WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s public focus will be on gun violence this week, but behind the scenes he and key administration officials plan to keep pushing for immigration reform.
As Obama heads to Minneapolis on Monday to talk about the fight against gun violence, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will travel to San Diego and El Paso, Texas, to inspect border security operations at the Southwest border, an aide said Sunday.
On Monday and Tuesday, she’ll meet with state and local officials to talk about how to secure the border without hindering legal travel and trade.
Border security threatens to become a point of contention in the immigration debate. Some members of Congress, including key Republicans, want the government to certify that the border is fully secure before opening a path to citizenship for people currently in the country illegally.
After her two-day trip, Napolitano will join White House policy director Cecilia Munoz to meet with law enforcement officials from around the country to talk about the president’s immigration proposal, which includes a clear pathway to citizenship.
Their emphasis is on the border measures the federal government has already undertaken, including increasing the number of agents on the border to more than 21,000 -- double those assigned in 2004.
The administration reports that fewer people try to cross the border illegally every year now, which they attribute to increased surveillance. Apprehensions totaled about 365,000 in 2012, a 50% decrease since 2008, according to government figures.
On Tuesday, Obama plans to hold White House meetings with labor and progressive leaders and several chief executives to promote his plan.
His sales pitch in those discussions is economic growth and competitiveness, an aide said Sunday.