Immigration Reform Hopes Fade, As Administration Emphasizes Security Efforts

September 16, 2010 6:50 am 1 comment

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

WASHINGTON — Skepticism on comprehensive immigration reform is resurfacing.

Leading Hispanic experts discussed federal inaction on immigration reform with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano at the annual Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute conference on Sept. 13.

While Napolitano emphasized the administration’s efforts to boost security, speakers at the panel said the system requires more tweaking.

“We have removed more criminal aliens this year than any year in our nation’s history,” said Napolitano, while adding that 275,000 employers suspected of hiring workers illegally have been audited in the past year. “I think it (the Southwest border) is as secure as it has ever been, and I think it’s getting more secure each day.”

Alberto Cardenas, an attorney with Counsel, Vinson and Elkins, criticized current border security measures by stating that the “underground economy has benefited from (Napolitano’s) policies.”

Napolitano said Cardenas’ conclusions are premature, but acknowledged it’s harder to prosecute employers who hire undocumented persons. She added that the administration has boosted efforts through the enforcement of public safety programs such as Secure Communities and comprehensive immigration reform is still priority.

Still, Cardenas said Congress is in political deadlock on how to handle the estimated 11 million undocumented persons living in the country.

“We keep playing a game where we lose every time,” said Cardenas. He said the senate isn’t ready for immigration reform and offered a different route instead by recommending the passage of separate legislation such as the DREAM Act and AgJobs.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) refuted his advice, saying a “piece-meal” approach will only isolate support for reform.

“Everybody will peel off and say: Later gator,” she said.

Speakers also discussed the Latino vote, addressing rumors that people will stay home on when midterm elections come around. The rumors notwithstanding, the speakers said that tensions in the Hispanic community will motivate voters to hold electives accountable at the ballot box.

A young woman in the audience from Santa Barbara, California, questioned Napolitano’s statements on public safety programs, saying that of 108 people deported in her community, 58 had no criminal record.

“If Secure Communities is supposed to be focusing on deporting criminals…what is DHS going to do to fix this?” the young woman said.

Napolitano responded by saying that the numbers needed to be checked, and that the department will be looking out for whether secure communities is being used as a pretext.

Reverend Samuel Rodrigruez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said xenophobic rhetoric acted as an underlying obstacle to comprehensive immigration reform.

“The elephant in the room in immigration reform is not security,” he said. “It’s that America is becoming too Latino and people are afraid of what it means for this country to become too Latino.”

Image: The National Guard @ Flickr.

Raisa Camargo is a reporter with the Hispanic Link Service.

1 Comment

  • No one cares about the agony of highly educated legal immigrants who can not change employers or get a promotion or raise as the green card priority dates are not current for them. Lots of these legal immigrants are PhDs from American universities. Why does not the President attach ‘solving visa backlog for highly skilled legal immigrants’ to the defense bill? Because there are no votes in that!!!!

Leave a Reply

Other News

  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Obama Signs Bill Authorizing Sanctions Against Venezuelan Officials

    Obama Signs Bill Authorizing Sanctions Against Venezuelan Officials

    The Latin America News Dispatch will take a short break from publishing our daily newsletter Today in Latin America to celebrate the holidays. Felices Fiestas from the Latin America News Dispatch staff. Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed a law placing sanctions on “persons responsible for violations of human rights in Venezuela,” the White House press secretary said in a statement. The sanctions bill will freeze the U.S. assets of, and strip visas from, officials responsible […]

    Read more →
  • Cuba Dispatches North America United States Cuba ‘Not Open For Business’ Just Yet

    Cuba ‘Not Open For Business’ Just Yet

    The United States and Cuba may be normalizing relations, but don’t expect a major trade boom for now. While the changes announced by President Obama will widen the types of financial transactions allowed between the two countries and permit more forms of trade and travel, a broadly restrictive embargo on trade with Cuba remains in place, and firmly under the control of the U.S. Congress. As U.S. diplomats prepare to set up an embassy in Havana for the first time […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba North America Today in Latin America Latin America Lauds U.S., Cuba Breakthrough

    Latin America Lauds U.S., Cuba Breakthrough

    Top Story — World leaders have almost universally praised the U.S. and Cuban governments for their announcement Wednesday that they would normalize diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. Reaction among U.S. lawmakers, however, was more mixed. Latin American leaders across the ideological spectrum lauded the decision that will have sweeping impacts across the region. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos praised “the courage and the audacity of President Barack Obama and the Cuban government,” and Mexican President Enrique Peña […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba News Briefs North America United Nations United States Transcript: Obama’s Cuba Speech

    Transcript: Obama’s Cuba Speech

    Below is a full transcript of President Obama’s speech on Cuba. A video of the speech can be found following the transcript. OBAMA: Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades has failed to advance our interests, and instead, we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba News Briefs North America United States U.S., Cuba to Restore Diplomatic Ties, But Embargo Remains

    U.S., Cuba to Restore Diplomatic Ties, But Embargo Remains

    The U.S. and Cuba will work to normalize diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961, President Obama said Wednesday, a major shift in policy that nonetheless falls short of the outright removal of the U.S. economic blockade on the island. The announcement comes after Cuba’s release of American aid contractor Alan Gross from prison, in exchange for the release of three Cubans jailed in the state of Florida for espionage — a sign of good faith between the two […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Charges Filed Against Brazilian Lawmaker After Rape Remarks

    Charges Filed Against Brazilian Lawmaker After Rape Remarks

    Top Story — Brazil’s attorney general filed charges of incitement to rape against Brazilian congressman Jair Bolsonaro after he made violent comments to a fellow lawmaker in Congress last Tuesday, saying, “I wouldn’t rape you. You’re not worth it.” It is the second time Bolsonaro, a right-wing representative from Rio de Janeiro state known for misogynist remarks, has used the word inappropriately in Congress. Bolsonaro’s comments were directed at Maria do Rosário, a former secretary of human rights, as she […]

    Read more →
  • Central America Dispatches Honduras Alternatives to Detention Leave Some Honduran Immigrants in “Shackles”

    Alternatives to Detention Leave Some Honduran Immigrants in “Shackles”

    NEW YORK — On an average weekday Eva, a 39-year-old woman from Honduras, never leaves a 15-block radius in the Bronx. From bringing her two children to school, to taking English classes, visiting her church and running errands, her life is mapped on a now-familiar route — one that is precisely tracked by the electronic monitoring device strapped to her ankle. Eva, who asked to have her name changed because she is currently going through deportation hearings, received the device […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Haiti Today in Latin America Haitian Prime Minister Defends Record After Resignation

    Haitian Prime Minister Defends Record After Resignation

    Top Story — Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe spoke out on Monday, defending his legacy after an independent commission set up by President Michel Martelly pressured him to resign over the weekend. Several other ministers also stepped down amid a political standoff that has been years in the making. Lamothe’s resignation comes in the wake of continued anti-government protests demanding elections that have been delayed since 2011. On Friday, U.N. peacekeepers were seen firing at a crowd of protesters while […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican Federal Police Implicated in Student Killings

    Mexican Federal Police Implicated in Student Killings

    Top Story — Federal authorities in Mexico appear to have participated in the September attack on a group of teacher trainees in the state of Guerrero, contrary to prior government claims, according to an investigation released Saturday by Proceso magazine. Proceso’s investigation reportedly uncovered state documents that show federal police officers knew the attack was ongoing and even shot at the students as they travelled on several buses toward a protest event in Iguala, Guerrero. After that attack, 43 of […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba News Briefs Cuban Laws May Have Changed, But the Jokes Haven’t

    Cuban Laws May Have Changed, But the Jokes Haven’t

    In 2010, I found myself among hundreds of heeled and hairsprayed Cubans in Havana’s Teatro Karl Marx waiting for the start of the Premios Lucas — a sort of MTV Video Music Awards of Cuba. Hosted by beloved comedian Luis Silva and with performances by pop, rock and reggaeton groups, “Los Lucas” was sure to be a revelatory peek into the popular culture consumption of my Cuban peers. Los Lucas did not disappoint. Every moment of the two-hour show was […]

    Read more →