Speaking at the Center for American Progress earlier today (prepared remarks: www.dhs.gov/ynews/speeches/sp_1258123461050.shtm NYT article: link full video: americanprogress.org/events/2009/11/Napolitano.html), Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said that she needs comprehensive immigration reform (downsides at the link) to do her job and that such "reform" (aka amnesty) is more attainable due both to supposed increased border security and due to fewer people trying to cross because of the economic downturn. In her speech, she sounded almost exactly like Michael Chertoff and used several of the stock talking points such as secure the border and living in the shadows. She also gave a shout-out to John Podesta of CAP and specifically mentioned the National Association of Evangelicals as one of the groups supporting "reform"; most of that group's member organizations are actually neutral or opposed to "reform".
It's extremely unfortunate that I was unable to get anyone else that I know of to help with my plan to ask her a question at today's event. People are willing to stand on street corners and wave loopy signs, but getting them to do things that could be devastatingly effective is incredibly difficult. Because of the flaws in her comments, someone who's familiar with this issue and who's familiar with "cross-examining" people could have undercut her argument and made her look very bad. That would help reduce the chances of "reform". If people aren't willing to confront politicians, they'll just keep on doing the bad things they're doing.
One of her remarks was this Chertoff-like bit:
When it comes to immigration, I took an oath as Secretary of Homeland Security to secure the nation by enforcing the law and managing legal flows across the border. Let me be clear: to do this job as effectively as possible, DHS needs immigration reform.
She is, of course, lying. Doing her job would involve enforcing the laws and trying to reduce the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. As a recent enforcement action shows, she is not interested in doing that. Every illegal alien who stays in the U.S. is a potential Democratic voter if she can get the amnesty that she and Obama want.
She said that "immigration reform will be a boon to American workers" which is completely false; see the immigration wage floor page.
She also supported chain migration, saying that "Community and faith leaders have also emphasized to me that we need reform because of how difficult the current laws can be on families, especially families of mixed legal status. Our immigration system is outdated where families are concerned, and we need to modernize and streamline the laws governing this process."
And, she supported increasing high-tech visa limits (aka the H1B program). That was after she "held a forum where [she] heard from technology executives in Silicon Valley". Obviously, Napolitano is great at only hearing one side of the story: she also referenced meetings she's held across the U.S. with "stakeholders", saying that "all [at the meetings] reach[ed] the same conclusion: we need reform". Napolitano, someone supposedly working for all of us, is ignoring the input of a majority of Americans and viewpoints that disagree with her.
Some of her remarks follow:
...We all know the story: A steady influx of undocumented workers, crossing our borders illegally in search of work and a better life. A market among employers willing to flout the law in order to hire cheap labor. And as a result, some 12 million people, here illegally, living in the shadows—a source of pain and conflict.
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. America’s businesses, workers, and faith-based organizations are calling for reform. Law enforcement and government at every level are asking for reform. And at the Department of Homeland Security, we need reform to do our job of enforcing the law and keeping our country secure.
Over the past ten months, we’ve worked to improve immigration enforcement and border security within the current legal framework. But the more work we do, the more it becomes clear that the laws themselves need to be reformed.
...These are major differences that should change the immigration conversation. In 2007, many members of Congress said that they could support immigration reform in the future, but only if we first made significant progress securing the border. This reflected the real concern of many Americans that the government was not serious about enforcing the law. Fast-forward to today, and many of the benchmarks these members of Congress set in 2007 have been met. For example, the Border Patrol has increased its forces to more than 20,000 officers, and DHS has built more than 600 miles of border fencing. Both of these milestones demonstrate that we have gotten Congress’ message.
We’ve also shown that the government is serious and strategic in its approach to enforcement by making changes in how we enforce the law in the interior of the country and at worksites. We have replaced old policies that merely looked tough with policies that are designed to actually be effective.
...Furthermore, we’ve transformed worksite enforcement to truly address the demand side of illegal immigration. We are auditing the books of thousands of employers suspected of relying on illegal labor to achieve an unfair advantage in the marketplace. As part of this effort, Immigration and Customs Enforcement audited more employers suspected of hiring illegal labor in a single day in July than had been audited in all of 2008. We’re also encouraging workplace compliance by expanding and improving the E-Verify system—an Internet-based system that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires. More than 167,000 employers at 639,000 worksites use E-Verify. In the past month, the program has grown at the rate of nearly 2,000 employers per week.
...We’ve ended a year-long backlog for background checks on applicants for green cards and naturalization.
...Here’s the other thing that has shifted in this debate: a larger segment of the American public has embraced the need to engage this debate and arrive at a sensible solution to this problem. CAP has helped to document this shift.
There are leaders of the law enforcement community speaking out, saying that immigration reform is vital to their ability to do their jobs keeping Americans safe. Faith leaders, including the National Association of Evangelicals, have announced their support for immigration reform as a moral and practical issue. We are seeing more business leaders and more labor leaders engaged in this debate in a constructive way than we have ever seen before.
...Let me be clear: to do this job as effectively as possible, DHS needs immigration reform.
...in order to have fully effective law enforcement, we need Congress to create the legal foundation for bringing the millions of illegal immigrants in this country out of the shadows, require them to register and pay all taxes they owe, and enforce the penalties that they will have to pay as part of earning legal status. Let me emphasize this: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows.
...As part of the Administration’s outreach on this issue, my Department has held stakeholder meetings with more than 1,000 people and organizations across the country. The businesses, community leaders, labor leaders, faith groups and law enforcement we’ve met with all have different stories, but they all reach the same conclusion: we need reform.
...Requiring illegal immigrants to register to earn legal status, as I discussed earlier, will strengthen our economy as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers. As labor leaders have made clear to me, immigration reform will be a boon to American workers. Think about it: unions will never achieve the best terms for workers when a large part of the workforce is illegal and operates in a shadow economy. By contrast, the status quo not only hurts American workers, it also stifles potential opportunities to grow our economy...
Fri, 11/13/2009 - 12:13 · Importance: 6