Napolitano: DREAM Act’s Good for National Security
by Julianne Hing
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today became the latest member in President Obama’s cabinet to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act when it comes up for a vote. A version of the DREAM Act could come up for a vote in the House as early as Friday, according to immigration advocacy groups.
“I know that Congress is going to be considering the DREAM Act soon and I wanted to reemphasize my support for it,” Sec. Napolitano said on a press call today, adding that even though the DREAM Act directly benefits many of the nation’s economic, education, and national defense priorities, it is important for her agency’s immigration enforcement work as well.
“From where I sit I think it’s important to point out that it fits into a larger strategy of immigration enforcement and complements the Department of Homeland Security plan to prioritize enforcement resources to remove dangerous criminal aliens from the country,” the Secretary said, omitting the fact that under her watch the U.S. has actually deported plenty of people with no prior criminal convictions, including DREAM Act-eligible youth.
The DREAM Act would grant undocumented youth with clean criminal records who came to the country as kids and who commit two years to the military or higher education a pathway to citizenship. Democrats are working a last-minute push to pass the bill in the lame-duck session before the Republicans take over the House and gain new seats in the Senate next year.
“The DREAM Act is one thing that Congress can do right now to help the Department of Homeland Security do its job of enforcing immigration laws in the way that makes the most sense for public safety for our national security,” Napolitano said.
Might the Department of Homeland Security consider putting a moratorium on deportations of DREAM Act-eligible youth while the bill is under consideration? Sec. Napolitano didn’t hesitate in her answer: “No.”
“Our job is to enforce the law and we’re going to continue to do that,” Napolitano said. “We do not have the option under the law to simply say we will not enforce it while Congress considers [the DREAM Act].”
Napolitano then repeated what has become a familiar boast from the Obama administration: “We have in the last two years led a historic move to remove a record number of illegal aliens of criminal offenses,” Napolitano proudly said. “195,000 just in fiscal year 2010, a 70 percent increase over the last year of the previous administration in fiscal year 2008.” In fact, the total number of those deported was 392,000—the rest had never been convicted of anything before the country forced them out.
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