While many across the political spectrum are happy to see Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano leave her job in Washington, some who live on the West Coast say they’d just as soon not see her out there, after it was revealed Friday that she’s poised to take over as head of the University of California school system.
Ms. Napolitano angered both immigrant-rights groups and those who want to see a crackdown on illegal immigration, and irked privacy advocates from the right and left during her four years as head of Homeland Security.
“University of California students can look forward to the same authoritarian management style Secretary Napolitano brought to the Department of Homeland Security, hardly a bastion of free speech and open government,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a California Republican. “While I am pleased to see her leave Homeland Security, Napolitano’s views are entirely incompatible with the UC system’s history of civil liberties and the decision to appoint her is perplexing.”
Those views were echoed by immigrant-rights advocates who predicted Ms. Napolitano’s move to run the school system, expected in September, will be “met with protests.”
“UC should take the opportunity to thoroughly examine her record in Arizona and at DHS to see if it reflects the university’s values before they confirm her to this important post,” said Chris Newman, legal director for the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network.
Ms. Napolitano has been nominated to oversee the entire state university system, which has more than 200,000 students across its 10 campuses.
Not all Californians were so unhappy at the prospect of Ms. Napolitano taking the university post.
“Secretary Napolitano has the strength of character and an outsider’s mind that will well serve the students and faculty,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. “It will be exciting to work with her.”
And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said UC students “will benefit each and every day” from having her at the helm.
Mrs. Napolitano, who was governor of Arizona before moving to Washington to run Homeland Security, also got a vote of confidence from those who knew her in the Southwest, including Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican.
“We have had our share of disagreements during her time as secretary, but I have never doubted her integrity, work ethic or commitment to our nation’s security. The people of Arizona can be very proud of our former governor’s service, and I wish her all the best as she assumes leadership of the nation’s largest public university system,” he said.