Napolitano on Young Illegal Aliens: ‘American in Every Way But a Piece of Paper’

Penny Starr | August 15, 2013 | 2:48pm EDT
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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

( – In a blog posted on the Department of Homeland Security website, Secretary Janet Napolitano said the illegal aliens who were brought to the United States as children are “American in every way but a piece of paper.”

Napolitano wrote the blog to mark the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s executive order that put hundreds of thousands of young illegal aliens in a “deferred action” category that allows them to stay in the United States.

Obama’s “initiative” was a way to “ensure that we are using our immigration enforcement resources most effectively, based on common sense priorities that focus first on those that pose threats to our communities,” Napolitano wrote.

“Because of the action we have undertaken through the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) process, thousands of hardworking young people who are American in every way but a piece of paper now have the ability to continue their educations and contribute to their communities,” Napolitano wrote.

“In just its first year, over 500,000 individuals have requested Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and after a thorough review of each of those cases, including a background check, 430,000 requests have already been approved, with others still under review.

At a Senate hearing in 2011, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced Monji Dolon (pictured), who is in the United States illegally and was brought to the U.S. by his parents as a child. ( Starr)

“These young people came to our country as children and many of these young people have already contributed significantly to our country,” the DHS secretary said.

Napolitano explained how the Obama administration is enforcing U.S. immigration law.

“Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case,” Napolitano said.

Saying that Obama’s order was not a “long term” immigration policy, Napolitano made a pitch for the Senate immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the country illegally. (Some estimates put the number closer to 20 million.)

“I am hopeful that the House of Representatives will follow the leadership shown by a strong bipartisan majority of their Senate colleagues and work to fix our broken immigration system,” Napolitano said.

“In the meantime, however, DACA will continue to serve as an important means by which young people brought here as children can remain in, and contribute to, this great country," Napolitano said.

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