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US Warns Drug Cartels to Stay In Mexico

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano answers questions, after delivering the first annual 'State of America's Homeland Security' address at The George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute in Washington, January 27, 2011

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has sent a warning to Mexican drug cartels, saying they will be met by a "powerful" response if they cross the border.

Napolitano made the comments Monday at the University of Texas-El Paso, which sits across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, a city torn apart by drug-related violence.

The secretary highlighted the results of the Obama administration's efforts to secure the border. She said border patrol arrests - a key indicator of illegal immigration - declined 36 percent in the last two years. She also said the number of deportations rose nearly 70 percent, with 779,000 people being deported.

Also Monday, a new study revealed that law enforcement agencies, mainly in the southeastern U.S., are arresting illegal immigrants for minor offenses, despite calls from the Obama administration to focus on detaining "dangerous criminals."

The Migration Policy Institute issued a report that showed about half of the illegal immigrants arrested across the country are detained for misdemeanor or traffic offenses.

The report by the Washington-based organization said political pressures, triggered by a growing immigrant population, have contributed to the inconsistencies in the federal immigration enforcement program.

While 2009 federal guidelines called for stricter enforcement on felons, state and local jurisdictions have the authority to enforce the federal immigration law.

The Institute is calling on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to ensure that policies are carried out consistently across the country.