"I think with Secretary Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security, it certainly is very hard to argue that the Obama administration isn't serious about enforcement. She has been very aggressive in enforcing the law," Benjamin Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Council, told ABC/Univision. "She's bringing a lot of credibility and a lot of experience in making the case that we've done enforcement, and it's time to start thinking about other areas of immigration policy that have to be changed."
There are some D.C. advocates who don't think Obama needs Napolitano -- or the record deportations -- to make the case for immigration reform. The increasingly diverse electorate, particularly the Latino block, wants reform, and Republicans would be foolish to miss the opportunity, according to Frank Sharry, the executive director of America's Voice, a group that lobbies for immigration reform.
"I think that six, seven years ago, the argument that being tough on enforcement would create political space for reform, it may have had some legitimacy back in the day," he said. "And I would give this administration credit for its border security strategy. But I think it's interior enforcement strategy has been a human and political disaster."
This story was updated on Feb. 8, 2013, to reflect Secretary Napolitano's signing off on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and her stance on priority removals.