According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, comprehensive immigration legislation is a way to increase U.S. security. Napolitano stated that she believed heightened security via new legislation would assist authorities in determining who is in the U.S.
Napolitano testified at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where she stated that a comprehensive bill now with Congress earmarks additional funds to better secure the nation’s borders, establishes employer verification for employee identities, and launches newly designed systems which will track residents when they leave the U.S. Napolitano believes the new bill will help streamline the route for the 11 million undocumented immigrants to become legal citizens. While critics argue that the proposal will only reward people who have broken the law, Napolitano countered that in order to better protect the country, it makes sense to have everyone be accounted for – even illegal immigrants. If people know they will be able to interact with law enforcement officers without the automatic assumption that they will be deported, it will increase their ability to report crimes and come forward if and when they witness anything of concern.
The secretary’s support for legislation included testimony that meeting the drafted border security goals would be the first step in the path to citizenship. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., authored the bill, and stated that he was also looking at amending the bill to require more stringent background checks for those immigrants flagged as “higher risk,” including immigrants who come to the U.S. requesting asylum. Napolitano has stated that the current U.S. asylum has a number of stringent safeguards which have been put in place over the past four years, including extensive interviewing and vetting, a comprehensive database system, fingerprinting and an additional vetting system when green card legibility is granted.
Critics of the bill stated that it may not better secure U.S. borders and do much to change the number of undocumented immigrants who come to the U.S. every year. Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley expressed concern that the bill’s border security provisions would not actually do much, as millions of immigrants now in the U.S. illegally would be granted provisional legal status, without further investigation. Critics pointed out that immigration services and the FBI failed to properly check Boston bombings suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, brother who first came to the US a decade ago. It is now suspected that Tamerlan Tsarnaev traveled to and from Russia, but a spelling error on his passport kept him from being flagged for further investigation. Napolitano countered that the new system would include electronic scanning, which would eliminate that sort of error from happening again.[footer block_id=’903′]