Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was interrupted at today's Senate Immigration Hearing as she boasted that U.S. borders have “never been stronger.” The protesters who interrupted the hearing on multiple occasions demanded that the administration cut deportations and focus on the human rights of undocumented immigrants.
The Obama administration deported a record 409,000 undocumented immigrants last year, according to Napolitano. The administration has deported roughly 1.6 million people in the past four years.
At the hearing GOP Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and John Cornyn (Texas) argued with Napolitano saying that while border security has improved in recent years, the Obama administration has not deported enough or kept enough immigrants out.
The hearing contained a wide variety of speakers, many of who called for immigration reform, but most fell short of criticizing the volume of deportations under Obama's past and future policies.
Protesters interrupted the hearing several times, chanting and waving banners against deportations. Interrupting Napolitano, one protester yelled, "you are destroying our communities" as others began to chant, "Stop the deportations."
At one point a group stood and silently turned their backs to the senators, with signs on their backs reading “human rights” and “immigrant rights.”
Among other testimonies at the hearing, however, was Jose Antonio Vargas, a journalist who acknowledged his undocumented status in a high-profile piece in The New York Times Magazine in June 2011. Vargas argued vehemently for stronger immigrant rights, asking the senators, “What do you want to do with me?” and “How do you define American?”
“Too often, we’re treated as abstractions, faceless and nameless, mere subjects of debate rather than individuals with families, hopes, fears, and dreams,” Vargas told committee members. “We dream of a path to citizenship so we can actively participate in our American democracy.”
[Immigrants] dream of not being separated from our families and our loved ones, regardless of sexual orientation, no matter our skill set. [...]
This government has deported more than 1.6 million people, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters in the past four years. [...]
We talk about immigration and enforcement as if we’re talking about alien people from Mars and not people whose lives and families are being torn apart everyday.
Protesters interrupt Senate hearing on immigration reform: