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Official who helped push family separations to lead Homeland Security

Chad Wolf was a top official at DHS when the Trump administration implemented a zero tolerance immigration policy at the southwest border, splitting up thousands of migrant families.

By Dan Desai Martin - November 14, 2019
Chad Wolf

Chad Wolf was effectively confirmed as the new acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security following a mostly party-line Senate vote Wednesday afternoon.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, joined all Senate Republicans in supporting Wolf. Most Democrats voted no.

Wolf previously served as chief of staff to former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and was Nielsen’s right hand man as she helped implement and lead the Trump administration’s family separation policy. That abusive policy resulted in thousands of migrant families being ripped apart and detained in U.S. custody, some for months at a time.

Reports later revealed the stark conditions in which those migrants were held, after being detained. Children separated from their families complained of being “hungry all the time,” and some drew pictures of themselves in cages. A doctor compared the child detention facilities — some of which had histories of alleged neglect and abuse — to “torture facilities.”

The Trump administration didn’t bother tracking the children who were separated from their parents, leading families with no idea as to where their children were being kept, or if they would ever be reunited. A lawsuit filed by some of those families could cost taxpayers billions of dollars in damages.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday described Wolf’s nomination to lead DHS as “appalling,” calling out Wolf’s leadership roles in some of Trump’s most egregious anti-immigrant policies.

Wolf is “a man who has stood by [Trump’s] most immoral and anti-American policies: family separation, the Muslim ban, and the unlawful national emergency declaration,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat representing a border district in Texas, tweeted in response to the Senate vote that same day.

Wolf’s elevation to acting secretary was achieved by a circuitous route, the Wall Street Journal reported. Trump has yet to nominate a permanent replacement for Nielsen, who resigned in April. Kevin McAleenan was in the role in an acting capacity until his resignation on Oct. 11.

On Wednesday, the Senate confirmed Wolf to the position of DHS undersecretary for strategy, plans and policy — a lower position — in order to circumvent a law limiting the number of days someone can serve as acting secretary of a cabinet agency.

The entire process was necessary because the White House’s top choices for the post, far-right anti-immigrant hardliners Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Morgan, were deemed ineligible to assume the position by the Justice Department because of regulations in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

So Wolf was confirmed to a lower post, and then immediately elevated to acting secretary.

Wolf will now be the fifth person to lead DHS under Trump in less that three years. In the past, Trump admitted that he likes appointing acting secretaries rather than permanent ones because “it gives me more flexibility.”

According to the Post, Trump assured senators that he would eventually nominate someone to lead DHS in a permanent capacity, but did not give a timeline for making such a decision.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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