Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano pushed into law the nation’s harshest penalty for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. But that’s not a good enough credential for her to lead the Department of Homeland Security — at least for the border guard watch group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
Minuteman President Chris Simcox doesn’t hesitate to lambaste Napolitano, who reportedly is president-elect Barack Obama’s top choice to head homeland security.
“I’m dubious at best," Simcox said. "This is a situation where you might as well put Barney the purple dinosaur in charge of homeland security.”
Simcox contends that problems associated with illegal immigration and drug smuggling pose the greatest threats to America’s security. But Napolitano, he says, hasn’t done nearly enough as governor of a state bordering Mexico to combat them. She would not be any more proactive as homeland security chief, he says.
“Miss Napolitano has no credentials when it comes to security, national security issues, military or law enforcement,” Simcox said during a report on KOVA-TV in Tucson.
On the other hand, Napolitano's signature law is a harsh measure that would take away the business license of a company on its second violation.
At the time of its passage last year, the second-term governor referred to it as the “business death penalty.” She also took the opportunity to slam the federal government for failing to act on rigorous immigration reform.
“The states will take the lead, and Arizona will take the lead among the states,” she said at the time.
Napolitano, who was Arizona’s attorney general and also U.S. attorney for the state, faces skepticism from the zero-tolerance Minutemen because of her willingness to compromise on items considered sacred icons by the border watch group.
For instance: She vetoed a bill in 2005 that would have cut off in-state tuition aid to students who are in the country illegally. “This bill goes too far by punishing even longtime residents of this state who were brought here as small children by their parents,” she said, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. She vetoed bills that would have required the local police to enforce the immigration laws by arresting people in the state illegally. She has not supported the border fence that is being constructed: “You show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder,” she has said. She also proposed a temporary worker program that would help employers fill quotas for workers. “Foreign labor should not be a substitute for U.S. workers, but it is critical that we bring foreign workers out of the shadows, put the clamps on the underground labor market and bring greater stability to our workforce,” she has said.
Yet, along the way, she has been unrelentingly tough as well, according to the LA Times. Consider: Last year, she outlined a series of measures to control immigration, including an enhanced national employer verification system that would use Social Security data. She has advocated a streamlined visa process and “tamper-proof immigration documents” that would reduce the use of fraudulent identifications. She was the first governor to call for stationing the National Guard along her state’s 376-mile border with Mexico.
But Brett Farley, executive director of the Arizona-based Minuteman PAC, said his organization has its own calculus, and Napolitano fails.
“Obama’s selection of Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary could be the biggest attack on our security and sovereignty in our nation’s history,” Farley said.
“The only worse pick for such a position would have been John McCain. This is a slap in our faces.”
Farley lists some of the perceived grievous trespasses perpetrated under Napolitano’s administration. Under her watch, he said, Arizona has: Become ground zero for illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, humans, and money. Seen a spike in violent crime and gang warfare. Become the headquarters for an international crime syndicate run through Venezuela, Cuba, and Russia. Seen the highest influx of illegal immigrants along the southern border. Become known to the criminal world as the “open gate” to the U.S.
In any event, if Napolitano passes the Obama vetting process and runs the gauntlet through Senate confirmation, the 50-year-old will be taking charge of the nation’s third biggest department. She will be responsible for a whole host of security hot spots such as aviation and maritime security, disaster response, protecting the president. She’ll be in charge of a virtual army composed of the Coast Guard, Secret Service, Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a report in USA Today.
“The fact that she is a governor from a border state is extremely important,” says Randall Larsen, a terrorism and homeland security expert and former National War College professor.
But Farley rejects the border-state governor argument, as he and his organization maintain that she has abused that very position.
“Janet Napolitano has spent more time in Mexico coddling the Mexican government and working deals for amnesty than she’s spent working with the legislature in her own state!” Farley said.
“Never mind that, as a state governor, Napolitano has no — zip, zilch, nada — constitutional authority to negotiate with foreign governments on behalf of the United States.”
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