Jeh Johnson Withdraws From USC Commencement Speech After Backlash

Mike Brest | Reporter

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson withdrew himself late last week from being a commencement speaker at the University of Southern California’s graduation after backlash.

Johnson was supposed to speak during the Gould School of Law graduation, but students and professors expressed concern over immigration policies he enacted during the Obama administration.

The law school’s dean, Andrew Guzman, announced Johnson’s withdraw last week, citing Johnson’s desire to prevent any “tension and political controversy.”

The controversy began when two professors, Daria Roithmayr and David Cruz, wrote a letter to the dean complaining about his choice of speaker.

“USC’s choice to invite Secretary Johnson to speak normalizes illegal state violence. Inviting him to speak to the graduating class legitimates what federal courts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized as a fundamental betrayal of core values,” Roithmayr and Cruz wrote. “Johnson has repeatedly failed to respect legal and moral limits on the use of government-sponsored coercive force, particularly against children, and has demonstrated a morally repugnant willingness to use those who are most vulnerable among us as means to an end.”

TOPSHOT – Men from Mexico climb the US-Mexico border wall in Playas de Tijuana, northwestern Mexico, November 18, 2018. (Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Johnson has previously acknowledged that he expanded family detention and has argued against the policy of “catch and release.” (RELATED: Obama’s DHS Sec: You Can’t Have A System Of Catch And Release)

“Without a doubt the images, and the reality, from 2014, just like 2018, are not pretty,” Johnson stated last June on Fox News. “And so we expanded family detention. We had then 34,000 beds for family detention. Only 95 of 34,000 equipped to deal with families. And so we expanded it. I freely admit it was controversial. We believed it was necessary at the time. I still believe it is necessary to remain a certain capability for families.”

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