DHS Head Janet Napolitano is making the rounds again, and she’s still talking immigration reform in 2010. Below is a news article published earlier today, along with responses form politicians and immigrant advocates.
Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, and reiterated her comitment to work with Congress to push for comprehensive immigration reform in early 2010.
DHS Secretary updated committee members with her department’s progress over this past year and emphasized that immigration enforcement is a necessity, but that enforcement alone is not a solution for a broken immigration system.
“We can no longer perpetuate a status quo that is unacceptable for workers, employers, law enforcement, faith leaders, and America as a whole. We must seize this moment to build a truly effective immigration system that deters illegal immigration, provides effective and enduring enforcement tools, protects workers from exploitation and retaliation, and creates a tough but fair path to legalization for the millions of illegal immigrants already here,” Secretary Napolitano said.
Immigration advocates and civil rights activists reacted to Napolitano’s words.
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
“In her testimony today and in recent speeches, Secretary Napolitano makes clear her intentions to put the Administration’s muscle behind the effort to enact comprehensive immigration reform legislation in early 2010.
“As [former INS Commissioner] Jim Ziglar and [former Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy at DHS] Stewart Verdery made clear yesterday, relying on enforcement measures alone amounts to putting a band-aid on a clean fracture. In order to significantly reduce illegal immigration, restore respect for the rule of law, and replace the chaos and exploitation of the status quo with the control and regulation of an orderly system, we need comprehensive immigration reform – the only practical and lasting answer.
“We are encouraged by the Administration’s continued commitment to advancing immigration reform next year, as well as Senator Leahy’s remarks and the work of other Congressional champions such as Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) who are gearing up for early action in 2010. It’s long been time for politicians to set aside partisanship and do what’s right for the country by enacting a lasting fix to this important problem.”
The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.“Today Secretary Napolitano reminded Congress that she is counting on them to act on immigration reform so her Department can keep America safe. She recognized that as long as 12 million people remain outside of the system, the harder it is to achieve control over immigration and enhance security.“Secretary Napolitano was clear in the urgent need for legislative action on immigration, as stated in her opening remarks: “We must seize this moment to build a truly effective immigration system”. She knows that with every day that Congress delays fixing our immigration laws, the task of providing effective law enforcement and national security becomes more difficult.“We also welcome remarks by Senator Leahy, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who acknowledged that most border and immigration enforcement benchmarks have been met but that enforcement alone “will not by itself solve our Nation’s immigration problems”. This sentiment has been echoed by national security experts, who in a press conference yesterday, stated that regardless of security achievements, the bottom line is that without immigration reform, the Department of Homeland Security is restricted from operating in a well-functioning system that controls immigration and secures the border.“We expect strong leadership from the Administration and from Congress to move past rhetoric into concrete action. Americans are counting on their elected leaders to solve the country’s challenging problems. That means transforming our broken immigration system into a system that works, that treats immigrants fairly, puts the undocumented on a path to citizenship and enhances national security by directing our enforcement resources in ways that protects this country from harm.The following is a statement from Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center:“Secretary Napolitano is looking forward, but her opponents are looking backwards to tired old tactics that haven’t worked (…) She is drawing upon her experience to move forward, but that entails a shift in thinking and comprehensive immigration reform. We can all agree that the current system isn’t working, but some offer solutions while others offer the same old ideas.”