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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Napolitano: State will stay open despite protest plans

    PHOENIX – Despite a planned protest that could bring an estimated 100,000 protestors to the Capitol on Monday, Gov. Janet Napolitano vowed to keep state government offices open.

    A coalition of immigrant, labor, faith, civil rights and business community groups has called for marches across the nation on Monday to protest legislation that would make illegal immigrants felons as well as to urge Congress to consider an amnesty program of illegal immigrants.

    Napolitano said yesterday that despite the unprecedented turnout expected for the march, local civilian law enforcement was prepared to handle to massive protest.

    Several Republicans senators made public statements asking the democratic governor to call out the guard, a call Napolitano dismissed.

    “”This is a lawful march. It is designed to be a peaceful march. The predicate for calling out the National Guard has not been met,”” Napolitano said.

    Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, one of the senators asking for National Guard at Monday’s planned protest, was assured by the director of the state Department of Public Safety.

    DPS director Roger Vanderpool said that preparations were being made by law enforcement to ensure the safety of participants and state workers.

    “”There will be a large contingent of law enforcement present to deal with this event to ensure there are as few problems or incidents as possible,”” Vanderpool told Gould in a letter.

    Gould was skeptical about whether a large contingent of DPS officers would be sufficient for the massive protesters and said he would prefer to have the National Guard on standby in case of emergency.

    Napolitano told reporters the “”National Guard is always available under any circumstance”” but refused to activate the Guard in advance.

    Citing concerns of the safety of state employees, members of the legislature and visitors to the Capitol, Republican leaders sent Napolitano a letter yesterday demanding a briefing on planned security measures.

    “”Given the controversy surrounding this issue and the unprecedented size of the demonstration, we think it is essential that you order appropriate security measures should be taken,”” said a letter signed by the Senate President Ken Bennett and House Speaker Jim Weiers.

    Napolitano urged Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform, outlining what she thought the legislation should include.

    “”Washington, D.C., needs to pass a bill, the bill needs to have a guest worker program, the bill needs to have a way that those here already can come out of the shadows, pay a fine, learn to speak English and earn a pathway to citizenship,”” said Napolitano. “”Washington, D.C., has to pass an immigration bill that makes sense. I am very closely watching what is happening in the U.S. Senate right now. This problem has been allowed to fester.””

    A former U.S. attorney, Napolitano warned against an immigration solution comprised solely of law enforcement, because “”that will not solve the problem.””

    Napolitano also took the opportunity to chastise state lawmakers for not considering her immigration legislation outlined in her budget proposal, released in January. Her $100 million package included increased border security, a regional crime lab and a smart fence using infrared detection technology.

    “”As a state, there are things we need to be doing. I am still waiting for the legislature to take up my proposed package on immigration,”” Napolitano said.

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