President-elect Barak Obama is expected to offer the top job at the Department of Homeland Security to Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, two officials familiar with Obama's plans told NPR Thursday.
As a longtime official of a U.S.-Mexico border state, Napolitano is knowledgeable about immigration issues. She was a U.S. attorney and Arizona attorney general before she was elected governor. She was re-elected to a second term in 2006.
Napolitano has fought to curb illegal immigration, but she has been skeptical that building a fence along the border will solve the problem. "You build a 50-foot wall, somebody will find a 51-foot ladder," she is quoted as saying.
Arizona has been a key battleground in the immigration debate. Last year, Arizona voters passed a law that requires all Arizona businesses to use the federal online database, E-Verify, to confirm that newly hired persons are in the country legally, have valid Social Security numbers and are eligible for employment.
Napolitano, 50, is a graduate of Santa Clara University in California and of University of Virginia law school. Although she is familiar with border issues, some critics said she doesn't have counterterrorism experience.
Napolitano was an early Obama supporter. She is the only elected official who is a member of the transition team.