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DHS Chief Defends Immigration Policies

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed growing concern about the Obama Administration's immigration policy in a speech at American University in D.C. Wednesday.
Jeff Watts/American University
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed growing concern about the Obama Administration's immigration policy in a speech at American University in D.C. Wednesday.

Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano spoke at American University in D.C. Wednesday, where she focused on the issue of immigration and the programs and policies used in enforcement. Napolitano defended a recent policy change that prioritizes efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to public safety.

"It makes sense to prioritize resources on the removal of a Chinese man convicted of aggravated assault and weapons offenses before removing a 10th grade student who was brought to this country as a child," says Napolitano.

Emotions are running especially high on immigration after a federal court last week upheld an Alabama immigration law that significantly tightens immigration enforcement in the state. The decision has emboldened activists to use this law as a blueprint for other states seeking to curb undocumented immigration. 

During a protest in front of DHS headquarters last month, immigrant rights activists criticized the Obama administration on its immigration policies, saying promises to prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants who posed a threat to public safety were not being kept. Activists also criticized the Secure Communities program, which allows the FBI to share with immigration officials the fingerprints of undocumented immigrants arrested by local authorities. 

Napolitano admitted the program has its flaws, but says it has helped identify and deport more dangerous immigrants than ever before. She said the border is more secure than ever, and called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

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