Napolitano resigning to lead University of California system; big vacancy for Obama to fill

SHARE Napolitano resigning to lead University of California system; big vacancy for Obama to fill
SHARE Napolitano resigning to lead University of California system; big vacancy for Obama to fill

WASHINGTON–With relations with Senate Republicans frayed, President Barack Obama will now have to find a replacement for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who announced on Friday she is departing to lead the ten-campus University of California systems.

Napolitano was tapped to lead the Department of Homeland Security while governor of Arizona–and an early Obama supporter in his first run for the White House.

A replacement may face a tough confirmation climate–coming as Congress is considering immigration reform and since enforcement of the proposed E-Verify program–a key to winning GOP support on immigration–will be a DHS responsibility.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) provided a sample of what is ahead for the Obama team in the critical statement he issued after Napolitano’s resignation announcement.

“Secretary Napolitano’s tenure at the Department of Homeland Security was defined by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law.

“The resignation of Secretary Napolitano should refocus the attention of Congress on its first task: to ensure that the executive branch faithfully carries out the laws of the land. The most significant obstacle to immigration reform remains President Obama’s selective enforcement of the law. Any selection—interim or permanent—to replace Secretary Napolitano must disavow these aggressive non-enforcement directives or there is very little hope for successful immigration reform,” Sessions said.

“Whoever replaces Secretary Napolitano must restore the rule of law, as well as the morale of ICE officers which has plummeted under her tenure.”

Obama said in a statement, “I want to thank Secretary Napolitano for her outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years. At the Department of Homeland Security, Janet’s portfolio has included some of the toughest challenges facing our country. She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild. Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values.

“And the American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership in protecting our homeland against terrorist attacks. I’ve come to rely on Janet’s judgment and advice, but I’ve also come to value her friendship. And as she begins a new chapter in a remarkable career of public service, I wish her the best of luck.”

Napolitano said in a statement, “For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security. The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career. We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public. The Department has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation’s borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation’s emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity.

“After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders. I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects.”

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