Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leaving her post to lead the University of California system, Reuters reported this morning. In her tenure as head of the Department of Homeland Security Napolitano has responded to bombings like the Boston Marathon attack and natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. But for racial justice watchers in particular, Napolitano will be forever remembered for overseeing the largest and most aggressive deportation program of any presidential administration. Under her leadership, the Obama administration deported over 1.5 million people, ramped up the deadly militarization of the border and expanded the enforcement program Secure Communities, which criminalized everyday immigrants.
“After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders,” Napolitano said in a statement today. She called her time as DHS Secretary the “highlight” of her professional career.
“Since day one, Janet has led my administration’s effort to secure our borders, deploying a historic number of resources, while also taking steps to make our immigration system fairer and more consistent with our values,” President Obama said in a statement, Reuters reported. “The American people are safer and more secure thanks to Janet’s leadership.”
It’s not clear who will take Napolitano’s spot, but in California, she will be greeted by a prestigious network of public universities struggling with sagging investment in public education and the long-simmering ire of students who’ve been made to bear the brunt of the system’s economic woes.