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Napolitano Defends US Immigration Policy

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gestures while discussing the department's enforcement of immigration laws, at American University in Washington, October 5, 2011.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has defended the Obama administration's system of prioritizing deportation of illegal immigrants who commit other crimes.

During remarks at a university in Washington Wednesday, she said there are far too many illegal immigrants in the country to deal with all of them at once. She added it makes sense to deport first those who threaten public safety.

Critics of the policy say the system results in amnesty for illegal immigrants with no criminal record.

Napolitano said the U.S. is changing other ways it goes after illegal immigrants. She said large and costly workplace raids conducted in the past have been replaced with workplace enforcement of immigration laws to make sure employees hire only people who are legally eligible for work.

She said the U.S. has committed unprecedented resources to the effort this year. She added that this year will see a historic drop in illegal border crossings and an increase in the amount of contraband seized.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.