Is Janet Napolitano the silver lining in the cloud that is the Department of Homeland Security? It looks doubtful. In a recent interview on NPR, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, expressed her adherence to the Bush administration’s “rule of law” approach to immigration, a framework has been used to justify harsh and sometimes cruel anti-immigration policies that criminalize immigrants based on legal status. Such policies range from increasing obstacles to legal citizenship, racial profiling and increased border security agents, to unwarranted immigration raids and detention without charges. This philosophically flawed perspective rationalizes the loss of civil liberties of immigrants, documented and not, for the sake of “homeland security.”
Napolitano’s stance is more liberal than her predecessor, Michael Chertoff, though considering his ruthless anti-immigration beliefs, this is hardly hopeful. She supports sanctions against employers of undocumented workers rather than targeting the workers themselves, is somewhat critical of the security fence currently being built along the border, and hopes for comprehensive immigration reform in which the pathway to citizenship is within reach and without unnecessary barriers.
Soon after taking office Napolitano ordered an assessment of ICE detention centers, where there have been at least 66 reported deaths, and a broad review of other immigration policies. She is currently seeking the details of an immigration raid where 28 people were arrested under the suspicion of being undocumented, which occurred without her knowledge this Wednesday. The New York Times reported:
She was not happy about it because it’s inconsistent with her position, and the president’s position on these matters.
This example illustrates that there are many problems facing the new Secretary, many of which reside in the way business has been conducted over the last eight years.
Contributed by Marcela Villa, DC Policy Intern