Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security led a closed-door meeting this week in Seattle, Washington with representatives from a number of industries and advocacy groups affected by immigration legislation. On Monday, Napolitano met with members of immigration advocacy groups, labor unions, local officials, police officers, representatives of farmworkers’ associations and other interested parties. In the meeting, Napolitano and the attendees discussed current and proposed changes to immigration legislation and enforcement.
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration called for the auditing of the workforces of more than 650 businesses throughout the country, leading to major concerns voiced by businesses and relevant organizations that want to understand the impact of these changes in the implementation of policy at the national level.
“Secretary Napolitano believes it’s important to speak directly to the many individuals and groups that are impacted by our work,” said Matt Chandler, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.
In the meeting, attendees voiced their concerns about recent ICE practices, including programs looking to utilize local law enforcement officials in the tasks of tracking illegal immigrants and due process rights for immigrants that have been incarcerated by federal officials.
While there had been earlier talk about comprehensive immigration reform entering the national agenda as a major news item this year, currently the issue has been substantially shadowed by current interest in healthcare reform. It is expected, however, that the Obama Administration, with Napolitano as its primary decision-maker, will push forward with shifts to changes in policy and implementation in the coming months.