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McCain Defends Immigration Plan To Angry Residents

Arizona took center stage in the national immigration debate Tuesday as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano toured the state’s border with Mexico and Sen. John McCain defended his proposed immigration overhaul to an angry crowd in suburban Phoenix.

The presence of the top officials is the latest sign that Arizona will play a prominent role in the immigration debate as President Barack Obama looks to make it a signature issue of his second term.

Napolitano toured the border near Nogales with the highest-ranking official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the incoming chairman of the Senate’s homeland security committee and an Arizona congressman. Napolitano, Arizona’s former governor, said afterward that comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen the nation’s border against criminals and other threats.

Also Tuesday, McCain hosted two town hall meetings in Arizona, during which he defended his immigration plan to upset residents concerned about border security. A bipartisan group of senators — including Arizona Republicans McCain and Jeff Flake — want assurances on border security as Congress weighs what could be the biggest changes to immigration law in nearly 30 years. Arizona is the only state with both of its senators working on immigration reform in Congress, a sign of the state’s widely debated border security issues.

Immigration activists and elected officials say it’s only natural for Arizona to continue to take the forefront in the national conversation on immigration after years of internal debate on the topic.

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Senate Plan Would Give Napolitano Final Say on Border Security

Under a bipartisan Senate framework, Democrats say, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano would have final say over whether the border is secure enough to put 11 million illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship.

If Napolitano does not provide the green light for putting illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, the responsibility for judging whether the metrics for border security have been met will be given to her successor.

The early debate over immigration reform has yielded two thorny questions: What metrics will be used to determine whether the goals for border security and other safeguards against illegal immigration have been met? Who will decide whether the metrics have been achieved?

Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the lead Democratic sponsor of the bipartisan immigration reform framework unveiled this past week, said Napolitano should decide.

“What we’ve proposed is that the DHS secretary, whomever it is, will have final say on [whether] whatever metrics we proposes are met,” Schumer said. “We think those metrics will be quite objective.”

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Napolitano “pondering stepping down” as top aide is put on leave due to allegations of lewd behavior

Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano’s embattled high-ranking immigration aide took a leave of absence following salacious new claims about the agency’s alleged sexually hostile environment toward men, while Napolitano herself indicated she is pondering stepping down.

Suzanne Barr, who has close Arizona ties to Napolitano, took a “voluntary leave,” according to Brian Hale, spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Barr’s leave, which began Tuesday, comes as two more male accusers claimed they personally witnessed Barr engage in lewd and hostile behavior with subordinates.

In a sworn affidavit obtained by The Post but with the accuser’s name redacted, an ICE employee described as an assistant attaché says at a party at the deputy chief of mission’s house in Colombia in 2009, “He said she got too close for comfort.Suzanne Barr approached me and offered to give me a b— job.”

ICE travel records obtained by The Post confirm Barr traveled to Colombia along with ICE director John Morton between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23, 2009, to meet with Colombian officials and ICE staffers.

An affidavit by another ICE employee states that just before Halloween in 2009, at a gathering in the ICE director’s office, Barr turned to another ICE employee and called him a “sexy mothaf–ker!” Barr also allegedly “looked at his crotch and asked, ‘How long is it anyway?’” prompting other employees to laugh nervously, according to the statement.

Read more from this story HERE.