Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who is now president of the University of California system, said she will employ necessary resources to keep students at her universities from being deported due to any repeal of President Obama’s executive order legalizing immigrants brought illegally to the country as children.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel met with President-elect Trump on Wednesday and delivered a letter signed by 14 mayors asking that he continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program until Congress passes a solution.
“Ensuring DREAMers can continue to live and work in their communities without fear of deportation is the foundation of sound, responsible immigration policy. Ending DACA would disrupt the lives of close to one million young people, and it would disrupt the American economy, as well as our national security and public safety,” Emanuel wrote in the letter. “We encourage your Administration to demonstrate your commitment to the American economy and our security by continuing DACA until Congress modernizes our immigration system and provides a more permanent form of relief for these individuals.”
Signatories included the mayors of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Denver, Houston, Boston, Phoenix and Philadelphia.
Trump told TIME magazine, in the article accompanying this week’s Person of the Year award, that “we’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.”
“They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs,” Trump said. “And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Napolitano told CNN today that there are “several thousand” DACA beneficiaries in the University of California system.
“They are undocumented, true, but they’re the kind of talent and brains that we want to have remain in our country. So something definitely needs to be worked out,” she said.
Trump talking about “prioritizing the deportation of violent felons and gang members,” she added, is “essentially the same priorities that we had under the Obama administration.”
“The DREAMers, under any rational analysis of priorities, would be at the very bottom of any kind of deportation program. So, you know, with his announced policy where he wants to go, which with what good law enforcement would be, the DREAMers should be allowed to remain in this country. DACA was a very specifically designed program for them and it’s worked very well.”
Napolitano stressed that her university system “will not convert campus police into adjunct immigration officers.”
“We won’t voluntarily turn over student records, where we’ll protect their privacy. And we will work to provide them legal representation should they find themselves in an actual deportation proceeding. We know that if you have a lawyer, you do much better in deportation proceedings than if you don’t,” she said.
She noted “there’s no law that says you must cooperate with federal authorities.”
“And indeed it is done consensually between law enforcement departments. But many, many, many law enforcement departments around the country are now saying, look, we are not here to be ICE agents. We are here to focus, in our case, safety on our campuses, and to be adjunct immigration officers would be contrary to that primary mission.”
Napolitano recommended that the incoming administration go to the southern border and “see all the layers of protection that have been installed over the last eight years.”
“It’s fencing and walling in some places. It’s aerial coverage. It’s increased Border Patrol presence. It’s checkpoints along different routes that come in to the United States. So the southwest border, in fact, has had negative immigration over the last few years, meaning more have left than have come,” she said, stressing that the bigger issue is visa overstays.
“…Build a 10-foot wall and I’ll show you a 12-foot ladder. I mean, people go over. People come under. You have to have multiple layers at that border to increase your likelihood of finding somebody.”