Napolitano Says Granting Legal Status to Some Illegal Aliens Improves Immigration Law Enforcement

By Fred Lucas | December 3, 2010 | 4:00 AM EST

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, left, and FBI Director Robert Mueller prepare to testify on Sept. 22, 2010, before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing to examine nine years after 9/11, focusing on confronting the terrorist threat to the homeland.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

( – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said granting legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military will help the country target criminal illegal immigrants.

“From my standpoint, from where I sit, I think it’s important to point out the DREAM Act fits into a larger strategy of immigration enforcement and would actually complement the Department of Homeland Security’s effort’s to prioritize our enforcement resources on removing dangerous criminal aliens, part of the strategy that this administration has been following,” Napolitano said during a conference call Thursday with reporters.

The Obama administration has pushed hard this week for the passage of the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act to pass through the lame duck session of Congress, still controlled by Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also strongly support the bill.

Already, 10 U.S.C. Section 504 allows the Secretary of Defense to authorize the enlistment of illegal aliens, who once enlisted can become naturalized citizens in expedited proceedings.

The legislation is less likely to pass through the House once the new Republican majority takes control in January, and when Republicans have increased numbers in the Senate.

The proposal gives legal status to illegal aliens who came to the country with their parents as children if they fulfill two years of college or two years of uniformed service. Completion of a degree is not required, and uniformed service could include either military service or for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also allows states to provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens.

“What doesn’t make sense is for us to use our enforcement resources prosecuting young people, brought here through no fault of their own who want to go to college or the military,” Napolitano said.

At least 2.1 million illegal aliens will be eligible for the DREAM Act, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

But that number could be far more because of chain migration in the future, said Roy Beck, president of Numbers USA, a pro-border enforcement organization.

“The Department of Homeland Security is not going after these kids already, so to say to give amnesty would stop the government from going after them makes no sense,” Beck told

“The DHS needs to ensure these kids are not in this predicament by not encouraging their parents to come here for jobs,” Beck continued. “The answer long-term is to dry up the jobs.”

In a letter to colleagues, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), identified the four versions of the Dream Act floating through Congress as deeply flawed.

“At bottom, the DREAM Act is poorly drafted, filled with loopholes and, by rewarding illegal behavior, will without doubt encourage future illegal immigration,” Sessions, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote.

“This irresponsible proposal would almost immediately legalize an estimated 1.3 - 2.1 million illegal aliens – a number expected to grow as the bill has no cap or sunset. At the same time, the bill would provide safe harbor, and even amnesty, for aliens who have committed serious crimes,” Sessions added.