Janet Napolitano reemerged recently to lay claim to the success of the deferred action program and clarify it’s creation with a lecture, “The Anatomy of a Legal Decision.” But most striking in her speech and surrounding media tour are not the answers she provides but the questions her comments raise.
“Republican Senator Jeff Sessions began criticizing DHS for, in his view, not enforcing immigration laws vigorously enough. That same moment, a group of protestors stood up in the rear of the hearing room. They began shouting, and waving signs that said DHS was enforcing immigration laws too vigorously.”
“…We liked to joke, or rather half-joke, at DHS that if both sides were kicking us with equal vigor, well, then we must be doing something right….”
Except one is an elected official defending xenophobia
and out-dated politics and the other is a person
defending both their family and bedrock civil rights.
That’s not ‘two sides of a debate.’ That’s hateful politics
versus those victimized by it.
“It just seemed to me that we needed to do something for this group of young people,” she added. “They were brought here as kids, not of their own volition. They really are kind of the worst victims of the lack of immigration reform.”
“The vast majority of young people who were Dreamers were not in proceedings; they would still have to constantly look over their shoulders to see whether ICE agents were about to pick them up. I wanted to create a potential pathway to deferred action for all Dreamers, not just those already caught up in the system.”
“Based on my conversations with lawmakers at the time and through the course of the next year, it was clear to me that a bipartisan majority of lawmakers agreed that Dreamers were different.”
Dreamers are different than what?
Why did she draw the line of deserving
and undeserving at “Dreamers”?
(Here she both makes dreamers an exception
and blames their parents while failing to mention how
the creation of DACA coincided with the exponential
growth in criminalization programs that caused the
rest of the undocumented community to
‘constantly look over their shoulders’)
“So, we pressed ahead and presented our proposal for DACA and its implementation to the White House.”
What role did the immigrant youth movement have in the creation of DACA? Except for the mention of being interrupted during her testimony, Napolitano erases the powerful grassroots push for executive action and the pressure it created on the President to act.
It’s notable that Napolitano is coming out reinforcing the President’s authority to act on immigration. She even cites some of the same precedent-setting court cases as NDLON in the rulemaking petition we filed with the Department of Homeland Security in February of 2013. But one has to also ask, given her primary role in the record deportations that has continued to cause protest at her new post as President of the University of California system, Why is she speaking on this now? Is she doing so in coordination with the White House or on her own? Like she says, “This is an election season, and immigration policy and DACA are still very much in political play.”