The Senate, to no one’s surprise, easily confirmed President Obama’s personal favorite for Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson, former general counsel for the Defense Department. The new DHS secretary whose nomination was approved by a 78-16 vote has neither immigration experience nor the managerial qualifications to oversee more than 200,000 employees in a turmoil-beset agency.
Critics properly accuse DHS of poor leadership, general incompetence, cost inefficiencies and, worst of all, a refusal to regularly enforce immigration law, although this last failing may be attributable to the White House. [“Jeh Johnson confirmed as Homeland Security secretary,” by Michael Memoli, Los Angeles Times, December 16, 2013]
Johnson does have one important qualification, however. He’s all in for Obama’s comprehensive immigration reform amnesty, prosecutorial discretion and deferred action for childhood arrivals, as well as any other circumventions of Congress that allow the administration to rewrite immigration law to its own liking.
Here’s a key sentence from Johnson’s letter to Senate Republicans in defense of his nomination: “I also believe that, as part of reform, we should provide an earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country.” [“DHS Nominee Jeh Johnson Defends Immigration Bill,” by Seung Min Kim, Politico.com, December 13, 2013]
I’ll put the most positive possible spin on Johnson’s confirmation. He can’t be worse than his predecessor, Janet Napolitano, a broken record when it came to her comprehensive immigration reform endorsement.
Johnson makes me misty-eyed for former DHS secretary Michael Chertoff who, like Napolitano and Johnson, was pro-amnesty. But unlike Napolitano, Chertoff enforced immigration laws. Chertoff saw himself first as a law and order guy and second, a George W. Bush amnesty pawn.
In a March 2008 Associated Press interview, Chertoff said that until Congress passes new immigration laws, which despite ongoing attempts during Bush’s two terms it never did, employers and advocates should expect him to execute the laws as written.
In response to a question about his willingness to carry out immigration law, Chertoff said: “But as long as the law is as it is, I will enforce the law as it is.”
Although it won’t happen, Johnson should look to Chertoff as an example of a Cabinet official who honors and obeys his oath of office to carry out the nation’s laws.