The President and Secretary Napolitano Reaffirm Commitment to Immigration Reform

Written by on August 21, 2009 in Legislation, Reform with 7 Comments

Photo by robertlafond2009.

Yesterday, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano met with immigrant advocates, faith leaders, labor, business and law enforcement officials at the White House to discuss moving forward with a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year. President Obama appeared at the end of the meeting to reaffirm his commitment to reform and pledge that “we can get this done.” While the President commended Sens. Charles Schumer’s (D-NY) and Harry Reid’s (D-NV) efforts to move a bill forward, he also urged participants to work together in a bipartisan effort to advance a sensible and human immigration system that is consistent with our American values.

Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for President Obama, reiterated the President’s commitment to fixing our immigration system and to moving forward with an immigration reform bill.

The President understands our nation’s immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed, and that’s why he asked Secretary Napolitano to work with stakeholders and Members of Congress to move the legislative process forward on this important issue. The President has consistently said we would begin work on comprehensive immigration reform this year, and that’s what we’re doing.

The White House meeting consisted of roughly 130 participants who divided into five “break-out” groups to discuss issues in more detail with DHS and White House Staff. Secretary Napolitano designed Thursday’s meeting to engage in a dialogue that will inform a smart and workable legislative package.

Today’s meeting on comprehensive immigration reform was an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders and build on the significant time I’ve spent on the Hill meeting with members of Congress on this critical subject,” Secretary Napolitano said. “I look forward to working with President Obama, my colleagues in Congress and representatives from law enforcement, business, labor organizations, the interfaith community, advocacy groups and others as we work on this important issue.

Secretary Napolitano also highlighted her prior commitment to refocusing DHS’s priorities—such as bringing all undocumented immigrants out of the shadows, streamlining naturalization procedures, improving immigration processes, creating smart and effective immigration enforcement mechanisms, and creating a fair and legal immigration system that both instills confidence and aligns to our values as a national of laws and a nation of immigrants.

On enforcement issues, President Obama noted that we shouldn’t shy away from enforcing our laws, as long as those laws are consistent with our American values. Likewise, law enforcement should be held accountable for the way immigration laws are enforced, implying penalties for those who abuse 287(g) agreements.

While no one denies that fixing our broken immigration system is an urgent priority, Thursday’s White House meeting comes as a good sign that both the President and Secretary Napolitano are not only listening, but are fully committed to moving forward with a comprehensive immigration reform bill—a bill that takes into consideration real problems and obstacles. “We came to Washington to solve problems,” President Obama said. No one said it was going to be easy, but yesterday’s meeting indicates that there is clearly an open dialogue and the momentum for real and immediate change.

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  • Grania Marcus

    As a Presbyterian missionary on the Mexican Border, and a leader in First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York’s New Sanctuary Committee (our church is a member of the national New Sanctuary Movement)I have been intimately involved in the cases of a number of individuals and families facing deportation. I am appalled and angered by the inability of immigratiion judges to judge in mandatory deportation cases, the capriciousness of a system that leaves one man (the ICE Field Office Director)who is enmeshed in the system to consider (or in our case not even to read the file)deferred action petitions, to destroy families with US citizen children who have lived in this country for decades, to criminalize those who are committing minor civil violations in an effort to help their families survive (people who enter without inspection), to detain people in inhumane conditions that lead to medical neglect and death, to move detainees far from their families and resources so that they have no resources to fight their cases, and to put children and families in detention in conditions that make as mockery of our values as a nation.

    Those of us who supported and voted for President Obama hoped for at the very least a moratorium on the worst abuses.Instead, we have continuing and increased immigration enforcement, continuing punitive and unnecessary deportations and detentions, and an apparent effort by the Department of Homeland Security to show how tough they are, we get only the above “dialogues” that will do little to bring about real immigration reform while the destruction of our families, children left alone without support, and other atrocities continue. In addition, with the exception of the provisions outlined on the Progressive Caucus’s website, and certain advocacy groups, there has been virtually no discussion of the need for ending mandatory deportation and restoring judicial discretion, particularly in the case of families with US citizen children (a good start would be including the provisions of the Child Citizen Protection Act (HR 182) in any CIR. We are doing our part, and I hope that you will work toward this and lend your considerable influence to restoring jusicial discretion in any CIR. (I can provide documentation for all of the above statements.)

  • Chris

    Maybe they can start by fixing the huge backlog which is precisely the reason why people don’t want to fall in line. It will take them at least ten years before they can get legal papers. What are they gonna do before then? If the immigration bureau can fix the backlog soon, it will be a big incentive because people trying to come here legally don’t have to wait that long. Doesn’t that make sense?

  • Leonor

    We really NEED Immigration Reform NOW! My husband has been ban from entering the US for 10 years. We have 3 children. What about them? I want my husband to come home. He is not a criminal. Please help us all….YOU PROMISED TO KEEP FAMILIES UNITED…

  • Senator Kennedy die today and his las hope was legalize the immigrants, that have been working here to getting out of the shadows and be free. Let all of us work for the same dream and make Senator Kennedy his dream come true.
    Count with me. Who said me too?

  • dango tumma

    i came to america legally from cameroon in 1986, i was
    22 years old then.on a student visa, i have stayed
    here ever since, i couldnt go home to bury my father
    who died in 2006, i cannot even obtain a driver license
    in maryland, i have a car but i must ride the bus .
    i cannotnot see my sisters and brothers for 24 years.
    because america have denied me this right, before i came here i thought america was a human right andgod fearing nation but, it only have to give greencards to new commers in villages in africa and the world, yet, those of us who have toiled through this country for soo long ,have been abandoned, hope greencard be given to those like me soo i can see my old mother before she too died.

  • Pingback: And the Beat Goes On: Immigration Reform and the Road Ahead « Reform Immigration For America()

  • Very Cool post, I was wondering did you hear that Dade County , Florida has decided interference with free speech by pulling ads about Islam. This is outrageous and a huge waste of tax payer money will be pent paying legal costs to defend this practice.