Fox News Channel "Your World" Interview With Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
Interviewer: Neil Cavuto
Subject: Beefing Up Border Security
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MR. CAVUTO: Well, more troops, more National Guardsmen, more of anyone in any uniform and fast. Border-state governors practically begging the White House to do something about this escalating border violence, and today they got their answer. Only from Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano not quite the answer they were hoping for.
MR. CAVUTO: Let me ask you first off what an "increased presence" means on the border. What does that mean?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: It means more agents conducting inspections at the border. It means more intelligence analysts looking for information to find those who are shipping guns and illegal currency into Mexico. It means a beefing up of personnel overall at the border with the design to make sure that we are assisting Mexico in its fight against the cartels but that the spillover violence doesn't occur.
MR. CAVUTO: So these are uniformed personnel, Secretary? People can't mistake them, they are U.S. agents of some sort. Are they military? What are they?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: These are civilian law enforcement. These are people from Customs and Border Protection. These are people from ATF. These are people from the Drug Enforcement Administration. These are people from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
MR. CAVUTO: And how many more of them -- I apologize. How many more of them will there be?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Just from my department alone, within the next few days, there will be 350 more agents sent to the border from where they currently are. And then we'll judge the situation on a day-by- day basis. If we need more, we'll send more. I don't have the exact numbers from the other departments of the federal government, like the Department of Justice. But I think you can assume it's similarly robust.
MR. CAVUTO: Do you fear, as some of the border governors have raised with me when I've had them on and as you've dealt with this as a border governor yourself, that there is growing concern that the illegal immigration problem could turn into an asylum problem? In other words, that folks trying to flee the drug-related violence in Mexico will use that as an excuse to seek asylum here, putting someone like you in a bit of a pickle, right?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yeah. We just haven't seen that. We have seen no indication of that whatsoever. In fact, the numbers of illegal immigrants continue to go down. And I think we have to recognize that the wave of illegal immigration that we saw in border states like Arizona was fueled by the demand for illegal labor. It was economic in nature. And with the economy of the U.S. being the way it is, those jobs don't exist, so we're accordingly seeing the wave of illegal immigration go down.
MR. CAVUTO: Right, that could be short lived. But if the economy improves and your boss gets the recovery he's hoping for --
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's right, that's right.
MR. CAVUTO: -- then we're going to revisit that, right?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: That's right. So that's why we're not stopping our efforts on the illegal immigration side. We continue to bolster the law enforcement resources down there, improve kind of our ability to find illegal immigrants. Those things all continue. The efforts on the southwest border now on the drug cartel issue is an add on.
MR. CAVUTO: What is your sense of what's going on on the border right now? Some, you know, Mexican political watchers I've had on are saying, you know, Neil, it's not a stretch to say this could breed great political instability. The government is unable to crack down on this drug mess, and it could, left unchecked, topple a government and topple the government as we know it, that all sense of order could dissolve there. Is it that bad?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, it's not that bad. But I think it's fair to say that that's one of the reasons we want to support the government of Mexico in this effort so that it never even gets close to being that bad. This is our neighboring country. They are a friend, they are an ally. We share a long border with them. We have many families who have members on both sides of the border, employers who have efforts on both sides of the border. So having a safe border and a good relationship there are very important to us in the United States. So we never even want it to get close to that type of a situation.
MR. CAVUTO: We are very close, in fact many colleges, as you know, are already entering their spring break period. And there are a lot of worried parents, Secretary, who wonder about the wisdom of sending their kids down there. What do you say?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Well, I say, if our kids are careful and they go to the designated tourist areas and are being tourists, we've seen no indication at all that they would be unsafe. A lot of the violence in Mexico is between the cartel members themselves and the cartel member's families. And then there's another wave of violence that targets law enforcement. So it's kind of cartel against cartel and cartels against law enforcement, but it's not cartels against tourists.
MR. CAVUTO: But they are sometimes caught up in the free fire, right?
SEC. NAPOLITANO: Yeah. That's why you've got to be careful, absolutely.