Lawmakers on Capitol Hill will get an earful this week about why it’s time for Congress to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, will likely be making this case when she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, December 10th.
Napolitano, who in a major speech last month outlined the aggressive steps her agency had taken to enforce current immigration laws and secure the U.S./Mexico border – including increasing the ranks of the border patrol to more than 20,000 officers, building more than 600 miles of fencing along the border, stepping up interior enforcement and going after employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers – is expected to encourage lawmakers to move forward with broader legislative reforms that will enhance those efforts. Acknowledging that the progress made so far will be undermined if the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants living and working in the U.S. is not resolved, Napolitano said last month:
The more work we do, the more it becomes clear that the laws themselves need to be reformed…If you really want to deal with immigration, it is best to take up the whole problem.
These sentiments are shared by immigration, national security and law enforcement experts who today urged Congress to act. They include James W. Ziglar, former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Stewart Verdery, former Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy at DHS. Like Napolitano, they understand that reforming the immigration system is not contradictory to enforcing immigration laws. Still, continuing the same failed enforcement strategies of the past is counterproductive without legislative reform. It will not restore control and order to the broken immigration system.