Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a full plate in front of her, pushing for immigration reform, defending controversial surveillance programs and helping New York rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. NY1 political anchor Errol Louis interviewed the cabinet secretary on "The Road to City Hall" and filed this report.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is making the case for immigration reform, which is a high priority for the Obama administration.
In an interview on NY1's "The Road to City Hall" Friday night, she noted that right now, the U.S. government spends more on border security than it spends on the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Secret Service, combined.
Napolitano said Congress needs to focus more on legal immigration so that people don't resort to illegal methods.
"The Supreme Court said it well when it struck down Arizona's anti-immigration law," Napolitano said. "It said basically, this is a federal issue, a federal responsibility. It's time for the federal Congress to address it, just as they're addressing it right now."
The secretary also discussed the controversial national security program known as PRISM, which tracks the phone calls and internet use of everyone in America.
Napolitano said the program is necessary to head off terrorist attacks, and said some privacy concerns may be overblown.
"There are lots of protections built into the system, but I think people have gotten the idea that there is an Orweillian state out there that somehow we're operating, and that is far from the case," Napolitano said.
Q: Can you tell us, without regards to any particular case, "We're glad we have this system in place, we would have been less safe with it?"
A: Absolutely, absolutely.
When it comes to post-hurricane recovery and rebuilding, the secretary oversees FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Napolitano defended the newly released FEMA flood maps that include thousands of homes where New Yorkers will be required to elevate their homes and/or purchase expensive homeowner insurance.
"The maps are the maps," she said. "They're built on data, and the data illustrates that this is, as we were talking about earlier, this is a community built on islands."
After leaving the NY1 interview, Secretary Napolitano inspected Bellevue Hospital and other sites impacted by Hurricane Sandy.