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New acting DHS head takes over; hard-liner named as deputy

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest official to lead the Department of Homeland Security has been sworn in and has named as his deputy a fervent supporter of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies who had been in the running for the top job himself.

Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, the fifth person to head the agency under Trump, won Senate approval Wednesday as undersecretary for policy, the job for which he was nominated months ago. That confirmation allowed Wolf to move up to secretary on a temporary basis.

Wolf was chief staff when Kirstjen Nielsen ran the department, and he served under previous Republicans at DHS in other roles. He replaces acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, who held that post for about six months. Wolf also announced Ken Cuccinelli, acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as his deputy.

Cuccinelli, a mainstay on TV supporting Trump’s policies, has said he was mandated by the president to get out the message. Cuccinelli was among those in the running to lead DHS before Wolf took over.

The 240,000-employee department also manages disaster relief, counterterrorism, election security, and U.S. Coast Guard. But in Trump’s tenure, it has focused on immigration. Wolf said in a statement to staff that he would work to continue immigration enforcement at the border.

“We must stay vigilant and steadfast in order to stay ahead of the threats and restore integrity to our immigration system,” Wolf said. The former acting deputy, David Pekoske, will go back to his role as the head of Transportation Security Administration.

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