Senate confirms Trump's pick to lead Department of Homeland Security

Dec 07, 2017, 01:27
Senate confirms Trump's pick to lead Department of Homeland Security

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen to be secretary of Homeland Security, permanently filling the vacancy created when President Donald Trump selected retired Gen. John Kelly to be his chief of staff. The DHS has 22 subagencies, including immigration enforcement, transportation security, disaster preparedness and response, the Secret Service, and the Coast Guard. She followed Kelly to the White House when the former Marine general replaced the beleaguered Reince Priebus as Trump's chief of staff.

When Kelly assumed the office of White House chief of staff on July 31, Deputy DHS Secretary Elaine Duke became acting DHS secretary. It is hard to imagine how the head of one of our federal government's executive departments, who all report to the president, can ever be "free from political interference from the White House".

After her confirmation, Breitbart News, the alt-right mouthpiece run by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, mocked her as "Lady DACA" - a reference to her assurance to Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, who voted against Nielsen's nomination, criticized her stances on immigration and the environment, as well as her experience.

Nielsen, who served on former President George W. Bush's homeland security council, also appears to be facing opposition from the far-right nationalist wing of the Republican party.

Nielsen was chosen by the White House as the preferred nominee in early 2017 but waffled on the decision, which stalled the nomination of DHS leadership for months.

When asked for her views on the utility of a border wall with Mexico, she echoed comments made previously by Kelly that the United States did not need a 2,000-mile physical barrier "from sea to shining sea". However, this will be a major issue for the new DHS secretary to address.

The newly confirmed secretary also pledged during her confirmation hearing to continue implementing Trump's aggressive immigration agenda. However, Dougherty's statement on October 3 indicated that the administration's termination of DACA was not as thorough as most people were led to believe.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and a onetime prospect for the DHS top job, said, "I am confident that Kirstjen's mission-focused style of leadership will help her succeed in leading the men and women of DHS and ensuring we reform and improve the Department".

As we noted in that report, the Trump administration's actions left Original DACA recipients unaffected.

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