I’d been intrigued earlier in the year by the news that AMC was working on a reality show that would be set in the upper levels of the Department of Homeland Security, and feature Janet Napolitano as a key character. It struck me as a move that was basically insane for DHS, but that a partnership with AMC or a similar premium network probably offered the best chance at a show that was simultaneously substantive and entertaining. Now it seems that AMC’s decided not to move forward with an order of the show.
I’m not really surprised by this. As interesting as it would be to see what the decision-making process in a security-oriented agency actually looks like, as opposed to the fictional panics of 24 or even the more realistic inter-agency bickering of NCIS, there’s no way the show ever would have captured genuine candor by top officials. There’s no way we’re going to see Janet Napolitano getting stuck halfway up a mountain, Sarah Palin’s Alaska-style (even if past jaunty expressions while wielding a gun indicated she would be awesome if let off the chain), much less saying anything trenchant and genuinely interesting.
And there are two real-world political developments that made this already-improbable idea even less viable. First, as the immigration reform debate’s heated up again this summer, it would be hard to do the show without at least alluding to the administration’s review of pending deportation cases and thinking on larger structural changes to the administration system. And second, Rick Perry’s entrance into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, and ultimately the presidency, makes those issues particularly salient. If Obama’s going to have to run against a border state governor who served in the Air Force, that means his administration needs particular control over its messaging on immigration and security issues. And even if the department had script and final cut approval over the show, the simple fact of the show’s existence would have risked misinterpretation and censure. AMC may have made the decision to pull the plug on Inside DHS on its own, but if that’s the case, they made a good decision on the department’s behalf, and on behalf of the cause of entertainment.
The Obama administration has announced a new process to review all 300,000 active deportation cases to ensure that they are consistent with the nation’s enforcement priorities. The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice will form a working group that will consider deportations on a case-by-case basis and focus its resources and efforts on high priority targets — individuals who pose a threat to public safety and national security or repeat immigration law violators. And while the review won’t explicitly offer categorical relief for any single group — like bi-national same-sex couples, children who were brought to America at a young age, pregnant women, military veterans — the process could provide greater protection for these populations. LGBT families and same-sex couples will be considered as families and could benefit from the discretion of the working group.
In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explains that the case-by-case approach was first detailed in March 2010 and recently reiterated in a memorandum from June, 2011. She argues that the process will enhance public safety and allow immigration judges “to more swiftly adjudicate high priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.” “This process will also allow additional federal enforcement resources to be focused on border security and the removal of public safety threats,” she argues.
The new process is a result of a long-standing administration policy to ensure that the nation is “not clogging the system with folks who are not maximum priorities,” a senior administration official explained. Lower-priority deportation cases “are being set aside so we can focus more on our more serious cases of convicted criminals and other high priority categories.”
The senior administration official said that the process is designed “keep folks who are low priority cases out of the deportation process to begin with.” Those individuals in the existing caseload will also be eligible to apply for work authorization visas, but those determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Today, current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano, along with former DHS Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, participated in a panel discussion moderated by NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell to celebrate the eighth anniversary of DHS. During the conversation, Ridge made the case that those who are blocking immigration reform simply “need to get over it” and come up with a solution:
I do hope that some time in the future we do end up looking at our immigration policy generally. It’s great to talk about defense we do, enforcement we do. At the end of the day, the demographics in the United States suggests that we will need additional labor going back and forth across the border in a lawful way. [...]
At some point in time I just hope that Congress accepts the responsibility and I can say this because I was there for twelve years and voted for “amnesty” under Ronald Reagan. At some you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘We’re not sending 12 million people home. Let’s get over it…So let’s just figure out a way to legitimize their status, create a new system, and I think that will add more to border security than any number of fences we can put across the border.
Ridge also told Americans not to be “arrogant” and just assume that everyone who emigrates to the U.S. wants to become an American citizen. “A lot of them would just love to come up here, work lawfully, and go home,” stated Ridge. While that may be true for a significant portion of the undocumented population, many undocumented immigrants have built families and established roots in the country.
Ridge’s successor, Michael Chertoff, echoed Ridge’s sentiments, saying that “we’re going to have to come up with a solution that takes into account not only the need for enforcement, but to deal with the immigration system overall comprehensively.” Chertoff also noted that “most people who come across the border are not coming to do harm to the U.S., they’re coming across the border for jobs that either Americans don’t want to work or the wage isn’t attractive.”
Ridge also lamented that “sometimes there has been hyperbole associated with the language and a general feeling that if you’re a Muslim you’ve been condemned.” He warned politicians to be “careful about the language we use to describe the jihadists and extremists.”
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is often described as the “kingmaker” of the tea party movement for his efforts to remake the Senate in his ultraconservative image, having already spent $3.3 million this year supporting tea party candidates through his Senate Conservatives Fund.
But appearing on Fox News host Andrew Napolitano’s show “Freedom Watch” this weekend, DeMint acknowledged that he’s had some help promoting what Napolitano described as the “tea party tidal wave” that has recently handed far-right candidates the GOP Senate nominations from Delaware, Alaska, and elsewhere. Namely, DeMint thanked Fox News:
NAPOLITANO: He’s a leader — I’m calling him the godfather of the tea party movement. … I think you’re entitled to a victory lap. I mean this has just unbelievable! A series of political battles for the heart and soul of the Republican Party regularly, consistently and systematically now won by the individual liberty, small government, sound money side, which we call the tea party, and of which you are a prime mover.
DEMINT: Well Judge, I can’t take the credit for this. This is all about the people, and people standing up and speaking out and getting informed. And I think in the media, we’re seeing what Fox is doing, and radio talk shows and blogs. People are more informed and engaged, and I think they’re feeling the power shift back to their hands.
Fox would likely run and hide from DeMint’s praise, as they repeatedly maintain they are a legitimate news organization. Last year, Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox’s parent company, even said, “I don’t think” Fox News “should be supporting the tea party.” Apparently, Murdoch needs to watch his own network more often. As ThinkProgress, Media Matters, and others have repeatedly documented, Fox has consistently promoted, supported, and even helped organize tea party rallies.
Meanwhile, they’ve also supported conservative GOP candidates like the ones DeMint backs. “[A]t least twenty Fox News personalities have endorsed, raised money, or campaigned for Republican candidates or causes, or against Democratic candidates or causes, in more than 300 instances and in all 50 states,” according to a Media Matters survey conducted in April. Meanwhile, a recent Pew research survey finds that Fox News’ viewership has increased in recent years due almost entirely to an influx of Republicans, 40 percent of whom now say they regularly get their news there. That’s up from just 25 percent in 2002. Of course, Fox’s parent company also recently gave $1 million to the Republican Governors Association.
In July, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer admitted that his network has covered the tea party movement “with greater vigor than our competition, and we were rewarded with viewers.” It “was better television,” Hemmer explained.
In recent days, the right hasbeenattacking Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for criticizing Arizona’s draconian new immigration law without having read the entire text of the bill. Now, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has employed a frog puppet to mock Napolitano and Holder in a newly released campaign video. Watch it:
While Holder and Napolitano should probably have read the bill, they were, as Andrea Nill writes on the Wonk Room, “likely briefed by someone who had read SB-1070 in detail.” Brewer’s video simply attempts to distract the public from the substantive problems with the legislation. Napolitano expressed legitimate concern that the law would stretch her department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s limited resources, because while ICE focuses on the “worst of the worst,” Arizona’s law “does not discriminate between an undocumented gardener and a dangerous drug cartel operative.” And Holder correctly cited the potential for “abuse” by law enforcement officials. Those who listen to Brewer’s puppet and read the text will see that while the law prohibits racial profiling, this provision is nearly impossible to enforce, as Section 2 vests in police officers “unbridled discretion” in establishing “reasonable suspicion” that someone is undocumented. Moreover, the childish video ironically shows Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) grilling Napolitano for not having read the bill, but fails to mention that McCain himself admitted he had not “had a chance” to read it.
He may not be the first person to blame, but Barack Obama deserves some criticism for letting the Arizona immigration law befall us. If he had left Janet Napolitano as Arizona governor instead of putting her in charge of Homeland Security, there’s no way this law would’ve passed. Instead, Jan Brewer took office, signed it, and is now saying that her state is under terrorist attack from illegal immigrants.
Additionally, we could’ve had Napolitano as a Senate candidate. How that would’ve affected John McCain’s votes over the past year and the 2010 Senate outlook is left as an exercise for the reader. The smart thing would’ve been to have somebody else do Homeland Security with the understanding that they might be asked to step out in two years, and that the Cabinet job would be Janet’s then if she put in a good showing but lost her Senate race. Similar things apply, mutatis mutandis, to Kathleen Sebelius at HHS and Tom Vilsack at Agriculture.
In terms of the political impact, having Vilsack running for Senate seems to me like the biggest deal. Iowa is a pretty liberal state. Not only did Barack Obama get 54 percent of the vote, but it went for Al Gore, went for Bill Clinton twice, and even went for Michael Dukakis. Tom Harkin proves that not only can Democrats win statewide in Iowa, but liberal Democrats can win. Of course Obama doesn’t have the power to force incumbent governors to run for Senate, but sticking them in the cabinet guarantees they won’t.
Since the Arizona legislature passed the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” a bill which will probably end up establishing the harshest set of state immigration laws in the country, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s phone has been reportedly ringing off the hook with residents encouraging her to either sign or veto Senate Bill 1070. Though Brewer has refused to comment on which action she plans on taking, she did assure attendees of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Black and White Ball this Saturday that she will do what is fair. The Phoenix New Times reports:
Speaking to attendees of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Black and White Ball Saturday night at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton, Governor Jan Brewer refused to say whether or not she would sign state Senator Russell Pearce’s police state/anti-immigrant bill SB 1070. But she assured the crowd that she understood its opposition to the measure.
“In regards to Senate Bill 1070,” she stated, “I will tell you that I never make comment, like most governor’s throughout our country, before a bill reaches my desk. But I hear you, and I will assure you that I will do what I believe is the right thing so that everyone is treated fairly.”
Her statement prompted a quip from the following speaker, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, who asked the mostly Latino crowd, “I think what I just heard was a commitment to veto that bill, whatdya think?”
If Brewer is really committed to making sure “everyone is treated fairly,” signing off on SB 1070 would certainly require compromising her stated principles. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Arizona has already predicted that the bill will “exacerbate the problem of racial profiling” which “raises concerns about the prolonged detention of citizens and legal residents.” Given the fact that police officers could arrest anyone who cannot immediately prove they are legally present in the U.S., the New York Times concludes that it “means if you are brown-skinned and leave home without a wallet, you are in trouble.” Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles has called the new Arizona statute “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited, and useless anti-immigrant law.”
Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times points out that a recent Rasmussen poll shows Brewer “ahead of a wide field of contenders in the GOP gubernatorial primary” with 26 percent support. Given that two-thirds (67%) of Arizona’s GOP primary voters say that a candidate’s position on immigration is “very important” in determining how they will vote, Brewer’s decision on SB 1070 will certainly affect her comfortable lead. While many conservatives may support the bill, Latino republicans have already drawn a thick line in the sand. Somos Republicans, an Arizona Latino Republican group, issued a press statement explicitly stating that “if Jan Brewer signs SB 1070 next week, members of Somos Republicans and several Arizona Hispanic Republicans will not vote for her in 2010.”
Wonk Room reported last week that former Arizona governor and current Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently pointed out that she vetoed at least two similar bills during her time in office because such laws would interfere with public safety and not “allow law enforcement to focus on where law enforcement needs to focus.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told reporters today that the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” is “a very important step forward.” “I can fully understand why the legislature would want to act,” said McCain.
This past Tuesday, the Arizona legislature passed what will probably end up being the toughest set of state immigration laws in the country. According to America’s Voice, the approved bill, entitled the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act,” would “make every undocumented worker in Arizona guilty of a criminal offense and require state and local police to go after them.” More specifically, it would allow police to arrest anyone who is in this country illegally and charge them with trespass, require police to attempt to determine the immigration status of anyone they encounter, outlaw the hiring of day laborers off the street, and prohibit anyone from knowingly transporting an undocumented immigrant for any reason.
Advocates are urging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ) to veto the measure. On the Rachel Maddow Show last night, current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary and former governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, provided insight into why she choose veto at least two similar bills during her term as governor:
MADDOW: Your home state of Arizona this week has passed a very very strong anti-immigration bill. I think of it as the papers please bill. It compels police officers to demand papers from anyone they reasonably suspect of being an illegal immigrant. It’s now a misdemeanor to not carry your immigration paperwork with you at all times in Arizona. Didn’t you veto something like that when you were governor there?
NAPOLITANO: I think I vetoed things like that at least twice. And I did because first of all, immigration is primarily federal — not exclusively, but primarily federal. But, secondly, it doesn’t allow law enforcement to focus on where law enforcement needs to focus and to prioritize the way law enforcement needs the ability to prioritize for the protection of the public safety. There were other reasons as well. But it was no surprise to me when I was governor of Arizona that by and large, law enforcement — the men and women who are in charge of protecting public safety — oppose legislation like that.
In a letter accompanying one of the immigration bills Napolitano vetoed in 2006, the former governor described the legislation as “a weak and ineffective illegal immigration bill that offers complete amnesty to employers, violates the constitution, and is overwhelmingly opposed by law enforcement and top border elected officials in the state.” The “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” faces similar criticisms. The Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police strongly opposes it. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona claims it “rewrite[s] the Constitution by turning the presumption of innocence on its head.” Arturo Venegas, director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative, issued a statement accusing the Arizona legislature of “playing politics with public safety.” “By creating new mandates forcing police to track down undocumented immigrants, the bill will result in police spending less time keeping the streets free of violent criminals,” stated Venegas. Yesterday, Mesa Police Chief Frank Milstead expressed additional concerns that the bill would require “people to prove their innocence” before even charged with a crime.
Milstead is also worried about the cost associated with the potential new laws. While the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency funds a six-week training course for police officers enrolled in their immigration policing program, Milstead’s police department — which is already pinching pennies as it faces a $6.4 million budget cut for the upcoming fiscal year — would be largely on its own. Milstead’s fiscal concerns are legitimate. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has built the latter part of his career out of going after undocumented immigrants, created a $1.3 million deficit in just three months as a result of his immigration-enforcement crusade. Meanwhile, violent crimes and homicides in his jurisdiction have gone up by 166%. And despite ICE’s training, Arpaio is still facing piles of racial profiling and discrimination law suits, a Department of Justice investigation, and a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. Arpaio has turned to taxpayers to cover his legal fees, asking the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for $7 million to pay his lawyers.
Gov. Brewer’s spokesman Paul Senseman ambiguously told the Arizona Republic today that the governor has not commented on this particular bill yet but “has a strong and consistent track record of supporting responsible immigration-enforcement measures.” Meanwhile, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon has blasted the legislation, stating, “It will do exactly the opposite of what it intended to do — provide a secure Arizona.” “It drives companies away, it drives employees that are needed away, and it drives people who spend money away.”
Last weekend, a prominent Arizona rancher was shot and killed while in his SUV near the Mexican border. Anti-immigration hawks like former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and senatorial candidate J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) quickly jumped to describe the murder as having been committed by an undocumented immigrant before the local police department even had the chance to release any details. Tancredo and Hayworth, along with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Arizona Gov Jan Brewer (R-AZ), have all called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy the National Guard to the Arizona border.
Yesterday afternoon, Tancredo took his demands a step farther by calling for the dismissal of DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano whom he accuses of lying about border security in order to move immigration reform forward:
She lies about border security in order to push the Obama agenda: amnesty for 15-30 million illegal aliens presently in this country. The harsh and unpleasant truth is that we have no border security…[...] I think it’s time for Janet Napolitano to go. We should demand her resignation. She is not a person that should be in charge of Homeland Security when she purposefully lies about the condition in or around that border. [...]
We’ve gotta tell him to stop talking about amnesty. Every time he bring up amnesty, every time he uses that word…the flood of illegal aliens coming into this country turns into a tsumani…Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t let them weasel their way out with “I’m against illegal immigration, but we have to have a pathway to citizenship.” HOGWASH.
However, it seems Tancredo is the one who is conveniently exaggerating — if not outright lying — about the facts in order to obstruct immigration reform. Napolitano has never said that DHS’ work at the border is done. What she has said is that over the past few years, the U.S has seen “improve[d] immigration enforcement and border security within the current legal framework.”
However, that legal framework is broken and border security is one of many things that comprehensive immigration reform could fix. Currently, funds are being dedicated to both apprehending dangerous illegal border-crossers like the one that may have killed Krentz, along with non-threatening migrants who are simply looking for work and a better life. In other words, resources are spread thin. If immigration reform created a legal immigration system that responds to fluctuating labor demands, economic-driven illegal immigration would be greatly reduced and DHS could focus its time and resources on pursuing threats to security. “We will never have fully effective law enforcement or national security as long as so many millions remain in the shadows,” Napolitano has stated.
Furthermore, neither Napolitano or Obama have promised anyone amnesty. Napolitano has explicitly stated that any earned path to legalization will be “tough and fair.” Even if some potential migrants interpreted their words as “amnesty,” it doesn’t seem to be motivating a “tsunami” of “illegal aliens.” Rather, largely in response to the economic recession, illegal immigration has plummeted since Obama was elected to office.
Finally, while it certainly is possible that Krentz was killed by a foreign border crosser, as recently as yesterday evening, the local Arizona Sheriff’s office was still emphasizing that they have “no suspect, no motive in the killing, and no proof of the killer’s country of origin or immigration status.”
In addition to calling for Napolitano’s dismissal, Tancredo also suggested that the U.S. should place active duty personnel on both the Southern and Northern borders.
After activists and over 80 lawmakers, including at least eight Republicans, called on the Obama administration to grant undocumented Haitian immigrants already in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced yesterday afternoon that Haitian nationals who were in the U.S. at the time of the earthquake in Haiti will be permitted to over-stay their visa for the next 18 months. A statement released by DHS on behalf of Napolitano reads:
As part of the Department’s ongoing efforts to assist Haiti following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake, I am announcing the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010.
This is a disaster of historic proportions and this designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months. Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who are currently in the United States and whose personal safety would be endangered by returning to Haiti is part of this Administration’s continuing efforts to support Haiti’s recovery.
Napolitano is careful to note that TPS will not be granted to those who attempt to travel to the United States after January 12, 2010 and that Haitians who try to enter the U.S. without documentation from there on out will be repatriated.