JULY 12, 2013 — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has confirmed media reports that she is stepping down as head of the agency whose components include the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and FEMA.
Secretary Napolitano with then Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is seen by some commentators as a possible successor
"For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security," she said in a statement. "The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation's efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career. We have worked together to minimize threats of all kinds to the American public. The Department has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation's borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation's emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity. After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation's next generation of leaders. I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects."
U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) released the following statement on the Napolitano resignation:
"As our nation confronts difficult and complex issues such as immigration, border security, and international and homegrown terrorism, it is more important than ever to have a strong head of DHS who is dedicated to improving homeland security. The many agencies housed within DHS are only as effective as their leadership, and it is crucial that the Administration appoints someone who does not underestimate the threats against us, and who is committed to enforcing the law and creating a unified Department. Ten years after the creation of the Department, it is critical that its mission isn't undermined by politics or political correctness. The border is not secure, and the threat of terrorism is not diminishing. The vision and actions of the Department must reflect that reality.
"While Secretary Napolitano and I have disagreed on issues like the security of the border, I respect and thank her for her service. Her departure is a substantial addition to the growing list of unfilled key leadership positions within the Department, and the Administration should move swiftly to fill the gaping holes in its management. I look forward to working with her successor to keep Americans safe, and continue to conduct oversight in order to improve the Department of Homeland Security."
Speculation as to who might succeed Secretary Napolitano is already running riot, with names that are being floated including former Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley who was named by President Obama as a chairman of a national homeland security panel in February.