Napolitano Says Obama Ready to Work on Path to Legalization

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano yesterday said the Obama Administration is ready to move forward with plans to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

Under the administration’s plan, illegal immigrants who hope to gain legal status would have to register, pay fines and all taxes they owe, pass a criminal background check and learn English.

.... “Let me emphasize this: we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows,” she said, adding that the recovering economy would be strengthened “as these immigrants become full-paying taxpayers.”

Unfortunately, Napolitano continued to express support for local enforcement of federal laws and other stricter enforcement procedures. More on her speech is available at the Center for American Progress, including a video of her remarks.

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    "local enforcement of federal laws" (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by diogenes on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 05:19:17 PM EST
    If you don't want locals to help enforce existing federal laws, then you basically want to nullify the laws.  Say so and be done with it.  No one would think of suggesting that local police shouldn't help enforce other federal laws.

    Legalization? (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by pcpablo on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 05:50:51 PM EST
    I thought she was talking about POT!

    I know this is an unpopular (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by jen on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 06:36:38 PM EST
    opinion, but it's how I feel about it. I know many people here where I live who entered this country legally (most on H1B visas), who have been working hard, paying their taxes, obeying our laws, for years in hopes of eventually earning their citizenship. I don't see how it's fair to them for those who enter illegally to be rewarded with citizenship, especially if it makes the wait longer for those here legally. Plus, I believe it will encourage more to enter illegally, which will continue to push down wages and weaken workers rights.

    I agree that there are people who (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MO Blue on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 08:20:20 AM EST
    have entered legally and have been paying taxes etc. for years who do not really have a path to citizenship that may be given to those who entered illegally.

    OTOH, in this economy I question the wisdom of continuing to issue H1B visas. This practice makes it harder for U.S. citizens to find jobs every bit as much as illegal workers flooding the market but does not receive as much attention.

    This is a complex problem. I guarantee that there are many citizens who are currently doing off the books day labor to get by whenever they can find it.  


    Flooding the country (none / 0) (#19)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 01:55:41 PM EST
    with physicians on H1B visas will bring down the cost of health care at this time.

    Allowing Nurse Practitioners (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by MO Blue on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 02:35:43 PM EST
    to handle more mundane tasks at lower rates would bring down health care costs and aid in reducing shortages. Providing schooling for those pursuing Medical careers like the countries that provide physicians through the H1B visas would help reduce health care costs without draining other countries of needed medical personnel and reduce unemployment here at home.

    Not evergreening biologics would do a great deal to save a lot of money for individuals and for Medicare and Medicaid. A lot of better ways that we could drastically reduce health care costs if Congress wasn't so strongly influenced by industries that profit by high health care costs.  


    If you read the post (none / 0) (#10)
    by s5 on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 11:37:42 AM EST
    You would see that the people under this new program would also have to work hard, pay their taxes, pay their fines, etc.

    Besides that, this distinction between "people who are here legally worked hard to earn it" vs "people who are here illegally have it easy so they don't deserve it" is a false choice. Plenty of people come here illegally to work hard and improve their lives (and the lives of their families). Are they less worthy than someone who married or bought their way in?


    What's so special (none / 0) (#12)
    by MyLeftMind on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 12:11:11 PM EST
    about those who manage to sneak into this country? Why are they a priority over those who can't make it here?
    Are people starving in Africa less worthy of the opportunity to make a better life for their family? Granted, buying or marrying your way into citizenship sucks too, but that's a whole different story.

    Immigration policy should not be based on trying to help a select few impoverished people from other countries. There are other programs and policies that address that need, and those who want to improve them should work on that commendable issue. But an immigration solution that encourages more and more people to break the law is exactly the opposite of what our country needs. I wonder how long it'll take for college aged Obama supporters to realize how this end-run around immigration law will affect their employment opportunities after college.


    I will ask a counter question (none / 0) (#15)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 01:20:37 PM EST
    What is so special about American citizens who make wrong choices that screw up their own lives and the lives of others around them and have to be bailed out using taxpayer money? Why should not we give the saved tax dollars to help American (and non American children) who make the right choices growing up?
    I am not saying that the people who entered the country illegally are special; however their children did not have any say in the situation in which they find themselves, so these children should not be penalized.

    The War on Poverty is 45 plus years old (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 04:58:12 PM EST
    and we have no evidence that it has worked, is working or will work.

    PPJ, You mean the war (none / 0) (#24)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 05:23:16 PM EST
    on the poor and the middle class that the Republicans have conducted since the time of Goldwater and Reagan?

    Lots of middle class and (none / 0) (#29)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Nov 24, 2009 at 11:10:02 AM EST
    working class Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, while the "too big to fail" corporations continue to increase profits and manipulate our government into giving them bailouts. Banksters and investment companies made deliberate, risky decisions that resulted in our current economic crisis. Yet the very people who have devastated our economy and caused millions to be unemployed somehow managed to increase their profits and wealth through this recession.

    Health care costs have skyrocketed while insurance companies squeezed out every dollar they can get from us. Since 2000, insurance industry profits have increased over 400%, while millions have lost their insurance coverage and the rest of us pay more than ever. I believe insurance industry greed is the main reason for escalating costs, yet our Democrats are busy trying to pass the "Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act" that will force us to give them even more money. We don't need a public option attached to a dysfunctional federal plan, we simply need full access to inexpensive, federal single payer systems like Medicaid, Medicare and VA. Socialized medicine with voluntary access prevents the backlash from the right, because anyone can simply go pay a rip-off insurance company if the want, or they can utilize a federal plan that would provide comparable care at a lower cost.

    Working Americans have severe monetary problems today simply because the insurance and banking industries have schemed to block our government from preventing them from destroying our economy and forcing wealth redistribution from the middle class to the rich.

    The sad part of this is that our Dems will destroy our future chances to promote a progressive agenda because this so-called health care reform will essentially block true reform while increasing the wealth and political power of the scoundrels that got us in this mess to begin with. Worse, forcing Americans by law to pay the insurance industry thieves will result in a huge backlash against our party and our progressive agenda. Meanwhile, we won't even get to have the "socialized medicine" that the right wing and moderates will use as their rallying cry in 2010 and 2012.

    As far as helping the kids whose parents snuck across the border to have children in this country, it's not penalizing them to not prioritize them over children of poor families in other countries whose parents did not break the law to come here. They all need our help, but by supporting only those who are willing to break the law, our Party and our progressive agenda is once again set up for backlash and failure.


    There needs to be a way to address (none / 0) (#16)
    by MO Blue on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 01:22:21 PM EST
    this issue so that it does not penalize those who did enter the country legally.

    A lot depends on how this whole thing is structured and what steps are taken to make it harder to employ people who are here illegally once this is implemented.

    I would be more in favor of issuing temporary work visas for those who register, pay fines and all taxes they owe and pass a criminal background check. After a reasonable period of time, they would then have to follow the same rules of staying in the country as any other non-citizen. IOW have a sponsor, current payroll related employment and getting in line with everyone else to obtain citizenship.

    Also, since Obama is advocating reducing all domestic spending, I have to wonder where Congress is going to get the money to fund the staffing needs of this process.


    You are not reading my posts (none / 0) (#17)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 01:23:11 PM EST
    I have not talked about the people who have entered the country illegally. I have only talked about their children who should not be discriminated against for no fault of their own.

    Helping kids (none / 0) (#30)
    by MyLeftMind on Tue Nov 24, 2009 at 11:59:38 AM EST
    Amnesty with payments of taxes and fines? Pfffttt. People who have made money under the table won't be paying taxes on those earnings. For one thing, the unethical employers are the ones who should be hit up for the taxes, including Workers Comp. Plenty of those jobs taken by illegal aliens are in construction, which means qualified union carpenters are forced to compete for low wages and cash payments, depressing an entire industry. Developers and construction contractors have already pocketed the difference. How will anyone ever prove they got paid under the table for those building projects, and why would they add to their tax burden by being honest about the extent of the illegal earnings? Many will simply claim they worked for the minimum amount of time and money in order to get amnesty.

    Amnesty is not a good policy, and it's not fair to those who took the legal route to live and work in this country. It penalizes those still waiting for citizenship and makes a mockery of our immigration laws. Worse, our Party is willing to hurt legal immigrants in the hopes of increasing votes for Democrats. Unfortunately, many illegal aliens are uneducated and easily manipulated by church leaders who tell them to vote for anti-gay, anti-abortion, right wing politicians.

    For those who wish to help the poor children of people from other countries, why not just go do that work? The are plenty of agencies and not-for-profits that help children all over the world. Why prioritize kids of illegal aliens over children of people who did not break the law to come here? In fact, since we misinterpret the 14th Amendment by applying it to children of illegal immigrants when it was meant to give citizenship to offspring of emancipated slaves, we're already helping those kids just because they were born on American soil. As citizens, they immediately qualify at birth for federal programs that pay for their food, housing and medical care. They can even get Social Security as children, even though their parents never paid into the system.

    Really, shouldn't we be more concerned about helping poor, starving children in families that didn't sneak over the border?


    Is illegal immigration a problem in this country? (none / 0) (#1)
    by ChiTownDenny on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 03:39:49 PM EST
    Still? Is there an economy in this country that anymore compels one to cross our border, legally or otherwise. Whadyaknow.

    This could push the unemployment (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 07:58:01 PM EST
    numbers up, and drive wages down to minimum for positions that weren't previously. The greater the competition for every job, the less money people are willing to take to get it. Obama, again, appears to be catering to the corporations.

    Special interests are being served - not US (none / 0) (#2)
    by Yes2Truth on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 03:42:50 PM EST

    Lots of special interest groups profit from the hordes of new consumers/cheap laborers who come here each year.  

    By "creating a path to citizenship..." those same
    special interest groups won't be hurt at all.  

    However, the special interests who profit from the War on Drug Users would become big losers if drugs
    were legalized.

    Simple logic.  With a dose of hypocrisy thrown in.

    People that will be hurting (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by nyjets on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 04:17:12 PM EST
    People that will be hurting by the new citizens are people that are currently citizens living in this country. There are not enough jobs right now for all of the American citizens living in this country. Make the 'undocumented' citizens will result in even more people competing for a limited number of jobs.

    Yes, of course. You are exactly right. However.. (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Yes2Truth on Sat Nov 14, 2009 at 04:31:19 PM EST

    Excess labor drives wages down, and that's a good thing for those who have to pay wages.  By making all these folks legal, business owners will no longer have to worry about INS raids and the attendant fines associated with having illegals on the payroll..to say nothing of the potential legal problems which they themselves would face.

    That's only one tiny example of how special interests will be better off.  Average Americans
    will bear the costs (and the direct and indirect costs are wide-ranging.  most people don't have a clue about how our exploding population serves the interests of the few and the expense of the many).


    How about a compromise: (none / 0) (#11)
    by MyLeftMind on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 11:53:35 AM EST
    Provide a path to citizenship, with priority for parents of children who were born here. That would eliminate a lot of the public expense of feeding, housing and paying for Medicaid and college for "anchor babies." Let the parents be here, work here and pay for their own children.

    But at the same time, clarify the 14th Amendment so it no longer gives automatic citizenship to children of non-citizens that sneak across the border. The 14th Amendment was originally designed to give citizenship to children of emancipated slaves, not to provide incentive for non-citizens to break the law in order to have babies on American soil.

    If a path to citizenship is offered, but the incentive to sneak in (or overstay) and have babies is still there, we've defeated the purpose of immigration law.

    The economic cost of giving automatic citizenship to babies of lawbreakers is huge, especially in border states like California. Babies of illegal immigrants are automatically given free medical care and social services until they're adults. If they're disabled, they receive Social Security even if their parents never paid into the SS system. They can be fostered by their own relatives, and taxpayers foot the bill. If fostered, they are even given free college on our dime. This all means that of the small portion of the pie we get back from our government, even less is available to kids whose parents paid into the system. In addition to the public expense, the people who benefit from this end-run around immigration limits is big agribusiness and urban sprawl developers. Forcing America's working class to compete for jobs with lower and lower wages pushes us more rapidly into a third world economic structure. Americans have fought and struggled for workers rights, child labor laws, environmental policies, minimum pay and other policies that keep our middle class strong and healthy. Without the political power of a strong middle class, we lose those gains earned over the past two hundred years.

    Worse, bad immigration policies drive hard working moderates away from our liberal agenda and Democratic platform. If we just want to help people from other countries, there are much better ways to do so without such a huge financial and political cost to our country and our progressive agenda.

    So let's compromise with a plan that provides a path to citizenship and also eliminates future problems caused by the misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment.

    Let me play the devil's advocate here (none / 0) (#14)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 12:51:22 PM EST
    It seems that you are willing to penalize a baby who had no say in deciding where he/she would be born owing to the tax payer burden (it is ridiculous to imagine that adults would not sneak in through the border to improve their own economic conditions owing to disparities in prevailing wages and work opportunities even if the automatic citizenship for babies provision was removed). However, will some of the faux progressives in TL (who support abortion and legalizing drugs but dislike immigration) agree to consider the issue of tax payer burden when it comes to funding abortions or drug rehabilitation treatment for adults? Conservatives make similar arguments that you are making regarding wasteful tax payer expenditure for abortions and drug rehabilation, i.e. it encourages people to make wrong choices in their lives for which other tax payers are penalized.



    If the baby had no choice (none / 0) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 05:01:55 PM EST
    then why does being born here give it some "right?"

    Isn't it a fact that it is the illegal acts of the parents that gives citizenship?


    While I lived in Holland a few years back (none / 0) (#25)
    by suzieg on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 05:58:22 PM EST
    the gov't (not exactly a bastion of conservatism) was in the midst of deporting an East Indian family because they had been illegally in the country for over 20 years even though they had created several profitable and popular businesses.

    It caused a big stir, Amnesty International even got involved in their defense, but they were still put on a bus to Belgium because their Superior Court ruled that it wasn't fair to the people who played by the rules and if they gave them an exemption, it would create a precedent therefore would have to do the same for everybody else in the country illegally. They even stripped their son of his Dutch citizenship, citing that because his parents were there illegally, so was he and could not be recognized as a citizen!

    My neighbor in San Francisco was on a L-1 during the last amnesty in 1986. He was rejected for a green card because he was in the country legally. Amnesty only applies for illegals. How is that fair for people here legally who would like to stay permanently? It rewards illegal behavior!  

    The Dutch reasoning makes a lot of sense to me! My husband had to wait 14 yrs to get a green card and he holds a master's degree in Engineering. The paperwork, medical and financial burdens he had to go through, I believe none of these people from impoverished countries would be able to afford or meet the criterias legal immigrants have to fill in order to come here, therefore the call for blanket amnesty.

    Does anybody believe that they will learn English? Will they have to come back to the Immigration Dept for verification and what if they still can't speak English, then what? They'll deport them for cause?  

    It's all about getting a big block of new "grateful" voters and a big giveaway to Corporate America, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Catholic Church which wants all these new mostly catholics parishioners, after all who will fill their coffers should they be deported?

    I'm one of the thousands of unluckies who has had her identity stolen by an illegal immigrant. Her action caused my state health insurance risk pool to stop paying for my chemotherapy in mid- treatment, citing fraud. Had I not been able to cough up $40,000 on the spot, God only knows what my outcome would have been!

    I've had it with people who feel entitled to come here illegally for whatever reasons just because most can walk across the border unlike the others overseas who apply and wait! Why make an exception?



    Wow (none / 0) (#27)
    by Politalkix on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 09:33:30 PM EST
    I think it is wrong to discriminate against children of illegal immigrants who were born in this country. Other than on the issue of children, I really do not have any strong opinions on issues relating to immigration. However, I am really surprised by the rancour in the tone of the post to which I am replying (after all, this is supposed to be a progressive blog and immigration issues has been a part of the Democratic platform for many years).
    Didn't many in TL love the Catholic Church and Latino-American citizens who were originally from "impoverished countries" when they helped HRC turn out wins against Obama during the Democratic primaries in Texas, California, Arizona, Nevada, etc? What has happened now? Aren't the people from "impoverished countries" of any use to you any more? :-) :-)

    The assumption that the 14th Amendment (none / 0) (#31)
    by MyLeftMind on Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 12:11:16 PM EST
    should give automatic citizenship to babies of illegal aliens has never been tested by the SCOTUS. The fact is, that amendment comes on the heels of the 13th Amendment because it fixed the problem of children of freed slaves not having U.S. citizenship. The 14th Amendment was never designed to provide incentive for non-citizens to break the law in order to have babies on U.S. soil. The term "anchor baby" describes the unintended consequence of the misuse of the 14th Amendment whereby these "instant citizens" are able to access full medical benefits before they're even born, and welfare, housing and medical benefits in spite of the fact that their parents may never have paid into the government systems that are forced to support them. After utilizing public support their entire lives, when they turn 18 they can then sponsor their parents and other relatives to jump ahead in line before potential immigrants who have waited years to come to this country, and who have skills and a work ethic that could help this country rather than drain its coffers.

    Today's push for the so called "immigration reform" is a misnomer for providing amnesty to those who broke the rules to enter this country, and is specifically pushing for increasing the number of Mexican immigrants allowed into the U.S., even at the expense of citizens from other countries immigrating. I understand liberal desire to help those in need and I know it's not considered Politically Correct to state what I'm saying here, but I do so because I believe federal policies should not encourage people to break the law. More importantly, we should always support legal immigrants over illegal aliens. And if we want to help people, why not help the poor children of Mexican citizens who don't break the law by sneaking across the U.S. border? What makes those children less important to us than the kids of illegal aliens?

    Progressives should think carefully about why we're so knee-jerk willing to help illegal aliens at the expense of 1) immigrants who followed the law to live here, 2) potential immigrants who are currently waiting their turn to live in this country, and 3) citizens of countries like Mexico who are just as much in need of our help as those who break the law to have babies on American soil. I submit that the harm done to our country in allowing and even encouraging illegal immigration does a disservice to all three of the above groups of law abiding people, as well as the taxpayers who have to support anchor babies to the detriment of our own neighbors who desperately need our assistance.

    If and when the 14th Amendment is challenged in court, or amended so it no longer provides incentive to enter the country illegally, we'll be able to regulate a more sustainable immigration process.


    Oops! (none / 0) (#13)
    by lambert on Sun Nov 15, 2009 at 12:35:32 PM EST
    From the headline, I thought that was a path toward legalizing marijuana...