wow, she's actually trying to take steps in the right direction
Inattention to Arizona's border issues 'frustrating'
Chip Scutari and Susan Carroll
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
Federal authorities have shot down a key strategy in Gov. Janet Napolitano's fight against illegal immigration, prompting the governor to complain aggressively about a lack of government cooperation on crucial border issues.
Napolitano had hoped to assign 12 Highway Patrol officers to team up with federal agents to crack down on the smuggling of drugs and undocumented workers in the Phoenix area.
But Arizona-based officials of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, declined the offer for reasons that remain unclear. To Napolitano, it marked the latest breakdown between state and federal authorities. She never heard back from Department of Justice officials after telling them in February that they owe Arizonans $217 million for incarcerating illegal immigrants who commit crimes.
The governor sent a scathing letter last week to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff saying it's no wonder border strategies often fail.
"The bewildering resistance is a further example of ICE's inattention to Arizona," Napolitano wrote. "Indeed, the turnover in the leadership of ICE in Arizona has been a revolving door with 'acting' officials who rarely stay long enough to effect change or establish polices."
Russell Ahr, an ICE spokesman in Phoenix, declined to comment on the letter and Napolitano's assertion that ICE agents in Phoenix were stonewalling on cooperation with the state Department of Public Safety. The agency didn't publicly state its reasons, but they are believed to revolve around federal oversight and transportation issues. The Phoenix ICE office has not had a permanent chief since the agency was created in March 2003 to help combat illegal immigration, human smuggling and terrorism.
News conference today
The rift between the Democratic governor and the federal government continues to widen as both sides struggle to stem the growing tide of illegal immigration. The majority of the 1.1 million arrests of undocumented immigrant along the Southwestern border last year were reported in Arizona, which shares 389 miles of border with Mexico.
Today, Napolitano and her counterpart in Sonora, Eduardo Bours, will hold a joint news conference in Nogales to detail a new plan to combat violent crime on both sides of the border. The two governors have promised to coordinate strategies to go after drug traffickers and "coyotes" who smuggle people into the United States. The steady flow over the border through Arizona's deserts and ranch lands has transformed Phoenix into a smuggling hub that generates more than $300 million each year, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Dennis Burke, Napolitano's chief of staff, said he was baffled that ICE "lacked the capacity" to accept help from Arizona. The so-called illegal-immigration enforcement squad called for 12 officers from the DPS to work with law enforcement agencies to cut the number of "catch and release" incidents. DPS and Phoenix police officers have reported waiting for hours to get assistance from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for incidents involving undocumented immigrants and sometimes have been told ICE agents are too busy to help.
According to documents obtained by The Arizona Republic in July, federal agents were unable to respond to incidents reported by Phoenix police involving 307 undocumented immigrants during the previous six months, including groups of 16, 13, and 12, some involving suspected smugglers. One case ICE agents were unable to respond to involved a homicide at a drophouse with 20 undocumented immigrants, records show.
"We're having a lot of red tape, and that is frustrating," Napolitano said. "That was part of the message: Are they serious about this or not? If they are serious, let's move at this at a faster pace."
Despite Napolitano's criticism, Homeland Security officials say they've had "productive" discussions with her office.
"Our interpretations of the discussions thus far may differ," said Russ Knocke, a Homeland Security spokesman. "We believe the discussions have been ongoing, they've been productive and a number of proposals have been put on the table."
Chertoff is now writing a letter to Napolitano that includes Homeland Security's proposal on the best ways to coordinate with the state, Knocke said.
In her letter to Chertoff, Napolitano said the federal government's inaction on her DPS plan is "part and parcel of the lack of a sense of urgency in Washington, D.C., that is causing us to have an urgent situation in Arizona."
She is now changing her strategy to attack state crimes involving drugs and stolen cars that fuel illegal immigration. She will shift the 12 DPS officers to an auto-theft task force. They will work on cases of stolen cars, which are connected to the smuggling of drugs and undocumented workers.
Napolitano has also started a campaign to curb the widespread use of fake identification. Three agents from Arizona's Department of Liquor License and Control will uncover makers and distributors of fake IDs that undocumented immigrants use to get hired.
Senate President Ken Bennett said it's "hypocritical" for Napolitano to be blasting the federal government.
"We're all frustrated with the federal government," the Prescott Republican said. "But I believe the people of Arizona deserve the full commitment of our own state government, which she has not done. She has vetoed bills that would let the state government and local government assist in this problem."
Illegal immigration has emerged as the dominant issue in Arizona politics and will probably help frame Napolitano's re-election bid in 2006.
On Monday, she declared a state of emergency along Arizona's border with Mexico, freeing up $1.5 million in disaster funds to help border counties combat illegal immigration and drug smuggling.
Napolitano criticized the federal government for "moving too slow" on border security, evolving into a hot-button election-year issue in Arizona and across the country. The money in Arizona is designated for the state's four border counties: Yuma, Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise.
Napolitano's announcement came days after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson issued a similar declaration, complaining that the federal government has failed to stem growing smuggling-related violence to the east of Arizona.
Its about time they realize how bad it is.
Gee. It's getting closer to election time. If you buy off on this bull dyke's ploy, then you probably also believe that Hillary is a Hawk on defense too.
I'm thinking the same thing.
I mean, look at he gov's unbroken record of blatant attempts (and occasional successes) at thwarting any effort to control illegal immigration. Her real beliefs are transparently clear by an examination of the public record.
What's going on here is a coordinated effort by the democrats to grab an issue which is vitally important to Americans and which the poor, pathetic, air-head Republicans have been stupid enough to gloss over. Hopefully, nobody is stupid enough to really believe that the Dems will in fact turn against one of their major voting blocks (illegals) and act on their words. However, one can hope that their action drives an icepick into the collective eye of the brain-dead Republican leadership enough to wake them from their stupor over this issue.
Republicans are grabbing it now:
Emergency Declared at U.S. Southern Border
Friday, August 19, 2005
By Liza Porteus
Following last week's declaration of states of emergency by the governors of New Mexico and Arizona, done in order to get federal funds to help handle an influx of illegal immigrants, one Arizona lawmaker has announced plans to introduce a bill in Congress that would boost enforcement of the porous border.
"When you have the situation that we have in Arizona — where, by some estimates, over 4,000 illegals attempt to cross every night — this is not just a crisis, it's a full-scale invasion," Rep. J.D. Hayworth (search), R-Ariz., told FOX News on Friday.
"We've been talking about it a long time, but talk has to be replaced with action, which is why when I return to Washington when Congress reconvenes, I will introduce a bill dealing with enforcement first," Hayworth said.
"You can't create new laws and hope people will obey them," he added, "because if we're not enforcing existing laws, what makes us think anyone will pay any attention to any new laws?"
On Friday, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (search) and her counterpart in the neighboring Mexican state of Sonora were scheduled to hold a joint news conference in Nogales to detail a new plan to combat violent crime on both sides of the border.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that while about 140,000 illegal immigrants came over the border each year in the 1980s, more than 700,000 did so in 2004. Southwestern states are being hit particularly hard.
States: Congress Must Face Border Problem
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (search) declared a state of emergency in four counties along the U.S.-Mexico border last week because of what he called "a chaotic situation" involving illegal-alien smuggling, murder and drug shipments.
The former senator and Clinton administration official, who says the federal government has done very little to help his state's plight, has promised $1.5 million to fight crime in those counties. Some of that money is earmarked to go toward boosting law-enforcement numbers at the border.
"I believe that when you have traffic of illegal drugs, illegal aliens, when we have kidnappings, murders, when you've got cattle mutilations, what's happening in my state, you need trained people to do that," Richardson told FOX News.
The governor says he is not, however, soliciting help from the Minutemen (search), a volunteer border-patrol group that has been in the news for its border-patrol efforts in Texas and elsewhere. But the U.S. Border Patrol told Richardson it will send a rotation of additional officers for the New Mexico border.
"Granted, it's not going to be enough, but I believe, with the sheriff's department of the four counties that I issued the executive order, overtime pay, additional staffing of $1.7 million dollars, I think we're going to do a lot better job," Richardson said.
"It's not going to always be an adequate effort, but it's reaching a point ... where we need a federal immigration policy," he added. "Congress needs to face up to this problem on the border. They need to give us the resources we need."
Juan Hernandez (search), author of the forthcoming book, "The New American Pioneers," and a former adviser to Mexican President Vicente Fox (search), said the United States needs to do more to work with Mexico on a new program to curb acts of violence that occur with immigration. He would not detail what Mexico was doing to try to prevent such acts.
"We don't need to close our borders," said Hernandez, a U.S.-born Texan with dual nationality. "We don't need a state of emergency. If we would just get our Congress to really move on this, and I think that's one area that I would agree with the governor," Hernandez said.
In Arizona, Napolitano has earmarked $1.5 million to go combat illegal border crime and she wanted to assign 12 highway patrol officers to team up with federal agents to better curb drug smuggling and undocumented workers in the Phoenix area. But Arizona-based officials of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement passed up the offer.
Click here to read a related story in The Arizona Republic.
"The bewildering resistance is a further example of ICE's inattention to Arizona," Napolitano wrote in a letter last week to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff (search). "Indeed, the turnover in the leadership of ICE in Arizona has been a revolving door with 'acting' officials who rarely stay long enough to effect change or establish polices."
Arizona gubernatorial candidate Don Goldwater said 80 percent of all new crime along the Arizona border has been committed by illegal aliens.
"We have a problem here in Arizona that local law officials and local government and our federal officials fail to recognize — that we have a border problem out here," the nephew of former Sen. Barry Goldwater said in a recent interview with FOX News. "We've had raging battles down our freeways where rival drug gangs have shot it out with themselves, endangering people."
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (search) said Wednesday he would also consider declaring a state of emergency to strengthen law enforcement along the border with Mexico.
"We're talking about that right now," Schwarzenegger told Rick Roberts, host of a morning radio talk show in San Diego. "If we see a need for that, we will do definitely the same thing."
The commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States requested 2,000 more border agents, yet the Bush administration authorized only 200 in its most recent budget request.
Critics of the federal government's policy argue that terrorists could easily take advantage of the porous border.
Hayworth said legislation is needed that would allow state governors to act as commanders of their National Guard and Reserves and to have them supplement border patrol agents.
He said deploying active military shouldn't be out of the question, either, though that might violate the Posse Comitatus Act (search) of 1878, which bans the military from law enforcement on U.S. soil.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., in May introduced the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act, which calls for the use of various high-tech devices, such as unmanned aerial vehicles and lasers, to catch people illegally crossing the border. It would also establish a new electronic employment-verification system.
A competing bill, the Comprehensive Enforcement and Immigration Reform Act of 2005, sponsored by Sens. John Kyl, R-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, would fund the immediate hiring of 10,000 additional Border Patrol agents and the eventual hiring of 10,000 more to crack down on businesses that hire illegal aliens.
McCain recently told FOX News that the first priority for the United States should be to halt illegal immigration.
"There's no argument whatsoever, nor difference between me and Senator Kennedy and Senator Cornyn and Senator Kyl on the need to enforce our border," McCain said. "What we do also need — and they have sort of agreed and the White House has agreed, the president agrees — we need a guest worker program (search) to go along with it to relieve some of the pressures that are coming across with illegal immigration so that we can arrest and take care of possible terrorists and drug dealers."
I may be cynical, but it strikes me that the timing of these "states of emergency" that our Gov and the NM Gov have declared is more than slightly suspicious. The emergency was just as bad a year ago as it is now, so why now? I see this more as talking points to bash the Bush administration on illegal immigration (which they most certainly deserve) and to look good come election time than a real attempt to fix the problem, which they don't really want fixed. Or at least won't want fixed until they find out that more illegals are voting republican than democrat. Then they'll want it fixed.
Damn I hate politics!
token gesture like markm said.
figure if its worth saying once its worth saying mu;tiple times.
I agree. It's political posturing. The situation just became an emergency?
By declaring a state of emergency, the governor can shift AZ funds to cities in the southern part of the state and then ask the legislature for more money to replenish the general fund. Or cut from other programs that she doesn't favor.
Then, she'll ask the Feds to send more cash to reimburse AZ to help out with the "emergency" that's been going on for years.
It's a common political strategy - latch onto a popular issue and use it to get more money. Similar to passing higher taxes on cigarettes. The politicians claim that they do it to punish the tobacco companies but in reality it's just another way to get more tax dollars.
Hillary spoke out about the border problem first. Then Richardson & Napolitano jumped on board. It's obviously a democrat strategy to get votes - one that might work. I hope the republicans take up the gauntlet and act on the problem too. JD's been right on the border issue for a long time. I hope he can get some other folks in DC to join with him.
Save me a seat on the bus headed in the I don't believe it for a second direction.
Fucking politicians... No morals at all. It's worth saying one more time: don't buy it if it's said before an election, especially when it's a hot topic.
just political posturing, he's not going to do anything concrete.
Well, as long as it ignites some kind of political arms race to see who can seize the most iron-fisted grip over control of the borders I'm all for it.
One can hope.