Understanding the President’s Cabinet: Homeland Security Secretary
Religion & Liberty Online

Understanding the President’s Cabinet: Homeland Security Secretary

Note: This is post #15 in a weekly series of explanatory posts on the officials and agencies included in the President’s Cabinet. See the series introduction here.

Cabinet position: Secretary of Homeland Security

Department:  Department of Homeland Security

Current Secretary: John F. Kelly

Succession: The Secretary of Homeland Security is 18th (and last) in the presidential line of succession.

Department Mission: “To secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, and our goal is clear – keeping America safe.” (Source)

Department Budget: $40.6 billion for FY 2017

Number of employees:  More than 240,000.

Primary Duties of the Secretary: “The Secretary of Homeland Security leads the third largest Department of the U.S. government, with a workforce of 229,000 employees and 22 components including TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and the Secret Service. Under the Secretary’s leadership, DHS is responsible for counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, administration and enforcement of our immigration laws, protection of our national leaders, protection of critical infrastructure, detection of and protection against chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland, and response to disasters.” (Source)


Secretary Info

Secretary: John F. Kelly

Previous occupation: A general in the U.S. Marine Corps (four star) serving as commander of the U.S. Southern Command.

Education: B.A. from the University of Massachusetts Boston; Master of Science in National Security Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Previous government experience: Commandant’s Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives; Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Notable achievements:

• Served in the U.S. Marine Corps, both enlisted and as an officer, for 45 years.

• Awarded the Legion of Merit (with one star and Combat V).

• Commanded Task Force Tripoli, which took the city of Baghdad during the Iraq War.

• Was the first Marine colonel since 1951 to be promoted to brigadier general while in active combat.

Notable quotes:

On his role as HS Secretary: “The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security.”

On the U.S. border: “The border is, if not wide open, then certainly open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country. Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States.”

On veterans killed in combat: “Remember them for the heroes they are, for the commitment they made, for the price they paid, and pray for their families and their loved ones, and their friends, they left behind. Keep memorial day sacred, for this purpose. Never forget. We owe them at least that much.”


Previous and forthcoming posts in this series: Secretary of StateSecretary of the TreasurySecretary of Education, Secretary of LaborSecretary of Defense, Attorney General, Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of CommerceSecretary of Health and Human ServicesSecretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of EnergySecretary of Veterans Affairs, Secretary of Homeland Security

Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).