Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had a heated exchange with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a fellow Arizonan, today on the issue of immigration. Fox News captures some of the sparks:
“What we have done in the past two years is put more resources on the Southwest border than ever before, both in federal [efforts] and providing resources to the states,” she said during a six-minute exchange with McCain that became increasingly heated. “We have removed and will be removing more criminal aliens from this country than ever before, and I think that’s the right policy. … I measure what we’re doing by the results, and what should be going up is going up, and what should be going down is going down”
McCain, however, suggested Napolitano, who was governor of Arizona before joining the Obama administration, is the one misinterpreting things.
“From my visits to the southern part of our state, they don’t see this dramatic improvement, Madam Secretary,” he told her. “In fact, they are more worried than they’ve ever been. They see continued home invasions, they see continued requirements for our government to put up signs that say, ‘Warning to our citizens’ that they are in a drug smuggling area, a human smuggling area. They don’t have the same security that people do in other parts of our country.”
These hearings came as the Obama administration is being tied to memoranda looking at ways the executive branch could become more lenient toward illegal immigrants. Senate Republicans are concerned that the administration is pursuing a backdoor amnesty, a charge DHS denies vehemently. But the administration is clearly focusing on the removal of illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals while largely leaving the rest alone. McCain has traditionally been an amnesty supporter but moved to the right on the issue during his primary campaign against immigration hawk J.D. Hayworth.