Illegal U.S. Border Crossing ‘Much Harder,’ Johnson Says

The Obama administration has made it more difficult to enter the U.S. by illegally crossing the border with Mexico, said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Johnson’s comments in a speech today were a rebuttal to criticism from Republicans who say the U.S. hasn’t done enough to stem illegal immigration, particularly unaccompanied children arriving at the border in July and August.

“It’s now much harder to cross our border and evade capture than it used to be,” Johnson said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Some Republican candidates have made border security an issue ahead of next month’s midterm elections, saying President Barack Obama should have devoted more resources toward guarding the border.

Johnson described the influx of children as a “setback” and said the Obama administration “responded aggressively.”

“Now the numbers of unaccompanied children crossing into the Rio Grande Valley are at the lowest they’ve been in almost two years,” Johnson said.

Johnson also addressed questions by lawmakers last month about whether four members of Islamic State had been captured while trying to slip across the border. He said the four were arrested and investigated, and actually were fighting against Islamic State.

“These individuals have been arrested for unlawful entry, they are detained, and they will be deported,” he said.

Johnson also said that homeland security officials and others in the administration were aggressively seeking to stop travelers with the Ebola virus from entering the U.S.

“We are enhancing our Ebola screening of air passengers from the three affected African countries, and we are continually evaluating whether more is appropriate,” he said.

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