Chertoff Defends Immigration Enforcement
Filed at 5:04 p.m. ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says he feels the pain of employers pinched by intensified efforts to control illegal immigration, but adds that until Congress enacts broad immigration reforms they shouldn't expect any changes in enforcement.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Chertoff said this week that the rising complaints from businesses offer some evidence the Bush administration's approach is working.
''This is harsh but accurate proof positive that, for the first time in decades, we've succeeded in changing the dynamic and (are) actually beginning to reduce illegal immigration,'' Chertoff said. ''Unfortunately, unless you counterbalance that with a robust system to allow people to come in temporarily and legally, you're going to wind up with an economic problem.''
Chertoff defended the actions of his agency, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
''We're enforcing the law as it is, but Congress has not yet given us the authority to really expand the temporary worker program,'' he said in the Tuesday interview. ''If we could do that, then most of these businesses could find legal solutions.''
Chertoff sharply criticized businesses that complain the crackdowns on their hiring of illegal immigrants will cost them money. In a federal court case last year, groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce argued that the department had failed to account for the economic impact of new regulations on businesses.
The argument ''basically suggests we can't enforce the law because it will prevent people from making money illegally,'' Chertoff said. ''The business community loves it (hiring illegal immigrants) because you have illegals, you pay them less, they have no place to go to complain''...
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