Obama, Napolitano Argue Administration Isn’t Overstepping on Immigration

September 22, 2010 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spent some time at the Senate today defending the Obama administration against accusations they are pushing lax immigration enforcement in without consent from Congress. Napolitano was forced to get defensive when a reportedly testy Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asked her about draft memos from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that conservatives have decried as “backdoor amnesty” efforts.

ABC News has a good rundown of the exchange:

“So it’s not true that ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] has proposed enacting a policy that would prevent law enforcement officers from reporting illegal immigrants identified during the course of traffic related stops or arrests… unless they are convicted felons?” said McCain.

“No,” said Napolitano. “What it has issued guidance on is to prioritize those who are convicted felons.”

“The question was, would it prevent law enforcement officers from reporting illegal immigrants… who are not convicted felons?” pressed McCain.

“No,” said Napolitano.

Immigration enforcement officials, from ICE Chief John Morton up the ladder to Napolitano, have spent a lot of time defending their enforcement record to conservatives who claim the Obama administration does not want to enforce immigration.

President Barack Obama has also taken pains to point out that the administration plans to go through Congress to enact immigration reform, The Hill reported today: “You know, it is a very difficult thing to do administratively, and because we want comprehensive reform, and because we want the Dream Act, what we don’t want to do is give an excuse to the opposition to say, ‘Obama’s trying to do an end-run around Congress,’” he told Telemundo.