Arizona Sheriff Says Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano Is 'Divorced From Reality'
(CNSNews.com) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, delivering her first State of Homeland Security address last Thursday, gave an upbeat account of her agency’s accomplishments, including its efforts on immigration and securing the U.S. border.
But Arizona's Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu -- named Sheriff of the Year last week by the National Sheriff's Association -- said Napolitano’s speech was selective in what it emphasized and what it did not disclose.
“2010 was a historic year when it comes to securing and managing our borders and enforcing our immigration laws,” Napolitano said. “There are now more resources on the southwest border in terms of personnel, technology, and infrastructure than ever before in American history. And we continue to see progress on every metric.”
Babeu said Napolitano’s claim was “not surprising.” But he also said her remarks did not reflect conditions on the ground in Arizona, where in the last two years the amount of illegal drugs entering the state that have been confiscated by local authorities has doubled, and the number of pursuits of criminal illegal aliens has tripled.
“Why isn’t the secretary of Homeland Security speaking to these threats?” Babeu asked in a telephone interview with CNSNews.com. “Why does she keep trying to convince us through argument that everything is just fine to the point that she’s trying to hypnotize us into believing this crap.”
The National Sheriffs’ Association cited in its press release that Babeu “has earned both statewide and national attention for his strong stance against illegal immigration.”
The release said that Babeu’s “stance and actions against those responsible for drug and human trafficking has earned him the distinction as one of ‘America’s Toughest Sheriffs on Illegal Immigration.’”
In her Thursday address at George Washington University, Napolitano said DHS’s efforts have been “relentless and effective” and that the agency’s priority continues to be “the removal of criminal aliens who pose a danger to public safety and national security.”
But Babeu said the Obama administration’s strategy on border security is “unacceptable” and is not working.
“[Napolitano] continues this mantra of everything is just fine; unprecedented resources have been added; the border’s more secure than ever before,” Babeu said. “She does not speak to the fact that more people this past fiscal year came through the Tucson section of Arizona and across our border than were apprehended.”
“That’s a problem,” Babeu said.
Babeu has been a critic of the Obama administration and its immigration policies. He joined Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) last year when the lawmakers called for a 10-point plan to secure the U.S. border with Mexico.
Babeu said the most important parts of that plan call for 6,000 armed National Guard troops to be stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border for up to two years, completion of the double-barrier fence along 700 miles of the 2,000-mile international border, and strict enforcement of federal immigration law, including automatic deportation of people who are in the country illegally.
“This novel concept of enforcing the law, which is the very foundation of who we are as Americans, is the rule of law,” Babeu said. “Those three components of soldiers, build the infrastructure, and enforce the law will secure the border.”
Babeu has also criticized Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the anti-illegal immigration law, SB1070, which was passed by voters in Arizona last year.
Babeu said the Obama administration has politicized the immigration issue and “have used it as a weapon to somehow brow beat good Americans and people who want to secure our nation’s border, and somehow try to turn this and make it a racial issue and that we’re being un-American because we’re against illegal immigration.”
“We’re against breaking the law and we want to protect America,” Babeu said. “We’re for immigration – legal immigration.”
“We’re bringing a heavy-handed enforcement against these [drug] cartels doing the jobs the feds have, literally, refused to do,” Babeu said. “They’ve try to handcuff us by taking us to court at a time when we need help and to fight us every step of the way.”
Babeu, who is the first Arizona sheriff and the first sheriff in his first elected term to be named Sheriff of the Year, said Napolitano’s assessment reveals that she is out of touch with what the conditions are on what he calls “the front line” fight against illegal immigration.
“This shows you how divorced from reality the secretary of homeland security really is,” Babeu said.
“This is the state of what we’re facing here and from what I’ve just described, people may imagine this to be some foreign battleground,” Babeu said, citing how close the drug cartel violence is to Phoenix, one of the country’s largest cities.
“This is deep in the heart of Arizona, literally 35 miles outside of American’s fifth largest city,” Babeu said.
Babeu said that the Sheriff of the Year award is “humbling” and should send a message.
“It’s very humbling for me to be honored in this way,” he said. “It’s a huge tribute to the men and women who work in the sheriff’s office, and the volunteers and all our supporters, and it should send a loud and clear message that sheriffs across America stand up for the rule of law and for Arizona.”