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Janet Napolitano Removes Immigration Enforcement Success Stories From Homeland Security Website


“It doesn’t work. The program is expensive, and it doesn’t work the way Congress intended.”

Janet Napolitano

It's no secret that the White House has a complicated relationship with its responsibility to enforce immigration laws. This is especially true of the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department, which has been often criticized by the Right for being overly lax, and by the Left for being overzealous. Faced with this political Catch-22, it would seem that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has a rather sticky choice - either emphasize her department's effectiveness (siding with the Right), or explain why particular laws shouldn't be enforced as stringently as they could be (siding with the Left).

Until recently, the department was siding with the Right by posting success stories about its agreements with states known as 287(g) agreements, named for section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which provides for state or local entities to receive authority to carry out actions as arms of the ICE, on its website. However, Napolitano is an outspoken critic of this variety of agreement, and when she went before Congress today to testify against them, one particular Republican Congressman brought up her department's policy of trumpeting its success stories to counteract her statements.

What happened next? The Washington Times reports:

But after Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, pointed out the contradiction during a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday,Ms. Napolitano wasted little time in removing it.

“I would tell the people who are working on the website, take it down,” she said during the hearing. And even before the hearing gaveled to a close, the page was gone.

The 287(g) program has two parts: task-force agreements, which empower state and local police to process suspects for immigration violations, and the jail model, which only gets local authorities involved after someone has been booked into a jail or prison.

Ms. Napolitano said the task-force model costs 10 times as much per deportation as the jail model or as Secure Communities, another program designed to check jails and prisons for potentially deportable immigrants.[...]

At Thursday’s hearing Mr. Goodlatte tried to find out why — and pointed to the list of success stories on ICE’s website.

“Why are you touting them if they’re success stories in a program that you think is otherwise flawed?” he said, adding that the program has proved to be popular with departments in his own state of Virginia.

“There may be some success stories,” Ms. Napolitano replied, but she said they were switching to the more cost-effective models.

“It doesn’t work. The program is expensive, and it doesn’t work the way Congress intended,” she said.

Now, setting aside the question of whether this program works (which at least in some cases, it does), isn't this a bit of a troubling policy on Napolitano's part? Redacting information from a government website for what seems like one's own political agenda sets a troubling precedent, and not one that most Americans would likely support. Napolitano might prefer that we remained at war with Eastasia, in the words of George Orwell, but at least in theory, Americans should expect the truth from their government agencies, no matter the politics of any given situation.

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