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SAN JOSE � In an effort to promote the Bush administration’s stance on tougher immigration laws, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was in Santa Clara on Friday to remind residents here that “citizenship � must be earned.” Speaking before a sizable crowd at the Santa Clara Marriott Hotel, the country’s top law enforcement officer spent much of his time talking about “smart reform.” While he acknowledged that people who are here illegally should not go unpunished, Gonzales said it was unrealistic to think the government is going to be able to deport all of the 11 to 12 million who are already living in the country. “There are no simple answers” Gonzales told his audience. “We need to have a policy that [shows] immigrants are very, very important to our economy.” Bush “wants them to pay their taxes and learn English,” Gonzales said. But, Gonzales admitted, something needs to be done about the large number of people sneaking over the U.S. border every day. “The bottom line is we need to do a better job, quite frankly,” he said. Gonzales, a guest of the Commonwealth Club of Silicon Valley, talked about Bush’s goal of beefing up patrol along both the southern and northern borders by 6,000 agents within the next two years. He also discussed the need for a better illegal immigrant identification system, and said temporary worker programs would be good for state and local governments. When asked, however, how much this “smart reform” would cost the taxpayers, Gonzales stumbled. “Actually, costs are hard to determine in the abstract,” he said. “It’s going to be expensive.” The hour-long event was moderated by Mary Cranston, chair of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, who funneled some questions from the audience about the detainee situation at Guantanamo and the federal government’s domestic eavesdropping program. Gonzales said there is “a lot of misinformation” circulating about the situation at Guantanamo Bay, but in reality the conditions there are really “very humane.” “In a time of war, sometimes decisions have to be made quickly,” he added. “We’ve learned along the way.” He called the administration’s eavesdropping program “very important” to the safety of the county and something that is allowed under the U.S. Constitution. Asked to comment on U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision Thursday to allow a lawsuit challenging the eavesdropping program to move forward, Gonzales remained tight-lipped. Gonzales said he’s been on the road and hasn’t had time yet to review the judge’s ruling, but indicated an appeal is possible.

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