Janet Napolitano Exclusive: Behind-the-Scenes with the Homeland Security Secretary

"From Arkansas down to Central Louisiana and the Eastern portions of Texas," the official responds.

"Alright, and I'm assuming FEMA's alert to this and is leaning forward?"

It's a situation she will deal with all day, but right now -- she's due at the White House for a naturalization ceremony. So it's down the stairs, and into a car for Napolitano, aides and her security detail.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Says Immigration Laws Need to Be Reformed

"We're going to make some new citizens today," the secretary says on the way to the White House. "One of the best parts of this job is swearing in ceremonies. Last Friday I was in Boston for a bunch of meetings and we swore in almost 400 new citizens from 65 different countries, it was amazing -- in Faneuil Hall, right in the historic part of Boston."

"We do something called the American by Choice Award, which is somebody who has, you know chosen to become a U.S. citizen. And the American by choice last week was a elderly gentleman who had been a Holocaust survivor, and he had this little flag, this big," she gestures with her hands, "that he always carries around and was given to him by a U.S. army tank commander when they liberated Dachau. And he said it was the first sign in five years of hope and generosity in the world and that's why he came to the United States. Anyways -- an amazing story."

"For people to become U.S. citizens is a huge deal. We take it for granted. We've been citizens our whole lives. But those who become citizens and now get to enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship, it's just huge. So it's a good thing and when you deal with all the other things you deal with in this position -- that's one of the more enjoyable moments," she says.

But, Napolitano says, the overall immigration laws need to be reformed.

"I can tell you this as the former U.S. attorney of Arizona and the former attorney general of Arizona, the former governor of Arizona, and as someone who actually grew up in another border state which is New Mexico, that it is time for reform. The system is under too much pressure. And the system needs to be updated reform to reflect current realities," she says.

Another issue that Napolitano knows well from her time in Arizona and New Mexico is the seemingly endless violence south of the border.

"I think that this is a key issue for the United States and that we should do all we can to assist President Calderon in his effort to break up the cartels that inhabit Mexico," she said. "Those cartels have fingers that reach well into the United States, into hundreds of our communities, distributing drugs, and, of course, as your question says, they're fueled by bulk cash and arms coming south of the border."

Napolitano said that bringing in the National Guard to help curb violence on the border is "under consideration" in the White House and said the violence could touch the U.S.

"Oh, there's always a prospect, so we're watching it very carefully," she said. "And there are occasional horrendous crimes... But is it a wave of spillover violence? We have not yet seen that. We never want to see that. And so that's why moving the kinds of resources we moved down to the border makes sense."

At the White House, President Obama opens the door for Napolitano, and the two walk out to music.

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