Wednesday, October 19, 2005
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US security chief strives to expel all illegal immigrants
Oct 18 11:47 AM US/Eastern
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said his department aims without exception to expel all those who enter the United States illegally.
"Our goal at DHS (Homeland Security) is to completely eliminate the 'catch and release' enforcement problem, and return every single illegal entrant, no exceptions.
"It should be possible to achieve significant and measurable progress to this end in less than a year," Chertoff told a Senate hearing.
Thousands of "Mexicans who are caught entering the United States illegally are returned immediately to Mexico. 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," Chertoff explained.
"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," he added.
"Through a comprehensive approach, we are moving to end this 'catch and release' style of border enforcement by reengineering our detention and removal process."
Chertoff's remarks in favor of returning "every illegal entrant, no exceptions" appeared to conflict directly with the US policy toward illegal Cuban migrants.
Though Cubans picked up at sea are returned to their country, those who reach US soil by air, sea or ground are allowed to stay and work -- a fact Cuba says encourages dangerous illegal emigration attempts.