DHS Sec Janet Napolitano Stays, Immigration Advocates Send Mixed Signals

DHS Sec Janet Napolitano Stays, Immigration Advocates Send Mixed Signals


ABC News reported today that the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will be staying on for a second term in the Obama administration.

The immigration advocates quoted in the ABC News piece by Jordan Fabian are favorable toward the DHS Secretary noting that she has been tough on enforcement and has built relationships on Capitol Hill:

‘”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,” said Benjamin Johnson, the executive director of the American Immigration Council in Washington, D.C. “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.”

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said that Napolitano’s relationships on Capitol Hill forged during her interactions with lawmakers over the past four years could pay off when the White House presses Congress to pass a bill.

“This will move quickly,” he said. “So, the less of a learning curve someone has, the better.”‘

Yet it is during Napolitano’s tenure at DHS that the Obama administration has set records for deportations, come under scrutiny for abuse in immigration detention prisons, and separated US born children from their immigrant parents.

While advocates in Washington, D.C. “cheered” for Secretary Napolitano remaining on the job, Sarahi Uribe at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) criticized the Secretary’s record, “Janet Napolitano had the opportunity to reverse her track record on immigration when she was named Secretary of Homeland Security. Instead, she continued the trend that brought Sheriff Arpaio his immigration powers, she essentially nationalized the Maricopa County model, and she has presided over unprecedented deportation rates.  ICE is a rogue agency, and Secretary Napolitano has failed to reign it in during her tenure at DHS.  Frankly, Secretary Napolitano’s continued presence in the President’s cabinet undermines confidence in his commitment on immigration reform.”

B. Loewe of NDLON added, “Napolitano’s continued tenure at DHS creates a credibility issue for the President. The work of reform is the work of reversing the damage she has done. While he condemns Arizona’s SB1070, Napolitano has made the nation’s policy into a mirror image of Arizona’s law.  Frankly, its hard to imagine her presence can do much other than undermine meaningful progress on immigration.”

Even before becoming Secretary of DHS, Napolitano was criticized for her hands-off approach in handling controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is known for his own local brand of immigration enforcement, when she was a US attorney and later governor of Arizona. Arpaio has been the subject of multiple investigations for racial profiling and public corruption.