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Homeland Security Chief Warns of Sequester Fallout

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The sequester will affect the nation's ability to defend itself from threats at the nation's borders, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed on Monday.

Napolitano, the latest member of President Obama's Cabinet to warn of the looming automatic spending cuts, said at a press briefing that as many as 5,000 border control agents might have to be furloughed.

A situation like that, she cautioned, could mean an influx of illegal immigrants in addition to putting border security at peril.  Last week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department said that $754 million would be lopped from its budget if the sequester goes through.

What's more, if border security in the southwest is compromised, Republicans would likely be more reluctant to go along with comprehensive immigration reform.

In addition, Napolitano said that ports would be affected by the sequester, hampering customs inspections that would result in longer waiting times for travelers and shipments.

Meanwhile, disaster relief funding, which falls under Napolitano's agency, is looking at a $1 billion shortfall that might cut funding for victims of catastrophes such as last fall's Hurricane Sandy.

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