One scheme that Napolitano says won’t work is forcing all 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. to return to their country of origin and apply to get back, a plan pushed by Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, among others. "That would be like asking everyone who lives in New York and Los Angeles to get up and move," she told the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in 2007. "What a joke. Let’s turn to reality." Yet Huckabee’s opponents call him soft on immigration. By contrast, Representative Ron Paul wouldn’t allow the children of illegal immigrants — even those born here — to become citizens. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney says there should be no path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and claims he proudly supported deporting undocumented workers from his state — except for the landscapers working on his home, rivals gleefully point out. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who once championed immigrants’ access to education and healthcare, now says that what he really wanted to do was kick all 400,000 illegal immigrants out of the city.
As Napolitano sees it, what she’s doing may not be perfect, but at least she’s taking concrete steps to address the issue. "Our nation’s capital has allowed this problem to fester for far too long," she says. "It’s been building and building. Arizona is at the front end of the wave, but the wave is going to affect everyone."