House Republicans no more confident in immigration enforcement after Napolitano

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Alexis Levinson
Political Reporter

House Republicans do not trust that the Obama administration will enforce any immigration reform laws that Congress passes, and Friday’s announcement that Janet Napolitano will step down as Secretary of Homeland Security does little to alleviate that.

Republican members of Congress emerging from a conference meeting on immigration reform Wednesday expressed concerns that if they were to pass legislation, the administration might opt not to enforce parts it does not agree with. They remained equally concerned Friday after the announcement that Napolitano would become head of the University of California system.

Louisiana Rep. John Fleming told The Daily Caller that the announcement had “no impact on our trust factor that this administration will actually carry out the law. We believe it’s President Obama [who] is the issue, not whoever is head of Homeland Security.”

“For a DHS Secretary who seemed more interested in targeting states that sought to enforce immigration laws than enforcing border security, one might expect I’d be overjoyed by the departure of Secretary Napolitano,” Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp told TheDC via a spokesman. “However, this Administration’s flagrant disregard for the rule of law begins and ends with President Obama.”

The Homeland Security secretary will play a big role in enforcing new immigration laws. Fleming speculated that Napolitano’s role was so entwined with the fate of immigration reform that she resigned over it.

“My personal belief, my first reaction to the fact that she resigned, is that she senses that this immigration reform idea is losing steam rapidly,” he said.

Republicans were skeptical that the nominee to replace Napolitano would restore their trust.

Cabinet members, Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston told The Daily Caller in a phone interview, appear to have “loyalty to the president rather than the rule of law.” Kingston suggested nominating someone from the military ranks “who is known not as a politician but as an accomplished defender of our country,” saying that could help, but he was not optimistic.

Fleming said there was no one the president could nominate who would make him more confident.

“Everybody is a soldier for the president and they take orders,” he said.

“It’s my hope that President Obama will now appoint a secretary who will secure the border and enforce existing law. However, given this administration’s record, I’m not confident this will be the case,” Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey told TheDC via a spokeswoman.

Fleming said there was little at all that Obama could do to change that perception.

“There would have to be a major change in his attitude and his behavior,” Fleming said, adding that Obama would have to make promises up front about how he would handle things.

Iowa Rep. Steve King, one of the most vocal opponents of immigration reform, was equally pessimistic.

“It’s hard to think that a new appointment to Homeland Security is going to change the president’s stripes,” he told TheDC in a phone interview.

There was one person, King said, that Obama could nominate for Homeland Security Secretary that would restore Republican trust.

“He could appoint me,” King said. “That would solve it, wouldn’t it?”

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