In making Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano his top pick to head the Department of Homeland Security, President-elect Barack Obama has signaled a moderate approach toward immigration and border policies and laid the path to pursue comprehensive reform later, reports the Arizona Republic. As the Democratic governor of a border state and a former federal prosecutor, Napolitano would bring to the job years of experience in dealing with border and immigration issues, something previous Homeland Security chiefs have lacked. She negotiated the political minefield of the immigration debate in a state where the issue has often reached fever pitch.
Napolitano also could be haunted by her own words. She has been a fierce critic of the federal government on a number of border security and immigration issues. She criticized the decision to pull back the National Guard from the border before the fence was done. She lobbied Washington to adequately compensate border communities for the costs of dealing withsmuggling and illegal immigration. She opposed the government’s Real ID mandate for biometric ID cards because it shifted billions of dollars of costs onto states like Arizona. The question is, after years of making demands, would she follow her own advice?