Elisa Massimino on Jeh Johnson Nomination

Washington, D.C. – Following today’s announcement that President Obama will nominate former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino has issued the following statement.

“Jeh Johnson had a distinguished career at the Pentagon where he has grappled with the challenges of protecting national security while respecting human rights and upholding American ideals.  These are key issues in the Department of Homeland Security, and we would welcome the opportunity to work with him should he be confirmed to lead DHS.

“As President Obama said last night, he hopes to deliver on immigration reform by the end of the year; the next homeland security secretary will play a key role in advancing this objective.  Key to that challenge is ensuring that U.S. law better protects vulnerable refugees who seek asylum here.  As DHS Secretary, Johnson would have a leading role in ensuring that American law and practice upholds our country’s commitment to asylum and refugees.  That will entail working with Congress to eliminate the arbitrary and wasteful asylum filing deadline that has prevented deserving refugees from gaining protection here and to ensure that provisions designed to exclude terrorists from immigration relief are not used against refugees who have opposed brutal dictatorial regimes or are themselves victims of terrorism.  Johnson would also have the opportunity to deliver on the promise of critical reforms to the immigration detention system by turning to more cost-effective alternatives to detention.

“The United States has a long history as a nation of immigrants, and part of that legacy includes our commitment to protecting refugees. We urge Jeh Johnson to make this vulnerable population a priority as his nomination moves forward.”


Published on October 17, 2013


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