(CNSNews.com) -- Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who has been a vocal critic of the new Arizona immigration law, told Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Monday that she had not reviewed the law in detail, but nevertheless repeated criticism she made in April on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the law is a “bad law enforcement law.”
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder said he hadn't read the law either, although he too has criticized it. He told the House Judiciary Committee he'd "expressed concerns" about the Arizona law, "on the basis of what I've heard about the law" from newspaper and TV reports. Holder has questioned whether the law is constitutional and has said the federal government may challenge it in court.
On Monday, Sen. McCain asked Napolitano, who is the former governor of Arizona, about the law during a hearing on the federal response to the oil spill off the Gulf Coast --“Have you had a chance to review the new law that was passed by the state of Arizona?”
“I have not reviewed it in detail, I certainly know of it, senator,” Napolitano replied.
But when McCain subsequently asked if she were “not prepared to make a judgment on it,” Napolitano told McCain the law was “not the kind of law I would have signed” and that it was a “bad law enforcement law.”
McCain, who wanted to know specifics about why it is "bad," said law enforcement in Arizona supports the law, which gives authorities the ability to enquire about a suspect's immigration status if they have reason to believe a crime has been committed.
McCain condemned the criticism of the law coming from the Obama administration – including criticism from President Obama himself.
“The president of the United States portrayed it as – that someone can’t even go out for ice cream without being harassed, which is one of the more outrageous statements I’ve ever heard,” McCain told Napolitano. “And now that our own attorney general, after condemning the law, said he hadn’t even read it.”
On April 26, on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Napolitano said, of the law, "That one is a misguided law.”
She added: “It's not a good law enforcement law. It's not a good law in any number of reasons."
Here’s a transcript of Napolitano's remarks and exchange with McCain:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): I might ask have you had a chance to review the new law that was passed by the state of Arizona?
Secretary Janet Napolitano: I have not reviewed it in detail. I certainly know of it, senator.
Sen. McCain: So you’re not prepared to make a judgment on it?
Secretary Napolitano: Senator, that is – not a law – let me just say this, as you know, and are well aware, that’s not the kind of law I would have signed.
Sen. McCain: For what reason?
Secretary Napolitano: Well because I believe that it’s a bad law enforcement law. I believe it mandates and requires local law enforcement – it puts them in a position many do not want to be placed in. When I was dealing with laws of that ilk, most of the law enforcement organizations in Arizona -- at that time -- were opposed to such legislation
Sen. McCain: Well, I'd be pleased – maybe in writing – to hear what specific aspect of the law would impede or harm law enforcement, since the majority of law enforcement in Arizona strongly supports this legislation, and unfortunately, both the president of the United States and – the president of the United States portrayed it as a – that someone can’t even go out for ice cream without being harassed, which is one of the more outrageous statements I’ve ever heard. And now our own attorney general has, after condemning the law, said that he hadn’t even read it. This is an important issue not just in Arizona, but around this country. I would hope that we would at least have a decison on whether the Guard is going to be sent to the border and I would like to have specifics, if you get time, and I know that it's not in your area of expertise anymore, but I know also, as the former governor of the state, you havea specific interest in what particular aspects of thatlaw that you would find objectionable. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.