Decision on Nominee for Secretary of DHS Not Imminent

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On July 31, 2017, the former Secretary of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly, left his position to become the White House Chief of Staff. Since then, Elaine C. Duke, who was serving as the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, has been serving as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.

On September 1, 2017, Andrew Restuccia and Eliana Johnson of Politico reported that President Donald Trump has not yet interviewed candidates for the position of Secretary of Homeland Security [link].1 They report that, although the White House has a shortlist for the position, “it could be weeks before Trump finally makes his choice…”

The report suggests that President Trump's preference initially was to choose Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who also heads the President's election integrity commission. Kobach had been rumored to be a candidate for the position during the Trump transition as well. However, it reports that Kelly has dissuaded the President from nominating Kobach.

According to the story, the following five individuals are on the White House shortlist:

Thomas Homan, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy
James Loy (served in DHS during the Bush Administration)
Michael McCaul, U.S. Representative for Texas' 10th Congressional District and Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee
Peter King, U.S. Representative for New York's 2nd Congressional District and former Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee

Notably absent from the list is Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. However, Restuccia and Johnson report that President Trump has been satisfied with Duke's performance thus far, and that he may consider her for the permanent position if that continues.

Furthermore, it appears that the reported shortlist is not final, and more candidates could be added who have experience in homeland security. It appears that Kelly is playing a leading role in the search.

Secretary of Homeland Security is the most consequential cabinet position for immigration policy. Accordingly, we will continue to follow the issue closely and update the site when more is known.


  1. Restuccia, Andrew. Eliana Johnson. “Trump not rushing to find a permanent head for DHS.” Politico. Sep. 1, 2017.
Decision on Nominee for Secretary of DHS Not Imminent