Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation happened in a key moment. On the one hand, the legislative debate about immigration reform is heating up; on the other, the authority vacuum at the top of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is growing.
In this respect, the most urgent issue is the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas as deputy secretary, second in command at the federal agency. He was nominated on June 28.
Napolitano’s departure is adding a sense of urgency to the Senate’s confirmation of the former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, so he can be the acting secretary. DHS is too important for its two top positions to remain vacant for a long time.
Separately, the confirmation of Napolitano’s successor, and especially Mayorkas’ confirmation, cannot be allowed to fall victim to filibustering by a group of GOP senators.
The Senate is already seeing serious confrontations among lawmakers, given the Democratic majority’s frustration with the Republican minority’s use of filibusters to stop President Obama’s nominations.
Some Republican senators, frustrated by their inability to derail the recently approved immigration reform in the Senate, already signaled they won’t support a nominee who plans to continue the official policy of deferred deportations. It is unacceptable for these lawmakers to use filibusters as a strategy to try to impose positions that were categorically defeated in the Senate a few weeks ago.
Legislators must not use Napolitano’s exit as an excuse for political maneuvering. Everyone believes in the importance of a safe nation, and now is the time to show it. That starts with the confirmation of Mayorkas.