Who are the top candidates to replace Gen. John Kelly at DHS?

· August 2, 2017  
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With the appointment of Gen. John Kelly as President Trump’s chief of staff, the top vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security has again opened up.

Since the George W. Bush administration created the DHS in 2001, the DHS secretary has engaged in a variety of roles. But in the Trump era thus far, the department has seemingly been refined to focus on border security, illegal immigration, and Islamic terror issues.

Here’s a look at the potential candidates to become the next homeland security chief.

Rick Perry

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Energy Secretary Rick Perry has emerged as a possibility for the post. His position on immigration, however, might disagree with president’s nationalist base. As governor of Texas, Perry supported programs that allowed illegal immigrants to obtain in-state tuition. In the 2012 Republican presidential primary, Perry controversially said his rivals didn’t have enough “heart” on the immigration issue.

Rep. Michael McCaul

Before Gen. Kelly was appointed as DHS head, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul was rumored as a frontrunner for the post. McCaul, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, is regarded by immigration hawks as a “pro-amnesty” politician who isn’t liable to make good on President Trump’s campaign promise to secure the border. Nonetheless, Politico recently described McCaul as a “leading candidate” for the job, citing several White House officials.

Jeff Sessions

The sitting attorney general and former Alabama senator has fallen out of favor with the president, leading some to believe he would be better suited at DHS. Sessions has long been seen as an ally to the president’s nationalist supporters on border security and immigration.

Elaine Duke

While the search for an official replacement continues, deputy secretary Elaine Duke will continue to lead DHS as its acting director. She has worked in government (in both Democrat and Republican administrations) for almost 30 years as a civil servant.

Kris Kobach


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Like AG Sessions, the Kansas secretary of state is a border and immigration hawk. He is currently leading President Trump’s commission on voter fraud.

Who else?

Other reported candidates for the position include Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, acting ICE director Thomas Homan, former DHS deputy secretary James Loy, and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas.

Before Trump assumed office, potential nominees for the post originally included Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, N.J. Governor Chris Christie, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, former Pennsylvania Rep. Robert Smith Walker, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, and Ambassador John Bolton.

Author: Jordan Schachtel

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review and editor of The Dossier for Blaze Media. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.