Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson Speaks at Immigration Conference

October 29, 2015 — “We must account for these people,” said U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, referring to the more than 11 million undocumented individuals estimated to be living in the United States. “They are not going away — in a Democratic or a Republican administration. We want to encourage them to come forward, submit to a background check, and if eligible, to get on the books. … And to those of us who say we do not have the authority to do this without a change in law, then I say it’s time to change the law.”

Johnson spoke to a packed house of lawyers, law students, government leaders and more in Georgetown Law’s Hart Auditorium during the 12th-annual Immigration Policy Conference on October 29. His keynote address explored immigration priorities as well the status of the executive actions announced by President Barack Obama last November.

Later in the day, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres explored the humanitarian side of refugee policy. “The humanitarian response capacity of the world is no longer enough to be able to provide the minimum levels of core protection and the minimum levels of lifesaving assistance to the people,” Guterres said.

As Catholic Legal Immigration Network Executive Director Jeanne Atkinson and others noted, the conference came at particularly timely moment for the country and the world.

“With immigration politics headlined in the 2016 presidential campaign — with a court case that will affect the viability of the president’s executive action on administrative relief pending before the 5th Circuit — and with continued migration of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America, we are at a crossroads,” Atkinson said. 

The event was sponsored by Georgetown Law, the Migration Policy Institute and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. 

For a full list of participants, moderators and panels, click here. Guterres’ Georgetown University address, sponsored by the Institute for the Study of International Migration, may be viewed here. 

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