|United States Secretary of Homeland Security|
|United States Department of Homeland Security|
Homeland Security Council
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|
|First holder||Tom Ridge|
|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.
Traditionally, the order of the presidential line of succession is determined (after the vice president, speaker of the House, and president pro tempore of the Senate) by the order of the creation of the cabinet positions, and the list as mandated under 3 U.S.C. § 19 follows this tradition.
On March 7, 2006, 43rd president George W. Bush signed H.R. 3199 as Pub.L. 109–177 (text) (PDF), which renewed the Patriot Act of 2001 and amended the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 to include the newly created presidential Cabinet position of Secretary of Homeland Security in the line of succession after the previously authorized secretary of veterans affairs (§ 503) (which are listed and designated in the order that their departments were created). In the 109th Congress, legislation was introduced to place the secretary of homeland security into the line of succession after the attorney general but that bill expired at the end of the 109th Congress and was not re-introduced.
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 (5) Republican (3) Democratic (4) Independent
Status Denotes Acting Homeland Security Secretary
|No.||Portrait||Name||Senate vote||Term of office||State of residence||President|
|Took office||Left office||Duration|
|94 – 0||January 24, 2003||February 1, 2005||2 years, 8 days||Pennsylvania||George W. Bush|
|–||February 1, 2005||February 15, 2005||14 days||Pennsylvania|
|98 – 0||February 15, 2005||January 21, 2009||3 years, 341 days||New Jersey|
|Voice Vote||January 21, 2009||September 6, 2013||4 years, 228 days||Arizona||Barack Obama|
|–||September 6, 2013||December 23, 2013||108 days||District of Columbia|
|78 – 16||December 23, 2013||January 20, 2017||3 years, 28 days||New Jersey|
|5||John F. Kelly
|88 – 11||January 20, 2017||July 31, 2017||192 days||Massachusetts||Donald Trump|
|–||July 31, 2017||December 6, 2017||128 days||Ohio|
|62 – 37||December 6, 2017||April 10, 2019||1 year, 125 days||Florida|
|–||April 10, 2019||November 13, 2019||217 days||Hawaii|
|–||November 13, 2019||January 11, 2021||1 year, 59 days||Virginia|
|–||January 11, 2021||January 20, 2021||9 days||Rhode Island|
|–||January 20, 2021||February 2, 2021||13 days||Connecticut||Joe Biden|
|56 – 43||February 2, 2021||Incumbent||1 year, 106 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
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.
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:
As a result of Executive Order 13753 in 2016, the order of succession for the secretary of homeland security was as follows:
George W. Bush nominated Bernard Kerik for the position in 2004. However a week later, Kerik withdrew his nomination, explaining that he had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny.
By July 2013, Raymond Kelly had served as Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for nearly 12 straight years. Within days of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano's announcement that she was resigning, Kelly was soon cited as an obvious potential successor by New York senator Charles Schumer and others.
During a July 16, 2013, interview, President Obama referred generally to the "bunch of strong candidates" for nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security, but singled out Kelly as "one of the best there is" and "very well qualified for the job".
Later in July 2013, the online internet news website/magazine Huffington Post detailed "a growing campaign to quash the potential nomination of New York City Police commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security" amid claims of "divisive, harmful, and ineffective policing that promotes stereotypes and profiling". Days after that article, Kelly penned a statistics-heavy Wall Street Journal opinion article defending the NYPD's programs, stating "the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week" and that this and other practices have led to "7,383 lives saved—and... they are largely the lives of young men of color."
Kelly was also featured because of his NYPD retirement and unusually long tenure there in a long segment on the CBS News program Sunday Morning in December 2013, especially raising the question of the controversial "stop and frisk" policy in New York City and the long decline and drop of various types of crimes committed.