Jordy Yager at The Hill reports:
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insisted Wednesday that U.S. borders have “never been stronger” during a Senate hearing on immigration reform.
Facing calls from the GOP to crack down on the flow of illegal border crossers, Napolitano said Congress should pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul that strengthens security while also addressing the factors that entice people into the country.
“I often hear the argument that before reform can move forward, we must first secure our borders,” Napolitano said at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s first hearing on immigration reform.
“But too often, the ‘border security first’ refrain simply serves as an excuse for failing to address the underlying problems. It also ignores the significant progress and efforts that we have undertaken over the past four years. Our borders have, in fact, never been stronger.”
Republican Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and John Cornyn (Texas) objected, saying that while border security has improved in recent years, the Obama administration has not done enough.
“I do not believe that the border is secure, and I still believe we have a long, long way to go,” said Cornyn.
Immigration reform legislation has emerged as a priority of President Obama’s second term. He has called on Congress to pass a bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants while tightening security along the border. He also wants an employment verification system that would impose stiff penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants.