(WASHINGTON) -- At a speech at American University in Washington on Wednesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano forcefully defended the administration’s immigration policy.
She both aimed to set the record straight on the issue, and put the burden on Congress to act now on immigration reform.
"We know the immigration system needs to be updated, and we committed then, and continue today, to seek reforms that make sense and are meaningful." Napolitano said, "But Congress hasn’t acted and states continue to pass a patchwork of their own laws in an attempt to fill the void. It is this Administration’s position that Congress needs to take up immigration reform once and for all. We have put forward our ideas and are ready to act quickly and collaboratively to support passage of reforms that make sense."
Napolitano claimed that previous efforts at immigration enforcement policies such as work site enforcement raids, neighborhood sweeps, and going after college students made “no sense.”
"Using the claim that the border is not secure as a reason to block immigration reform is not reasonable. We are continuing to answer the call, and for the last two and a half years, have seen dramatic declines in illegal immigration and dramatic increases in seizures."
She also maintained that the ICE is more focused now on targeting criminal aliens who actually pose a threat to public safety and that “removing people unlawfully in the country who have been booked into jail” will continue to be a “top priority.”
Napolitano voiced support for the DHS-ICE program, Secure Communities, which acts to cross check offenders in jail with FBI and ICE databases that are looking for criminal offenders.
When asked about laws that states have passed to deal with specific immigration laws, Napolitano responded “If states are acting individually, that’s because Congress hasn’t acted.”
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio