Controversial nomination at Department of Homeland Security goes to Senate floor

December 12, 2013

500px-US_Department_of_Homeland_Security_Seal.svgThe Washington Post, 12/11/2013

President Obama’s nominee for the No. 2 spot at the Department of Homeland Security advanced to the full Senate for consideration after winning a vote Wednesday from a deeply divided Senate panel.

The Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee made a party-line decision after a Republican senator unsuccessfully sought a delay, in part by revealing previously undisclosed official findings of problems with a visa program the nominee administers.

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Obama’s pick to lead DHS suggests priority shift from immigration to national security

October 18, 2013

500px-US_Department_of_Homeland_Security_Seal.svgThe Washington Post, 10/18/2013

President Barack Obama’s selection of a former top Pentagon lawyer to head the Homeland Security Department suggests the agency will be stepping back from its preoccupation with immigration to focus more on protecting the nation from attack.

Jeh C. Johnson, if confirmed by the Senate, would replace Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who left the DHS last month to become president of the University of California system. Obama was expected to announce Johnson’s nomination Friday.

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HEARING: Border Security: Measuring the Progress and Addressing the Challenges

March 14, 2013


Former Wilson Center Fellow and Mexico Institute colleague David Shirk testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on border security issues.  The hearing, titled “Border Security: Measuring the Progress and Addressing the Challenges,” took place on Thursday, March 14, 2013 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Click HERE to watch a video of his testimony.

Op-ed: Mr. President, Tear Down This Wall

March 12, 2013

obamaBy Michael Dear, The New York Times, 3/10/2013

Nearly 700 miles of walls now separate the United States and Mexico. Would-be migrants still find ways over, under, through and around them. As a tool for controlling immigration to the United States, the border fortifications have been remarkably ill suited to the task. And yet these barriers are having a significant and lasting effect nonetheless: they are harming communities on both sides of the border.

We should tear them down before the damage becomes irreparable. After Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush instructed the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the construction of fortifications along the Mexican border. The result has been an astonishing array of barriers across America’s southern frontier. The number of Border Patrol agents doubled in seven years to more than 21,000. And interior enforcement was expanded to identify, detain, prosecute and deport undocumented migrants.

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Janet Napolitano: Immigration ‘No. 1 priority’

March 4, 2013

Janet NapolitanoPolitico, 3/4/2013

Immigration reform is the “No. 1” legislative priority for the Department of Homeland Security this year, trumping cybersecurity issues, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Monday at a POLITICO Playbook breakfast. “…I would say, frankly, that our No. 1 priority in terms of legislation is immigration,” Napolitano told POLITICO’s Mike Allen at a breakfast marking the 10th anniversary of the agency. “It is high time for immigration reform.”

Napolitano appeared with the only other two secretaries to have led the department: former Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, in their only joint appearance marking the department’s anniversary. Napolitano also addressed reports that DHS has released immigrant detainees from detention centers as a cost-saving mechanism due to budget uncertainties tied to last week’s sequestration and other looming budget fights. Napolitano said that “several hundred” detainees were released — not “thousands,” as news reports from last week had indicated. She stressed that those moved from detention centers were low-risk.
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With reform talk growing, what is a ‘secure’ U.S.-Mexico border?

February 25, 2013

Border fenceAssociated Press, 2/23/2013

Once, the barren mesas and shrub-covered canyons that extend east of the Pacific Ocean held the most popular routes for illegal immigrants heading into the U.S. Dozens at a time sprinted to waiting cars or a trolley stop in San Diego, passing border agents who were too busy herding others to give pause.

Now, 20 years after that onslaught, crossing would mean scaling two fences (one topped with coiled razor wire), passing a phalanx of agents and eluding cameras positioned to capture every incursion. The difference is like “a rocket ship and a horse and buggy,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on a recent tour.

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Napolitano: Sequestration could mean severe cuts to Border Patrol

February 15, 2013

Janet NapolitanoPolitico, 2/14/2013

Automatic spending cuts due March 1 could pose a real setback for immigration reform by forcing the Border Patrol to reduce its workforce hours by the equivalent of 5,000 agents beginning in April — a nearly one-quarter reduction.

That’s the upshot of testimony by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The number 5,000 is the most detailed public assessment yet by her department of the fallout from the threatened sequester.

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Napolitano: U.S.-Mexico border more secure than ever

February 14, 2013

Border fenceAssociated Press, 2/13/2013

The Senate opened its first hearing on a comprehensive immigration overhaul Wednesday with a call from a committee chairman for swift action on a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants. Tensions quickly emerged as shouting protesters interrupted the hearing and Republicans called for border security first. “The president is right: Now is the time,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told a packed hearing room a day after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to renew his call for immigration reform and eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The emotions surrounding the issue were on display as protesters shouted down the first witness, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, calling for an end to deportations. The protesters were ushered out. Napolitano declared the border more secure than ever and rejected the argument that border security must be the focus before comprehensive immigration reform or any pathway to legalization can be done.

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Kris Kobach, informal Romney adviser, files immigration lawsuit

August 24, 2012

Politico, 8/23/12

An informal adviser to Mitt Romney is representing 10 federal employees in a  lawsuit aimed at undoing President Barack Obama’s June immigration  directive.

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach is representing U.S. Immigration and  Customs Enforcement officials who believe that Obama’s immigration action  requires them to break federal law. The suit [pdf], which names Secretary of Homeland Security Janet  Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton as defendants, was filed Thursday  afternoon in a Dallas federal court.

“The Directive is an extension of the DREAM Act, which was  rejected by Congress, and aims to grant an amnesty to 1.7 million illegal  aliens. It violates federal immigration laws that require certain aliens to be  placed in removal proceedings,” Kobach said in a statement.

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National Guard’s use on border worrisome, feds report

September 15, 2011

Arizona Daily Star, 9/15/11

The lack of a comprehensive security strategy for the U.S.-Mexico border hampers the ability of the Department of Defense to make the best use of guardsmen assigned to help the Border Patrol, a federal report says.

The new report by the Government Accountability Office also says defense officials are “concerned about ‘mission creep’ ” because border security is not a core mission of the National Guard.

The GAO report comes after last week’s announcement by Homeland Security officials that they would extend the current National Guard border mission for another three months. It is the second mission extension for the guardsmen since the current border assignment began in July 2010.

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