Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf
By Ray O'Hanlon
President Donald Trump has announced that he will officially appoint Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to take over the role on a permanent basis.
This will mean a Senate conformation hearing for Wolf, whose legitimacy in his post due to its "acting capacity" has been called into question by the Government Accounting Office.
"I am pleased to inform the American Public that Acting Secretary Chad Wolf will be nominated to be the Secretary of Homeland Security. Chad has done an outstanding job and we greatly appreciate his service!" President Trump tweeted.
Wolf, according to a CNN report, has been acting secretary since November 2019, following his Senate confirmation for under secretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans.
However, the report stated, the Government Accountability Office, a watchdog for Congress, said in a report earlier this month that his (Wolf's) appointment and that of Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli - the top two leadership roles at DHS - are invalid.
DHS, in turn, has disputed the GAO conclusion. In a statement published on its website, the department's Office of General Counsel responded "to the baseless legal opinion issued by the Government Accountability Office."
The DHS statement said that "OGC shows not only that the GAO’s legal reasoning and treatment of the evidence are deeply flawed, but also how the timing and authorship of the opinion both reveal it to be a brazenly partisan product issued by supposed nonpartisan agency."
Separate to the drawing of battle lines between DHS and the GAO is the precise role that Acting Secretary Wolf played in the June deportation of Malachy McAllister.
Six months prior to the Belfast man's deportation, reports indicated support for a new reprieve from deportation coming from President Trump. This would not be six months, or even a year, but in fact two years.
The reports raised hopes that McAllister would be allowed remain in the U.S. pending a permanent settlement of his case. That was not to be and he was deported to Ireland on June 10 in a DHS aircraft.
Prior to the deportation ,Senator Charles Schumer of New York and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey wrote to Acting Secretary Wolf in support of McAllister being granted a further reprieve from deportation.
In their letter, the senators, both Democrats, stated: “We are writing to ask for your immediate intervention in the case of Malachy McAllister who is scheduled to be deported on Friday, June 5, 2020.
They continued in part: "The circumstances of Mr. McAllister’s case, detailed below, strongly warrant a longer-term solution. We request that you exercise prosecutorial discretion and grant him indefinite deferred action.
“On March 5, 2019, Senator Menendez introduced private bill, S. 653, which would make Malachy McAllister eligible for legal permanent resident status. A private immigration bill is an exceptional measure for individuals with extraordinary equities and is the only form of permanent relief available to Mr. McAllister. Efforts to pass this legislation continue in theSenate and House of Representatives."
The letter went into the details of McAllister fleeing Belfast with his family in 1986 after a loyalist gun attack on their home, the family's initial flight to Canada, and then the United States. It included a synopsis of Malachy McAllister's legal battle to remain in the U.S. during his twenty four years as a resident, mostly in New Jersey.
The letter continued: “Mr. McAllister has developed deep ties to the Irish-American community in the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He had been a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (“AOH”) for 20 years and served on its New Jersey State Board. He was elected Chairman of the United Irish Counties Association event in 2009, which hosted and recognized Former Senator George Mitchell for his work on the Good Friday Agreement. He was also appointed as an aide to the 2010 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Grand Marshal, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
“We are making this request because of our personal knowledge of Mr. McAllister who has lived in the United States for more than twenty years and has proven himself to be absolutely no threat to this country. While Mr. McAllister was involved in paramilitary activities in Northern Ireland more than two decades ago, as were so many others, he has been a strong proponent of the Irish Peace Process in accordance with the policies of the Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump Administrations. During the time of the Good Friday Agreement Mr. McAllister played a leading role in urging the Irish-American community to support a negotiated peace and has continued those efforts.
“We respectfully request you stop his deportation and grant him indefinite deferred action. Thank you for your consideration."
The letter from the two senators followed a similar letter to Acting Secretary Wolf from four members of the House of Representatives, two Republicans and two Democrats.
To date, there has been no response to these letters made publicly available by DHS. If McAllister's name is entered into the Search box on the DHS website the response is "no results found."
In a July 24 e-mail to the DHS media inquiries office, the Irish Echo asked if there had been a response to the letter rom the two senators from Acting Secretary Wolf, "and indeed if there has been any statement from DHS with regard to the deportation of Mr. McAllister whose case was a high profile one over a number of years."
To date, there has been no response to this e-mail inquiry from DHS.
A Senate confirmation hearing, in the context of this absence of information, could shed light on who ultimately signed off on McAllister's deportation on June 10.