Feathered Bastard

Janet Napolitano Heads to Homeland Security, Joe Arpaio Dances a Jig


Part One of Amy Goodman's recent Democracy Now! segment on Janet Napolitano.

Part Two from the same Democracy Now! show.

If you want a quick video primer on why today's official pick of Gov. Janet Napolitano to be Obama's Homeland Security Secretary is a disaster for those concerned about immigrant rights, take a look at these YouTube clips from Amy Goodman's November 26 Democracy Now! news show. (You can watch it uninterrupted on Goodman's site, here.) Goodman interviews pro-immigrant activist and lecturer Aarti Shahani, who breaks down why, despite Napolitano's glowing notices from the New York Times, among others, those on the pro-immigrant side of the fence should be fearful that the ethnic cleansing that's been going on in this state and others will continue.

Shahani rightly describes Napolitano as, "the leading democratic hawk on immigration," and cites Napolitano's "very peculiar relationship with Joe Arpaio." She asserts that Napolitano was "the first governor to broker a 287(g) agreement," between ICE and local law enforcement. That's a dubious distinction, as it is this 287(g) power that allows 160 of Arpaio's thugs to enforce federal immigration law with such wanton disregard for civil liberties. Shahani talks about how the Governor signed the employer sanctions law, as well as how she's marched in lockstep with the Bush agenda on granting localities 287(g) power, which has led to a rash of racial profiling.

The astute, young analyst boils down the Demoratic dilemma over Napolitano thusly:

"So now the question is going to be, once she becomes a federal executive, is she going to continue with the same legacy she had on the state level? Is she going to continue to bang the drum saying, we need to get money to states so they can do their own immigration enforcement just like the state of Arizona did? Is she trying to replicate the Arizona model around the country? Or is she going to take pause and say maybe immigration enforcement as the leading strategy on immigration is not the right thing?"

As you can also glean from Village Voice Media Executive Editor Michael Lacey's cover story, Janet Napolitano = Homeland Futility (November 24), the answer to those questions is a grim one. Napolitano is no friend to undocumented immigrants in this state and their families. She's actually a closer friend to her fellow Italiano Joe Arpaio, despite having pulled about $1.5 million from Arpaio's immigration budget earlier this year. In other words, she may put Arpaio on a leash of sorts, but he'll still be her bulldog. Don't expect that she'll put him down.

Also, if you can read it without a gag reflex, below is Nappy's abdication letter to her Democratic supporters, which went out this morning. If the pro-immigrant activist community in Arizona, and nationwide, has any bollocks, they'll immediately start a campaign to stop Nappy's confirmation to the post by the U.S. Senate.

This morning I was proud to accept an offer from President-elect Barack Obama to become Secretary of the United States Department of Homeland Security.  

I believe that when called upon to serve - particularly at such a critical time in the history of our country - it is our duty to step forward and say, "yes."  
This was by no means, an easy decision. Over the past six years, we have accomplished a great deal together. We moved our state in a new direction strengthening our schools with voluntary full-day kindergarten, higher teacher pay and higher standards for our students. We expanded access to children's health insurance and saved Arizonans millions of dollars with one of the largest free prescription drug discount programs in the country.  And we're rebuilding Arizona's economy with a focus on high-wage, high-tech jobs of the future.

On the political front, we surpassed one million registered Democrats for the first time in history. We reached another milestone by electing four more Democrats to Congress, sending a majority to Washington this January. And we've built a Democratic Party that's stronger, smarter and better positioned for victory in 2010 than ever before.  
Arizona is facing a challenging time, and I intend to carry forward with my most important responsibilities as the leader of this state.  In the weeks ahead, I will deliver my State of the State address, and shortly thereafter, I will present to the Arizona Legislature a balanced budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2010. Upon confirmation as Secretary by the U.S. Senate, I will tender my resignation as Governor of Arizona.  

My pride in this state, my love for it and my dedication to it will never change. I will continue to work for Arizona and Arizonans, but from a different place and with a different charge.  Thank you for your continued friendship and support.

Yours very truly,
Janet Napolitano

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons