While serving as Arizona Governor, Janet Napolitano was accused of – or applauded for(depending on the speaker) – walking a fine line on immigration policy. Walking the line involves being a bad cop with employers and “coyotes” who exploit illegal immigrants, being a good cop in terms of legal immigration, and being a compassionate cop with the families of hard-working recent immigrants – regardless of status.
On the morning of the Secretary’s inaugural testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee she was informed after-the-fact of an ICE raid on Yamato Engine Specialists in Bellingham, Washington resulting in the arrest of 28.
I happened to be in the hearing room when she was asked about the raid. It was not necessary to see her face. The Secretary’s tone, more than her words, communicated her displeasure. Whether her displeasure was at being surprised, or of an enforcement action with which she did not agree, or both was not made explicit.
The local Bellingham newspaper criticized the ICE raid as, “meaningless.” An editorial explained, “It disrupted an important local business with many employees. It “rounded up” more than two dozen hard-working people in our community. And it did nothing to stop the flow of illegal immigration in to the United States.”
Last week several Chicago political, social, and religious leaders called for a moritorium on work-place raids as an immigration enforcement tool. Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, said, “May this be the year that raids and separation of families stop… May this be the year that our legislators pass comprehensive Immigration reform.”
In this morning’s Washington Post, the headline reads: Delay in immigration raids may signal policy change. I expect the “surprise” Bellingham raid was even more important than the Cardinal’s prayers in accelerating the shift.