The government has beefed up border security and workplace immigration enforcement, and now should begin the work of overhauling immigration laws, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday.
"The hope is that when we get into the first part of 2010, that we will see legislation begin to move," Napolitano said. The legislation should not only give law enforcement
officials more tools to fight illegal immigration but create a "tough pathway" for undocumented workers to gain legal status, she said.
Napolitano said the government's progress in shoring up the border with Mexico and enforcing laws at the workplace meant that more Americans and more lawmakers would support an overhaul of laws than during the last effort, in 2007.
"I've been dealing hands-on with immigration issues since 1993, so trust me, I know a major shift when I see one. And what I have seen makes reform far more attainable," Napolitano told the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington.
From the Dallas Morning News, on Secure Communities:
More than 22,000 illegal immigrants with criminal charges or convictions have been arrested in Texas through a 1-year-old program that links FBI and federal immigration databases, Homeland Security officials said Thursday.
Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Irving, Mesquite and Dallas and Denton counties are among the jurisdictions using Secure Communities processes, the feds said.
Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, said the entire Southwest border now uses the Secure Communities program. But its national scope is limited to 95 jurisdictions across 11 states.
"By 2013, assuming Congress continues to fund our effort, Secure Communities plans to be available to every law enforcement agency in the country," Napolitano said.
In Dallas, Nuria Prendes, ICE's head of detention and removal, said the costs for counties and cities to use the program was minimal and accuracy in catching dangerous criminals was enhanced.
With other ICE programs, the agency checks on persons after they receive a call from the law enforcement agency because they believe someone may be in the country illegally.
"This doesn't depend on them calling us," Prendes said.
"With Secure Communities, we get a hit back or we don't. It is biometric, and fingerprints don't lie."
8:15 AM EST
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Detroit Field Operations Director Chris Perry will participate in a panel discussion about balancing trade goals with security needs at the U.S.-Canada border
Union Club Hotel
101 North Grant Street
West Lafayette, Ind.
1 PM EST
TSA Public Affairs Manager Jim Fotenos will participate in an event to mark the opening of a new Terminal 3 checkpoint
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
2939 Terminal Drive
2 PM EST
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate will deliver remarks about emergency preparedness
Savannah State University
Mary C. Torian Auditorium, Howard Jordan Building
3219 College Street