January 25, 2014
Speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the approximately 11 million people who are in the country illegally have “earned the right to be citizens.”
“An earned path to citizenship for those currently present in this country is a matter of, in my view, homeland security to encourage people to come out from the shadows,” said Johnson, in what he remarked was one of his first public speeches since being confirmed as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief in December.
“It is also, frankly, in my judgment, a matter of who we are as Americans,” he said, “to offer the opportunity to those who want to be citizens, who’ve earned the right to be citizens, who are present in this country–many of whom came here as children–to have the opportunity that we all have to try to become American citizens.”
Johnson, who had earlier served as general counsel for the Department of Defense under Obama from 2009 to 2012, told the more than 270 mayors in attendance that enforcing immigration law was one of the main missions of DHS.