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Jeh Johnson Confirmed as DHS Secretary

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 17, 2013

CONTACT
Adela de la Torre, 213-674-2832, delatorre@nilc.org

Johnson Confirmation Restores Stability to Dept. of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Jeh Johnson was confirmed Monday to succeed Janet Napolitano as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency that has been without a leader since Secretary Napolitano departed in August. Johnson, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, previously served in the public interest sector as general counsel of the Department of Defense and as general counsel of the Department of the Air Force. Johnson was the first African American partner of Paul, Weiss and also is the first African American secretary of Homeland Security. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Despite being one of the largest and most complex departments in the federal government, DHS has languished for months without a permanent leader. We’re pleased that the Senate has filled this void by confirming Jeh Johnson to this important post. Johnson’s role — both in overseeing immigration policy in effect today and in implementing immigration reform in the future — will be of paramount importance over the next three years.

“We are heartened to see that Secretary Johnson, like other colleagues of his within the Obama administration, is an ardent supporter of immigration reform. He rightly recognizes that his team must have the resources they need to ensure that any future changes to immigration policies are successful. However, he cannot do it alone. We call upon the Senate to quickly confirm deputy secretary nominee Alejandro Mayorkas to help fill the leadership vacuum at DHS. Mayorkas’s in-depth immigration expertise will make him an indespensible component of Secretary Johnson’s team.

“Finally, the National Immigration Law Center looks forward to working with Secretary Johnson to ensure he makes full use of the tools DHS has at its disposal to prevent the deportation of immigrants simply for having been previously ordered deported or for reentering the U.S. desperately seeking to be reunited with their families, many of whom are U.S. citizen children. During the time that it took for the Senate to confirm Secretary Johnson, another 66,000 aspiring citizens were torn from their loved ones and deported to countries they may not even remember. This is unacceptable.

Current policies and guidelines could prevent unnecessary deportations of the same people who would benefit from the immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate earlier this year. The National Immigration Law Center urges Secretary Johnson to stop deporting aspiring citizens who, due to political gridlock, are blocked from the road to citizenship.”

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