May 2nd, 2010
03:14 PM ET
4 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. Marcus

    Another point that is quite ridiculous (to say the least) in this law approved in Arizona is about the law enforcers (or policemen and women or cops for shorts) are obliged to enforce this law or they will be fined.
    EXCUSE ME?
    Unless he had a very good excuse (like a another crime of greater legal relevance happening at the same time) a law enforcer cannot ignore a crime happening right in front of him. It's already a felony or crime (not sure which one) for a law enforcer NOT ENFORCE A LAW.
    So... why the fine? What's the excuse for the existence of the fine?
    Are they trying to blackmail the law enforcers into DOING THEIR JOB?

    May 2, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Eisa Rleigh

    OK what's the deal. This is the 21st Century. Open the border; give people papers to work for one year; give them social security numbers and collect taxes. People are going to come across the border no matter what so let's be grown ups and act like civilized people and stop spending so much on wires, guards and other useless things after all last I checked we're all humans and deserve a better life!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 2, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Shelly Mann

    Janet Nipplelittle did nothing but support the illegals coming into Arizona. She is a big part of the problem.

    May 2, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. Erin

    Oh, Janet.
    The high priority crimes here in AZ are things like law enforcement officials being shot, drug smuggling, and kidnapping for ransom. Perhaps if you'd do your job in the first place, you'd understand that these crimes are primarily committed by ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. There are many, many immigrants here legally, and the ones that are not here legally are called illegals because it is, in fact, ILLEGAL. Maybe if you spent any effort securing the border (which is only about 75% of your job) you'd know things like that. Maybe our law is overkill, but you should be ashamed that a state had to go so far to make up for your inefficiencies.

    May 2, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Ray

    BeverlyNC,
    This debate is not about and should not be about Republicans or Democrats. It is about the rule of law as found in this great Republic. Our government is not a democracy. Study the difference and you will learn that the major media and many is current government are trying to break us down. When you lose your home and property, will you cry out to the Democrats or Republicans to fix the problem. At that point, it will be too late to cry wolf. America is the hope of freedom for every oppressed country in the world. Open you eyes Beverly.

    May 2, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Mario

    If illegal immigrants put as much effort into working on the problems and making positive changes in their own country as they are in trying to changing American policies then their countries would be places where they want to live....they are coming in illegally because they do not want to make the effort to make the changes in their countries.

    May 2, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Eisa Rleigh

    After reading a lot of the comments left I am sitting here wondering if these people first: call themselves christians and second if they realize Arizona is not the only state that has illiegals in it. Might want to check out California; New Mexico and Texas. Desperate people are very hard to stop so let's find a way to all work together not against each other for once!

    May 2, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. J R Brown

    Napolitano presided over the explosion of illegals entering into AZ and is now actively working against AZ in their efforts to secure their border from illegals...there can be no other explanation except she has an agenda which promotes illegals entering and remaining in the U.S. As Homeland Secretary, she said entering the U.S. in violation of the immigration laws of the country was not a crime but a civil matter...she needs to be removed from a post she should never have ever been seated as soon as possible.

    May 2, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Marcus

    Hey Norman, I know about those laws OK?
    The problem is that those laws granted the border states some rights (to help them deal with illegal immigration problem) that all four border states have been using well so far, until that law was signed. The powers self-granted in the law to Arizona authorities ARE NOT in the scope of powers granted by those two laws you mentioned.
    Hey Mike, it's not a red herring excuse.
    Border states in the south make boundaries with which country? Mexico. Unless the illegal alien that uses said border to enter the USA comes from Brazil or Argentine or Chili (where there's little 'brown skinned' people), he or she will most likely have brown skin and other racial features... that he or she shares with many US CITIZENS!!!

    May 2, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Bobby

    If AMNESTY and RIGHTS is granted to Mexican illegals,,, Regular US-born Mexicans will not be safe in their own country, IN THE FUTURE they will be fair game, to all the BAD things that goes on in Mexico. IT WILL COME HERE.

    May 2, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. Fernando Machado

    Here's how you fix the illegal immigration problem.

    First, if you are illegal you get no welfare, no foodstamps, no medical attention (unless life threatening), and if you have a child in the United States, the child is not a U.S. citizen and both will be sent back to the originating country (i.e. Mexico, Colombia, etc..)

    Any employer found with an illegal working for him or her is an automatic shutdown of his or her business.

    I can almost guarantee you that the majority of the illegals will self deport, just like some have done already. Although this law is not perfect, it's a great first step and other states are following suit. Keep up the good work, Arizona!

    May 2, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Jerry in NC

    I see all these comments, criticizing the CURRENT administration for not enforcing the immigration laws already on the books. WHERE WAS YOUR CRITICISM FOR THE PREVIOUS 8 YEARS????????? The illegal immigrants didn't arrive here last night, last month or even last year. The current high volume of illegal aliens entered this country while your hero and former alleged president Georgie Boy was in office! Why weren't you screaming about it then??? You so-called opponents of President Obama are just a bunch of loud mouthed hypocrites, looking for anything you can find, to try to discredit him. To me, that attitude is much more detrimental to this country, than the millions of illegal aliens.

    May 2, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Why hasn't President Obama done something about this problem, does he not know how to resolve it?

    May 2, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Mario

    Elisa,
    You need to think about what you are saying...you are thinking about a few thousand or maybe a few million immigrants that would arrive if our borders were open....I am telling you we would be looking at hundreds of millions of immigrants that would arrive. There would be chaos...people living in the streets....not enough jobs or room for everyone...think of it like a crowded elevator when the elevator suddenly stops...

    May 2, 2010 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. Elliott Carlin

    I am an American citizen and just like these illegals, I have a desire to work hard.

    Since the illegals do not wish to follow the lawful path to citizen-ship, can I just not pay taxes.

    I mean, if the law isn't good enough for them, why should it be for me?

    See how this thinking leads to anarchy?

    And enough of this nonsense about "slavery was also the law at one time". Slavery and refusing to follow the lawful path to citizenship are hardly equals.

    Enough already.

    May 2, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. john eldridge

    The illegal immigration cancer is slowly spreading until it will be to late to cure. If law are not enforced soon, our country, as we know it, will be taken over by criminals. It is a shame what our politicians, and intellectua'ls are doing to our country. Illegals are just that.....ILLEGAL. .....John Eldridge

    May 2, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Keith Long

    I get very frustrated when I hear so many employers say that they need the illegal aliens because they cannot find Americans to do the jobs. With an estimated 15 to 16 million Americans out of work that is a red herring. I'm sure that the great majority of those out of work would be willing to do almost anything to have an income. The employers really like having the illegals because they are willing to work for substandard wages and they won't make waves. They know that the federal government will not enforce the immigration laws.

    May 2, 2010 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  18. amermex25

    The must apply to anyone that is in the US. It is not racial profiling, it is the law, if a Mexican national is here on business, they carry their documents to prove they are here on business, ONLY IF THEY VIOLATE A LAW, they will not be stop if they are obeying the laws. The coalition for immigation rights is wrong, they are already in violation of the law. How many Hondurians , Salvadorians , Hondurans , Venezulians, and Nicarigains have been abused by the Mexican government. Go and protest in Mexico for their rights as human beings. YOU DON'T HAVE THE COURGE TO PROTEST IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY BECAUSE YOU KNOW WELL THAT YOU WILL BE THROW IN JAIL. This our laws and everyone has a right , as long as you are an American citizen visitor with proper documention.

    May 2, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. DawnL/CA

    Shut it, Napolitano. Do your job & enforce the law. It boggles the mind that some are suing the state of Arizona for trying to rid their state of ILLEGALS! These people are illegal. Don't fold, Governor Brewer. Most of the people in this country are with you. My only regret is that these ILLEGALS will come to California, where we have all talk, no action, in regards to these ILLEGALS. We in California are doomed. No amnesty, no fines, no anchor babies & the only path they need is the path headed south.

    May 2, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. Mario

    Deportation of illegal immigrants does not seem to be working. If illegals caught in America were forced to work, for free, cleaning our streets and paving our roads...maybe they would think twice about coming back illegally over the border.

    May 2, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. Godless Heathen

    Leviticus 19:34
    But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

    Stay Christian, Republicans.

    May 2, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Julie

    Napolitano couldn't secure one state's border, I know, I live in Az......yet this President thinks she can secure the country....???????? She is part of the reason we are in this state of emergency.............no understanding of what ILLEGAL means...................

    May 2, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Joe Hanson

    Secure the border first! Think how many jobs building a 2000 mile long fence would create.

    May 2, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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