Rep. Barber: Border, economic security top priority - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Rep. Barber: Border, economic security top priority

Ron Barber Ron Barber
John McCain John McCain

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber is asking President Barack Obama to quickly replace outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano with someone who will "make border and economic security a top priority."

Napolitano announced her resignation Friday morning after more than four years in the position.

She plans to take over the University of California system.

The former Arizona governor came to Obama's Cabinet with plans to fix the nation's broken immigration system, and she is leaving in the midst of a heated battle in Congress over how - or if - that overhaul will be accomplished.

Barber, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security and member of the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee, said the new secretary must understand the "unique border issues experienced by those living and working on the Southwest border."

In a letter to the president, Barber asked that a replacement be selected who will immediately be ready to take over when Napolitano leaves office in early September.

"It is absolutely critical that the new DHS secretary have an understanding of issues facing residents who work and reside along the U.S.-Mexico border and has the ability to effectively manage the department in a transparent and accountable manner," Barber wrote. "I also ask that one of the first official duties of the new secretary be to come to southern Arizona to see and hear from the residents and Customs and Border Patrol employees who are working to secure the border and expedite the flow of legal commercial traffic."

Chris Newman, the legal director for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said, "Napolitano's departure provides the president an opportunity to reverse course on policies of Arizonification."

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, said, "Janet Napolitano has served our nation with honor over the last four years as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security - one of the toughest and most thankless jobs in Washington. 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."

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