The nation can solve its immigration problems with a multifaceted approach that includes a guest worker program along with vigorous pursuit of employers hiring illegal immigrants and beefed-up security to limit border crossings, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told skeptical members of a House homeland security subcommittee yesterday, the Houston Chronicle reports. U.S. Rep. John Carter told Chertoff the government already had a six-year backlog for background checks for green card applicants in Texas and that adding a guest worker program would swamp the system.
Chertoff said rounding up merely a tenth of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. would cost $9 billion to $10 billion a year. “The round ’em up and detain ’em method is astronomically expensive,” Chertoff said. Nearly $2 billion appropriated last month by Congress will help speed the development of the ambitious Secure Border Initiative, which would use cameras, motion detectors, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other technology to keep the entire border under constant scrutiny, Chertoff said. After the deployment of 4,700 National Guard troops to the border area, arrests of people making illegal crossings have fallen 45 percent.