"It is right on the law. It's the right policy. It fits within our prosecutorial authorities," she told Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. It was her first appearance before Congress since President Obama announced the government would no longer deport certain law-abiding illegal immigrants less than 30 years of age who wish to remain in the United States.
King charged the new immigration policy on young aliens violated the Constitution and urged it be rescinded, The Hill said. The new DHS rules allow illegal immigrants to apply for two-year work permits.
"It looks almost as if this was almost written anticipating the Constitutional objection that I assure you I will bring," he said. "There is a separation of power. The executive branch cannot legislate by executive order by memorandum."
Napolitano faced stern questioning from Republicans on the committee regarding the immigration policy change during an oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security and said she would not reverse the policy.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 396,906 individuals in fiscal 2011, most convicted criminal aliens and recent border crossers, she said in prepared remarks.
"To better enforce the nation's immigration laws, ICE has issued guidance to ensure that those enforcing immigration laws make appropriate use of their discretion they already have in deciding the types of individuals prioritized for removal from the country," she said. "President Obama and I have both made it clear that this administration will continue to enforce the laws in a smart and effective manner."