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Jeh Johnson: Trump’s Obsession with Immigration Is Undermining Homeland Security’s Focus

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Former Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Few people understand the threats facing the U.S. better than Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of Homeland Security from December 2013 to January 2017.

After his departure, President Trump has been unable to hold onto a Homeland Security secretary. His fourth secretary, Kevin McAleenan, is resigning at the end of the month.

In op-ed in the Washington Post [2], Johnson says there are two threats that “would keep him up at night:” The resurgence of ISIS is Syria, and Russia’s ongoing campaign to meddle in U.S. elections.

“Particularly in the current threat environment, our nation cannot afford a continued string of temporary, acting secretaries promoted from within the ranks of DHS to, as some would have it, simply receive and transmit orders from the White House,” Johnson wrote. “The job is one of the most complex and critical in the U.S. government.”

In Johnson’s view, Trump’s Homeland Security secretaries have been an “instrument for hammering the administration’s hard-line views on immigration,” while losing focus on “counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, maritime security, port security, the physical protection of our national leaders and U.S. government buildings, the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland and the response to natural disasters.”

On Tuesday, former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen complained [3] that Trump wanted things his way – and he could not take no for an answer.

Immigration hardliners were hoping Trump would appoint Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, or Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Turns out, they are ineligible by a federal law [4] governing agency succession.

“The president should resist the temptation to nominate a pronounced hard-liner on immigration who will be a lightning rod to lead a Cabinet department already in the thick of political storms,” Johnson wrote.

His advice: “Fill the job with someone well qualified, and fill it soon, Mr. President. A president who leaves the job vacant for too long is neglecting his own duty to defend the homeland and keep the American people safe.”