Obama Ready to Press Hard For Big Immigration Changes

Have gains in enforcement set the stage for comprehensive reform?

The Obama administration is committed to making a major push early next year. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona had a front-row seat to every aspect of the problem, made the pledge again earlier this month, saying the current situation is simply unacceptable. She cited progress in stemming the flow of illegals into the U.S. over the past few years and insisted now is the time to put together the elements of what she called the three-legged stool: tough enforcement, a much streamlined system for legal immigration and a path to legal status for illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

Napolitano noted some pretty big gains in enforcement over the past two years. About 600 miles of fence have been built along the border with Mexico, the Border Patrol has added 20,000 officers, and significant improvements have been made in the e-verify system, a national database designed to help employers determine a job applicant’s status. In addition, the administration has stepped up the pressure on employers to comply with the law. The immigration service has notified 1,000 firms that their employment rolls will soon be audited, focusing on industries with a history of using illegal labor or those where security is a concern, such as defense or power plants.

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Mark Willen
Senior Political Editor, The Kiplinger Letter