Today, the White House hosted a conference call with Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano to discuss the DREAM Act. Napolitano, a former border governor, declared that the DREAM Act will actually help DHS enforce the law. According to Napolitano, though the DREAM Act is “not a substitute for immigration reform,” it is a positive first step that will have a significant impact on immigration enforcement and national security:
I think the DREAM Act will actually help us improve immigration enforcement. […] It would actually complement the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts [to prioritize criminal aliens]. […] I urge congress to pass the DREAM Act. I urge the congress to set aside old labels that don’t mean anything.
Back during the Bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security blindly tried to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible. Since DHS only has a finite set of resources, Bush’s strategy simply wasn’t an efficient use of money and manpower in terms of national security. Since Napolitano took over DHS, the agency has changed its priorities to focus on securing the border, punishing employers who hire undocumented labor, and capturing dangerous undocumented immigrants.
The DREAM Act “complements” DHS’ immigration enforcement activities precisely because it allows the agency to funnel even more of its resources towards pursuing threats and keeping the country safe rather than tracking down and removing promising college students. Napolitano explained that by granting young undocumented the opportunity to regularize their status, DHS will be able to “prioritize to an even greater extent the enforcement of our immigration laws” and go after drug smugglers and human traffickers. Napolitano described DREAM Act students “the least culpable” undocumented immigrants caught in the broken immigration system since they were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own. “The DREAM ACT would allow us to further target our efforts against those who are culpable,” concluded Napolitano.
When asked if DHS is willing to declare a moratorium on deportations until immigration reform is passed, Napolitano flatly responded, “no.” “Our job is to enforce the law and we’re going to continue to do that,” affirmed Napolitano.
The House of Representatives will likely vote on the DREAM Act as early as tomorrow.