Anyone who enters the United States illegally should be expelled without exception, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate hearing today.
“Our goal at DHS is to completely eliminate the ‘catch and release’ enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions,” he said.
“It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year.”
Chertoff said U.S. authorities are immediately returning thousands of Mexicans entering the country illegally, but “other parts of the system have nearly collapsed under the weight of numbers.”
“The problem is especially severe for non-Mexicans apprehended at the southwest border,” he said.
“Today, a non-Mexican illegal immigrant caught trying to enter the United States across the southwest border has an 80 percent chance of being released immediately because we lack the holding facilities,” Chertoff explained.
“Through a comprehensive approach, we are moving to end this ‘catch and release’ style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process.”
As WorldNetDaily reported in May, the president of a labor organization representing Border Patrol employees and a Texas congressman criticized a Homeland Security bill passed by the House for failing to fund construction of new detention facilities to hold illegal border-crossers from countries other than Mexico, resulting in their automatic release pending a later hearing date.
A Zogby poll earlier this year indicated Americans were not pleased with the Bush administration’s handling of illegal immigration.
The poll showed a huge majority – 81 percent – believed local and state police should help federal authorities enforce laws against illegal immigration. Only 14 percent disagreed.
Voters also were asked, “Do you support or oppose the Bush administration’s proposal to give millions of illegal aliens guest worker status and the opportunity to become citizens?” Only 35 percent gave their support, and 56 percent said no.
The biggest opponents of illegal immigration are Democrats, African-Americans, women and people with household income below $75,000.
When it came to the status of the nation’s borders, respondents were asked, “Do you agree or disagree that the federal government should deploy troops on the Mexican border as a temporary measure to control illegal immigration?” A clear majority – 53 percent – agree, while 40 percent disagree.