Secretary Janet Napolitano Testifies Before Congress

December 9, 2009

Washington D.C. – Today, the Senate
Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing with Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano. The Secretary’s opening statement
reiterated her view that immigration enforcement is a necessity, but
that enforcement alone is not a solution for our broken immigration
system. Secretary Napolitano noted,
“We can no longer perpetuate a status quo that is unacceptable for
workers, employers, law enforcement, faith leaders, and America as a
whole. We must seize this moment to build a truly effective immigration
system that deters illegal immigration, provides effective and enduring
enforcement tools, protects workers from exploitation and retaliation,
and creates a tough but fair path to legalization for the millions of
illegal immigrants already here.”
Despite her commitment to both enforcement and
legalization as part of a comprehensive approach to immigration reform,
some lawmakers, commentators, and activists are calling for a
continuation of the same enforcement-only approach to unauthorized
immigration that has failed to work for two decades.  In the fanciful
view of enforcement-only advocates, forcing 12 million unauthorized
men, women, and children out of the country is not only practical, but
would somehow benefit the U.S. economy. In reality, though, an
intensification of the enforcement-only approach to unauthorized
immigration would be enormously expensive and would remove productive
workers, consumers, and taxpayers from the economy in the middle of a
recession.  One study,
for instance, estimates that removing all undocumented immigrants from
the country would result in the loss of roughly 2.8 million jobs and a
decline in the Gross Domestic Product of $245 billion. This is not
exactly a recipe for economic recovery.
“Secretary Napolitano is looking forward, but her
opponents are looking backwards to tired old tactics that haven’t
worked,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy
Center. “She is drawing upon her experience to move forward, but that
entails a shift in thinking and comprehensive immigration reform. We
can all agree that the current system isn’t working, but some offer
solutions while others offer the same old ideas.”
The time is ripe for a comprehensive solution
to our broken immigration system that looks to the future, rather than
clinging to the failed enforcement-only strategy of the past. Not only
does comprehensive reform represent a practical and humane way of
dealing with the large unauthorized population in our country, but it
would boost our economy
as well. Rather than scapegoating immigrants for our current economic
woes, we should acknowledge their economic contributions and their
potential to help rebuild our economy.
For more information contact Wendy Sefsaf at 202-507-7524 or

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