Question for Napolitano: Should Drunk Driving Disqualify Illegals for Amnesty?

By Penny Starr | June 29, 2011 | 4:44 AM EDT

Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told Sen. Cornyn at the congressional hearing that she didn't think it was the proper place to discuss “details” of the legislation. ( Starr)

( – Asked on Tuesday by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) whether the Obama administration would consider amendments to the DREAM Act making illegal aliens ineligible for an amnesty if they were convicted of certain misdemeanors such as drunken driving, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would not say.

“Let me ask, do you support the bill are currently written?” Cornyn asked Napolitano.

“I do,” Napolitano said.

“And you speak on behalf of the administration, correct?” Cornyn asked.

“I do,” Napolitano said.

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, would give legal status to illegal aliens who were brought to the United States by their parents at age 15 or younger if they have been in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the bill’s enactment, and if they meet certain education or military service requirements.

Cornyn asked Napolitano whether the Obama administration would support an amendment to the DREAM Act that would disqualify individuals from gaining legal status if they had been convicted of certain misdemeanors, including driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of drugs, burglary, theft or assault.

Napolitano said the administration would be willing to look at amendments offered.

Cornyn then asked the secretary how she would use her authority to waive provisions in the law--specifically if she would consider waiving requirements for someone who has been convicted of voter fraud.

“Well, again, I think this is not the hearing to go into some of the actual details of the bill in that sense,” Napolitano said.

“Of course it is,” Cornyn said.

“And I would suggest, Sen. Cornyn, if you have amendments, we would be happy to consider them,” Napolitano said. “And this is the time to see that language.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) criticized the Dream Act at a June 28, 2011 Senate hearing on the legislation, saying it gives to much authority to the DHS Secretary and could allow illegal aliens who have committed serious crimes to gain legal status. ( Starr)

“Madam Secretary, you’re here under oath speaking on behalf of the administration on a piece of important legislation,” Cornyn said. “You say you support it as written and the administration supports it as written. And I think it’s appropriate to ask you questions about it.”

Napolitano, however, did not directly answer those questions.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan also testified at the hearing about how illegal aliens -- including a group of young people invited to the hearing -- would contribute to the economy and federal revenues. Duncan called the DREAM Act “common-sense” legislation.

“The DREAM Act is a common-sense piece of legislation that is in keeping with core American values,” Duncan said in his prepared remarks. “It goes against our basic sense of fairness to shut the educational door to young people because of the choices of their parents.”

Some of the parents of the illegal immigrants were also in the hearing room.

“We cannot let these individuals continue to live unfulfilled lives of fear and squandered hopes,” Duncan said. “We must rise above the heated political rhetoric and embrace this common - sense approach.”

“And we need to do it now before we lose this generation,” Duncan said.