Janet Napolitano may be as familiar a face in Florence, Italy, as she is in Florence, Ariz.

The selection of "Janet, the Italian sheriff" - as the daily La Stampa put it - to become the nation's next Homeland Security secretary sparked interest and excitement in the country from which Napolitano's grandfather emigrated from in the early 1900s.

Italians are fascinated not only by Napolitano's cultural heritage but also by what they view as her innovative strategies as a border-state governor, hence the term "sheriff," said Maurizio Molinari, the Torino-based newspaper's U.S. correspondent.

"The general perception . . . is that she is in the first row facing illegal immigration," a hot-button issue here and there, Molinari said.

"Her decision to work more to prevent the illegal immigration from inside Arizona (is) a strategy that is very similar (to) the one Italy is trying to apply."

Andre F. Radzischewski, Arizona Republic, December 7, 2008

Illegal Immigration

Updated: Mon, Mar 3rd 2014 @ 2:40pm EST