In her second annual State of America’s Homeland Security Address delivered on January 30, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano praised the Department of Homeland Security’s border control efforts and the deportation policy crafted by the Obama White House, while also calling for fundamental immigration reform.
Napolitano cited statistics showing Border Patrol apprehensions are down 53 percent since Obama took office, attributing this to an increase in the number of immigration enforcement agents and the deployment of more technology along U.S. borders, such as license plate readers and aerial surveillance. At the same time that illegal border crossings have fallen significantly, strategic deportations are up.
“This year, we began reviewing the hundreds of thousands of cases languishing on the immigration court docket to speed the removal of criminal aliens while administratively closing cases of those with no criminal record who pose no risk – such as students who were brought here through no fault of their own, or members of the military,” Napolitano said.
The DHS secretary also touted reforms to the U.S.A. visa application process, which she said have made it easier for entrepreneurs to do business in the United States.
Despite her agency’s accomplishments related to immigration, Napolitano said “current immigration laws are outdated and in need of revision.”
Asked after her speech to name the single aspect of immigration reform she deems most crucial, Napolitano brought up the Dream Act. She said Congress should have passed the law that would have allowed illegal immigrants brought the country as children a path to U.S. citizenship.
In her speech, Napolitano returned to several topics she addressed in October at American University. There, she described her own upbringing along the U.S.-Mexico border, and said that her familiarity with the border gave her the authority to say that current security measures are innovative and successful. She asserted that the situation on the border should not stand in the way of immigration reform legislation.