Kirstjen Nielsen, a Bush administration alum, is the new Homeland Security secretary following her Senate confirmation Tuesday.
It’s been a remarkably painless and quick process for the Trump administration to fill White House chief of staff John Kelly’s old job as Democrats threw few obstacles in her path towards her confirmation. She was sworn into the job Wednesday.
However, Trump supporters should take pause at the confirmation of the new Department of Homeland Security chief. As the agency most involved in enacting the president’s immigration agenda, it is essential for someone to head DHS who shares the same priorities that got Trump elected.
Unfortunately, Nielsen’s public statements make it seem that her view of immigration policy isn’t exactly complimentary with an America First agenda.
In her testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Nielsen stated that America “owe[s]” amnesty to illegal aliens who came to the country as minors.
“I believe that we must and we owe it to them to find a permanent solution,” she said of the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump scrapped DACA back in September in order to give Congress the opportunity to work out a permanent solution to the problem. The White House and some immigration hawks hope to get Democrats to agree to immigration restrictions in other areas in exchange for permanent legalization for DACA recipients.
But Nielsen’s statement indicates a moral purpose to giving illegal immigrants amnesty, which obviously gives Democrats the high ground in negotiations. America apparently owes these DACA recipients legalization without any stipulations — the DHS secretary said so.
The new DHS secretary also said that America doesn’t need a border wall with Mexico, one of Trump’s chief campaign promises. “There is no need for a wall from sea to shining sea,” she told the Senate committee.
Instead of that, Nielsen advocates for a “virtual wall” to protect the border.
In 2016, Nielsen authored a pro-mass immigration report for the World Economic Forum that argued Europe’s perilous migrant wave was actually a terrific opportunity.
“The key policy issue confronting Europe is not whether to accept forced migrants but rather how to turn the associated challenges into opportunities,” Nielsen’s report claimed. “Reframing the discourse surrounding refugees from one of risk to one that recognizes the substantial social and economic contribution they can make to their host societies is increasingly important in light of the current large-scale influx of migrants into Europe.”
Considering the numerous problems that the migrant wave has caused for Europe, it’s bold to argue that the new arrivals presented a “substantial social and economic contribution” to European countries. Moreover, that way of thinking is in severe contrast with Trump’s own position on the matter.
“I think [German chancellor Angela Merkel] made one very catastrophic mistake, and that was taking all of these illegals,” Trump said of Germany’s decision to welcome a million migrants into its country in 2015.
These past statements should certainly give Trump supporters concern that she will fully carry out the president’s tough immigration policies. It makes sense why NumbersUSA, a prominent immigration reduction group, came out against her nomination.
The arguments in favor of Nielsen becoming DHS secretary have left much to be desired. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano wrote an op-ed in October that praised the DHS pick as “tough” based on the author knowing her. Outside of Carafano’s word on the matter, there was no evidence offered in the op-ed that Nielsen would be tough on immigration issues.
Washington Examiner columnist Kristen Soltis Anderson took a different tack in defending Nielsen by calling the criticism of the DHS nominee sexist.
It’s unclear how concerns over Nielsen’s views on immigration somehow relate to her gender. Andy Puzder, a dude, faced similar criticism over his immigration stances when he was nominated to be Labor secretary.
Regardless of her faults, Nielsen is now the new DHS secretary and Trumpists can only hope she defies expectations and effectively implements an America First immigration policy.
However, there should still be healthy skepticism of the DHS secretary as she enters this important role. The people didn’t vote for the immigration agenda of the World Economic Forum.