News media are reporting that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) is President-elect Obama's choice to serve as secretary of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security). My first thought is that Obama could do a lot worse.
True, Napolitano constantly fought against Arizona citizens and the state legislature who wanted tougher and tougher enforcement against illegal immigration. And she is a wholehearted supporter of rewarding 12-20 million illegal aliens with amnesty.
However, Napolitano does have a law enforcement background. And she does know that the failure of the federal government to control immigration has major negative consequences for state and local governments. She is especially concerned about securing the borders and took some initiatives in that direction that she wasn't forced to do. And she signed into law most of the increased enforcement measures presented to her.
If she has an ounce of intellectual integrity, she will tell the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to go jump in an irrigation canal when it claims that mandatory E-Verify at the workplace would result in severe economic disruptions and massive firings of U.S. citizens.
A recent poll of Arizona businesses found that businesses overwhelmingly felt OK about having to use the federal electronic system to verify the legal work status of all new hires.
Three-quarters of the respondents said Arizona's employers sanctions law -- which imposes tough penalties on employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens -- has had little effect on their businesses. This survey proves what we have long contended that most business owners are law-abiding, patriotic people who have no interest in using illegal immigration for greedy purposes while harming their communities. The Chamber of Commerce, unfortunately, continues to lobby for the small minority of businesses that are scoundrels and demand their cheap foreign labor.
In fact, the poll found that only 10% of Arizona's businesses said illegal immigration was important to their business success. While that may still seem like a high amount, remember that Arizona is a state that has been inundated with an incredible wave of illegal workers over the last decade. A business that wanted to take advantage of the cheap illegal labor could do so easily before the law. Yet, most businesses indicate they have no interest.
Since the law was passed in 2007 and went into effect on Jan. 1 of 2008, significant numbers of illegal aliens have been leaving Arizona. Most probably are moving to more permissive states, but many are going back home to their legal residence in other countries.
I have no doubt that if we had a federal version of the Arizona law that three-quarters of the illegal population would voluntarily leave over the next decade. Think how much easier Napolitano's job as head of DHS would be if Congress next year made the Arizona law apply nationwide.
Fortunately for her and Obama, a highly popular Democratic Congressman (Heath Shuler, D-N.C.) is preparing a new SAVE Act to introduce in 2009 that will essentially create a federal Arizona law.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA
P.S. The highly critical comments below prompted me to post a blog in response on Friday. Take a look.
Updated: Wed, Nov 26th 2008 @ 1:51pm EST