In a recent speech at the Center for American Progress, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano addressed the need for Congress to pass immigration legislation that will improve public safety by providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, according to a press release from the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative (LEEI).

Secretary Napolitano repeatedly addressed the frustrations local law enforcement officers have experienced with the current, broken immigration system, acknowledging that it is harder “to protect public safety on the streets” when undocumented immigrants who are victims of crimes “won’t come forward, so (police) can’t get to the bad guy.” She emphasized that “we will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows.”

In response to the speech, Arturo Venegas, Project Director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative and former Chief of the Sacramento Police Department, said, “Secretary Napolitano has clearly been listening to the growing chorus of law enforcement professionals calling for a fix to the broken system. We agree with her assessment that ‘the immigration landscape has changed since comprehensive reform efforts fell short in 2007.’ We also recognize that the problem will not go away and that challenges to crime prevention and national security continue to grow because our broken immigration system is not being fully addressed. My colleagues and I look forward to working with her department and Congress to design a better immigration system that will restore community trust and allow local and state law enforcement to focus on solving and preventing crime.”

For more information about the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, please visit http://www.leei.us.

The full text of Secretary Napolitano’s speech is available at http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/speeches/sp_1258123461050.shtm

The video of the speech and subsequent question-and-answer session is available at http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2009/11/Napolitano.html.