National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

Immigration Reform Moves a Notch

August 25, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

On August 20, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and staff from the White House, DHS, and the Justice Department met with stakeholders from immigration advocacy organizations, faith groups, businesses, labor organizations and law enforcement agencies to discuss immigration reform. 


Napolitano has been tasked by the President with leading the team from the administration working with Congress on immigration reform.  This was a chance for her and her team to listen to key reform proponents. 


After opening remarks from the Secretary, attendees broke into smaller groups and were asked to give their thoughts on specific topics.  As Secretary Napolitano went around the room to sit in on the group discussions, she heard from reform advocates that they are growing impatient with the continued emphasis on enforcement of our broken laws and that we have not been hearing her speak out on the need for reform.  According to those in the meeting, she acknowledged she needs to do a better job speaking out about the need to reform the immigration laws.


Before the meeting broke up, President Obama walked in and reiterated his support for immigration reform.


Prior to the meeting, the Immigration Reform FOR America Campaign had asked its supporters to submit questions for Secretary Napolitano.  In less than 24 hours, more than 4,000 questions were submitted.  A few were chosen to be asked at the meeting; the rest have been delivered to the Secretary’s office.


While nothing particularly new came out of the meeting, the Secretary—and the President—heard the concerns of advocates.  We expect that, going forward, she (and the President) will show more leadership in selling immigration reform with Congress and the American public.  In Congress, we expect to see a detailed proposal for reform by sometime early in the fall.  In the meantime, we expect that the DHS review of 287(g) programs that is currently underway will be taken seriously, and that agencies that are abusing their power under this or any other program will be held accountable. 


For a list of those who attended the meeting see this DHS press release.


You can read the Forum’s reaction to the meeting here.


The Forum conducted a telephonic press briefing on behalf of the Campaign to Reform Immigration FOR America following the meeting with Secretary Napolitano.  Featured speakers were Monte Lake, Representing the American Nursery and Landscape Association; EunSook Lee, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC); Arturo Rodriguez, United Farm Workers (UFW); and Frank Sharry, America’s Voice.  The Forum’s Executive Director Ali Noorani moderated.  You can listen to a recording of that press conference, and obtain recordings of our other press conferences, on this page of our Web site.

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