Chertoff Frustrated By Lack Of Sacrifice
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says public opposition to a host of new border security programs stalls government efforts to tighten security, according to The USA Today.
Such opposition ranges from Texas ranchers who don’t want border fences built on their property to northern border-state residents who don’t want to get passports to cross back-and-forth between Canada and the United States. Chertoff says he is frustrated by the growing number of “people who say, ‘Yes, protect us, but not if it inconveniences me.’ “
In an interview shortly before the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Chertoff said he considers it one of his “biggest obligations” in his remaining 16 months in office to eliminate the “not-in-my-backyard attitude” when it comes to relatively small costs and inconveniences.
He says he will launch a campaign to spread a message of shared sacrifice “in as plain English as I can, as often as I can and in as many places as I can” from now to January 2009, when his tenure will end with a new presidency.
Among the programs that have faced opposition:
*Real ID, a federal law that requires states to adopt stricter policies for giving out driver’s licenses.
*New rules requiring the Social Security Administration to send letters to employers with Homeland Security warnings that they will face criminal penalties if they knowingly hire illegal immigrants.
*A plan to build roughly 300 miles of fence — with concrete and steel walls — along the Texas-Mexico border. Ranch owners and environmentalists have opposed the plan.
*A requirement that U.S. citizens show passports to come back into the country from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
Tim Roemer, a member of the 9/11 Commission, said President Bush should help Chertoff better inform the public about new security programs designed to keep terrorists out of the country.
“The average citizen needs to know more about what to do to stop these people,” Roemer said.
Chertoff says he worries that the public is suffering “fatigue” after six years of counterterrorism efforts abroad and at home.
On border security in particular, he says, he is determined to make “very clear the consequence of dropping our guard.”