Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Feb. 26 that the effects of sequestration will be dire. (AFP / Getty Images)
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned Tuesday that billions of dollars in looming cuts due to federal budget sequestration will undermine domestic security efforts, from the U.S.-Mexico border to local law enforcement agencies that depend on continuing federal aid.
Holder, speaking to the National Association of Attorneys General, said the scheduled Friday cuts are “untenable” and would require $1.6 billion in Justice Department budget reductions.
“If this so-called ‘sequester’ goes into effect,” Holder said, “it will not only curtail the department’s ability to support our state and local partners, it will have a negative impact on the safety of Americans across the country.”
The nation’s top law enforcement officer said the federal government’s “capacity to respond to crimes, investigate wrongdoing and hold criminals accountable will be reduced.”
“There’s no question that the effects of these cuts… on our entire justice system and on the American people will be profound,” he said.
Napolitano, in an appearance at the Brookings Institution marking the 10th anniversary of the Homeland Security agency, said the expected budget reduction would affect “all core missions” of the department.
Chief among those cuts, the secretary said, would be the loss of about 5,000 border agents and would mean long waits at U.S. airports and other ports of entry.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Napolitano said. “I fear we will lurch from crisis to crisis” if the budget crisis is not resolved.
Kevin Johnson writes for USA TODAY.