Napolitano Threatens to Not Accept Immigrants Busted Under Arizona Law; Follows ICE Chief's Statement

Janet Napolitano reminded Arizona on Friday that the feds have the discretion not to accept immigrants busted under the state's new law.

The statement by the Homeland Security Secretary seems intended to prepare Americans for a new Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau policy that could restrict the consequences of the Arizona law. Her comment comes two days after John Morton, the head of ICE, told the Chicago Tribune that the feds might not process immigrants arrested under SB 1070.

Vincent Picard, spokesman for ICE in Arizona, tells New Times that his office does not yet have a comment on the statements. According to Fox News today:

... DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said ICE is not obligated to process illegal immigrants referred to them by Arizona authorities.

"ICE has the legal discretion to accept or not to accept persons delivered to it by non-federal personnel," Napolitano said. "It also has the discretion to deport or not to deport persons delivered to it by any government agents, even its own."

We imagine that she wouldn't bother bringing this up, unless ICE was planning to implement some new procedure that could stymie the ability of local cops to enforce federal immigration law.

Yet as politically correct as such a move may be, it would run counter to ICE's goals of "removing" as many illegal immigrants from Arizona as possible. A year and a half ago, ICE was bragging that it had kicked out -- with the help of local authorities -- about 73,000 people from Arizona.

That was under the old regime, of course. The Obama administration has different goals concerning immigration -- and a priority right now is to bash Arizona.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.