National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America


Napolitano’s Hearing: DHS Needs to Reprioritize Resources

January 14, 2009

Washington, DC On Thursday, January 15, Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona will face Senators in her confirmation hearing to be the Secretary of Homeland Security in the new Obama Administration.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan immigration advocacy organization in Washington.

What we have seen since 9-11 has been enforcement for enforcement’s sake, but not smart enforcement of our immigration laws or of measures to protect the country from harm.  Having a border state Governor who has seen what is working and not working on the ground will be very helpful towards reprioritizing how we use law enforcement resources.

For a long time, our homeland security resources were deployed to keep immigrants seeking work out of our country, erecting legal barriers to coming with a visa and physical barriers to coming without one.  However, we were caught looking the wrong way when middle-class, college educated individuals came from Germany with visas and did us such great harm on 9-11.  In a modern world, with a society linked to the rest of the world, we can and must do better. 

Let’s not continue this charade that keeping out low-wage workers or rounding them up in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces makes us any safer.  If confirmed, Governor Napolitano has a huge job before her examining how enforcement was carried out under the Bush Administration and making the necessary fixes so that priorities make sense and rights, due process, and the Constitution are upheld.  But equally important will be working with the White House and Congress to modernize our immigration system, bringing millions of hardworking undocumented residents into the system and targeting our scarce enforcement resources at what really protects this country from harm.

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