Immigration overhaul bill touted as way to boost national security
WASHINGTON — Passage of the bipartisan Senate bill to enact comprehensive immigration reform would make America safer, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel on Tuesday.
She said the bill would bring an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants out of hiding and allow the government to fingerprint them, check their backgrounds and identify who is living here.
“Knowing who they are is crucial to our national security,” Napolitano told the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to vote on the bill and possible amendments in May.
The hearing was the third held by the committee since the so-called “Gang of Eight” released its bipartisan bill last week. No more have been scheduled.
The bill would authorize $3 billion for more Border Patrol agents, customs officers, and surveillance technology and would require everyone who is not a citizen to show a “biometric green card” to potential employers to verify their identities and reduce the risk of identity theft.
“It increases our body of knowledge,” Napolitano said of the new ID card.
The bill requires the use of an electronic exit system at airports and seaports that operates by collecting machine-readable visas or passport information to track departing visa holders.
Perhaps most importantly, Napolitano said, the bill decreases the motivation for people to come here illegally by mandating that employers use a federal database to hire only eligible workers and by making it easier and less time consuming to immigrate legally.
“This will relieve pressure on the border and reduce illegal flow,” she said.
In her first testimony since the Gang of Eight senators introduced their 844-page bipartisan reform bill last week, Napolitano said the bill's goals are shared by President Obama.
“It captures the core principles enunciated by President Obama in Las Vegas,” she said. Obama outlined his vision for immigration reform during a Jan. 29 speech in Nevada.
“It's a bill I'm very hopeful can move forward,” Napolitano said.
Asked if she would change anything in the bill, Napolitano said she would like more flexibility in deciding how to spend the border security money. The bill calls for $1.5 billion to be used for more fencing along the Southwest border.
Napolitano said she would like to be able to use that money on staffing and technology that might work better than increased fencing.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Lion cubs jump hurdles in Gaza Strip in journey to Jordan sanctuary
- Ohio got DEA approval to import lethal-injection drugs
- Missouri spells out eating disorder coverage for insurers
- Santorum charter flight tab broke $400K
- Solar-powered plane crosses Pacific Ocean
- Ten Commandments monument orderered removed from Oklahoma Capitol grounds
- Emails from Clinton’s first year as secretary of State out
- Instances of hacking may be up, but indictments against Chinese military impactful, experts say
- Infantry veteran gets nod to lead Marines as top general
- Police find no evidence of shooting reported at Washington Navy Yard
- Thefts, foul-ups by employees cost TSA $3M in 5 years