Napolitano defends asylum screening for immigrants

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was speaking on immigration before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, defending asylum screening processes for immigrants.

WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is defending the security procedures that occur when someone applies for asylum to the U.S. — as the family of the alleged Boston bombers did about a decade ago. She described an extensive process with multiple screenings.

She says any asylum applicant is thoroughly interviewed and vetted, run through databases, fingerprinted and vetted again when they become eligible for a green card and ultimately citizenship.

Napolitano also says the process has improved in recent years. And she says a new immigration bill would build on that.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Napolitano also disclosed that her department knew of the older Boston bomber's travel to Russia last year, even though his name was misspelled on a travel document.

Related: Don't link immigration bill to Boston, supporters say

Republican senators skeptical of new immigration legislation and of the Obama administration's record on border security are getting a chance to question Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Napolitano was appearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee at its third hearing on a bipartisan immigration bill that aims to strengthen border security, improve legal immigration and create a path to citizenship for some 11 million people here illegally.

She originally was scheduled to appear last Friday but that was canceled because of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Napolitano's appearance comes after a daylong hearing Monday that exposed deep divisions on the immigration bill, with Republicans arguing it does too little on border security and some also saying the measure should be re-examined in light of the events in Boston.

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