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Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Homeland Security Chief and White House Clash

Wall Street Journal
By Damian Paletta and Aruna Viswanatha
January 30, 2017

WASHINGTON—Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has clashed with the White House over staffing and other decisions in recent days, people familiar with the matter said, leaving the agency without a second-in-command as it tried to institute a new travel ban during a chaotic weekend at the nation’s airports.

When President Donald Trump selected Mr. Kelly, the pick won broad support from Republicans and Democrats in part because they believed the retired Marine general would be willing to speak up and challenge Mr. Trump.

That tension didn’t take long to materialize. Mr. Kelly hasn’t been able to name the deputy he wants at the agency, people familiar with the matter said, and he fought off attempts by the White House to put Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state known as a hard-liner on immigration, into the position.

Mr. Kelly was also frustrated at not knowing the details of the travel ban earlier, so he could prepare his agency to respond, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump signed the executive order that created the ban late Friday afternoon. Mr. Kelly was only informed of the details that day as he was traveling to Washington, even though he had pressed the White House for days to share with him the final language, the people said.

Late Monday, the White House announced Mr. Trump intended to nominate a former agency official from the George W. Bush administration, Elaine Duke, to the deputy post. Earlier, it declined to comment on when Mr. Kelly was briefed on the executive order. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, “The people that needed to be kept in the loop were kept in the loop.”

A DHS spokesman declined to comment.

The tensions between DHS and the White House have led to uncertainty at the top of an agency charged with keeping Americans safe within U.S. borders. Over the weekend, the agency struggled to respond to demonstrations and scenes of confusion at various airports.

Even though he wasn’t involved in the order’s preparation, Mr. Kelly was peppered with questions about it over the weekend. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) spoke with Mr. Kelly twice at the time to press for details.

The problems at DHS reflect a growing unease among government workers with a series of abrupt policy changes dictated by a close-knit group inside the West Wing of the White House.

On Monday, more than 100 State Department officials signed a draft protest of the executive order that created the travel ban and suspension of the refugee program for Syrian nationals.

The White House brushed off their concerns, saying Mr. Trump has been very transparent with his agenda.

Many administrations experience tension between the White House staff, who are close to the president and loyal to his agenda, and people at the agencies, who must implement policy and deal with the results. But Mr. Trump’s orders have come so quickly, and have upended previous policies in so many ways, that those tensions appear sharper than usual.

Mr. Kelly had hoped to staff DHS in a quasi-military fashion, with a chain of command that included people who have experience in their subject areas and can take responsibility for their portfolios, said people familiar with the process.

The White House tried to persuade Mr. Kelly to accept Mr. Kobach as his deputy secretary, but Mr. Kelly wanted to go a different route, picking someone with a background in homeland security, these people said.

Mr. Kobach is a favorite of some in the White House and is well-regarded by groups favoring a crackdown on immigration. In November, he presented Mr. Trump with a plan to institute “extreme vetting” of people entering the U.S.

That plan included posing “extreme vetting questions” to people considered “high risk” who were entering the country. The proposed questions included queries about their support for “Sharia law, jihad, equality of men and women, [and] the United States Constitution," according to a copy of paperwork Mr. Kobach was photographed holding as he exited from a meeting with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Kobach didn’t respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Rather than Mr. Kobach, Mr. Kelly instead suggested that Christian Marrone be named to the deputy secretary job, according to the people familiar with the matter. Mr. Marrone is former chief of staff to Jeh Johnson, the DHS secretary under President Barack Obama, and also worked for years in the Bush administration, including with Mr. Kelly at the Defense Department.

Mr. Marrone declined to comment.

DHS is the agency that oversees the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), all of which have been affected by the new travel rules.

The head of CBP, Mark Morgan, announced last week he was stepping down after just a few months in the top post.

For more information, go to:  www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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