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Homeland Security chief: 'We're going to stem this tide' of illegal immigration

By By Greg Clary CNN
Published On: Jul 07 2014 12:12:23 PM CDT
(CNN) -

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Sunday the Obama administration will take steps to fix the nation's broken immigration system, even without the help of Congress.

"There are a number of things that the President and I, within the confines of the law, can do to fix the broken immigration system, and we will," Johnson said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Johnson said the federal government has already taken steps to reduce the deportation time for adults crossing alone at the border and is working to reduce the time for adults with children and also kids by themselves.

The immigration dilemma has come to the forefront of public attention as migrants fleeing poverty and violence from Central America, including many children without their parents, have crossed the U.S. border.

Unlike Mexican migrants who are deported immediately upon arrest, those from Central America must first be processed and then given a month to report to an immigration office.

Many of course don't show and contribute to the nation's now-estimated 11 million undocumented immigrant population.

The federal government estimates about 60,000 to 80,000 children will cross the border without parents this year, creating an urgent need for the government to provide shelter. Johnson said the government is already working hard to address the crisis.

"I think we need to find more effective, efficient ways to turn this tide around generally and we've already begun to do that," Johnson said.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a state on the front lines of this dilemma, said President Barack Obama isn't doing nearly enough.

"I don't believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure, and that's the reason there's been this lack of effort, this lack of focus, this lack of resources," Perry said on ABC's "This Week."

Johnson said while much can be done on the U.S. side to control the influx, he also had a message for immigrants thinking about crossing the border or sending their children on their own in hopes for a better life.

"We have to do right by the children but at the end of the day, in the final analysis, our border is not open to illegal migration, and we will stem the tide," Johnson said.