Napolitano warns 'core critical mission' of DHS will suffer from sequester


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"Why? Because of the way it's done — account by account by account. And also because you have to go where the money is and also because we're a department dependent on personnel," Napolitano explained.

"So, when you add it up, it's the equivalent, in hours, of 5,000 border patrol agents. It means less overtime and ability to hire port officers. It means, really, the same at the [the Transportation Security Administration], longer lines there. It means that we can't continue to invest and build."

In order to stop a currently unending amount of impending crises, Napolitano said, Congress needs to change how it handles the federal budget and the appropriations process.

"And let me just mention sequestration is just one kind of roadblock we've had as we've tried to bring the department together and manage," Napolitano said.

"I think, in the last four years, we've had — what? — three shutdowns almost. We have one coming up, the one that's coming up in March. We still don't have an [fiscal year 2013] budget to work from and unless and until Congress can get budget and appropriations back into regular order, I fear that we'll just lurch from crisis to crisis — and that helps no one but really affects a young department like ours."

Napolitano's warning came after she argued that the Department of Homeland Security has been particularly effective in reducing illegal immigration and fighting cyberattacks.

Napolitano argued that illegal immigration attempts are at a 40-year low. Napolitano also said her department had been doing crucial work in protecting the country from cyber threats.

"The work we've done, I think, provides, a stronger foundation than ever to address the inevitable foundation we will face in an ever changing landscape," Napolitano said in her speech.

"And we know that these challenges will evolve, requiring a nimble and flexible response by the federal government and by the many partners we engage across the country and increasingly around the world."