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When President Donald Trump announced last week that he had appointed Department of Homeland Security director General John Kelly to replace Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, questions immediately began swirling about who, in turn, would replace Kelly to lead DHS.

On Tuesday, we got an early look at the president’s rumored shortlist, with “multiple sources” telling Politico who is—and, conspicuously, isn’t—in the running to head the federal agency largely responsible for carrying out Trump’s nativist, anti-immigrant agenda. And, as could probably have been expected, the contenders are a who’s who of awful.

First up is Texas Republican Congressman Mike McCaul, who currently serves as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security. McCaul has long advocated for Trump’s much-promised border wall, insisting that the structure should be a “multi-layered defense approach,” featuring a “physical barrier that’s integrated by technology.” Oddly enough, rumors of McCaul’s nomination have sparked a backlash from anti-immigration hardliners, however, with Mark Krikorian, president of the ultra-right wing Center for Immigration Studies, telling the Daily Caller, “He’s using the wall to show how simpatico he is with Trump and all the rest of them. The various border bills he has introduced have mostly been Kabuki.”

But if McCaul isn’t anti-immigration enough, who is?

Step right up, Thomas Homan! The acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has spent the first seven months of this administration enthusiastically expanding his agency’s nationwide efforts to arrest, detain, and deport any undocumented immigrant they can find. Homan, who recently boasted to the Washington Times that he expects ICE to eventually top the 2012 record for deportations (that’s 409,000 people), has been one of Trump’s most aggressive anti-immigration advocates, insisting that every single undocumented immigrant in the U.S. “should look over [their] shoulder, and [...] be worried.”


Joining Homan and McCaul on the rumored shortlist is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—the current head of Trump’s wholly unnecessary voter fraud commission. Kobach, whom Politico notes would likely face a particularly bruising confirmation battle if nominated, is no stranger to hardline immigration policy. In 2011, he helped author Arizona’s infamous SB 1070—the so-called “papers please” legislation—which allowed police to check a suspect’s citizenship status upon detention. Kobach also helped create a provision in Trump’s executive order on immigration that would allow police to begin deportation proceedings for undocumented immigrants they’d apprehended for unrelated reasons.

As an (extremely faint) silver lining to an otherwise pitch-black cloud, Politico does point out that Joe Arpaio, the disgraced former Arizona sheriff, is decidedly not on Trump’s shortlist for the DHS position. Arpaio, who detained prisoners in what Politico deemed an “open-air ‘tent city’ jail in the scorching Arizona heat,” was convicted on contempt of court charges on Monday. The conviction was due to what the court said was his “flagrant disregard” of an order to stop detaining people he suspected of being undocumented without evidence of an actual crime having been committed.


President Trump has yet to announce when he will name his new Homeland Security chief.