Senate Should Delay Vote to Confirm Nielsen as DHS Secretary

Nominee’s lack of qualifications, independence raise serious questions

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, UnidosUS (formerly NCLR), called on members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs to delay a vote on the confirmation of Kirstjen Nielsen to head the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). UnidosUS shares the deep concerns expressed by Senators of the Committee, including the nominee’s obvious lack of experience and the ability for Nielsen to act independent of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Nielsen’s current boss.

According to recent reporting, Kelly sought to strong arm the current Acting Secretary into a decision to deport more than 57,000 Hondurans currently living with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). As DHS Secretary, Nielsen would be charged with overseeing and implementing the Trump administration’s immigration policy agenda. If confirmed, one of her first charges will be to decide the fates of nearly 300,000 TPS holders currently lawfully residing in the United States.

“We are alarmed by reports of the overt meddling by Trump administration officials into an agency’s deliberative decision-making process, and find it wholly unacceptable. This actual and apparent impropriety is dangerous, and Congress must exercise oversight into undue pressure by administration officials desperate to concoct a false narrative to justify their indefensible demonization and targeting of immigrants,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Deputy Vice President, UnidosUS.

This is not the first example of improper undue influence by the White House on independent government agencies. Just one month ago, a FOIA response showed internal DHS email by immigration agents struggling to produce examples to substantiate the Trump administration’s false claims about immigrants. The FOIA revealed that ICE agents were directed to find “three  egregious [criminal] cases” for Secretary Kelly around the much publicized spat between the administration and the City of Austin around so-called Sanctuary City policies.

“Congress must have a chance to further examine whether Ms. Nielsen has the willingness, ability and fortitude to be an independent actor—or merely serve as a puppet for the Trump White House,” concluded Martinez-De-Castro.