WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today that the nation needs to help illegal aliens obtain citizenship.

“We must have a way for those who broke the law … to get right with the law to earn their way to citizenship,” she said at a hearing on immigration reform.

She acknowledged border security is a “key” to resolving the issue, but “too often the border-security-first refrain …  serves to not [fix] the internal security problems.”

She said the plan outlined by President Obama would work.

“Under the president’s proposal we would provide a pathway to citizenship for those who are already here,” she said.

Republican senators were less than impressed, with Sen. John Cornyn of Texas expressing a feeling of déjà vu.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., too, suggested Napolitano’s ideas sound “much like the last one” – the Bush-Kennedy-McCain amnesty plan of 2007.

He said the amnesty idea arose when “a bunch of special interests meet at the White House [with] business people and members of the farm lobby.”

While Napolitano claimed “the border is more secure now” than when she took office, Sessions said there’s a long way to go.

“I fought for the defense that you are bragging about today … and we are still not where we promised the American people where we would be,” he said.

Cornyn also questioned Napolitano’s evaluation of the situation along the U.S. border.

“I do not believe the border is secure,” he said. “The (Texas) border is nowhere near secure” enough.

He cited data that terrorists from nations such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Cuba are crossing the border illegally and posing “a national security risk.”

He said the current level of security is able to halt only one in three persons crossing the border illegally.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., invited an illegal alien, Jose Antonio Vargas, to testify before the Senate.

According to the New York Times, in October 2012 a Minnesota state police pulled over Vargas for listening to earphones while driving and then “arrested him after a check of his driver’s license revealed that it had been revoked by the authorities in Washington state.”

A June 2011 New York Times magazine article said Vargas obtained the drivers license under a false address.

He was then released four days later “with no immigration charges being filed.”

Sessions also cited Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, who recently said that ICE agent “morale is in the toilet right now.”

“We feel like the administration is against us and not the people who are violating our laws,” Crane said.

Vargas, when he testified, said he was, “An American at heart without the papers to show it.”

He related that he was 16 when he went to apply for a driver’s license and found the green card he’s gotten from his grandfather wasn’t legitimate.

“What do you want to do with me? How do you define an American?” he asked.

He could be seen glaring at Center of Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies spokeswoman Jessica Vaughan as she discussed the negative impact of amnesty and mass immigration,.

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