Gov. Janet Napolitano chided members of Congress on Wednesday for holding hearings about border issues in Arizona rather than actually doing something about it.
“These hearings are a delay tactic,’’ Napolitano said. She called the hearings — one in Yuma on Wednesday and another set for Phoenix today — “simply political events.’’
But the governor said her own trip to the border later today does not fit the same description. Napolitano will be escorting Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, whose state has sent 50 members of its National Guard to the border.
Both incumbents seeking re-election this year have come under fire from foes who say they have not done enough to deal with the problem of people being in this country illegally.
Napolitano said today’s trip is part of her role and that of Sebelius as commanders in chief of their Guard units.
But Napolitano does not see the congressional hearings the same way.
“I don’t think they’re helping to resolve the issue,’’ she said. Napolitano said that what’s needed is for congressional leaders to “get in a room and negotiate a bill that’s comprehensive, that deals with everything from the number of visas allowed to employer sanctions and enforceability.’’
Rep. Trent Franks, RAriz., agreed with the need for federal action.
And Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which conducted the hearing Wednesday in Yuma, said it has some political purpose. But he said that is a necessary part of reaching that goal.
“I hope that this will generate enough movement in the country that it will hopefully put enough pressure on the Senate that they will pass some kind of a bill that, in the conference committee, can be a tenable bill to the House,’’ he said.
House Republicans have balked at a Senate-passed plan that includes some enforcement provisions but also sets up a new guest worker program and a path to citizenship for those who entered this country illegally. Franks said the Senate plan shortchanges border security, making this country susceptible to attack by terrorists who could sneak a portable nuclear device across the border.
Another hearing by the Committee on House Administration, set for today, drew fire from members of the Valley Interfaith Project because their request to speak has been denied.
That committee is reviewing federal voting laws and wants to hear about the impact of Proposition 200. That measure, approved by Arizona voters in 2004, requires proof of citizenship to register and positive identification before voting.
Cathy Tompkins, a lay leader of Trinity United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said her group, which opposed Proposition 200, wants to tell committee members about its negative effects.
Jon Brandt, press aide to Rep. Vernon Ehlers, RMich., who chairs the committee, said the panel has a limited amount of time. He said there will be input from all sides of the issue.