WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senators are being told that they shouldn't let the issue of border security stand in the way of comprehensive immigration reform.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today that the nation's borders "have in fact never been stronger." She said that too often, border security is used as "an excuse" to avoid changing immigration laws.
But Republican Sen. John Cornyn (KOHR'-nihn) of Texas said he doesn't think the border is secure -- and he believes there's still "a long, long way to go."
As the Senate's first hearing on an immigration overhaul got under way, chairman Patrick Leahy (LAY'-hee) echoed the words of President Barack Obama from last night's State of the Union speech, saying "now is the time" to give the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants a chance to become citizens.
At today's hearing, one illegal immigrant asked senators, "What do you want to do with me?" Jose Antonio Vargas is a former journalist who acknowledged his illegal status in a piece in The New York Times Magazine two years ago. He said he and other illegal immigrants "dream of a path to citizenship so we can actively participate in our American democracy."
APPHOTO DCSW122: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, immigration rights activist and self-declared undocumented immigrant Jose Antonio Vargas testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (13 Feb 2013)
APPHOTO DCSW106: Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on comprehensive immigration reform. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (13 Feb 2013)
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.