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.
March 12, 2013
By 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.
March 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.
February 25, 2013
Associated 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.
February 15, 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.
February 14, 2013
Associated 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.
August 24, 2012
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.
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.
October 18, 2010
The Wall Street Journal, 10/18/2010
A federal program that scans local jails for illegal immigrants is being expanded across the state, the latest front in the nation’s battle over immigration policy.
In the past two weeks, Texas became the first border state to fully deploy the Department of Homeland Security program, which is scheduled to be rolled out to all U.S. counties by 2013. The program automatically routes prisoners’ fingerprints to the department, which tries to determine whether they are allowed to be in the U.S.
Known as Secure Communities, the program is designed to intercept and remove illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes such as homicide, rape and kidnapping, immigration officials say.
While immigration violations also are technically included among the triggers for deportation, the program classifies detainees on the risk to “community safety” posed by their criminal records. Crimes such as homicide are considered Level 1 offenses—the greatest threat — while immigration violations are Level 3, the lowest threat.
Still, immigrant groups and lawyers argue it is singling out immigrants with no serious criminal record, clogging up the courts. Political analysts say Secure Communities and related programs are alienating Democratic-leaning Hispanic voters from the Obama administration.