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

  • Mexico Today in Latin America United States Mexican Army Unit Involved in Killings Has a Controversial Record

    Mexican Army Unit Involved in Killings Has a Controversial Record

    Top Story – The Mexican Defense Department has arrested seven soldiers and an army officer as part of an investigation into the alleged massacre of 22 people in San Pedro Limón in June. Those arrested were members of the 102nd Infantry Battalion of the 22nd Military Zone in Mexico State, which has a long history of violent incidents and controversy, reported The Associated Press. Last December, members of the 102nd shot four civilians in the town of Arcelia, Guerrero state, […]

    Read more →
  • Central America El Salvador Photo Essays Community Roundtable in El Salvador Seeks to Mitigate Violence

    Community Roundtable in El Salvador Seeks to Mitigate Violence

    ILOPANGO, El Salvador — In 2012, the two major Salvadoran gangs, MS-13 and the 18th Street Gang, brokered a truce supported by the government. The gang leaders agreed to stop violence and recruitment, to turn in weapons and to begin regular negotiations between incarcerated gang bosses. The homicide rate immediately dropped by half and foot soldiers of both gangs received orders to join local pacification efforts. An unknown number of these efforts cropped up in communities across the country. Some […]

    Read more →
  • Central America El Salvador Guatemala Honduras North America Today in Latin America United States Officials Make Plans to Address Migrant Crisis, Despite Tensions

    Officials Make Plans to Address Migrant Crisis, Despite Tensions

    Top Story – Officials from the U.S., Mexico and Central America are moving to address the unaccompanied minor crisis, but friction over the issue persists. U.S. justice officials met on Thursday with counterparts from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to discuss solutions to the crisis which has affected the U.S. since January, reported EFE. That meeting followed the revelation on Wednesday of working plans for ambitious infrastructure and energy projects in the so-called “Northern Triangle” countries of Central America. […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Southern Cone Today in Latin America Argentina Attacks Foreign Lenders Amid Economic Crisis

    Argentina Attacks Foreign Lenders Amid Economic Crisis

    Top Story – Argentine leaders lashed out at foreign lenders on Wednesday after a pair of full-page ads ran in two of the country’s leading newspapers. The ads, paid for by an association of bondholders, quoted Germany’s finance minister, who called Argentine policymaking “an example of a lack of strength,” Reuters reported. In response, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez accused the creditors of practicing “economic and financial terrorism” in her speech to the U.N. General Assembly later on Wednesday. Fernandez criticized […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Brazil Refuses to Sign U.N. Forest Initiative

    Brazil Refuses to Sign U.N. Forest Initiative

    Top Story – A plan to eliminate deforestation worldwide in the next 15 years collapsed when Brazil said it would not participate, reported The Associated Press. The United States, Canada and the entire European Union signed the declaration, the first of its kind, during a U.N. climate meeting Tuesday but without Brazil’s involvement the plan will be nearly impossible as the country contains most of the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest. Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Brazil was not […]

    Read more →
  • Central America Guatemala Today in Latin America State of Emergency in Guatemala Town After Clashes

    State of Emergency in Guatemala Town After Clashes

    Top Story — Guatemala declared a “state of prevention” Monday in a municipality outside Guatemala City after eleven people died in violence last week, the Associated Press reported. The emergency measures allow for the suspension of constitutional rights, such as the freedom of movement and the right to gather and protest, and will last for a minimum of 15 days. The order also restricts the freedom of the press. Late Sept. 19 an argument between residents of the town of Pajoques […]

    Read more →
  • Colombia Dominican Republic Ecuador North America Peru Photo Essays Puerto Rico Latin Americans March In NYC Against Climate Change

    Latin Americans March In NYC Against Climate Change

    NEW YORK — The People’s Climate March drew more than 300,000 people to Manhattan on Sunday to demand world leaders to take action on climate change. Demonstrators came from all over the world, including many from Latin America. Latino immigrant farmers from Florida and Dominican construction workers from the Bronx also joined the mix. The march in New York, which came as world leaders began to gather here for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly this week, was the largest […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Peru Today in Latin America Peru Announces New Anti-Logging Efforts After Activists Killed

    Peru Announces New Anti-Logging Efforts After Activists Killed

    Top Story – Peru’s government has formed a commission to stop illegal logging on the Peru-Brazil border following the killings of four indigenous leaders of the Ashaninka community in early September, the BBC reported. Anti-logging activist Edwin Chota was shot and killed along with three other Ashaninka leaders near the Brazilian border on Sept. 1, but due to the remoteness of the region their deaths were not reported until a week later. Illegal loggers and the Ashaninka have been in conflict […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Eyewitness Accuses Mexican Troops of Executing Suspects Despite Surrender

    Eyewitness Accuses Mexican Troops of Executing Suspects Despite Surrender

    Top Story — New evidence and an eyewitness report suggest Mexican soldiers executed 21 suspected members of a criminal group this summer following a brief firefight initiated by the troops, the Associated Press reported. The troops reportedly opened fire on the suspected gang members, who were holed up in a warehouse on June 30 in the town of San Pedro Limon in the south of Mexico state. One gunman was killed and two others wounded, while one soldier was injured. When the […]

    Read more →
  • Argentina Chile News Briefs Southern Cone Uruguay The Economist Criticized For Equating Violence Of Military Dictatorships With That Of Guerrillas

    The Economist Criticized For Equating Violence Of Military Dictatorships With That Of Guerrillas

    The Economist magazine stoked a controversy this week with an article arguing that memorials commemorating those killed by South America’s rightwing military governments are rewriting the past by playing down acts of violence committed by the left. In what some have criticized as a “false equivalence,” the article says “the Cold War in Latin America was fought by two equally authoritarian sides.” The piece goes on to say that the left might be “rewriting history” now that is in power […]

    Read more →