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Napolitano vows to protect nation

Jan. 15, 2009 at 9:41 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- President-elect Barack Obama's pick for U.S. homeland security secretary said Thursday overhauling the nation's immigration system would be a top priority.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano told lawmakers at her confirmation hearing the National Guard should be called upon to help secure the U.S.-Mexican border.

"Unlike many in Washington, I have actually walked, flown by helicopter, and even ridden a horse over much of the border's rough, rugged desert and mountainous terrain," Napolitano told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"I have toured the drug tunnels, where cocaine and marijuana enter our country by the ton. I've seen the sewers where children who are crossing the border alone sleep at night, and have seen the campsites strewn with abandoned clothing, human waste and refuse," she said.

If confirmed, Napolitano said she would work with the Justice Department and U.S. attorneys to ensure employers who hire undocumented workers are sanctioned.

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