More Stars Aligning for Immigration Reform in the 111th Congress

Washington, DC – On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced two key personnel nominations: John Morton as Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Esther Olavarria as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy for the Department of Homeland Security.

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Chair of theCongressional Hispanic Caucus, announced a national listening tour to hear testimony from families impacted by the nation’s broken immigration system.

The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-partisan pro-immigrant advocacy group in Washington.

The President is talking about comprehensive immigration reform, key leaders in Congress are getting the ball rolling, the Secretary of Homeland Security is reviewing her department’s practices and priorities, and the Administration is staffing key positions that will oversee immigration and the President’s efforts to get comprehensive immigration reform passed.

These are additional signs that the Obama Administration and Congress are taking immigration quite seriously and will be putting muscle behind immigration reform legislation in the 111th Congress.

In selecting John Morton, the President has chosen a seasoned federal prosecutor who understands the importance of documenting the facts and ensuring government transparency.

These skills will be immediately relevant to the review and assessment ordered by Secretary Janet Napolitano of controversial and loosely managed immigration programs, including partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies and detention conditions for immigrants.

The head of ICE will be key in moving DHS towards the vision Secretary Napolitano articulated in her recent directive, “Smart, resolute enforcement by the department can keep Americans safe, foster legal immigration to America, protect legitimate commerce, and lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive reform.”

Esther Olavarria is deeply committed to the goal of crafting immigration policies that are both enforceable and enforced. No person is better suited to help the Secretary and the President understand what ails our current immigration mess and what needs to be done to restore legality, transparency, and fairness to our immigration system.

We are delighted that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is launching a national listening tour to examine how our dysfunctional immigration system is affecting individuals and families. The testimony the Caucus collects and the leadership they provide will be critical as the Congress conducts oversight, the Secretary of DHS conducts her review, and legislative battles take shape.

We look forward to working with such strong, committed partners in the White House, the Agencies, and on the Hill as immigration reform legislation is crafted, debated, passed, and implemented.

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