With a new state law as ammunition, Gov. Janet Napolitano is clearing the way to have Arizona state police start hunting down human smugglers.
Napolitano said Thursday she has agreed to make Arizona Department of Public Safety officers available to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The governor said she is accepting proposals made to her earlier this week by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for state help.
Napolitano said the joint efforts may be only the beginning.
"We’re going to keep looking for other things we can do to start securing that border,’’ she said.
One part of the plan involves having four DPS officers become part of an undercover task force to catch smugglers. There already are two such units being operated by ICE in Arizona.
Chertoff, in a letter to Napolitano earlier this week, said prior efforts to put DPS officers into an ICE-led unit have been rebuffed by state officials. But Napolitano said Thursday, after reviewing Chertoff’s letter, that the idea is acceptable.