MISSION, January 22 - The new secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, visited South Texas on Tuesday. He spoke at a news conference at Anzalduas International Bridge. Here are his remarks at the news conference:
"Good afternoon, everybody, Congressman. I am Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security. This is my second trip to South Texas since I took office December 23rd. I was here a couple of weeks ago for the funeral of a very distinguished and dedicated CPB officer. I wanted to be here again today because of the importance of South Texas to our DHS mission.
"Today, I accompanied our Border Patrol agents along the river on one of their missions. I visited this port facility here a few minutes ago. I also visited a detention center in the area and I met with our federal, state, and local officials in this area, including Congressman Hinojosa, Congressman Cuellar, the mayor of McAllen, the mayor of Hidalgo and several of the police chiefs and other federal, state, and local officials. The meeting we had really brings home the importance of cooperation with our federal, state, and local partners in the area for the Department of Homeland Security mission.
"As we move forward into the next decade it is going to become even more important in my view that we have strong working relationships with our state and local partners and our homeland security mission. It has been impressed upon me a number of times that homeland security is not simply border security, port security, it is also facilitating and expediting trade and commerce, particularly in an area like this where the opportunities for growth, more jobs, are very, very, important. And so, as I stressed in the meeting we just had, part of my mission, as secretary of Homeland Security, will be to pay continued focus and attention on South Texas, on our border and port security mission here in South Texas, to secure the ports, to secure the borders, but to also do what we can to help facilitiate and expedite trade.
"So, I am pleased to be here. It has been a very informative day, a very informative visit. I have enjoyed meeting with our area congressmen, who are terrific publica officials and am happy to take a couple of questions."
Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, then spoke at the news conference. Hinojosa said:
"Thank you (Secretary Johnson) for coming to South Texas. It was very obvious to me that you are a great listener because many of the things Congressman Cuellar and I pointed out as our concerns, you have already reiterated here in the opening remarks that you made. We are hoping that increasing the number of men and women in blue who man our ports of entry is a huge step in addressing delays at our ports of entry.
"Trade and commerce is extremely important as is the national security and we want to continue to emphasis that this area has had two census counts, in 2000 and 2010, and there has been more than a 40 percent increase in population and we expect that to repeat itself in the next census. And that is why we are asking for more manpower and that we try to make this area one that is going to continue to be very, very, important to our state of Texas and to our nation. Thank you again. And, as I said in our closing remarks, I welcome you not once but six times a year so that we can have opportunities like the one you gave us today."