DHS Secretary: Illegal Aliens Have 'Earned' Citizenship

Published on January 29th, 2014

By Joe Guzzardi
January 29, 2014

Last week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson delivered a rambling, contradictory speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Johnson, whose address was no doubt White House-approved, urged the mayors to stand behind comprehensive immigration reform. While it's commonplace for a high-ranking Cabinet member to support his president's policies, especially during a heated debate on a top domestic priority like immigration, more thoughtful remarks from Johnson might have had greater influence on congressional skeptics. 

Among Johnson's many curious and misleading statements, none is odder than his claim that the country's 11 million illegal immigrants have "earned the right to be citizens." Johnson didn't provide supporting evidence, most likely because it's hard to come up with any. The majority of the 11 million entered the U.S. knowing that they were violating federal immigration laws, the enforcement of which Johnson said in his speech are one of Homeland Security's "five core missions."

Johnson also supports a path to citizenship because it will "encourage illegal immigrants to come out from the shadows." But illegal immigrants aren't in the shadows and haven't been for years. Illegal immigrants lined the National Mall during President Obama's second inaugural ceremony, attended Senator Patrick Leahy's Judiciary Committee on S. 744, held a "Day of Dignity and Respect" demonstration in October and, for the second straight year, were in the audience when President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address. In the name of intelligent debate, advocates should retire the disingenuous "in the shadows" phrase from their lexicon.

Getting back to illegal immigrants who have allegedly "earned the right," Johnson must be including the 7 million who are in the labor force. According to a February 2011 Pew Hispanic Center report, an estimated 7 million illegal immigrants held jobs. To get those jobs, the overwhelming majority provided stolen or falsified documents to their employer. Fraudulently obtaining and falsifying I-9 forms or committing identity theft are felony crimes, hardly valid credentials for becoming a U.S. permanent resident and eventually a citizen.

DHS is the fourth-largest federal agency, has more than 200,000 employees and oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection and Citizen and Immigration Services. Managing it is a daunting task.

Yet Johnson has no immigration experience. His background includes many years as a federal prosecutor and Defense Department lawyer. At his confirmation hearing, six Republican Senators asked Johnson his views on immigration, including questions about what category of illegal immigrants he would make eligible for legal status. The panel also inquired if Johnson would continue President Obama’s administrative directive to defer deportations for certain young aliens. 

Johnson gave no direct answers which led Senator Jeff Sessions to conclude that DHS needs a proven administrator with “relevant law enforcement experience,” making Johnson therefore ill-equipped.

Nominating and confirming an untested, inexperienced bureaucrat to head DHS in an era when the nation is still vulnerable to 9/11-type terrorist attacks would strike most observers as poor judgment. But Johnson fits in perfectly with Congress’ agenda-driven, open borders advocates.


Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1987. Contact him at [email protected]

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