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14 October 2017, 12:59 | Darnell Patrick
President Donald Trump announced Thursday he has nominated Deputy White House Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen to replace her former bosses as Homeland Security Secretary.
The announcement was expected to be made as soon as later in the day, Xinhua reported on Wednesday citing United States news outlet Politico.
Kirstjen Nielsen, Chief of Staff of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, center, walks to Air Force One as she departs Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
Nielsen who worked under Kelly at DHS before coming to the White House - only to go back to DHS in Kelly's old role - has earned a reputation of being tough to work with, as Kelly worked to narrow the flow of information and people into the Oval Office. She served as a special assistant to former President George W. Bush.
Elaine Duke is running the DHS on an interim basis.
Her nomination must now be confirmed by a vote in the Senate.
Nielsen holds degrees from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and the University of Virginia Law School. Her supporters say she has been trying to help professionalize the White House. Trump's decision to choose Nielsen was first reported by Politico.
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Nielsen was part of the White House team that shouldered much of the blame for the government's botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The White House said Wednesday in a written announcement that Nielsen 'has extensive professional experience in the areas of homeland security policy and strategy, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure, and emergency management'.
The sprawling department includes the agencies responsible for policing borders and immigration, a central focus for the Trump administration, including Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They were allowed to remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, whose protections will begin to expire in March, leaving them at risk of deportation.
There's been some suggestion from Gabe Sherman in Vanity Fair and others that this move could be a sign that Kelly himself, who is rumored to be becoming increasingly frustrated in a position where it has proven impossible to control the White House since he can't control the President, is getting ready to jump ship himself and that he's looking for a "soft landing" for someone who has been a loyal aide going back many years.
The choice was greeted with praise and some relief by Homeland Security veterans, who said Nielsen is well prepared to take the job. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
"As we continue to address and confront a myriad of ever-evolving threats on (the committee), I look forward to working with Ms. Nielsen at the helm of DHS", he said.
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