Multiple media reports say President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Gen. John F. Kelly to head up the Department of Homeland Security. Before retiring, Gen. Kelly served as Chief of Southern Command, which oversees military operations across Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Commenting on his selection, NumbersUSA President Roy Beck said, “Gen. Kelly's background provides assurance that he would be fully committed and experienced to protect the physical security of the American people. We will be looking for immediate signs that he will show the same commitment to enforcing the immigration laws passed by Congress to protect the economic security of American workers and their families."

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, said in a statement, “General Kelly has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the threats facing our country in the 21st Century, and I am confident he will help the President-Elect form a robust strategy to protect American from radical Islamic extremism here at home, protecting American sovereignty and dealing with the numerous security issues here in the homeland.”

Gen. Kelly has often warned about threats coming from south of the border. In 2014 testimony, he told Congress about the coming illegal-alien border surge and cautioned that smugglers could move terrorists across the border in addition to drug and migrants. He called out the Iran-funded terrorist group Hezbollah, in particular, as having links with smugglers, and suggested that weapons of mass destruction could be brought across the border. In 2015 testimony Gen. Kelly said, “The border is, if not wide open, then certainly open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country.” 

In an interview with Defense One he said, “In comparison to other global threats, the near collapse of societies in the hemisphere with the associated drug and [illegal alien] flow are frequently viewed to be of low importance. Many argue these threats are not existential and do not challenge our national security. I disagree.”

As Southern Command chief, Gen. Kelly’s job involved monitoring drug trafficking and other illicit smuggling activity south of the U.S. that create homeland security threats. President-elect Trump’s selection of Gen. Kelly is a sign that he sees the southern border as a national security threat and underlines his interest in securing it. But as DHS Secretary Gen. Kelly also would be in charge of blocking entry of refugee from terror-producing countries and deporting illegal aliens if Mr. Trump follows through on those campaign pledges. And he would oversee a system that brings in a historically-high number of legal immigrants and non-immigrants each year.

Mr. Trump has not extended an official offer to Gen. Kelly yet because he is traveling overseas. A formal announcement on the nomination is expected next week.

Read more in The Washington Times.

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Updated: Wed, Dec 21st 2016 @ 3:55pm EST