This afternoon, the United States Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen to be the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As Secretary, she will oversee an ever-growing agency which includes the enforcement and services functions of immigration, airport security, disaster relief, the Secret Service, and more.
During her confirmation hearing, Nielsen largely committed to carrying out the legacy of her predecessor and former boss, General John Kelly. Nielsen, who currently serves as White House deputy chief of staff, was nominated in October 2017 by President Trump to replace Kelly as he transitioned to his role as White House chief of staff.
Last month Neilsen’s confirmation process became more controversial when it was reported that General Kelly had placed great pressure on Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for people from Honduras. Duke ultimately announced that TPS for Honduras would last at least six more months, but the independence she displayed in her decision-making called into question how Neilsen would handle similar pressures given her close relationship with Kelly. The upcoming decision on whether to extend the TPS designation for El Salvador in early January may be her first test.