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Homeland Security head unveils plans to strengthen border control

[JURIST] US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff [official profile] said Tuesday that the US Department of Homeland Security [official website] is preparing to increase its efforts to deal with the problem of illegal immigration. Last week, Arizona declared a state of emergency [PDF declaration text; JURIST report] along its borders with Mexico in response to what Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano called [PDF press release] the "growing devastation caused by the crimes associated with illegal immigration." New Mexico has similarly declared a state of emergency [press release] on its Mexican border because of the "ravages and terror of human smuggling, drug smuggling, kidnapping, murder, destruction of property and death of livestock." Acknowledging that federal efforts to secure the border must be increased, Chertoff told reporters Tuesday that his department's strategy includes strengthening the deportation process so that illegal immigrants will not be set free, expediting deportations by increasing the availability of lawyers and judges and tracking down illegal immigrants that do not attend deportation hearings. DHS also plans to hire more Border Patrol [official website] agents and install additional surveillance cameras. Chertoff also called for Congress to pass a proposed new temporary worker program [White House backgrounder] which would legalize entry into the US for some migrant workers, freeing up immigration enforcement agents to focus on more serious offenders. Wednesday's New York Times has more.

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