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FW: Transcript of S1 interview on CNN- Fence and SBInet references Tuesday, February 26, 2008 5:18:34 PM

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Secure Border Initiative U.S. Customs and Border Protection

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For more information about the Secure Border Ini iative, visit www.cbp.gov/sbi or contact us at SBI_info@dhs.gov.

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Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff Interviewed on CNN's "Glenn Beck"

BECK: The most important thing I think we can do to start fixing the illegal immigration problem in this country is simply enforce the laws we have on the books. Doesn't take a brainiac. We've been saying it for years. Everybody's been saying it. Except usually the clowns in Washington. Plenty of legislation already out there, with fines in place for businesses who hire cheap illegal immigrant labor. Some want to up the ante even further. Good for them. The Bush administration is listening to them. They just announced higher monetary penalties against businesses that knowingly hire illegals. It is the first increase in nearly a decade. It no surprise that now business owners are upset. Boo-hoo, cry me a river. They feel the government has allowed illegal immigrants into our country to infiltrate the workplace -- like it's hard to figure out who's legal and who's not -and then they're left holding the bag, paying the price for a problem the feds should have solved long ago. The bottom line is, illegal immigration threatens the national and economic security and then anything that helps stems the tide is good news for everybody. Michael Chertoff is U.S. secretary of homeland security. Mr. Chertoff, congratulations on this policy, sir. I see the fines are up 25 percent. That is just the start? Or is that where they... CHERTOFF: Well, that's as high as we can raise money under the existing law. To be honest, we have proposed last year to really raise them significantly more. Congress did not do that. So we're doing the best we can, given the existing legal framework.


BECK: OK. Reagan said $1 million. I think, personally -- I think you should put these businesses out. I mean, I'm a small businessman. I can figure out who's legal and who's not. If you don't -- if you have sketchy documents, well, no, I don't think so. And the key is, legally. I mean, I'm sorry, knowingly hiring these people. What kind of businesses -- what kind of excuses are these businesses giving you saying, "Well, gee"... CHERTOFF: You know, it is amazing, Glenn. First, let me say, one of the things we are doing is we're bringing criminal cases. Of course, the value of that is you get jail time. Last year we brought criminal charges against almost 100 people who were involved in the supervisory chain of employers, who knowingly hired illegals. So that's the most powerful weapon that we have. But I'll give you an example of something we're trying to do that business has really blocked us from doing. We're trying to have a simple fix so businesses are told when they get a letter from Social Security, pointing out that there's a discrepancy between the name and Social Security number of their employee, that they go and check on it, not merely throw it in the waste basket. And yet, our simple regulations that we mandate that employers do this has been blocked by a court case in San Francisco for many months. We're hoping to revisit this within the next couple of weeks, but it's a good example of the kind of thing that some businesses are doing to try to prevent us from enforcing the law. BECK: OK. I want to talk to you about the fence here for a second. But I just want -I would like to ask you, I think, a rather easy question, and you may think it's tough. People in this country who want secure borders, with an "s," north and south, who believe that open borders are not only dangerous for us because of terror, but also economic security and also crime. We're called racists if we say that. Do you believe, if I care -- if I want fences and security at the border because of economic security, because of terror security and because of crime, am I a racist, sir? CHERTOFF: Glenn, look, I think every American has a right to insist, in fact an obligation to insist that we enforce the laws of this country. And I don't think that the vast majority of people who want to see that are racist or prejudiced. I think they generally feel that, if we set a set of rules in place, we have an obligation to make sure that they're observed. BECK: Good. OK. Let me talk to you about the virtual fence. This one kind of upset me a little bit because I am a fence guy. I want the fence that we've all been promised. You, I know, have been pushing for the virtual fence. It was just announced, I think it was this weekend it was announced. Is this in lieu of an actual fence? CHERTOFF: No, it's not. And there's a lot of misunderstanding about this. Some of it's deliberate. Some of it's misinterpretation. Let me be very clear. We want both. Not everything works in every area. So we want the right type of technology or the right type of fence, depending on what the lay of the land is.


We have over 300 miles of fence that we have now built across the southwest border. That's pedestrian and vehicle fence. There are some parts of the southwest border where a fence doesn't make sense. And in that area we need what we call a virtual fence. It's a combination of radar and cameras that allow us to see people crossing so we can intercept them. And that's what we accepted in 28 miles of Arizona and just about a week ago. BECK: I talked to a sheriff down at the border, and he went to this big conference where they were talking about all the things they were doing. And one of the sheriffs stood up and asked the congressman. He said, "We need more money." But because of the Merida business where we're giving money to Mexico, this congressman actually said to the sheriff, "You're going to have to talk to Mexico and see if you can get some of that money." CHERTOFF: I think that was maybe a congressman trying to be a little too clever. The Merida Initiative, it really complements what we're doing at the border. Here's the bottom line. You have a president in Mexico who's really, maybe for the first time, taking very aggressive steps against the organized criminal gangs who are moving drugs and human beings into the United States. Because you've got to attack this on both sides of the border. He is arresting people. He is having them extradited to the U.S. to serve their jail sentences here. That is a good thing. And part of the consequence is some of these drug gangs are striking back by literally killing Mexican officials. We owe them the support that they need to get the job done on their side of the border. BECK: All right, Secretary Chertoff. Out of time, but as always, thank you very much for being part of the program. CQ Transcriptions, Feb. 25, 2008

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