Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has called for an overhaul of US immigration policy early next year. The move is expected to rekindle the immigration flames, which could be problematic in an election year.
Additionally, opponents and conservative media is billing any reform initiative as giving illegal immigrants amnesty. The Huffington Post quotes Napolitano:
Ms. Napolitano said the immigration landscape has changed sharply since 2007, when attempts at a comprehensive overhaul failed because many members of Congress lacked confidence in the government’s ability to enforce existing laws, she said. Immigration overhauls backed by the Bush administration and some congressional leaders from both parties foundered in part because critics portrayed them as rewarding illegal immigrants with “amnesty” for violating U.S. law.
Since then, government statistics show a 23% drop in the number of illegal immigrants caught trying to enter the U.S. in the past year, and a 67% decline since 2000, a trend Ms. Napolitano attributed to the weak economy and stronger enforcement. The government has also stepped up efforts to audit employers’ compliance with immigration laws, she said.
“These are major differences that should change the immigration conversation,” said Ms. Napolitano. Without congressional action, “what I fear is we will see another wave of illegal immigration” when the economy improves, she said. “When Congress is ready to act, we will be ready to support them.”
The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, puts a different spin on Secretary Napolitano’s words:
Declaring success in border security and immigration enforcement, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that the federal government has done its work and now it’s time for Congress to pass a broad bill to legalize illegal immigrants.
Her speech signals President Obama will make good on his promise to push Congress to pass an immigration bill next year – adding yet another hot-button issue to an already long and contentious list.
Ms. Napolitano said members of Congress and voters who balked at an immigration bill two years ago, fearing a repeat of the 1986 amnesty that only made the problem worse, can be assured this time is different. She said in those two years, the flow of illegal immigrants across the border has dropped dramatically and the government is doing more to catch fugitive aliens inside the U.S.
I have tried for several days to find a direct quote that sounds like what Ms. Napolitano was quoted as saying in the Washington Times. I have not been able to find it. It sounds incendiary to me and quite a stretch from what actually was said.
Here is the link to what DHS Secretary Napolitano did say. It is too lengthy to post here.