Home > Comprehensive Immigration Reform, DHS, Federal Immigration Policies > Janet Napolitano Calls for Immigration Overhaul

Janet Napolitano Calls for Immigration Overhaul

November 16th, 2009

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.

  1. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 06:52 | #1

    If Dems in middle-to-right districts and RINOs like Graham and McCain push too hard on this, it will be their walking papers. This ought to get good. I’m waiting to hear about a “crisis”. “If we don’t pass CIR now, the Earth will stop spinning and we’ll all fly off into space!!” “We can’t do nothing” That sort of total BS. This should be interesting!

  2. Last Best Hope
    November 16th, 2009 at 07:18 | #2

    Mr. Slow, as you have correctly assessed, opponents of immigration reform are standing on the far right of the spectrum and in opposition to both Democrats and mainstream Republicans. This means that mainstream Republicans are quite safe to vote according to their judgment; not the threats of an extreme minority within the party. If you hope to see Graham and McCain pushed around by Tea Party fanatics, you will be deeply disappointed. The bill will be passed by summer.

  3. Poor Richard
    November 16th, 2009 at 08:05 | #3

    To help our democracy flourish, the majority of want-to-be citizens must
    comprehend that citizenship in the United States has rights AND
    responsibilities.

  4. Formerly Anonymous
    November 16th, 2009 at 08:10 | #4

    Any attempt at immigration reform will live or die by the unemployment rate. There is no way any type of legalization/amnesty will pass if the unemployment rate is over 9%. (Or it will pass and lead to a 1974/1994 style purge in the House) The ‘jobs Americans won’t do’ argument just doesn’t hold water when there are millions of Americans looking for jobs.

    Health Care reform will have either just passed or failed after a major battle that’s going to leave some members of Congress vulnerable. They are going to be very, very reluctant to have another high profile fight the summer before a mid-term election. I’ll be surprised if it gets out of committee before the August recess, let alone a floor vote. (And if there’s no floor vote before the August recess, there is about a 0.0% chance of it passing before the November election. I can’t seen anybody pushing for a special session to pass an immigration bill.)

  5. Mando
    November 16th, 2009 at 10:11 | #5

    Hinting at amnesty will cause illegal entry to increase. Trying to push a bill through will cause it to skyrocket. Current problems (drugs/murder) along the border would intensify with the increased human trafficking.

    Now if the economy starts to improve next year… well… this would truly be the perfect storm of illegal immigration.

    Any amnesty bill will be self-defeating.

  6. hello
    November 16th, 2009 at 10:18 | #6

    Formerly is right about that, like I’ve been saying for a long while now, it didn’t pass under Bush when there was very low unemployment numbers what makes anyone think it will pass with extremely high unemployment?

    Who in their right mind would vote for a ‘path to citizenship’ when so many actual citizens are out of a job. It would be political suicide.

  7. Last Best Hope
    November 16th, 2009 at 11:27 | #7

    Formerly, I ordinarily agree with you on most things. But the unemployment rate obstacle is just a way if saying no to reform. Let me put it to you this way: mopping floors or picking cherries for minimum wage is not going to entice a former banker or sales rep who is currently on unemployment pulling 70 percent of his salary while, spending time with his family, etc. With the global economy is still limping toward recovery, we want that guy taking unemployment, paying his mortgage, and spending money to stimulate the economy.

    In 1960, half of American men dropped out of high school to enter the unskilled labor force. Today, only 10 percent of them do. We need a legal pipeline to bring in workers. This is critical to our economic recovery.

    Most estimates put it at a million and a half immigrant workers that we need each year to keep our economy growing. We only give out a million visas. The gap is the problem. Reagan’s immigration reform measures forgot this part. Law enforcement alone cannot fight the dynamic flux of global economic forces. Thus we create more “illegal” immigration each year we fail to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

    Requiring that all workers in America pay taxes and all employers pay taxes is crucial for economic recovery. CIR will be a revenue generator for state and local governments. It will close the trap door under the minimum wage floor. It will cause our economy to recover from a near disaster, and lay the framework for continued growth in the future.

  8. November 16th, 2009 at 11:30 | #8

    But it really isn’t about unemployment, is it?

    Throwing out citizenship is just a curve ball. I know many immigrants from various places in the world who just want to be legal residents.

    The citizenship is not the ultimate goal. Legal residents can do almost everything else but a citizen can do except vote. I suppose getting a passport might be a greater PITA, or maybe not. Last time I got one it pretty much consumed the entire afternoon and cost a fortune.

    Immigration policy should be flexible enough to be reflective of current employment needs. Right now it is rigid.

    Obviously something hasn’t been working or we wouldn’t be discussing the need for reform.

  9. November 16th, 2009 at 11:36 | #9

    LBH, Why is someone pulling 70% of their salary if unemployed? Where does this happen?

    On another note, here are Napolitano’s exact words. She seems to be saying something pretty direct:

    It is wrong. It’s an affront to every law-abiding citizen and every employer who plays by the rules.

    Like the Administration’s other priorities, when it comes to immigration, we are addressing a status quo that is simply unacceptable. Everybody recognizes that our current system isn’t working and that our immigration laws need to change

  10. November 16th, 2009 at 11:51 | #10

    Slowpoke, the walking papers sure didn’t come through in 2008. Why do you think they will happen now?

    Don’t you find it somewhat offensive that the Washington Times has taken such liberties with what someone really said, just to stir the pot?

    I certainly think there are some issues to be discussed. However, what I am seeing is tired old FAIR rhetoric that really doesn’t address our current immigration issues. I find it strange, very strange, that Republicans would nominate John McCain, the co-author of the failed 2007 CIR bill, as their presidential nominee if all that many of them were against any kind of immigration reform.

  11. Last Best Hope
    November 16th, 2009 at 12:53 | #11

    That’s true, Slow. In 2008, just about every Congressional candidate in a competitive race who ran on an anti-immigration platform was soundly defeated.

    It makes no sense economically and it makes no sense politically. It’s time for Republicans to make peace with immigrants and minorities in general. It’s not only about recognizing the reality of cultural and demographic shifts that should rightly affect policy as well as politics, it’s about becoming a national party again, one that is prepared to lead in the 21st century. Fighting demographic and cultural trends with enraged hysteria at tea party demonstrations will keep us in the minority for decades.

  12. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 13:02 | #12

    Bush gave this his best shot – and failed.

    Obama cannot acheive this in the current climate which he has helped to create, and furthered, where people do not trust their government. And against a backdrop of 10% unemployment.

    All that Obama can do is what he is doing – preserve the current immoral status quo, keep millions of people in suspension with likely-false hope (including his own Aunt), and exploit the situation for political purposes. He will continue to massage the issue in that sense and it may help to ensure that he gets reelected.

    Like Bush, Obama is doing America no good.

  13. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 13:28 | #13

    “I find it strange, very strange, that Republicans would nominate John McCain, the co-author of the failed 2007 CIR bill, as their presidential nominee if all that many of them were against any kind of immigration reform.”

    Bet your bottom dollar though that if Obama proposes the same thing that Bush and McCain championed, the GOP will rally against it in apocolyptic terms. Bush was the best shot for Amnesty.

  14. November 16th, 2009 at 14:50 | #14

    Rick, no one is asking for amnesty. Read my lips!

  15. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 16:50 | #15

    Anything that results in the people here illegally becoming legal, without returning to their home and applying from there, and/or which displays any favoritism to them based on the length of time that they were here illegally in violation of law, is Amnesty.

    Point blank, being here illegally and/or engaging in tax fraud isn’t a positive, and shouldn’t be rewarded.

    A solution that lets tens of milions of people become citizens based on some factor other than having been here breaking our law – lotteries, or awarding citizenship to family members of citizens – is not Amnesty.

    But a solution that rewards people for staying here illegally IS Amnesty.

  16. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 16:55 | #16

    It’s as if I said, hey I have a great way to discourage cheating on taxes. What we’ll do is say, don’t cheat on taxes. Then, we’ll give cash rewards to people who cheated on taxes. but only if they bilked the government out of $100,000 or more, over a period of at least two years. if they meet that qualification, they can receive an Amnesty against punishment if they pay a $500 fine and demonstrate that they know how to fill out a tax form.

    Anyone who stole less than $100,000 , or who wasn’t doing it 2 years ago, needs to pay their full freight.

    And from now on, no tax cheating.

    Furthermore, if you can document yourself as a major tax cheat, you become eligible for your relatives to either become citizens, or not pay taxes, depending on the amount. Also, if you cheated on state taxes, your children automatically become eligible for in-state tuition rates.

  17. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 16:56 | #17

    That’s what this “comprehensive” crap reads like to me and to the majority of the American people. It’ll be happening on the 12th of Never. 2006 and 2007 were the last gasp for that approach.

  18. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 17:01 | #18

    Child molesting is bad. But no one should be penalized from earning a living. So if you have been molesting a child and can document it, you can obtain an Amnesty if you can jump through a few hoops :

    - pay a $500 fine per child
    - demonstrate good parenting skills, as measured by a social worker
    - demonstrate through either audio-visual evidence, or deposition, that you have been molesting children for at least two years, or that you have a friend or relative who has been.

    In these cases, you can obtain Amnesty from prosecution and will not have to register as a sex offender.

    This is the Obama/Bush/McCain Comprehensive Child Security Act. Some say it’s crazy, but I ask you, are you content to let child molesters walk our streets? We’ll all be much safer if we can convince them not to be child molesters. I urge, even demand, passage of this bill if you care about children.

  19. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 17:05 | #19

    Also, Janet Napolitano will be unveiling a new Comprehensive Fight Back Against Terrorism act in the coming days. It involves, you guessed it, an Amnesty for terrorists currently living in the US, who have been actively plotting terror against us. However, they will have to demonstrate that they’ve been committed to jihad for at least two years, will have to learn English, and will have to pay a $500 fine. If so, they will be removed from any Watch Lists and will be granted citizenship.

    Those who have been plotting jihad for less than 2 years will be expected to go home, and not to blow anything up.

    I think it’s pretty important that we pass this.

  20. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 17:11 | #20

    Look for an upcoming Comprehensive War on Drugs bill to be proposed soon. Lindsay Graham will be spearheading this one. The idea is to let drug dealers keep all pot, meth, and other narcotics acquired so far, but to ask them not to grow or import any more. Also, all those in jail who are there for drug offenses will be let free. This is going to be a real boon to our government, it should solve many of the issues associated with drug trafficking. Expect to see a lot less drugs on the street, because they’ll all understand that drug trafficking is not to be tolerated from this point on.

    Ask me how we can address the issue of health insurance companies dropping patients from their rolls. we can do it by indemnifying them against any legal recourse for decisions already made. Then, once they have that burden rolled away, they’ll never do it again.

  21. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 17:39 | #21

    Well then, LBH, and Moon, there’s no reason for them not to start on comprehensive break-our-laws-it’s-cool-by-us legislation right away! We should have a special deal for MS-13 members, some sort of double-the-imported-criminals type of thing! The vast majority of Americans will cheer amnesty in the streets, as you say!

  22. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 18:31 | #22

    I just thought of a great way to get less rapists on the street. We should grant an Amnesty to anyone who’s committed rape and not been caught or convicted.

    Then we’ll have less rapists on the streets. A safer America. Do you have a better plan to stop rape?

  23. Rick Bentley
    November 16th, 2009 at 18:32 | #23

    Also, i thought of a way to prevent criminal burgalry. Just legalize burglary!

  24. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 19:12 | #24

    Last Best Hope :
    Fighting demographic and cultural trends with enraged hysteria at tea party demonstrations will keep us in the minority for decades.

    Yeah, Republicans will never win another election, you’re right. After the beating McDonnell and Christie took this past election night, it’s clear that Republicans are finished.

  25. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 19:17 | #25

    Oh, and while I’m thinking about, LBH, you are correct in that any candidate that bases their campaign on immigration enforcement is soundly defeated. I’m not convinced that in any way shape or form translates into “the majority of Americans are clamoring to have millions of law-breakers who have no intention of assimilating given a pass.” You may feel differently. As I said, if they’ve got the guts, I invite them to try it. Between cap’n’tax, health care takeover, and comprehensive law-breaker amnesty, I can see the Democrats winning all elections in 2010 by landslide margins!

  26. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 19:22 | #26

    Moon-howler :
    Slowpoke, the walking papers sure didn’t come through in 2008. Why do you think they will happen now?

    I KNOW you can figure out the difference (primarily in political landscape) between late 2008 and now….or, say, after Obama and Congress pass a mess of extremely unpopular legislation.

  27. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 19:25 | #27

    Last Best Hope :
    The bill will be passed by summer.

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to quote you on that on a later date.

  28. November 16th, 2009 at 20:40 | #28

    Comprehensive because it needs to include corrections and fixes for things far beyond amnesty as you call it. Amnesty is forgiveness. Absolution. I don’t know of anyone who advocating for amnesty according to the dictionary definition. Anyone who counts that is.

    Did you all even read what Napolitano said?

  29. November 16th, 2009 at 20:43 | #29

    Slowpoke, I am not sure what is going to pass and what isn’t. I don’t think the political scene has changed all that much, I just think it has gotten louder and better organized. That is typical against a new administration.

  30. Slowpoke Rodriguez
    November 16th, 2009 at 20:48 | #30

    Well, we both know we’re never going to agree on the amnesty thing, but as I have said:

    1. Pay a fine: Joke
    2. Learn English: Joke (not even a funny one)

    “Unless we pass amnesty, we’ll have another wave of illegal immigration” That may be the dumbest thing any government worker has ever said. Hey Neopolitan, if you could take your head out of your ample behind and DID YOUR JOB, we wouldn’t have any illegal immigration!!

  31. November 16th, 2009 at 22:10 | #31

    But Napolitano didn’t say that. That is what I am objecting to.

    I don’t think that the govt. ought to just wave a magic wand and say ok, all is forgiven, stay here. It sends a very bad message. However, there are people here with different circumstances. No broad brushing.

    Slowpoke, you didn’t even read what she said. Until we discuss real words and real ideas rather than those of FAIR, we will never even be discussing the same thing.

    You are right, we will probably never agree on everything involving immigration but I bet there are some areas we do agree on. However, we won’t get there quoting FAIR.

    First generation immigrants often do not learn much English, regardless of where they are from. Much depends on what kind of job they have and how much is demanded of them. All the second generation learns English. Why do you expect Hispanic immigrants to behave differently than any other group of immigrants?

  32. November 16th, 2009 at 22:11 | #32

    Slow, I hope you are watching WWII-HD tonight.

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