Homeland Security chief leaving for academic post

Homeland Security chief leaving for academic post

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano listens to a reporter's question during the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, May 14, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, a vocal supporter of immigration reform who became a target for Republicans, said on Friday she will leave her position to lead the University of California.

It was not clear who would replace her at the helm of the Department of Homeland Security, the third-largest U.S. department with a broad mandate including immigration and disaster response. She plans to leave in early September.

The former Arizona governor has been an outspoken proponent of immigration reform and her announcement came as the U.S. Congress struggled to agree on an overhaul of immigration laws. She also had a prominent role in briefing Congress and the public about terrorism, including after the Boston Marathon bombings in April.

An original member of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, Napolitano was praised for restoring the Federal Emergency Management Agency to good standing after its disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Obama thanked Napolitano for working “around the clock” to respond to natural disasters including the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornado and Hurricane Sandy that battered the Northeast last year, as well as other challenges.

“Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values,” Obama said in a statement.

“The American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership,” he said.

Napolitano faced criticism from Republicans who accused her of presenting an overly rosy picture of the administration’s track record on securing the U.S. border. Other critics said she failed to solve problems in her sprawling department, which was voted the least satisfying government agency in which to work.

“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,” said Republican Michael McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks. It combined 22 different departments and has more than 240,000 employees focusing on sectors including aviation, border security and cyber-security.

Democrats praised Napolitano for helping to reduce illegal immigration and for supporting a measure last year to relax deportation rules for young people brought to the United States without legal status.

“She did the right thing in exercising her authority to provide temporary relief against deportation for children who were brought to this country through no fault of their own,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat.

Earlier in her career, Napolitano led the investigation into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing as U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona.

Napolitano thanked Obama for the chance to serve the United States “during this important chapter of our history” and said she was looking forward to her new role focusing on “educating our nation’s next generation of leaders.”

The University of California includes more than 234,000 students and 207,000 faculty at 10 campuses.

Recent Headlines

in Sports

Howard returns to US, but Costa Rica wins 1-0

Tim Howard

Joel Campbell scored in the 70th minute, and Costa Rica beat the listless U.S. 1-0 in an exhibition Tuesday night.

in Local Sports

Vikings Place 3rd at WWU Invitational

WWU logo

Jenn Paul carded the best score of the final round Tuesday to finish in a tie for second in the medalist standings, helping the WWU women's golf team finish third in the Western Washington Invitational Tournament.

in Local Sports

Report: Lynch expected to play Sunday against Panthers


In Condotta's report, coach Pete Carroll said that Lynch "had a good workout (Monday) and he should be on track (to return to practice) Thursday."

in Sports

Cubs win NL Division Series, beat Cardinals in Game 4; Mets look to clinch vs. Dodgers NOW on KPUG


Manager Joe Maddon's bunch of wild-card Cubs will face the winner of the Los Angeles Dodgers-New York Mets matchup. The Mets took a 2-1 lead into Game 4 Tuesday night.

in Local Sports

Silvertips Claim Center Dario Winkler Off Waivers from the Brandon Wheat Kings

everett silvertips whl logo

Defenseman Alexander Scherbakov has been placed on waivers.