TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The following is a statement from Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano on her resignation:
"For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security. The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation's efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career.
"We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public. The Department has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation's borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation's emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity.
"After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation's next generation of leaders. I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects."
Napolitano's resignation comes amid some harsh criticism from immigration groups who felt that being a border governor she would be sensitive to immigration issues.
"I think she marked herself in many ways as anti-immigrant," a charge by longtime Pima County immigration activist Isabel Garcia.
She says she was not surprised Napolitano was a no nonsense law and order secretary because she took some of the same traits with her to Washington when she left the Governor's office in 2008.
"She pushed for the National Guard, she pushed for lots of resources on the border," Garcia says. "She got to her position by having strong enforcement positions."
Napolitano was Arizona Attorney General and for US Attorney for Arizona before becoming Governor. Part of the reason she left office with high popularity polling was because of her law and order stance.
She said when she was nominated on December 1, 2008, "having said for a long time the federal government should take a leadership role (on border issues) and having a former border state who works with those issues day in and day out, take a leadership role, makes a lot of sense."
Garcia gives Napolitano some credit for helping dreamers stay in the country rather than be deported. They were children brought here by their parents.
But she says most of the credit should go to "the demonstrators themselves" and President Obama.
"It's under her watch that there has been record deportation, separation of families and death in the desert," she says. "It all happened under watch and we can't forget that."
But there is a certain pragmatism when asked about who might succeed her.
"When it gets to Washington D.C., can the be someone worse, absolutely," she says.