May 2nd, 2010
03:14 PM ET
8 years ago

Napolitano calls Arizona immigration law a 'cry of frustration'

The law 'puts everybody at risk' by diverting attention of police and sheriffs from higher-priority crimes, Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano told CNN.

The law 'puts everybody at risk' by diverting attention of police and sheriffs from higher-priority crimes, Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano told CNN.

Washington (CNN) - Arizona's controversial immigration law is a "cry of frustration" by state and local officials who need comprehensive federal immigration reform, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday.

In appearances on morning talk shows, Napolitano criticized the law as a hindrance to law enforcement and said only an overall approach will work.

The law "puts everybody at risk" by diverting attention of police and sheriffs from higher-priority crimes, Napolitano told the CNN program "State of the Union."

"There was no surprise to me that experienced individuals like the Pima County sheriff, who is the longest standing sheriff in Arizona, he is in Tucson, 100 miles from the border, has said he doesn't want this new law, he doesn't need it, and he is not going to enforce it," Napolitano said.

On the ABC program "This Week," Napolitano noted that supporters of the law realized it needed to be changed.

"They've already amended the law over the course of the week, and so even the Arizona legislature is starting to recognize there are problems," Napolitano said, adding that it invited racial profiling.

"It's really a cry of frustration from Arizona," Napolitano said, adding that the frustration "that will only be solved with comprehensive immigration reform."

The new Arizona law requires immigrants to carry their alien registration documents at all times and requires police to question people if there is reason to suspect they are in the United States illegally.

Supporters say the law is needed to confront rising problems involving illegal immigrants in Arizona, particularly those with criminal records.

"Border security is national security," said J.D. Hayworth, a former U.S. congressman now challenging veteran Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary, on the CBS program "Face the Nation." "And it's not only illegals coming northward from Mexico. We've been getting Chinese. We've been getting people from the Middle East. There is a huge criminal component."

Critics say the law will lead to discrimination and racial profiling.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters in cities across the United States waved American flags as they rallied against the Arizona law.

"Si se puede" ("Yes we can") and "Boycott Arizona" were common refrains for groups protesting from Los Angeles, California, to New York City. In Washington, D.C, police arrested Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois, at a rally outside the White House.

Hayworth said Sunday that opponents were distorting the law's intent and effects for political reasons.

"What's going on is a deliberate distortion to remove this from a question of enforcement to one of ethnicity," he said.

Gutierrez, also appearing on the CBS program, challenged Hayworth to support a comprehensive approach while simultaneously working to tighten the border.

"It's not working," Guttierez said of federal efforts in recent years to enhance border security, including more patrols and fences.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said changes to the law that she approved Friday, which clarify that police could only stop suspected illegal immigrants while enforcing some other law or ordinance, should eliminate concerns about racial profiling.

However, New Mexico's Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson harshly rejected the bill.

"This law in Arizona is terrible," Richardson said on the NBC program "Meet the Press." "The administration needs to challenge it because its unconstitutional."

Without congressional action, Richardson said, "there's going to be an anti-immigration hysteria creeping up."

In response, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said on the same program that the Obama administration was to blame for shirking its responsibility of border security.

"That's his job. He's the commander in chief," Alexander said. "It's a federal responsibility. When the border is secure, then we can deal with people illegally here and how they become citizens or not."

soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. AreYouHighOrWhat

    Thousands marched but millions stayed home, MILLIONS! You don't have America's support, we don't reward criminals!

    As Sue Sylvester would say "sloppy freakshow babies! somewhere in the English countryside in a stately manor home Madonna is dozens of celebrities, politicians, and d-list wannabes do permanent damage to their credibility with the American public"

    Gay Urban Hipsters In Seattle Permanently Boycotting Anyone Aiding The Busload Of Harper Valley PTA Agitators Trying Oppress Arizona

    May 2, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. Rick Bailey

    Put a cork in it lady. We don't need immigration reform. What we need is for people like you to do your JOB. ENFORCE current immigration laws and the problem would be solved. Every illegal immigrant needs to be deported and then they can apply to come to this country legally. So quit trying to B.S. the american people. SECURE OUR BORDERS !!!!

    May 2, 2010 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Goofus

    Yeh and its an invasion not immigraton!

    May 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Hector

    America is the land of the free and should not place any restrictions on who wants to relocate here to improve their lives. Borders are just racist policies designed to keep out people with brown skin. identification papers and numbers like social security and drivers licence numbers are also racist tools. American businesses need workers and without us hard working latinos they could not find anyone to fill needed positions. Just look at California the state would go bankrupt without us.

    May 2, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. BeverlyNC

    It;s time for the Democrats to release a comphrensive immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship but does not give blanket amnesty to illegals.

    Republican racism will go wild and the Democrats will win the large Latino base and the rest of Americans who are sick and tired of Republican hate and elitism.

    The first action that needs to happen and that would boost our tax base and entitlement programs would be to REQUIRE employers to use the e-Verify system to weed out illegal workers and make employers pay fair wages and benefits.

    Republicans will fight that too because they don't care what happens to the working class of us. All they are about are their rich white corporate buddies who send our jobs overseas, kill mine workers because they don't care about their safety, and corrupt banks and now the oil companies like BP who have destroyed our Gulf of Mexico. This is also a Republican mess because it is they who let the oil companies "choose" whether to install safety valves on their oil rigs. BP did not. However, in every other country in the world ALL oil rigs must have the proper safety equipment to protect against spills.

    Seems all President Obama can do is spend his time cleaning up Republican disasters – the failed economy, the failed banks, foreclosed homes, massive job losses per month, and threats to our safety from countries Bush bullied and threaten to attack.

    President Obama has done an incredible job cleaning up Republican disasters and moving America to recovery. Now he has to stop again and go clean up the "Drill Baby Drill" Party's mess and then address their racist immigration law that has the country in an uproar.

    How much more Republican destruction should we have to endure? it's time to get these hateful racist fools out of all elected office. They have no leadership skills, no solutions, and are so arrogant they want America to fail.

    Thank God we finally have an intelligent, great leader in a President!

    May 2, 2010 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Joe

    If Napolitano does her job, Arizona wouldn't have to come out with the law. It is her responsibilty to secure our border.

    May 2, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    We don't need reform. Just enforce the existing federal laws. They're more strict than the Arizona law. If I go to any other country in the world I need papers and they can search me any time they want. The government spends more time and money protecting criminals than our legal citizens and border guards. What about the people that died protecting and living on our borders? Where's the president now? Bet he won't be going to Arizona to help protect US citizens.

    May 2, 2010 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Mario

    Some of these comments are not very well thought out. If you open the borders to the US you will have a half billion Indians...a half billion Chinesese and several hundred million others entering the country to live here....the will not care that they have to live on the streets...they will not care that there will not be enough jobs to go around....the country will crumble if this is allowed to happen....why do they not try to maike their own countries better places to live in?

    May 2, 2010 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Marcus

    To anyone crying 'States Rights': NO STATES has the right to enforce racial profiling (its not explicitly in the law, true, but to think that it won't gonna happen with the law as it is NOW is to insult other people's intelligence) and it is explicit in the Constitution that 'immigration' is a Federal business.
    Arizona is tired to wait for those boys and girls in the Congress to do something? They have more than enough reasons to feel like that. But they cannot write a so poorly crafted law that it WILL attack CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS of a specific group of citizens (and legal and illegal aliens as well).
    And even if, like Joe Arpaio, you think that illegal aliens have NO rights (which BTW is a very wrong idea), how can you tell if someone that is walking down the street is a legal or illegal immigrant or a US born citizen?
    Joe Arpaio would probably arrest first and ask (much) later but that would (or will most likely) add a few more suits to his everlasting growing pile of them...

    May 2, 2010 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. B,. Galeles

    Hector, if you had been paying attention you would know that California is already bankrupt – due in part to illegal immigrants.

    May 2, 2010 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Emcee, WA

    Hector: The state of California is going bankrupt BECAUSE of all the ILLEGALS !! You are right when you say America is the land of the FREE ....You expect to have everything handed to you for FREE !!

    The US welcomes people who come here LEGALLY !!

    May 2, 2010 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  12. Terry

    Where is Lou Dobbs when we really need him? The man spoke the truth when he said you can't control immigration if you don't/can't control the border. WE NEED TO SECURE THE BORDER. WAKE UP MR. PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. RC

    Yet here we go again with an elected official making up the laws as they go along, or picking and choosing which laws they wish to uphold. The laws of the United States are NOT open to conjecture. If the bill is signed into law, you have to stand behind it. The Governor of Arizona should fire Clarence W. Dupnik here and now, without a pension as he has publicly stated that he will not enforce this law. Lets see if the governor has the guts to take action or will the governor choose not to do anything either.

    May 2, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. Mickey, NY

    Of course it's a cry of frustration...and should be overturned as racist and unconstitutional.

    May 2, 2010 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Ray E. (Georgia)

    No doubt the people in Arizona are frustrated. All illegals need to go home.

    Any illegal reading this know one thing. The U.S. Citizens are not going to give you amnasity. No way shape or form. If you want to become a citizen go home and do it the right way. If not you will continue to work for crums for the most part and when you are too old to work you will have no retirement to speak of. Think i'm kidding? Many of you are living in crowded quarters waiting, hoping for citizenship. It isn't going to happen. The basic cost of living here isn't cheap and will only get worse. Use your head. Go home.

    May 2, 2010 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Mishagothe

    "Immigration Reform" is liberal code for amnesty. We granted amnesty once, what it got us was 30 million more illegals.

    What we need Janet is ENFORCEMENT of our existing laws. If the Federal government was doing it's job there would be no problem.

    No amnesty, never ever. Arrest and Deport.

    May 2, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. gene

    I thought there was a federal law already in place that all illegals had to carry ID when in the USA why don;t they enforce it.

    May 2, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. BILL, WI

    Hey! Secretary Janet Napolitano! You say that immigration reform is due and that you and President Obama are for immigration reform. Now tell us what will it look like. If someone from Mexico or South America or Malaysia or Iran, enters this country illegally what will the process be that identifies them. Under what conditions will law enforcement be able to identify their status. And if identified as illegal what will the process be to deport them. And what will be the consequences of hiring an illegal immigarant. And where in the Arizona SB1070 bill does it say that an officer MUST check an individuals residency status even if that individual is not stopped for anyother crime or offense?

    May 2, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Mario

    Deportation does not seem to work for many illegal immigrants. If we put them into working prisons for six months, making them work for free paving our roads and cleaining our streets they would think twice before coming back here illegally...

    May 2, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Ray

    I like the idea of profiling! I like to be known as an honest citizen of America. I want to maintain my integrity and honor. If I go to Canada, Europe, or Central America,I provide my passport. It I break the law, then I must suffer the consequences. If someone crosses our borders illegally, then they must suffer the consequences and take responsibility for their actions. It is the risk they take for crossing illegally. My preference is for illegals aliens to apply for proper credentials, visas, passports, or green cards that enable them to come here legally. Anyone who supports people crossing our borders is aiding and abetting their crime and they should also be punished. If you use your position of influence to circumvent the letter of the law, you should pay the penalty. No exceptions! We must be a nation of laws and not feelings. The law will preserve us, but our emotions and feelings will destroy us.

    May 2, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    BeverlyNC May 2nd, 2010 3:46 pm ET

    It;s time for the Democrats to release a comphrensive immigration bill that provides a path to citizenship but does not give blanket amnesty to illegals. ......and the Democrats will win the large Latino base and the rest of Americans who are sick and tired of Republican hate and elitism
    1. We already have a path to citizenship, it called apply and wait your turn! It has worked well so far!

    2. Your statement about the dems winning the large Latino base. FINALLY a truthful statement from a Dem about Dem inaction concerning immigration!

    3. Does Napolitano even remember she was recently the Governor of Arizona? Based upon recent statements, it doesn't sound like it!

    May 2, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  22. Guest

    We do need immigration reform. The kind that does not include amnesty for people who have tried to jump to the head of the line. Plenty of people are trying to come in the FRONT door. Let's not reward people for coming in the back door and breaking our laws.

    May 2, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. jmack

    Napolitano did absolutely noting about illegals when she was a two term governor of Arizona. She, and the administration she works for, has done nothing regarding illegals. She should just shut her trap.

    May 2, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Norman

    Hector-youre obviously illegal so no say in the matter for you!
    Marcus-youre wrong of course. In 86 reagan signed law that stated that states have teh right to enforce immigration laws per federal laws-this was AGAIN signed in 96 by clinton

    the law is constituional and is just. And in all honesty, how do you not use latino heritage as a factor when 95% of the peopel you are looking for are latino

    This boycotting of AZ will have a huge backlash-over 65% of country wants illegals OUT OF HERE!

    May 2, 2010 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Mike

    People who jump to the conclusion that it's racist or anti-immigration can't read or make their own opinions. They just glance a quick headline or read an op-ed piece and decide they agree with it before understand what it is they're even reading.

    The United States is a nation of immigrants; legal immigrants. The founding fathers did not intend for our country to be a place where everybody can drop into unchecked. The rules in place apply to everyone from every country. The whole 'brown skin' argument is just the usual whining red herring to divert attention from the real matter at hand. Illegal immigration, and amnesty cities that promote it, offer all of the benefits to aliens while they live off the grid. You simply cannot run a society like this, and anyone who believes otherwise needs to wake up. Stop with the emotional appeals and start using some logic.

    May 2, 2010 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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