The possible appointment of Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex. (F, 56%) to the position of Homeland Security chief may finally signal to Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters that the president-elect is not going to follow through on his chief campaign proposals of border security and immigration.
McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, met with the president-elect Tuesday in Trump Tower. He is said to be among a handful of individuals in the running to become the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
During his presidential campaign, especially in the GOP primary, Trump promised to build a security wall along the southern border to strengthen domestic national security. He has also pledged to enforce immigration law and restore order to the immigration system as a whole.
Conservative critics of Rep. McCaul say he’d be a “very disappointing” pick to lead DHS, a gargantuan government department created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“We certainly hope that Donald Trump would not reward a deceptive pro-amnesty lawmaker like Michael McCaul with a Cabinet position,” William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told the Washington Times on Tuesday. “That would be very disappointing to all of us that believed his campaign promises to secure our borders and deport millions of illegal immigrants under current U.S. laws.”
Immigration hawks are particularly startled by McCaul’s 2015 Secure Our Borders First Act. Critics say the Texas representative’s co-authored bill ignored policy solutions to deal with the millions of people living in America illegally, like the administration’s “catch and release” policy.
Another factor working against McCaul’s credibility to head the Cabinet department simply in charge of “keeping America safe” is his support for Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) agenda, which seeks to prevent jihadist radicalization through a mix of community and counter-propaganda approaches.
The overarching goal of the CVE approach is to stop would-be jihadists before they act, by countering the destructive narratives that may radicalize them within their local communities and online. The problem, critics claim, is that the structure of the program does not actually lend itself to countering violent extremism.
Obama’s pilot program has been criticized as a “catastrophic failure,” primarily because it fails to address the roots of this brand of violence and extremism (jihadism), and engages Muslim organizations with extremist ties, instead of reformist outfits.
As Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a Muslim reformist and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy puts it, entrusting groups like these with counter-terrorism responsibilities is akin to “treating arsonists like firefighters.”
What was Rep. Mike McCaul’s role in this? After criticizing President Obama’s approach during the White House CVE conference in Feb. 2015, the House Homeland Security Committee chairman sponsored a bill to create an entire CVE office inside the Department of Homeland Security.
Other potential nominees for DHS secretary (and related national security posts) include: Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Smith Walker, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, and former CIA officer Clare Lopez.
- Muslim expert and reformer torches Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism agenda
- How Rep. Louie Gohmert exposed GOP leadership’s Countering Violent Extremism bill on the House floor
- Report: Obama’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ programs are a catastrophic failure
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. He earned his master's degree in Statecraft and National Security Affairs from the Institute of World Politics. Follow him on Twitter at @JordanSchachtel
Nate Madden is a Staff Writer for Conservative Review, focusing on religious freedom, jihadism, and the judiciary. He previously served as the Director of Policy Relations for the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. A Publius Fellow, John Jay Fellow, Citadel Parliamentary Fellow and National Journalism Center alumnus, Nate’s writing has previously appeared in several religious and news publications. Follow him @NateMadden_IV.