Janet Napolitano steps down at DHS: Who will replace her? (+video)
Janet Napolitano guided DHS through challenging times marked by debates over border security and immigration, airport security policies that critics say were too intrusive, and scrutiny of the federal response to natural disasters.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is resigning to assume the presidency of the University of California system of higher education.Skip to next paragraph
Staff writer and editor
Brad Knickerbocker is a staff writer and editor based in Ashland, Oregon.
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Secretary Napolitano, named to the job when President Obama first assumed office, has guided DHS through challenging times marked by debates over border security and immigration, airport security policies that critics say were too intrusive, and scrutiny of the federal response to natural disasters.
In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama praised Napolitano for “outstanding work on behalf of the American people over the last four years.”
“She’s worked around the clock to respond to natural disasters, from the Joplin tornado to Hurricane Sandy, helping Americans recover and rebuild,” he said. “Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values.”
Many Republicans in Congress disagree.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) of Alabama said in a statement that her tenure "was defined by a consistent disrespect for the rule of law."
Rep. Michael McCaul (R) of Texas, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called her departure “a substantial addition to the growing list of unfilled key leadership positions within the Department.”
“The many agencies housed within DHS are only as effective as their leadership, and it is crucial that the Administration appoints someone who does not underestimate the threats against us, and who is committed to enforcing the law and creating a unified Department,” Representative McCaul said in a statement. “Ten years after the creation of the Department, it is critical that its mission isn’t undermined by politics or political correctness. The border is not secure, and the threat of terrorism is not diminishing.”
Sen. John McCain (R), from Napolitano's home state of Arizona, was gentler in his response.
"We have had our share of disagreements during her time as Secretary, but I have never doubted her integrity, work ethic or commitment to our nation's security," he said in a statement.