In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stood behind the proposed immigration reform bill and shot down criticisms that the bill fails to meet satisfactory security levels. Napolitano said the reform would in fact strengthen border security if passed into law.
Napolitano also defended the path to citizenship feature of the bill that could eventually grant citizenship to many of the 11 million immigrants who are currently living in the country illegally. Critics have slammed the "pathway" as a means of rewarding people who broke the law by entering the country illegally or over-staying visas.
But Napolitano said the eventual path to citizenship is extremely important because it will "bring people out of the shadows." She continued, "And by the way, from a police perspective, once these people know that every time they interact with law enforcement they won't be subject to removal, it will help with the reporting of crimes, the willingness to be a witness and so forth."
In the past, the Homeland Security secretary has been critical of immigration reform plans that require border security to take place before a pathway to citizenship could be achieved. However, at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Napolitano said that the she supports the new bill's proposal for border security "triggers" because they are achievable and don't stand in the way of naturalization goals.
The bill has received some ridicule in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, which was believed to have been carried out by two men who sought asylum in the United States from their native Chechnya.
An author of the bill, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, said that he would consider adding an amendment to the bill requiring stricter background checks for certain immigrants who are believed to pose a risk, including those applying for asylum. However, at this point it appears that the bombing suspects entered the country legally about a decade ago.
Source: Fox News Latino, "Janet Napolitano Dismissed Critics, Insisted New Immigration Law Would Boost National Security," April 24, 2013