The President and Secretary Napolitano Reaffirm Commitment to Immigration Reform

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