On Thursday, an Obama administration program which offered a two-year reprieve from deportation procedures and work authorization to young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents -- or "DREAMers" -- turned one year old. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversaw the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), weighed in on the policy on its birthday in a statement posted on the Department's website. In it, Napolitano asserted that DACA is "not a long term solution to the broader challenges presented by our nation's outdated immigration system" and urged the House of Representatives to get on board with the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill.
"Earlier this year, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that would modernize our system, ensuring it was more fair, while also expanding the resources devoted to protecting our nation's borders and sanctioning employees who continue to hire illegal labor," she wrote, adding, "It's good for our economy, it corresponds to our values as a nation of immigrants, and it's the right thing to do.
"I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will follow the leadership shown by a strong bipartisan majority of their Senate colleagues and work to fix our broken immigration system. In the meantime, however, DACA will continue to serve as an important means by which young people brought here as children can remain in, and contribute to, this great country."
Republicans in the House of Representatives have shown themselves loathe to consider the Senate's bill, despite the 14 votes it garnered from Republicans in that chamber (32 Republican senators cast vote against it). House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to introduce the bill for debate or a vote without the support of a majority of his party's members. Instead, House Republicans have churned out four small, single-issue bills reflecting the priorities of their most conservative members. They say they'll continue that approach, considering immigration reform one small bill at a time -- not with a comprehensive one, like the bill authored by the Senate.
A major concern for most of those House Republicans has been whether legislation does enough for border security. Napolitano opined on it back in April, when she told the Senate Judiciary Committee that their bill -- which commits an extra $46 billion to a "border surge" of fencing, Border Patrol agents, and surveillance technology - would "absolutely" improve the security of the nation's borders. But Republican opponents of the bill say it grants too much authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to deem when the border is "secure" and waive certain immigration-related provisions.
If that bill is ever passed, Republicans wouldn't need to worry about Napolitano's role in it. She resigned last month to become president of the University of California.