On Sunday, April 19, 2009, Secretary Napolitano went on CNN’s “State of the Union” and proclaimed that crossing the border illegally is not a crime. This statement left a lot of folks scratching their heads given that U.S. law—the law Napolitano is sworn to uphold—says quite the opposite. Section 8, Title 1325 of the U.S. code clearly states that those who enter the U.S. illegally are committing a crime.
This ‘interpretation’ of the law by Secretary Napolitano seems to be the latest in an effort by the Obama Administration to scale back interior immigration enforcement efforts in the United States. As recently as March 28th, Napolitano made the decision to delay a series of immigration raids and other workplace actions aimed at finding illegal workers. At the same time, both President Obama and Secretary Napolitano have announced new initiatives intending to send the message that they take the issues at the southern border seriously. But the Administration cannot fight cartels while ignoring illegal immigration—people smuggling is part of the problem, not a separate issue. Legalization will only make matters worse. Granting the people here illegally asylum will only encourage more illegal border crossing. Likewise, failing to enforce workplace and immigration laws will only encourage more to ignore the law.
The fight has to go beyond the border. Just adding inspections on people heading south is not going to work. Homeland Security will inconvenience everyone but the smugglers who don’t care if some of their loads get caught and will seek alternative routes. On the U.S. side, there has to be a robust integrated response of federal, state, and local law enforcement at the regional level (meshing with is going on in California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico) that targets the cartel and transnational gang networks. At the local level, the U.S. needs more community policing that targets criminal elements in the border community. That means more support and assistance for border county sheriff departments.
Secretary Napolitano’s job is to follow and enforce the law—not to use her authority to undermine it.