Originally published October 26, 2011 at 4:21 p.m., updated October 27, 2011 at 7:49 a.m.
The Department of Homeland Security is under scrutiny in Congress over recent changes to immigration enforcement, including deportations.
SAN DIEGO Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano faced questions Wednesday from the House Judiciary Committee on issues like border security, the latest rise in deportation numbers, and the controversial law enforcement program, Secure Communities.
But most of the criticism centered on what is known as the "prosecutorial discretion memo," a set of new guidelines for federal law enforcement like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Border Patrol, which puts the focus on deporting undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes.
Republican Congressman Tim Griffin, from Arkansas, dismissed the memo as "administrative amnesty."
The secretary said Congress inability to act on immigration reform prompted her to act.
"I would say we are not bypassing the Congress, as much as we would like the Congress to address these issues," said Napolitano, defending the new guidelines. "And in fact, would invite that kind of engagement. What we are is suggesting, or giving guidance to the field."
Napolitano added that, looking forward, she would like to see greater enforcement of immigration laws in the workplace - not just on workers, but especially on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.