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Kevin K. McAleenan (born September 5, 1971[1]) is an American attorney and government official serving as the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. He also serves as the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner.[2][3]

Kevin McAleenan
Kevin McAleenan official photo.jpg
Acting United States Secretary of Homeland Security
Assumed office
April 11, 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyDavid Pekoske (acting)
Preceded byKirstjen Nielsen
Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
Acting: January 20, 2017 – March 20, 2018
PresidentDonald Trump
DeputyRandolph Alles (acting)
Ron Vitiello
Robert Perez (acting)
Preceded byGil Kerlikowske
Personal details
Born (1971-09-05) September 5, 1971 (age 47)
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
EducationAmherst College (BA)
University of Chicago (JD)
AwardsService to America Award (2005)
Presidential Rank Award (2015)

President Donald Trump announced his intention to appoint McAleenan Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, following the resignation of Kirstjen Nielsen on April 7, 2019,[4] although legally, under 6 U.S.C. §113(g), the role would have fallen to then Acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady.[5] Following the announcement of her resignation, Nielsen further indicated that she would be staying on until April 10, "to assist with an orderly transition".[6]


Early lifeEdit

Kevin McAleenan was born in 1971 to a mother of Finnish descent and a father of Irish descent.[7] He received an undergraduate degree from Amherst College.[8] He then received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago Law School and practiced law in the state of California.[8]

Past work experienceEdit

McAleenan practiced law in the private sector from 1998 until 2001, when terrorist attacks that September motivated him to apply to work for the FBI. He was recruited to help start up the new CBP Office of Antiterrorism, eventually becoming its executive director.[1]

In 2006, he became CBP's area director of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).[9] During his time as the port director of LAX, he was responsible for the security operations for that airport as well as 17 other airport facilities.[8] After two years in private consulting, McAleenan returned to CBP in 2010, leading field operations. In 2011 McAleenan became the assistant commissioner of the Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations.[8] [10] In this position he was in charge of airport operations and was responsible for securing the US border while ensuring lawful trade and travel at 329 ports of entry in the United States of America, as well as 70 international locations in more than 40 countries.[8]

McAleenan served as deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection from 2014 to 2017.


In 2005, McAleenan received the Service to America Medal, Call to Service Award for his leadership and help in developing and implementing a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy for border security after September 11, 2001.[11] In 2015, McAleenan was awarded the Presidential Rank Award, the highest civil service award in the United States.[11]

Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionEdit


McAleenan served as acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection from January 2017 to March 20, 2018.[12]

President Donald Trump nominated McAleenan to assume the position of commissioner in a permanent capacity in May 2017.[13][14] McAleenan's previous nomination was supported by officials from both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, a number of whom signed a letter to Congress expressing "enthusiastic support" for the "supremely qualified" McAleenan.[15] President Trump officially submitted the nomination to the Senate on May 22.[16] The U.S. Senate confirmed McAleenan's nomination on March 19, 2018, by a vote of 77–19.[17] He was sworn in on March 20, 2018.[12][18]

Border PatrolEdit

In August 2018, McAleenan was interviewed by The New York Times, where he stated that he is aware that it is illegal to detain families longer than 90 days.[7] Later in the interview McAleenan went on to say that he feels that President Trump's executive order was an "important recalibration". He also states that the "well intended efforts are not going to succeed if they lose public interest".[7] McAleenan is a supporter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stating that they do "critical work". In the rest of the piece he notes that there is no intent for indefinite or permanent family separation, and acknowledges that the job of the CBP is to enforce the law.[7]

In September 2018, McAleenan told the USA Today editorial board that he plans on spending more time "analyzing ways to modernize border patrol facilities" and that he intended to travel to the southwest portion of United States where most of the migrant children were being held.[11]

On June 28, 2019, McAleenan criticized media reports of conditions for detained migrants at the United States-Mexico border. McAleenan claimed that unlike what was reported, detained children supposedly had "appropriate meals" and "showers as soon as they can be provided". However, a July 2, 2019 Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report found that some detention facilities in Rio Grande Valley had violated CBP standards by not granting children access to showers or hot meals.[19][20]

In June 2019, within 48 hours of flying with Washington Post reporter Nick Miroff on a government plane, Miroff published - from a leaked, high level source - cities, times, methodologies, and even the number of people affected in the target zones, an upcoming ICE program to deport people in the United States illegally. [1] McAleenan, who previously vocally criticized the ICE plan to be partially carried out by his agency, is considered a suspect of the leaks and is currently being investigated at a federal level for his possible role in them. McAleenan denied being the source of the leak.[2][3][4]


  1. ^ a b Matt Bewig (January 14, 2018). "Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Who Is Kevin McAleenan?". AllGov.
  2. ^ "U.S. Customs and Border Protection:Leadership/Organization". Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  3. ^ Miles, Frank (April 7, 2019). "Kevin McAleenan, new acting DHS boss, has long record in border security". Fox News. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  4. ^ Haberman, Maggie; Weiland, Noah (April 7, 2019). "Kirstjen Nielsen Out as Trump's Homeland Security Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  5. ^ David Brennan (April 8, 2019). "Will Donald Trump replace Claire Grady?". Newsweek.
  6. ^ Katherine Faulders (April 8, 2019). "Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigns". ABC News.
  7. ^ a b c d Audie Cornish. "Kevin McAleenan Says the Border Patrol Doesn't Make the Laws". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  9. ^ Kulisch, Eric (April 3, 2017). "Trump picks McAleenan as permanent CBP commissioner". American Shipper. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  10. ^ Beavers, Olivia (March 30, 2017). "Trump nominates officials for VA, border control". The Hill. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c Alan Gomez (September 17, 2018). "CBP chief to inspect Border Patrol facilities housing minors". USA Today. Retrieved October 27, 2018.
  12. ^ a b Fortin, Jacey (April 7, 2019). "Kevin McAleenan, Top U.S. Border Enforcement Officer, Is Named Acting Head of Homeland Security". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  13. ^ Knaub, Kelly (March 31, 2017). "Trump To Officially Nominate McAleenan For Customs Head". Law360. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  14. ^ Trump, Donald J. (April 7, 2019). "....I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!". @realdonaldtrump. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
  15. ^ Levine, Mike (April 7, 2017). "Trump's pick to lead border security wins support from Bush- and Obama-era officials". ABC News. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  16. ^ Bradley, Brian (May 24, 2017). "Trump Sends McAleenan CBP Nomination to Senate". International Trade Today. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  17. ^ Dinan, Stephen (March 19, 2018). "Senate approves Trump's border chief". The Washington Times. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Kirstjen Nielsen [@SecNielsen] (March 20, 2018). "Excited and proud to swear in @CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan today. Thank you @SenateMajLdr @senorrinhatch & @RonWyden for your support of his nomination (unanimous out comm and overwhelming on the floor). Remarkably qualified and is already on the job! Great day for DHS" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  19. ^ "Management Alert – DHS Needs to Address Dangerous Overcrowding and Prolonged Detention of Children and Adults in the Rio Grande Valley (Redacted)" (PDF). Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General. July 2, 2019. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  20. ^ Kiely, Eugene; Farley, Robert; Robertson, Lori (July 3, 2019). "Confusion at the Border". Retrieved July 13, 2019.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by
Gil Kerlikowske
Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Acting: 2017–2018
Preceded by
Kirstjen Nielsen
United States Secretary of Homeland Security