Napolitano says border security alone won't fix immigration system

June 13, 2013

Members of the U.S. Senate are wrangling to add tougher border security provisions to the comprehensive immigration reform package. The nation’s Homeland Security chief said manpower on the border only goes so far. 

Lawmakers have been introducing a variety of amendments to make the bill fit their priorities. One of the most high-profile is Senator John Cornyn’s so-called RESULTS Amendment. It would set a goal of arresting 90 percent of border crossers before the reform bill’s path to citizenship can kick in, but Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the bill already contains tough border security provisions.

“At a certain point you have to say, well, wait a minute, does this make sense? How much is it going to cost? How about dealing more comprehensively with the sources of illegal migration? Which in Arizona, we know a lot of it is people coming to work, so dealing with employers, and it’s people who can’t get a visa in anything less than eight or nine years," Napolitano said.

Napolitano said while the number of Mexican nationals trying to cross into the U.S. illegally is down, poor economies are pushing more Central Americans to try.

“That’s why having a national verification program, for example, that is a simple way for employers to verify the legal residency of somebody applying for a job -- you cut off that demand side of illegal immigration, and that will really help us at the border," Napolitano said.

Napolitano also disagrees with parts of the Department of Homeland Security budget recently passed by the House, including funding for the program that lets local police enforce immigration law. She wants that stripped out and said fixing the immigration system should take precedence.

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