By Penny Starr, Senior Staff Writer
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the reforms being made to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s immigration detention practices will include “alternatives to detention.” (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)
(CNSNews.com) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told senators it is a national security concern that people from countries with ties to terrorism could ‘potentially’ gain entry into the United States by crossing the country’s southern border.
But according to the Department of Homeland Security’s own reports, thousands of people from 14 “special interest” countries already have come into the United States illegally, including some across the U.S.-Mexico border. (The State Department designates some nations as “special interest” counties because of their links to terrorism.)
Napolitano testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Thursday. Her remarks on “special interest” persons came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked her about the ongoing violence in Mexico and the possibility of that violence spilling over into the United States.
“So, if the drug cartels succeeded, then it would be a matter of time before the violence would spill over onto our side of the border,” McCain said. “Not to mention the free, basically free, access they would have to bring drugs, as well as humans, into our country.”
“We haven’t seen spillover violence in that sense yet,” Napolitano said. “It is a risk. The ability to traffic in drugs cause their own damage to lives in the United States.
“Our ability to curtail that would be affected,” she said. “On the human trafficking side, it’s not solely illegal immigrants coming to work, but the ability of people from countries of special interest to immigrate into Central America and be ferried up to the border and over into the United States is also a concern.”
McCain responded: “Countries of special interest – people could come up through our southern border?”
“Potentially, yes,” Napolitano said.