U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the time is right for major changes to the country’s immigration system after shifting demographics played a role in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election.
“Now is the time,” Napolitano told reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think the election had consequences in that regard, as people looked at the changing demographics of the United States and the changing demographic of voters in the United States.”
Napolitano’s comments echo those of President Barack Obama, who said yesterday he wants lawmakers to begin debate on legislation when they return from recess next month and to be able to sign it into law “as soon as possible.”
A group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers is working to draft legislation designed to address the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants that reside in the U.S. The group is set to unveil next month a draft proposal that would bolster border security and workplace verification.
Hispanics accounted for 10 percent of voters in the 2012 presidential election. Obama won 71 percent of their votes, and just 27 percent backed Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who had proposed “self-deportation” for undocumented immigrants. Since then, a growing number of Republicans are publicly backing giving legal status to undocumented immigrants.
Republican officials last week unveiled a post-election review that called for the party to back “comprehensive immigration reform” or see its appeal shrink.
“Whatever side you are on in the immigration debate, there’s a recognition the system we have needs to be rebooted,” Napolitano said.