President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday officially nominated Gen. John Kelly to serve as secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, saying his decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the terrorism threat inside the nation’s borders make him ideal. He is the third general chosen for the Trump administration, following the selection of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and former Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary.
Trump said in a statement that Kelly is the right person to spearhead the “urgent mission” of stopping illegal immigration and securing the nation’s borders, streamlining the Transportation Security Administration and improving coordination between the country’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
“With Gen. Kelly at the helm of DHS, the American people will have a leader committed to our safety as well as one who will work hand-in-hand with America’s rank-and-file TSA, [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and Border Patrol officers,” Trump said.
Kelly previously led the U.S. Southern Command, which handles U.S. military activity in the Caribbean and Latin America, and has raised alarms about border security. In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2015, Kelly said he was worried that smuggling networks are “a vulnerability that terrorists could seek to exploit.”
As the head of DHS, Kelly would oversee three major agencies impacting immigration: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. There’s no word yet on who will lead those agencies, and it’s unclear whether Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — an immigration hardliner who appeared to be in the running for the DHS top post — is being considered for other positions.