Lawmakers clashed Wednesday over border security and enforcement at the first Senate hearing held as part of a renewed push for immigration reform, with Republicans challenging Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s claim that their concerns are just an “excuse” for inaction.
On the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address in which he called for immigration legislation, Republicans senators sounded skeptical about recent administration reports stating U.S. borders are secure.
“I do not believe the border is secure and I still believe we have a long, long way to go,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
His remarks were followed by testimony from Chris Crane, president of the union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, who said agency morale is at a record low because agents are limited in arresting people for illegally entering and living in the United States.
“Each year, ICE leadership finds new excuses to justify the low morale,” he said. “Most Americans would be surprised to know that immigration agents are regularly prohibited from enforcing the two most fundamental sections of United States immigration law.”
Napolitano began testimony Wednesday by suggesting Republicans and others are looking for ways to block comprehensive reform.
“Too often the border security refrain simply serves as an excuse,” she said. “Our borders have in fact never been stronger.”
But a top committee Republican, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, contradicted Napolitano, saying the administration has not focused sufficiently on enforcement.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/02/13/senate-opens-immigration-hearings-with-republicans-grilling-napolitano-on/#ixzz2KqYnHKFz