The Secretary Stakes


I admit to a considerable amount of surprise at Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s announcement that she’d be leaving DHS for the University of California system.  I’ve read all kinds of news stories about how DHS Secretary is a thankless job where one gets the blame when things go wrong (and they always do in one way or another) and no credit when things go right.

Ok, I’ll buy a lot of that.  But this is also a job where the department you head up has a huge impact on the lives of the entire populace of the U.S. as well as a large portion of the rest of the world.  No pressure, future Secretary, but let’s look at the three biggest areas you’d oversee just on immigration (leaving out the myriad other areas of responsibility you have):

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.”

United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): “promotes homeland security and public safety through the criminal and civil enforcement of federal laws governing border control, customs, trade, and immigration.”

Customs and Border Protection (CBP): “is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. It also has a responsibility for securing and facilitating trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. regulations, including immigration and drug laws.”

I can’t think of another cabinet member that has this much impact on such disparate groups and stakeholders, and again, this is just the immigration related “stuff” you have to handle.

So, who is on the short-list?  According to a couple of articles in the Washington Post, here are some of the more interesting (to me) possibilities:

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee to serve as DHS deputy secretary; Kamala Harris, California Attorney General; David Heyman, DHS Assistant Secretary for Policy; Joe Lieberman, former independent senator from Connecticut; Tony West, Acting Associate Attorney General of the U.S.; Ray Kelly, New York City police commissioner; Jane Harman, former Democratic congresswoman from California; Jane Holl Lute, former DHS Deputy Secretary; Rand Beers, Acting DHS Deputy Secretary; Jenny Durkan, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington; Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)

In recent years, the Secretary has had the honor of presiding over some pretty positive changes in immigration (provisional waivers and DOMA come to mind) as well as overseeing the highest level of deportations ever.  What will come up during the next Secretary’s tenure?  Well, my fingers are crossed that it will start with a C and end with an R.  CIR!

by T. Douglas Stump