Napolitano spoke and answered questions at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on “Securing the Border: A Smarter Law Enforcement Approach,” on Wednesday.
When asked if she could give a timeline on when the border would be secured, Napolitano said, “The plain fact of the matter is the border is as secure now as it has ever been, but we know we can always do more. And that will always be the case.
“It’s a big border,” she said. “It’s 1,960 miles across that Southwest border. It’s some of the roughest, toughest geographical terrain in the world across that border. And so, the notion that you’re going to seal that border somehow is something that anybody who’s been involved in the actual doing of law enforcement--the front office work or the front line work of the law enforcement--would say, ‘You’re never going to totally seal that border.’”
Napolitano was also asked if she thought that Republicans withholding support for comprehensive immigration reform until the border is secured was political posturing.
“The notion that you’re gonna’ somehow seal the border, and only at that point will you discuss immigration reform, that is not an answer to the problem,” she said.
At a town hall meeting recently, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl told a group of constituents that in a closed-door meeting with President Barack Obama, the president told him, “The problem is … if we secure the border, then you all won't have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.”
“In other words,” Kyl said, “they're holding it hostage. They don’t wanna’ secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive immigration reform.”
The White House responded to Kyl’s claim with Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer both saying that Kyl “knows” President Obama never made such remarks.
“The president didn’t say that and Senator Kyl knows it,” Pfeiffer said in a statement to Politico. “There are more resources dedicated toward border security today than ever before but, as the president has made clear, truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.”
“The president didn't say that,” Burton said during last Monday’s White House press briefing. “Senator Kyl knows that the president didn't say that. But what everybody knows – because the president has made it perfectly clear – is that what we need to do is everything that we can to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. And that includes not just securing the border, but doing a lot of other things.”
Kyl’s spokesman Ryan Patmintra responded to the White House saying, “There were two people in that meeting, and Dan Pfieffer was not one of them. Senator Kyl stands by his remarks, and the White House spokesman’s pushback that you must have comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border only confirms Senator Kyl’s account.”