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Napolitano touts border crackdown, urges support for Dream Act

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said comprehensive immigration reform is needed, specifically calling for passage of the DREAM Act in her second State of America’s Homeland Security Address. (Cronkite News Service photo by Desiree Salazar)

WASHINGTON – Calling the nation’s immigration laws “sorely outdated and in need of revision,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano pressed Monday for passage of the DREAM Act, saying it is the most-urgently needed change to immigration policy.

In response to another question after her second annual State of America’s Homeland Security address, Napolitano also acknowledged that “serious mistakes were made” in Operation Fast and Furious, the government’s botched gun-trafficking investigation.

But much of her speech was dedicated to the successes of her department and the challenges that remain, including threats of cyber-terrorism, the difficulties of responding to natural disasters and the need to balance fair trade with safe trade.

Napolitano touted the department’s use of a “risk-based, information-driven approach to security” in combating security threats.

She boasted about President Barack Obama’s commitment to securing the U.S.-Mexico border, pointing to a 53 percent decline in illegal immigrant attempts over the past three years as measured by Border Patrol apprehensions. She also cited an increase in seizures of illegal drugs and weapons along the border.

“We are also enforcing our immigration laws in smart, effective ways designed to protect communities while, to the greatest extent possible under current law, fostering legitimate employment and foreign investment,” Napolitano said.

But Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Mesa, called Napolitano’s assessment of the U.S.-Mexico border overly optimistic.

“In talking with ranchers and other residents near the border, and given the continued violence in the Tucson sector specifically, the approach to secure the border the Obama administration is pursuing is clearly insufficient,” Flake said in a prepared statement.

Napolitano, who was governor of Arizona before being appointed by President Obama to head the department, conceded much work was still needed along the border. But she said lawmakers need to adopt policy changes to solve the nation’s complex immigration problems.

“The bottom line is that our nation’s current immigration laws are sorely outdated and in need of revision,” she said. “President Obama views such a revision as both a matter of fairness and as an economic necessity.”

In a question-and-answer period immediately following her address, Napolitano pointed to passage of the DREAM Act when asked what one aspect of immigration reform was most necessary.

“If you have to take just one element out of the whole universe of immigration that needs to be fixed, should be fixed, and came very close to being fixed by the Congress … it would be that,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano conceded problems with Operation Fast and Furious, an investigation by Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in which agents let illegal gun-buyers go in hopes of tracing guns to larger gun-trafficking rings. The operation, begun in late 2009, lost track of about 2,000 guns and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is scheduled to testify to a House committee Thursday about the operation.

“I think it was acknowledged that mistakes, serious mistakes were made there,” Napolitano said. “The key question is making sure those kinds of mistakes, from my standpoint, are never again repeated.”

That statement underwhelmed a spokesman for Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a prominent critic of the Obama administration’s border policies.

“To say that mistakes were made during Fast and Furious is the understatement of the year, but it’s nice that Secretary Napolitano has acknowledged as much,” said Matthew Benson, the spokesman.

Benson agreed that security along the Arizona border has increased during the past few years, but attributed that more to a weakened U.S. economy than effective border-security policy.

“Anyone can point to their own statistics, but I think if Secretary Napolitano spoke with some of the ranchers who lived along the border or law enforcement who deal with this on a weekly or daily basis, she would see it is not secure,” he said.


  1. Some simple facts:

    * The involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan and Cocaine from Central America has been well documented by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the late journalist Gary Webb.

    * A rather large majority of people will always feel the need to use drugs, such as heroin, opium, nicotine, amphetamines, alcohol, sugar, or caffeine.

    * Just as it was impossible to prevent alcohol from being produced and used in the U.S. in the 1920s, so too, it is equally impossible to prevent any of the aforementioned drugs from being produced and widely used by those who desire to do so.

    * Due to Prohibition (historically proven to be an utter failure at every level), the availability of most of these mood-altering drugs has become so universal and unfettered that in any city of the civilized world, any one of us would be able to procure practically any drug we wish within an hour.

    * The massive majority of people who use drugs do so recreationally – getting high at the weekend then up for work on a Monday morning.

    * A small minority of people will always experience drug use as problematic.

    * Throughout history, the prohibition of any mind-altering substance has always exploded usage rates, overcrowded jails, fueled organized crime, created rampant corruption of law-enforcement – even whole governments, while inducing an incalculable amount of suffering and death.

    * It’s not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons, but prohibitionists wish to waste hundreds of billions of our money in an utterly futile attempt to keep them off our streets.

    * Prohibition kills more people and ruins more lives than the prohibited drugs have ever done.

    * The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use/addiction rates than most other countries.

    * The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it.
    – H. L. Mencken (1880-1956) American editor, essayist and philologist.

  2. go for it its a good idea to keep the families together

  3. I post the question: now that it has been passed when does it become active?

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