Trump likely to have Kobach, Kelly run DHS
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly are likely to be tapped for secretary and deputy secretary of homeland security, according to a top transition official familiar with the president-elect’s current thinking, but the source would not reveal which of the two men is favored for the top post and which is likely to be deputy secretary.
President-elect Trump has met separately with Kobach and Kelly. The agency will play a major role in implementing the ambitious immigration policies of his administration.
The president-elect also brought Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, in to meet with him at Trump Tower last week, though an aide to the House Homeland Security Committee chairman told the Washington Examiner McCaul has not heard from the transition team since the meeting.
“I’m not taking it as a sign,” the aide said.
Neither Kobach nor Kelly returned requests for comment, and transition officials refused to say whether the president-elect’s DHS pick will be among additional administration announcements he is expected to make this week.
“Last Thursday we weren’t announcing the Department of Defense nominee, then [Trump] went on stage and ended up announcing,” one source said, emphasizing the president-elect’s unpredictable nature.
Because Trump has already tapped Gens. Michael Flynn and Jim Mattis for top positions in his administration, some are urging him to put Kobach at the helm of DHS and Kelly just below him.
At least two stakeholders seemed to prefer that arrangement.
“If he has too many generals in the cabinet it becomes almost an extension of the Joint Chiefs,” Dan Stein, president of the anti-amnesty Federation for American Immigration Reform, told the Examiner Tuesday evening, adding that Kobach would bring “profound, deep and rich expertise on all faces of immigration law and immigration enforcement and policy.”
“He is clearly the best prepared person in the country to implement the president-elect’s immigration program,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director Center for Immigration Studies, said of Kobach.
Kobach, a graduate of Harvard, Yale Law School and Oxford University, has made quite a name for himself in Republican circles, particularly among advocates of stricter immigration laws and the immediate deportation of all criminal illegal immigrants. The 50-year-old constitutional lawyer previously served in the Justice Department as counsel to former Attorney General John Ashcroft and oversaw the development of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
In 2010, Kobach worked with Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce to craft SB 1070, a broad anti-illegal immigration measure that attracted considerable controversy and that the Supreme Court partially struck down in 2012.
“He’s been a popular person and, of course, a controversial one at times,” a longtime friend of Kobach told the Examiner. “But he’s been very helpful to some cities and states on their laws dealing with immigration issues, and I think he would be great in the Department of Homeland Security or any position, frankly.”
Kelly, 66, would bring a different set of skills to DHS considering his extensive military background. The four-star general commanded Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and made significant advancements in efforts to stem the flow of drugs from Central and South America during his tenure as the head of U.S. Southern Command. SOURCE