campaign talking about how dangerous it was to come to the U.S."
He says the situation along the Texas / Mexico border resembles something out of Iraq or Afghanistan.
"The stations that the border patrol have are full and they're having to transfer them out into military bases. It looks like a third world refugee camp in some cases."