Thursday, November 27, 2008

Obama taps AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano for DHS Secretary

Many are wondering what to think about President-elect Obama's possible nomination of Arizona governor Janet Napolitano for Department of Homeland Security Secretary. After looking into a few commentaries, I thought I would post some here.

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman discussed the nomination with Aarti Shahani of Families for Freedom, a NYC-based advocacy group. While Shahani notes that we should be very pleased with the change in security leadership, she also points out that Napolitano has led the expansion of 287(g) programs, lobbied DHS for escalations in immigration enforcement in Arizona, and cooperated with the notoriously racist Maricopa County Sherriff Arpaio. You can listen, watch, or read their discussion here.

In 2007, Napolitano asked the country not "to forget the border" in an NYTimes op-ed. There she argued for comprehensive immigration reform--especially a temporary worker program--but criticized proposals for two year work permits and requiring undocumented migrants to "touchback" in their home countries before getting visas.

According the Arizona Daily Star, the governor recently called for National Guard troops to return to the border. Chertoff decided that they were no longer necessary and pulled the troops last summer. Guard troops have provided support for ICE and CBP officers for years, but their presence has raised some questions about the role of military personnel in civilian life and the status of posse comitatus, which limits the role of the military in domestic law enforcement and policing.

For a critical review of Napolitano's gubernatorial legacy on more than just immigration, read Michael Lacy of the Village Voice.