On December 5, 2017, the United States Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen as the sixth Secretary of Homeland Security by a vote of 62-37. When she is sworn in, Nielsen will replace John Kelly, who left his post as Secretary of Homeland Security on July 31, 2017, to become the White House Chief of Staff [see blog]. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke had been serving in an acting capacity since Kelly's move to the White House [see blog].
Earlier this year, Kirstjen Nielsen served as Kelly's Chief of Staff at DHS and then as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House after Kelly left his post as Secretary of Homeland Security. Prior to that, Nielsen had served in various capacities during the administration of former President George W. Bush. We discussed her background in greater detail in our post on her nomination for the position [see blog].
The Secretary of Homeland Security is an extremely important position in the U.S. immigration system, overseeing the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the United States Customs and Border Protection. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the Department of Homeland Security has many non-immigration functions, including within it components such as the Coast Guard, Secret Service, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Update: December 17, 2017
Secretary Nielsen was sworn in on December 8, 2017. We have embedded the video from her swearing-in ceremony below: