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United States Secretary of Homeland Security
Flag of the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.svg
Flag of the secretary
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Seal of the Department of Homeland Security
Secretary Mayorkas Official Photo (cropped).jpg
Incumbent
Alejandro Mayorkas

since February 2, 2021
United States Department of Homeland Security
Style Mr. Secretary (informal)
The Honorable (formal)
Member of Cabinet of the United States
United States Homeland Security Council
United States National Security Council
Reports to President of the United States
Seat St. Elizabeths West Campus, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Appointer President of the United States
with Senate advice and consent
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument 6 U.S.C. § 112
Formation January 24, 2003
(21 years ago)
 (2003-01-24)
First holder Tom Ridge
Succession Eighteenth
Deputy Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (DSHS)
Salary Executive Schedule, Level I

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the federal department tasked with ensuring public safety in the United States. The secretary is a member of the Cabinet of the United States. The position was created by the Homeland Security Act following the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The new department consisted primarily of components transferred from other Cabinet departments because of their role in homeland security, such as the Coast Guard, the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which includes the United States Border Patrol), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which includes Homeland Security Investigations), the United States Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It does not, however, include the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the U.S. Marshals Service. They continue to operate under U.S. Department of Justice.

The current secretary of homeland security is Alejandro Mayorkas, since February 2, 2021. He is the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

List of secretaries of homeland security

Prior to the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there existed an assistant to the president for the Office of Homeland Security, which was created following the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Parties       Republican (5)       Democratic (3)       Independent (4)

Status       Denotes Acting Homeland Security Secretary

No. Portrait Name Senate vote Term of office State of residence President
Took office Left office Duration
1 Tom Ridge Tom Ridge
(born 1945)
94–0 January 24, 2003 February 1, 2005 2 years, 8 days  Pennsylvania George W. Bush
James Loy James Loy
(born 1942)
Acting
February 1, 2005 February 15, 2005 14 days  Pennsylvania
2 Michael Chertoff Michael Chertoff
(born 1953)
98–0 February 15, 2005 January 21, 2009 3 years, 341 days  New Jersey
3 Janet Napolitano Janet Napolitano
(born 1957)
Voice vote January 21, 2009 September 6, 2013 4 years, 228 days  Arizona Barack Obama
Rand Beers Rand Beers
(born 1942)
Acting
September 6, 2013 December 23, 2013 108 days  District of Columbia
4 Jeh Johnson Jeh Johnson
(born 1957)
78–16 December 23, 2013 January 20, 2017 3 years, 28 days  New Jersey
5 John F. Kelly John F. Kelly
(born 1950)
88–11 January 20, 2017 July 31, 2017 192 days  Massachusetts Donald Trump
Elaine Duke Elaine Duke
(born 1958)
Acting
July 31, 2017 December 6, 2017 128 days  Ohio
6 Kirstjen Nielsen Kirstjen Nielsen
(born 1972)
62–37 December 6, 2017 April 10, 2019 1 year, 125 days  Florida
Kevin McAleenan Kevin McAleenan
(born 1971)
Acting; unlawful tenure
April 10, 2019 November 13, 2019 217 days  Hawaii
Chad Wolf Chad Wolf
(born 1976)
Acting; unlawful tenure
November 13, 2019 January 11, 2021 1 year, 59 days  Virginia
Pete Gaynor Pete Gaynor
(born 1968)
Acting
January 11, 2021 January 20, 2021 9 days  Rhode Island
David Pekoske David Pekoske
(born 1955)
Acting
January 20, 2021 February 2, 2021 13 days  Connecticut Joe Biden
7 Alejandro Mayorkas Alejandro Mayorkas
(born 1959)
56–43 February 2, 2021 Incumbent 3 years, 167 days  District of Columbia

a. James Loy served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

b. Rand Beers served as acting secretary in his capacity as confirmed Undersecretary of Homeland Security for National Protection and Programs and Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security; Beers was the highest ranking Senate-approved presidential appointee at the Department of Homeland Security.

c. Elaine Duke served as acting secretary in her capacity as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.

d. Kevin McAleenan served as acting secretary in his capacity as Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. His tenure was ruled unlawful.

e. Chad Wolf served as acting secretary in his capacity as Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Strategy, Policy, and Plans. His tenure was ruled unlawful.

f. Peter Gaynor served as acting secretary in his capacity as Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator.

g. David Pekoske served as acting secretary in his capacity as Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration

Order of succession

While appointment of acting officials is generally governed by the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (FVRA), the Homeland Security Act of 2002 creates exceptions to FVRA, mandating that the under secretary of homeland security for management is third in the line of succession for Secretary of Homeland Security, and establishes an alternate process by which the secretary can directly establish a line of succession outside the provisions of the FVRA.

As of November 8, 2019, the order of succession is as follows. However, the legality of this update was challenged.

  1. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
  2. Under Secretary for Management
  3. Commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  4. Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans
  5. Administrator and Assistant Secretary of the Transportation Security Administration
  6. Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

Formerly, an April 10, 2019 update to the DHS Orders of Succession, made pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, provided a different order in the case of unavailability to act during a disaster or catastrophic emergency:

  1. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
  2. Under Secretary for Management
  3. Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  4. Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  5. Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency
  6. Under Secretary for Science and Technology
  7. Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis
  8. Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration
  9. Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  10. Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  11. Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans
  12. General Counsel
  13. Deputy Under Secretary for Management
  14. Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  15. Deputy Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration
  16. Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  17. Deputy Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  18. Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers

As a result of Executive Order 13753 in 2016, the order of succession for the secretary of homeland security was as follows:

  1. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
  2. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Management
  3. Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  4. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for National Protection and Programs
  5. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology
  6. Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis
  7. Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  8. Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration
  9. Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  10. Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  11. Assistant Secretary for Policy
  12. General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security
  13. Deputy Under Secretary for Management
  14. Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  15. Deputy Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration
  16. Deputy Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  17. Deputy Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  18. Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security

Purpose

The Office of the Secretary (OS) oversees the execution of the duties of the Department of Homeland Security. Certain elements also aid the Secretary of Homeland Security and senior officials of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as private sector and government partners in their duties.

Composition

The Office of the Secretary contains several offices and other elements of the DHS. Most of the heads of these elements report directly to the Secretary or Deputy Secretary, but the Military Advisor and Executive Secretary report to the DHS Chief of Staff, who is currently Jonathan Davidson.

Components of the Office of the Secretary of Homeland Security
Component Mission Executives Subordinate Elements
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL)
  • Provides legal and policy advice to Department leadership on civil rights and civil liberties issues.
  • Investigates and resolves complaints.
  • Provides leadership to Equal Employment Opportunity Programs.
  • Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia
    • Deputy Officer for Programs & Compliance: Peter Mina
    • Deputy Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: Veronica Venture
  • Programs and Compliance Division
    • Compliance Branch
      • Investigations Section
      • Operations Section
    • Programs Branch
      • Antidiscrimination Group
      • CRCL Institute
      • Community Engagement Section
      • Immigration Section
      • Security, Intelligence, and Information Policy Section
  • Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Division
    • Diversity Management Section
    • Complaints Management and Adjudication Section
    • Headquarters EEO Office
    • Dispute Resolution and Anti-Harassment Section
  • Executive Officer
    • Business Operations Section
  • Office for Accessible Systems and Technology (jointly run with DHS Office of the Chief Information Officer)
Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CISOMB)
  • Serves as a liaison between the public and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Helps individuals and employers resolve issues they are having with USCIS.
  • Holds engagements to hear from the public about their experiences with USCIS.
  • Identifies issues in the immigration system and make recommendations to USCIS on how to address these problems.
  • CIS Ombudsman: Nathan Stiefel (acting)
    • Deputy Ombudsman: Nathan Stiefel
  • Policy Division
  • Public Engagement Division
  • Casework Division
  • Operations Division
  • Strategy Division
Climate Change Action Group
  • Drives urgent action to address the climate crisis.
  • Analyzes, on an ongoing basis, the impacts of climate change on DHS missions, assets, and personnel.
  • Adapts DHS operations, assets, and missions to account for the climate crisis via risk- based strategies.
  • Coordinates DHS-wide sustainability operations to mitigate additional harm.
  • Recommends specific, concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Recommends specific, concrete steps to promote resilience and adaptation to reduce the multiple risks posed by the climate crisis.
  • Recommends organizational and resource realignments as necessary to support the Department’s activities to address the climate crisis.
  • Co-Chairs: Cass Sunstein & Robert P. Silvers
Office of the Executive Secretary (ESEC)
  • Provides all manner of direct support to the Secretary of Homeland Security and Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as related support to leadership and management across the DHS.
  • Accurate and timely dissemination of information and written communications.
  • Executive Secretary: Kimberly O'Connor
Office of the Immigration Detention Ombudsman (OIDO)
  • Assists individuals with complaints about the potential violation of immigration detention standards or other misconduct by DHS (or contract) personnel.
  • Provides oversight of immigration detention facilities.
  • ID Ombudsman: David Gersten (acting)
    • ID Deputy Ombudsman: N/A
  • Case Management Division
  • Detention Oversight Division
  • Policy and Standards Division
  • External Relations Division
  • Operations and Resource Management Division
  • Program Integration Division
Family Reunification Task Force
  • Committed to the safe reunification of families that were unjustly separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Includes the secretaries of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and State, as well as the Attorney General. It also includes several other officials from the DHS, DOJ, HHS, and State Department.
Office of the General Counsel (OGC)
  • Provides complete, accurate, and timely legal advice on possible courses of action for the DHS.
  • Ensures that homeland security policies are implemented lawfully, quickly, and efficiently.
  • Protects the rights and liberties of any Americans who come in contact with the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Facilitates quick responses to congressional requests for information.
  • Represents the department in venues across the country, including in U.S. immigration courts.
  • The OGC accomplishes these tasks with over 3,000 attorneys.
  • General Counsel: Jonathan Meyer
    • Deputy General Counsel: Joseph B. Maher
    • CBP Chief Counsel: Frederick B. Smith
    • CISA Chief Counsel: Spencer Fisher
    • USCIS Chief Counsel: A. Ashley Tabaddor
    • USCG Judge Advocate General: Melissa Bert
    • FEMA Chief Counsel: Adrian Sevier
    • FLETC Chief Counsel: Trisha Besselman (acting)
    • ICE Principal Legal Advisor: Kerry Doyle
    • USSS Chief Counsel: Thomas F. Huse
    • TSA Chief Counsel: Francine Kerner
Headquarters Elements (each headed by an Associate General Counsel; subdivisions headed by an Assistant Attorney General):
  • Ethics & Compliance Law Division
  • General Law Division
  • Immigration Law Division
  • Intelligence Law Division
  • Legal Counsel Division
  • Operations and Enforcement Law Division
  • Regulatory Affairs Law Division
  • Technology Programs Law Division

Component Legal Offices (each headed by a Chief Counsel or equivalent):

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of the Chief Counsel
  • U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Office of the Chief Counsel
    • Cybersecurity Law Division
    • Ethics Law Division
    • General Law Division
    • Infrastructure Security and Regulatory Programs Division
    • Operations, Engagement, and Risk Division
    • Litigation and Investigations Division
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Office of the Chief Counsel
    • Adjudications Law Division (headquarters)
    • Refugee and Asylum Division (headquarters)
    • Commercial and Administrative Law Division (headquarters)
    • Regulatory and Verification Law Division (headquarters)
    • Training and Knowledge Management Division (headquarters)
    • Ethics Division (headquarters)
    • Northeastern Law Division (field)
    • Southeastern Law Division (field)
    • Central Law Division (field)
    • Western Law Division (field)
    • Litigation and National Security Coordination Division (field)
    • Service Center Law Division (field)
  • U.S. Coast Guard, Office of the Judge Advocate General
  • U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Office of the Chief Counsel
    • Resilience Legal Division
    • Legal Counsel and Ethics Legal Division
    • Mission Support Law Division
    • Procurement and Fiscal Law Division
    • Resilience - Preparedness and Continuity Legal Division
    • Regional and Field Operations Legal Division
    • Regulatory Affairs Division
    • Response and Recovery Legal Division
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution Office
  • U.S. Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, Office of the Chief Counsel
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor
    • Deputy Principal Legal Advisor for Field Legal Operations
      • Field Locations
      • Field Administrative Management and Employment
    • Deputy Principal Legal Advisor for Enforcement and Litigation
      • District Court Litigation Division
      • Enforcement and Removal Operations Law Division
      • Homeland Security Investigations Law Division
      • Human Rights Violator Law Division
      • Immigration Law and Practice Division
      • National Security Law Division
    • Deputy Principal Legal Advisor for General and Administrative Law
      • Commercial and Administrative Division
      • Government Information Law Division
      • Ethics Office
      • Labor and Employment Law Division
      • Mission Support Division
    • Chief of Staff
      • Administrative Operations
      • Executive Communications Unit
      • Knowledge Management Division
      • Strategic Management Division
  • U.S. Secret Service, Office of the Chief Counsel
  • U.S. Transportation Security Administration, Office of the Chief Counsel
Joint Requirements Council (JRC)
  • Validates capability gaps.
  • Associated with operational requirements and proposed solution approaches to mitigate those gaps through the Joint Requirements Integration and Management System (JRIMS).
  • Leverages opportunities for commonality to enhance operational effectiveness directly and better inform the DHS’ main investment pillars.
  • Executive Director: Joseph D. Wawro
The JRC consists of the Principals Council – the operational Components (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), I&A, Management, CIO, Policy, and S&T.
Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA)
  • Serves as primary liaison to members of Congress and their staffs, the White House and Executive Branch, and to other federal agencies and governmental entities that have roles in assuring national security
  • Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs: Zephranie Buetow
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary (Senate): Bryn McDonough
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary (House of Representatives): Alexandra Carnes
Each area of responsibility is managed by a director. There's a DAS for the U.S. Senate, a DAS for the U.S. House of Representatives, and a Chief of Staff.
  • Headquarters
  • Operational Component Coordination
  • Intelligence, Cyber, and Operations
  • Oversight and Investigations
  • Executive Secretary and Mission Support
Office of the Military Advisor
  • Provides counsel and support to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in affairs relating to policy, procedures, preparedness activities, and operations between DHS and the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Military Advisor to the Secretary: Rear Admiral Michael Platt
Office of Partnership and Engagement (OPE)
  • Coordinates the Department of Homeland Security’s outreach efforts with key stakeholders nationwide.
  • Ensures a unified approach to external engagement amongst the DHS.
  • Assistant Secretary for Partnership and Engagement: Brenda F. Abdelall
    • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary: Rebecca Sternhell
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs: › miriam-enriquez-26176910b Miriam Enriquez
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Private Sector Office: Jamie Lawrence
  • Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
    • State and Local Affairs
    • Tribal Government Affairs
  • Private Sector Office
  • Office of Academic Engagement
  • Faith-Based Security Advisory Council
  • Committee Management Office
  • Homeland Security Advisory Council
  • Office of Social Impact and Campaigns
  • Director, Non-Governmental Organizations
Privacy Office
  • Protects individuals by embedding and enforcing privacy protections and transparency in all DHS activities.
  • Chief Privacy Officer: Mason C. Clutter (concurrently serves as the DHS Chief Freedom of Information Officer)
  • Senior Policy Advisor and Executive Director, Strategy and Integration
  • Deputy Chief FOIA Officer
    • Senior Director, FOIA Operations and Management
      • Director of Disclosure
    • Senior Director, Litigation, Appeals, and Policy
      • Director, Policy, Oversight, Compliance
  • Deputy Chief Privacy Officer
    • Senior Director, Privacy Compliance
      • Director, Privacy Compliance
    • Senior Director, Privacy Policy and Oversight
      • Director, Privacy Policy
      • Director, Privacy Incidents
      • Director, Privacy Oversight
  • Chief of Staff
    • Director, Business Operations
    • Director, Communications & Training
Office of Public Affairs (OPA)
  • Coordinates the public affairs activities of all of the components and offices of the DHS.
  • Serves as the federal government’s lead public information office during a national emergency or disaster.
  • Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs: Daniel Watson
    • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications: Luis Miranda
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Media Relations: Sarah Schakow
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications: Jeff Solnet
  • DHS Press Office
  • Incident and Strategic Communications
  • Multimedia
  • Speechwriting
  • Web Communications
  • Internal Communications
Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans (OSP&P)
  • Serves as a central resource to the Secretary and other department leaders for strategic planning and analysis, and facilitation of decision-making on the full breadth of issues that may arise across the dynamic homeland security enterprise
  • Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans: Robert Silvers
    • Deputy Under Secretary: Kelli Ann Burriesci
  • Chief of Staff
  • Assistant Secretary for Border and Immigration Policy
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Border and Immigration
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Immigration Statistics
  • Assistant Secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention
    • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Screening and Vetting
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Law Enforcement
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Countering Transnational Organized Crime
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention
  • Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
    • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, International Affairs
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Western Hemisphere
  • Assistant Secretary for Trade and Economic Security
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Trade Policy
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Economic Security
  • Assistant Secretary for Cyber, Infrastructure, Risk, and Resilience
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Cyber Policy
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary, Infrastructure, Risk, and Resilience
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Integration and Policy Planning
Office for State and Local Law Enforcement (OSLLE)
  • Provides DHS with primary coordination, liaison, and advocacy for state, local, tribal, territorial, and campus (SLTTC) law enforcement.
  • Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement: Heather Fong
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary: N/A

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Secretario de Seguridad Nacional de los Estados Unidos para niños

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