The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) cautiously applauded President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of retired General John Kelly as the incoming secretary of Department of Homeland Security, saying it expects the administration to work with it.
The NBPC warned in a statement Wednesday that of all Trump’s cabinet appointees, Kelly will be under the most pressure to perform:
We have faith in President-elect Trump, and although General Kelly does not have immigration experience, we recognize that he comes in with stellar credentials. We caution, however, that because President-elect Trump’s meteoric rise was built on border security, we believe no other cabinet-level nominee will be under more pressure to produce.
The NBPC was proud to endorse President-elect Trump very early on, and we stood by him through thick and thin, and we continue to do so. However, our endorsement does come with expectations. We expect the new administration to work with the NBPC to solve the historic problems within the agency that have created an environment that consistently ranked at the bottom of all federal agencies in morale, job satisfaction, and trust in leadership. The challenge of meeting our expectations and securing the border will be placed on the shoulders of General Kelly.
“General Kelly’s troops, by all accounts, loved him, which bodes well for the morale issue within DHS, and he appears to be a no-nonsense rule of law General,” NBPC said, comparing Kelly to the nation’s first DHS Secretary, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. “Secretary Ridge also had stellar credentials but due in large part to the newness of the department, and its size and breadth of work, he wasn’t successful.”
Under Ridge, foreign individuals from terrorist-friendly countries could still slip into the country post-9/11 due to federal inaction and program loopholes, leading to criticisms that the newly founded DHS had already “sold out” to multi-billion-dollar travel industry.
Ridge also told an audience in 2011 that deporting illegal aliens and upholding immigration laws, encouraging them to return home and seek work elsewhere, was not an option.
“At some point in time you’ve got to say to yourself, ‘We’re not sending 12 million people home.’ Let’s get over it,” he said at Georgetown University.
But only five years later, far from “getting over” that millions of foreign nationals live and work in the U.S. in open defiance of the laws—and commit heinous crimes—Americans voted across the board to put a candidate in the White House who promised to enforce immigration laws on the books. That gives Kelly an advantage, the Council said.
Unlike Secretary Ridge, however, General Kelly will have history on his side, and if he comes in with a fresh approach—the non-establishment “outside of the box thinking” approach—and if he surrounds himself with the right people, we believe President-elect Trump’s administration will allow him to be successful.
NBPC represents approximately 17,000 border agents and gave its first-ever presidential Primary endorsement to Trump after he pledged to model border security plans on the advice of agents on the ground, not remote political appointees.
“Mr. Trump will take on special interest and embrace the ideas of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents rather than listening to the management yes-men who say whatever they are programmed to say. This is a refreshing change that we have not seen before—and may never see again,” NBPC said in March.