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Chertoff: Failure of Immigration Reform Led to Extreme Measures
John Christoffersen
April 7, 2008

A failure to enact comprehensive federal immigration reform has led to extreme measures at the local level around the country on both sides of the contentious issue, the nation's homeland security secretary said Monday.

Michael Chertoff, who spoke at Yale Law School, was asked about New Haven becoming the first city in the nation last year to issue identification cards to illegal immigrants.

"New Haven is probably at one extreme of the approach to the issue of illegal immigration," Chertoff said.

He said the other extremes were some parts of Pennsylvania and Virginia that have tried to make it illegal to rent to illegal immigrants.

Chertoff said warnings last year that a failure to deal with the issue nationally would lead to a patchwork of local laws have proven accurate.

"I think in the end until we deal with the whole problem comprehensively you're going to see fitful and perhaps in some cases inappropriate ways to deal with the issue on both ends of the spectrum," Chertoff said. "I would like to see us get to the point where we can have a comprehensive solution to the whole problem."

Chertoff also said deporting millions of illegal immigrants was not realistic.

In a wide-ranging talk, Chertoff said progress has been made against the al-Qaida terrorist organization, in part because atrocities by the group has turned many in the Middle East against it. He said the progress shows the threat is not insurmountable and predicted a time when al-Qaida will be rejected by the vast majority it seeks to win over.
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