Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited the White House’s press briefing today to discuss the $600 million border security bill signed into law this morning. She argued the bill would bolster border security and echoed statements by President Barack Obama and other Democrats who have said the next step is comprehensive immigration reform. Politico reports:
Napolitano says Republicans should “finally” get to the table to tackle immigration at the same time border security is addressed. “We need a safe and secure border,” she says. “But as a nation, we also need immigration reform.”
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs adds that immigration will be addressed when Democrats and Republicans are “ready to be leaders.”
Napolitano declines to say what the administration’s timetable is for addressing immigration. “This is in the hands of the Congress, and they will need to address this in a bipartisan way,” she says. “The timetable question should be addressed to them.”
There are arguments to be made for the administration’s hesitance to push for a timetable for immigration reform, which of course is impossible without Republican support. Still, the statements on comprehensive immigration reform by Napolitano and Gibbs seem unlikely to please reform advocates, who argue the administration has not done enough to pressure Congress into taking up the issue.
Napolitano had stronger words for Republican such as Sen. Lindsey Graham who have called for changes to the 14th Amendment to remove automatic citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants: “Any talk about amending the constitution is just wrong,” she said.