SAN DIEGO (AP) – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured the Mexico border Monday to trumpet increased enforcement as she campaigned for an overhaul of immigration laws.
The former Arizona governor highlighted “incredible” spending on border enforcement, 40-year lows in “illegal immigration numbers” and relatively low violent crime rates in major border cities like San Diego and El Paso, Texas.
“What we have seen now compared to 20 years ago is like the difference between a rocket ship and a horse and buggy,” Napolitano said at a news conference after a helicopter tour.
Napolitano continues her border tour Tuesday in El Paso, while the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on immigration reform. The House panel includes several immigration hawks.
A bipartisan group of senators wants assurances on border security as Congress considers proposals that would bring the biggest changes to immigration law in nearly three decades. Last week, a bipartisan group of senators released a blueprint that would bring a path to citizenship for people living in the U.S. illegally, but they demanded assurances on border security first.
President Barack Obama does not endorse such a linkage in his own immigration proposal. But Republicans in the Senate group, including John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida, say they cannot support an immigration bill that doesn’t make a pathway to citizenship conditional on a secure border.
“I believe the border is secure. I believe the border’s a safe border. That’s not to say everything is 100 percent,” Napolitano said.
Peter Nunez, chairman of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates a restrictive immigration policy, acknowledged substantial increases in border spending over 40 years but said it was impossible to declare whether the border is secure because there are no easy metrics.
“How are you going to define secure?” said Nunez, a former U.S. attorney in San Diego. “It’s a subjective thing. It’s just nonsense.”
The Border Patrol made 356,873 apprehensions on the Mexican border during the 2012 fiscal year, up 8.9 percent from the previous year but still hovering near 40-year-lows. U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s budget nearly doubled to $11.7 billion in 2012 from $6.3 billion in 2005, according to figures from the Migration Policy Institute.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Best and worst of Super Bowl commercials
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode
- Reading glasses could be a thing of the past
- 6 cool ways teachers are using technology in the classroom
- Emerging tech jobs in Phoenix and how to get one in 2017
- 4 top treatments athletes use for pain
- Emergency! What to do when bathrooms flood
- Operation Santa Claus needs holiday help
- This college bowl season is likely to be epic
- Arizona kids in crisis: How you can help
- 11 holiday classics for the ultimate movie marathon
- 2016 college football rivalry games you simply can't miss
- New treatment offers hope for migraine sufferers
- 11 stadiums to watch your favorite football team
- Shopping for a TV? Best models for 2016
- The new beer pairing guide for holiday foods
- Avoid this holiday plumbing disaster in your home
- 7 tips to avoid holiday weight gain
- New treatments mean better prostate cancer survival rates
- 5 of the scariest things found in drains
- 6 tips to create the best family movie night
- New bone marrow procedure holds promise for healing pain
- The best places to celebrate Fall in Phoenix
- Infamous athletes who did the most time for their crimes
- Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer
- 2016 baseball highlights, bloopers and blunders
- See how CFOs really feel about business in the Valley
- The best television shows on the internet
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof