The Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen as the secretary of homeland security by a 62 to 37 vote, elevating a top White House aide and former agency official to oversee the department central to President Trump’s plan to crack down on illegal immigration and beef up border security, the New York Times reports. Nielsen will replace John Kelly, now the White House chief of staff. Nielsen served as Kelly’s chief of staff at the Homeland Security Department. Elaine Duke, a deputy Homeland Security secretary, will remain at the department in the No. 2 position.
Nielsen has faced questions about her lack of experience running a large organization; Homeland Security is the third-largest federal department in the federal government. She will be responsible for carrying out the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce immigration, as well as aviation security, domestic counterterrorism and preparations for natural and man-made disasters. She will oversee the hiring of 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and 10,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Even as the department tries to hire new Border Patrol agents, it is losing them at a faster rate. The agency has had trouble keeping agents who face polygraph requirements, work in remote locations and get lower annual pay compared with other law enforcement jobs.