The Nation's Pulse

Eyes Shut at Homeland Security

Janet Napolitano has forgotten where she came from.

By 3.13.09

Send to Kindle

In an interview on PBS's "NewsHour" recently, the newly appointed Secretary of Homeland Security said with a straight face that there was no need for a security fence along the Mexican-United States border. According to Janet Napolitano, what was needed was enhanced surveillance cameras and more Border Patrol agents. In other words, she listed all those things that a wall would assist in controlling illegal immigration.

Why would a former Arizona governor and federal prosecutor take such an illogical position? Certainly it's not for budget reasons. The Obama Administration has been searching frantically for labor-intensive projects to lavish with funding. The completion of the advanced high tech fence fits this bill perfectly. The trouble is that to the Hispanic immigrant population the border security fence is a symbol of efforts to discriminate against it.

Whether or not such a view is valid, it is nonetheless a politically exploitable feeling. And this is exactly what the Obama Administration is doing. Its loyal adjutant at DHS, Janet Napolitano, knows better, but she is a newly commissioned officer in the Obama "politics first" battalion to whom pleasing Hispanic voters is a top priority.

To add to this current game playing, Secretary Napolitano denied that the violence in the northern Mexican border areas was "spilling" over into the U.S. This obvious falsity was stated despite full knowledge that the Mexican cartel drug wars has for some time been creeping north into the southwest U.S. and even more generally throughout the United States.

Political organizations within the American Hispanic community perceive -- perhaps correctly -- that any acceptance of the fact that Mexican drug wars are being extended to the U.S. carries a pejorative connotation for those residents of Spanish-speaking heritage as a whole. This has created a state of denial of Hispanic gang activity that has been made into a litmus test for Hispanic support of political candidates.

Playing to this fear of ethnic discrimination as a political device was a favored tactic of the Obama electoral campaign and continues today. Secretary Napolitano does just that by down playing violence within the Spanish-heritage American community. To do so, however, she has to shut her eyes to some obvious and well-known facts.

A recent Associated Press report stated: "Murder, kidnapping and other violent crimes related to Mexican drug cartels are hitting cities like Phoenix and Atlanta as well as the border region.…Mexican cartels are believed to have set up operations across the U.S., even in Anchorage.…'The violence follows the drugs,' said FBI agent-in-charge David Cuthbertson." More than 700 drug cartel-related kidnappings were reported in the Phoenix region over the past two years and 19 confirmed Mexican cartel-directed murders nationwide.

ATF estimates that 90% of the weapons recovered in Mexico came from the U.S. The bureau calculates tens of thousands of assault weapons, grenades, etc. have been smuggled into Mexico across the U.S. border accounting for 5,630 deaths in Mexico's northern provinces in 2008. No spillover there!

The FBI has reported that the wholesale drug business, which brings in several billion dollars to Mexico, connects with street gangs -- predominantly Hispanic -- that operate the first bridge of retail drug sales throughout the Southwest. Gang wars are often directly related to the deadly Mexican cartel competition.

Maricopa County in the Phoenix area is under the jurisdiction of a hard-hitting sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Arpaio spent 25 years in the DEA before entering local law enforcement. He has brought his knowledge of Mexican criminal activity into play when intervening in local crime. For this, he is repeatedly attacked by various political organizations that charge his ICE-trained deputies with discriminating against men of Hispanic ethnicity. Where else would one look for Mexican drug connections?

All this is well known to former Arizona Governor Napolitano, and nonetheless ignored. That the Obama Administration is so willing to play ethnic politics in such an important area of law enforcement is the most cynical exploitation. Commercial interests cannot be excluded from this condemnation. Business interests have worked to preserve the corridor of cheap labor that flows from Mexico and now provides an additional ready income in human smuggling for the drug cartels and their American gang connections.

By not recognizing and acting on the interrelation and interdependence of the Mexican drug cartels, their U.S. distributors and commercially driven illegal immigration, Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Obama White House deny security to the American homeland.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
George H. Wittman writes a weekly column on international affairs for The American Spectator online. He was the founding chairman of the National Institute for Public Policy.