Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee today to talk about progress made in border protection and what remains to be done: immigration law reform.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill will get an earful this week about why it’s time for Congress to tackle comprehensive immigration reform, and 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.

Last week, a conglomeration of anti-immigrant groups, led by “Help Save Maryland” and FAIR (recognized a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center), organized a rally against my organization, CASA de Maryland.

The heavily promoted rally, which was announced in CAPITAL LETTERS on the website of Help Save Maryland, was supposed to draw the anti-immigrant forces from around the state.

There are those in Washington who doubt the possibility of passing comprehensive immigration reform, and while they say it’s too hard, Cokie Roberts, news analyst for NPR, claims immigration reform – though challenging – is “reform that’s right stuff.” In an Op-Ed piece to the Trentonian today, Cokie explains that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about fixing our broken immigration system.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) may not have a chance of passing an immigration reform bill next year, but that’s not going to stop him from keeping the contentious issue on the chamber’s front burner as he tries to rally Hispanic voters behind what’s likely to be a brutal bid for a fifth term.

There is no doubt that some native-born workers compete with some unauthorized immigrants for the same jobs. But the vast majority do not. And many businesses, both large and small, depend on the purchasing power that unauthorized workers wield. Immigrants didn’t cause the current economic recession, and scapegoating them for high unemployment won’t get us out of the recession.

The current immigration system is an abomination on every level.

Twelve million people live here illegally; they are not going home, but they have no hope of normalizing their status.

What began earlier this year as one young man’s quest to stay in the U.S. has grown into a movement, with nearly 200 demonstrators rallying on behalf of Rigo Padilla in Chicago last week and faxes and text messages being sent to Washington with pleas to spare him from being sent back to Mexico.

First they were arrested and faced deportation under what has proven to be the Obama administration’s only workplace raid. Then they were given work permits, and told they could stay in the United States while their employer was being prosecuted.

Now, the more than two dozen undocumented workers arrested during the February raid here at Yamato Engine Specialists Ltd. are again facing deportation.