Chertoff pledges to fight border security lawsuits
November 7, 2007 – 7:40AM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
pledged Tuesday to fight all lawsuits against his efforts to secure
the border, ranging from building fences to requiring new driver’s
Chertoff blamed lawsuits like one blocking his department from using
Social Security information and another trying to prevent fence
construction on the Arizona-Mexico border as part of the reason the
federal government has had trouble getting control of the border for
the past 30 years.
“I will fight every lawsuit. I will deal with every procedural
roadblock. I will use every tool the law allows to continue to press
forward in the enforcement of laws,” Chertoff said.
Chertoff conducted a multimedia presentation to give a status report
on his department’s attempt to tighten immigration enforcement with
existing laws and regulations to “try to fill the gap left open by
Congress’ failure to act to address the challenges comprehensively. “
He hinged some of the agency’s future border security work, such as
building a total 670-mile border fence, on getting more money from
But negotiators who drafted a compromise defense spending bill
stripped the measure of $3 billion in emergency border security
The money is already in a Homeland Security Department spending bill
but President Bush is threatening to veto that measure.
The achievements Chertoff named for the fiscal year 2007 that ended
Sept. 30 include:
— Built more than 76 miles of fence, for a total of 106 miles of
pedestrian fence and 115 miles of vehicle fence on the Southwest
— Hired about 15,000 agents.
— Apprehensions fell 22 percent at the U.S.-Mexican border,
indicating fewer illegal crossings.
— The number of businesses using a system that allows them to check
whether workers are legal rose from 11,474 in 2006 fiscal year to
24,463 this year.
Chertoff said the agency plans to send to the White House’s Office
of Management and Budget this week proposed changes to rules for the
H2-A temporary agriculture worker program to relieve worker
Chertoff declined to provide specifics on the proposal, but said he
is trying to “streamline some of the requirements with respect to
wages” and other requirements. He said he wants sensible changes but
also wants to keep worker protections in place.
Employers consider the H2-A program cumbersome and many hire
undocumented workers rather than use the program.
Growers and immigrant advocates had hoped Congress would pass
immigrant agricultural worker legislation known as AgJobs as part of
the farm bill.
But earlier this week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she
would not offer it as an amendment to the bill because it did not
have enough support.