Last evening, Janet Napolitano discussed Homeland Security--in the wake of the assassination of Osama Bin Ladin and of Barack Obama's speech in El Paso on immigration reform--as a guest on the PBS NewsHour.
I've become increasingly concerned about drug-related violence in North America over the last few months. Similarly, U.S. security in the world is increasingly precarious because the only true security derives from being in right relationship: peace accompanies justice. Bin Ladin's death did not advance that cause. On the contrary, it was a setback.
Napolitano's remarks related to immigration are reproduced below.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Let me can ask you, Madam Secretary, about another subject that's under your purview. And that's immigration.
President Obama made what he was calling -- what he called a major speech this week. He went to Texas to talk about immigration. But even a number of his political allies are saying that he didn't really propose anything new, that there's not a program out there to reform immigration.
JANET NAPOLITANO: I would disagree.
I think the president has done a number of things during the course of his presidency, but specifically over the last 60 days, to say, immigration remains a problem for our country. It's a law enforcement issue. We have to do enforcement in a smart and effective way.
We believe the steps we have taken demonstrate that we are doing that. We have to have a secure border. We believe the massive amounts of resources we have deployed there demonstrate that. We also, however, need to look at the economic ramifications of immigration, and look at how we handle, for example, visas for agricultural workers, visas for high-tech workers.
We need to deal with the so-called DREAMers, the DREAM Act students. That's going to require Congress.
JUDY WOODRUFF: But, as long as you have this fundamental disagreement with many Republicans over whether the border is secure -- the president was saying this week, the border is sufficiently secure, that the country should move on to reform immigration. Republicans are saying, it's not secure enough.
How do you bridge that in order to move forward?
JANET NAPOLITANO: Well, I think we bridge it by saying, this is -- this is not a linear progression.
You have to do both, and you have to do both simultaneously, because not having immigration reform affects what is done at the border. These things are interrelated, so that, for example, if we are to conclude, as a nation, that more individuals should have visas, they come through our ports, we know who they are, we know where they're going, how long they're allowed to stay, that diminishes the pressure to cross illegally and to cross between those ports of entry. So, these things are all related to one another.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One of -- a Democratic congressman -- again, this is a friend of the president -- Luis Gutierrez said this week, he said, the president is wrong to wait for Congress to act. He said, the president could do a number of specific things. Among other things, he said, he should say the country is not going to support the wives of U.S. soldiers.
JANET NAPOLITANO: Well, again, we -- we deal with the wives of U.S. soldiers through the visa process.
Representative Gutierrez has a view that I think the president just doesn't agree with and I don't agree with. And that is that the president, by executive fiat, can do what the Congress has not yet been able to address.
And the president believes that that is not the appropriate use of executive branch power solely, that this must be done by the Congress. The president has laid out the principals of a bill. He has met, not only with congressmen of both parties repeatedly; he's also met in the last few weeks with business leaders, with faith-based leaders, other groups around the country, all of whom have reached the same conclusion, which is that Congress needs to act.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just finally, I saw there was an editorial in The Christian Science Monitor this week which said the president has been too overtly political about immigration. It said, he's been seeking to appease Latinos, rather than uniting the country about an adequate method of enforcement.
JANET NAPOLITANO: I didn't read that particular piece.
I think the president is motivated by the need to solve a problem. And this is a problem that's not going to go away. I can say that. I'm a former border state governor. I myself supervised the prosecution of 6,000-plus immigration felonies. I know this system very, very well.
I can tell you, all the enforcement in the world -- and I think the American people perhaps don't appreciate how much has been done -- will not substitute, however, for also combining it with effective immigration reform.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, we thank you for being with us.