DOJ Gains Another Immigration Hawk As Ex-Sessions Staffer Joins Former Boss

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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A top immigration policy expert in the Trump administration is reuniting with his former boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, at the Department of Justice, boosting the ranks of immigration hard-liners in the government’s primary law enforcement arm.

Gene Hamilton, currently a senior counselor to the Homeland Security secretary, confirmed to CNN that he will leave that position to join Sessions’s office at the DOJ. Before his DHS appointment, Hamilton worked as a general counsel for Sessions, part of a team of staffers that included the now influential White House advisor Stephen Miller.

Hamilton is expected to assume his new responsibilities next week.

“Gene has been a highly valued member of the secretary’s senior staff,” DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton said in a statement. “His deep knowledge of the issues the department handles and his dedication to supporting the frontline law enforcement officers of DHS will be missed. We look forward to working closely with Gene in his new role at the Department of Justice.”

Hamilton’s transfer to the DOJ further enhances the agency’s already prominent role in implementing President Donald Trump’s tough immigration agenda. Under Sessions, the DOJ has taken the lead on a wide range of immigration-related issues, including speeding up deportations of criminal aliens and cracking down on local jurisdictions that limit cooperation with immigration authorities.

The DOJ is also handling legal challenges to Trump’s orders on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the travel ban, and withholding federal grants from sanctuary cities.

Hamilton has been with DHS since January, one of several congressional staffers who worked for immigration hawks on Capitol Hill before moving into senior administration positions. His transfer comes on the heels of the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to replace John Kelly as DHS chief, but the move does not appear to be the result of differences with the incoming secretary.

“I look forward to watching the department continue to thrive and succeed from a different role,” Hamilton told CNN. “I wish everyone the best and it’s been a privilege.”

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