“I call upon the President to act quickly and nominate a qualified replacement for this critical role,” he said in a written statement. “Similarly, I urge my colleagues in the Senate to move as swiftly in confirming Secretary Napolitano’s successor as they did in confirming her. The country needs a well-qualified, proven leader to direct this Department given the wide range of threats, man-made and natural, that our Nation faces.”
Republicans also criticized the department under Napolitano’s leadership for drastically cutting down on worksite raids of businesses that employ illegal immigrants.
Obama and Napolitano have, however, emphasized their immigration enforcement record. Under Napolitano, DHS posted increasingly high annual deportation numbers, reaching 391,953 in fiscal 2011.
Napolitano also presided over a controversial time in the Transportation Security Administration’s history, as it began a large-scale deployment of full-body scanners to airports after the 2009 “underwear bomber” attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit. The “naked scans” originally generated by the machines, along with pat-downs administered by officers, provoked a backlash from the traveling public, civil liberties groups and many lawmakers.
Napolitano defended the TSA’s policies, but has said the agency needs to do a better job communicating with the public. Over the past two years, the TSA has installed privacy filters on its airport body scanners.
Far less controversial was her leadership during natural disasters. Efforts by DHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief before superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast last year and respond to the resulting devastation drew praise from many members of Congress.