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Jeh Johnson

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Jeh Johnson
Jeh Johnson official portrait.jpg
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
Elections and appointments
NominatedOctober 18, 2013
ConfirmedDecember 16, 2013
Appointed byBarack Obama
Prior offices
General Counsel for the Department of Defense
General Counsel for the Department of the Air Force
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Bachelor'sMorehouse College
J.D.Columbia Law School
Date of birthSeptember 11, 1957
Place of birthNew York, New York
Office website
Jeh Charles Johnson (b. September 11, 1957, in New York, New York) is the current Secretary of Homeland Security. Johnson was nominated to the position on October 18, 2013, and confirmed by the Senate on December 16, 2013, by a vote of 78-16. President Barack Obama nominated Johnson to the position left open by the resignation of Janet Napolitano.[1][2]

He previously served as general counsel for the Pentagon and for the Air Force, as well as being a private practice attorney.[3]


Johnson was born in New York, New York, and graduated from Morehouse College before earning a law degree from Columbia Law School.[3]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Johnson's academic, professional and political career:[3]

  • 1979: Graduated from Morehouse College
  • 1982: Earned J.D. from Columbia Law School
  • 1984-1988: Attorney at a private practice
  • 1989-1991: Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York
  • 1992-1998: Attorney at Paul Weiss
  • 1998-2001: General Counsel at Department of the Air Force
  • 2001-2008: Attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP
  • 2008-2012: General Counsel at Department of Defense

Confirmation vote

Johnson was confirmed by the Senate on December 16, 2013, by a vote of 78-16.[4] He replaced Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Jeh Johnson confirmation vote, December 16, 2013
Party Votes for Approveda Votes against Defeatedd Total votes
Democratic Party Democrats 53 0 53
Republican Party Republicans 23 16 39
Independent Independents 2 0 2
Total Votes 78 16 94

Hold on nomination

Sen. Chuck Grassley announced on November 20, 2013, that he placed a hold on Johnson's nomination for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). He said he had no plan to relent until Johnson provided him with key information about his views on immigration.[5]

“We asked if he would cooperate with us on oversight matters and work with us to improve immigration policies going forward,” Grassley said. “We have not yet received a response from Mr. Johnson.”[5]

Grassley and five other senators sent a letter to Johnson on November 15, 2013, asking him a wide variety of questions on immigration policy and oversight issues at the Department of Homeland Security.[5]

Three Senate Republicans-- Grassley, John McCain and Lindsey Graham-- publicly stated that they intended to place a hold on Johnson's nomination.[5]


Executive Departments of the United States

Executive Departments
Department of DefenseDepartment of StateDepartment of Homeland SecurityDepartment of JusticeDepartment of CommerceDepartment of EducationDepartment of the TreasuryDepartment of AgricultureDepartment of EnergyDepartment of LaborDepartment of TransportationDepartment of the InteriorDepartment of Health and Human ServicesDepartment of Veterans AffairsDepartment of Housing and Urban Development

Department Secretaries
Chuck HagelJohn KerryJeh JohnsonEric HolderPenny PritzkerArne DuncanJack LewTom VilsackErnest MonizTom PerezAnthony FoxxSally JewellSylvia Mathews BurwellRobert McDonaldJulian Castro

Secretary of Homeland Security term initiatives

ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

On July 6, Secretary of Homeland Security Johnson admitted he was "concerned" about the possible threats posed by ISIS and heightened U.S. airport security in countries that had direct flights to the U.S.[6] Following Britain's decision to raise their terror threat level on August 29, 2014, Johnson defended the Obama administration's decision to maintain the U.S. threat level, stating that national security officials were "unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland from ISIL." Johnson then explained the measures that were being taken, insisting, "This government, in close collaboration with our international partners, has also taken a series of steps to track foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria, and we are contemplating additional security measures concerning foreign fighters.[7]

Immigration policy enforcement

See also: 2014 illegal immigration surge

Having declared immigration reform a top priority for his second term, President Barack Obama made border policies stricter on June 20, 2014, due to the increase in undocumented migrants crossing the border from Mexico. While Republican opponents of the president claimed weak immigration policy was encouraging more people to cross the border illegally, a White House spokesperson suggested Mexican drug gangs were spreading misinformation about American policy to recruit drug mules.[8] When asked about the administration's policies, Johnson stated, "Our message to those who come here illegally: Our border is not open to illegal migration." He also explained that he was working with President Obama to find possible executive actions to solve the immigration issues.[9]

The Obama administration claimed on July 11, 2014, that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally could be up to 90,000 by the end of the fiscal year, September 30. Johnson urged a funding increase during testimony before Congress, arguing, "People in Central America need to see illegal migrants coming back. We have to return people … They need to see people coming back, that they wasted their money."[10]

Department budget

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Annual Budget
YearBudget (in billions)% Difference from previous year
  • Note: 2014 only represents the Department's budget request, not an enacted budget.


Johnson is married with three children.[12]

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See also

External links