Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered remarks yesterday at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum to discuss the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) priorities, including reforming our nation’s immigration laws, DHS’ continuing engagement with the Jewish community, as well as the challenges posed by the ongoing sequestration.
“I’m very proud of the work we’ve done together with the Jewish community to strengthen and deepen our collaboration on many issues of mutual interest and concern,” said Secretary Napolitano. Noting America’s history as a nation of immigrants, She said we need to fix a “system that does not work the way it was intended to.”
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Napolitano highlighted the critical need for commonsense immigration reform and the Administration’s dedication of historic levels of personnel, technology, and resources to the Southwest border. In January, President Obama announced key principles for commonsense immigration reform that would continue to build upon this progress by investing in the ports of entry, and helping our officers and agents focus on public safety threats; making it harder for transnational criminal organizations to operate, while encouraging immigrants to pursue a pathway to earned citizenship; holding employers accountable and strengthening the integrity of the immigration system overall. The passage of the President’s proposal will help make sure that officers and agents along the border are better able to focus on combating public safety and national security threats.
During her remarks, Napolitano also discussed DHS’ ongoing collaboration with the Jewish community to provide the information, tools, resources, and capabilities needed to build stronger, more resilient communities. To that end, in 2011 Napolitano announced the expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign the Jewish community by partnering with the JFNA and the Secure Community Network — a mechanism for information sharing with faith — and community-based organizations designed to improve security awareness in a crisis situation.
“We appreciate the Obama administration’s seriousness about improving our nation’s immigration system,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold.
Both from our community’s own immigrant experience and our religious obligation to welcome the stranger, the Jewish community is deeply invested in seeing a fair immigration system that balances security with the need to encourage and welcome immigrants. We were pleased to be able to sit down with Secretary Napolitano and discuss our shared priorities.
Napolitano traveled to Israel last year, where she met with senior Israeli officials and signed a Joint Statement on the implementation of the Global Entry trusted traveler program, which provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.