WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump named Chad Wolf on Friday as the new acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security that has seen a spate of leadership departures since the Trump presidency began three years ago.
Reporters at the White House asked Trump if Wolf would be the next DHS secretary and he replied: “I put in a very good man who’s highly respected, and he’s acting right now. We’ll see where that goes.”
Wolf, the current deputy secretary of strategy, policies, and plans of the department, will replace Kevin McAleenan, who submitted his resignation to the White House three weeks ago. He would be the fifth homeland security secretary since Trump took office.
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley told reporters that McAleenan would leave after Veterans Day (Nov. 11) after having “done a tremendous job” as acknowledged by the president.
“And after he leaves, Chad Wolf will be the interim secretary,” Gidley confirmed.
Wolf, who has 20 years of security experience in both the public and private sectors, was a key figure in establishing new security controls at US airports after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to his DHS biography.
Recently, he had served as chief of staff for former DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned in April this year, ending her tumultuous tenure as in charge of the border security agency that had earned her the president’s criticism for poor results in stopping immigration.
McAlleenan came in place of Nielsen after having served as the head of the border patrol.
During McAlleenan’s tenure, the US signed immigration agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras that, in practice, have limited the right to asylum for Central Americans.
Wolf assumes the position at a time when Trump is pushing his immigration crackdown in the run-up to the 2020 election.
Specifically, in the last 12 months, the number of undocumented immigrants detained at the US border and Mexico grew by 88 percent over the same period last year and reached close to one million, a figure that marks a record since 2007.