On July 12, 2013, Secretary Janet Napolitano announced her resignation as secretary of homeland security to assume a new position as president of the University of California system. As one of the most high-profile figures in President Obama’s administration, Secretary Napolitano has led the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2009 and managed a wide-ranging portfolio of national priorities, including domestic terrorism, immigration, and natural disasters. She has also been a vocal advocate of recent efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform as well as a target of criticism from Republican lawmakers over the agency’s enforcement strategy.
The departure of Secretary Napolitano, who is expected to formally step down in September, will add to the already lengthy list of senior-level vacancies within the DHS and may foretell a contentious nomination process as President Obama prepares to fill key posts at the agency. Secretary’s Napolitano’s announcement also comes at an inopportune time for comprehensive immigration reform, which currently appears to be at a standstill in the U.S House of Representatives after a landmark bipartisan victory in the U.S. Senate.