Officials from the White House and the Department of Homeland Security confirmed to ABC/Univision on Monday that Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will remain at her post during President Obama’s second term, a development that could have implications for the debate over immigration reform.
As Homeland Security chief, Napolitano oversees the bulk of the nation’s immigration enforcement agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The federal government has beefed up resources dedicated to immigration enforcement during Napolitano’s tenure. The government spent $18 billion in fiscal year 2012 to fund agencies like ICE and Border Patrol, more than what was spent all other federal law enforcement agencies combined, according to a report released last week by the Migration Policy Institute.
Under Napolitano, the former Democratic governor of Arizona, the Obama administration has overseen a record pace of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Through Obama’s first four years in office, 1.59 million people have been deported, including nearly 410,000 in fiscal year 2012, according to ICE statistics. By comparison, the George W. Bush administration deported roughly 2 million during his eight years in office. On average, Obama has deported roughly 12,000 more people per month than Bush.
Immigration reform advocates believe that Napolitano’s record on enforcement could help prove to skeptics that enacting comprehensive reform won’t pose a danger to national security.
“I think with Secretary Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, it certainly is very hard to argue that the Obama administration isn’t serious about enforcement. She has been very aggressive in enforcing the law,” said Benjamin Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. “She’s bringing a lot of credibility and a lot of experience in making the case that we’ve done enforcement, and it’s time to start thinking about other areas of immigration policy that have to be changed.”
Source: ABC News