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After a brief review of border security operations in California and Texas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the border is secure and questioned Republican lawmakers’ insistence on making amnesty conditional on more border security.

“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. The Administration has “deployed historic levels of personnel, technology and infrastructure to help secure the Southwest border,” she said. Napolitano claimed such efforts cut in half the number of attempted crossings since 2008.

Napolitano said Republicans who want certain conditions met before a legalization – e.g., border security metrics -- ignore the gains made in capturing illegal aliens and seizing drugs, weapons and currency. The immigration “system as a whole is badly in need of reform,” she said, including interior enforcement, visa reform, legal migration, and citizenship for those illegally present.

President Barack Obama excluded such a linkage from his proposal, but Republicans in the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” say they cannot support a bill that doesn’t make a pathway to citizenship conditional on a secure border.

Despite Napolitano’s claims, apprehensions along the U.S.-Mexico border increased nine percent in fiscal year 2012. In the Yuma Sector of Arizona, arrests were up 14 percent last fiscal year and 40 percent of illegal border crossers came from countries other than Mexico. Agents in Yuma worry about cost-cutting pressure from Washington as DHS increases its reliance on drone flights for surveillance.

A recent Government Accountability Office report found the Border Patrol captures only about 60 percent of all estimated illegal border crossers.

Read the Associated Press story or news from the Yuma Sector.

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