A Profile of Secretary Jeh Johnson

By: April Ryan, aprildryan.com | AURN

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson

Immigration is under the bipartisan microscope for an immediate fix when it comes to the recent influx of children from Central American countries illegally finding their way across United States borders. One person central to efforts to turn the tide on the current “spike” of people illegally crossing the U.S. borders is the new head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson. President Obama is asking Congress to give Secretary Johnson more discretion in sending children back home at a faster pace to cut the backlog in the immigration courts.

Thursday, Secretary Johnson went before the Senate Appropriations Committee cautioning against radical changes to the 2008 immigration bill saying, it “reflects fundamental values and commitments of this country that we should continue to adhere to.”   He also said agencies dealing with the immigration crisis will run out of money by mid August if Congress does not approve the request for supplemental funding.

Jeh-Johnson-Homeland-Security-638x424Johnson is one of the newest Cabinet members in the Obama Administration, but he is somewhat unknown to many people.

Who is Jeh Johnson? He is a husband and a father of college-aged children. He is a man who vacations in Martha’s Vineyard with a home there. He earned a law degree from Columbia and has worn many hats along the way, including a stint as a jazz radio disc jockey on a local radio station in New England understanding he had the voice for it. He still keeps some of his favorite jazz music in his highly secured Homeland Security office.

One of Johnson’s passions is Morehouse College. He graduated from the men’s college 35 years ago, and his love for his alma mater runs deep as he describes a “transformation there.” He gives his parents a “tremendous” amount of credit for being his “rock” and “stability.”  Johnson’s parents have lived for 50 years in the same home he grew up in as a kid.

Courtesy: Morehouse College

Courtesy: Morehouse College

Secretary Johnson’s friends speak well of him, in particular, one of his former classmates from Columbia Law School, former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey. Harvey says, “he is committed to Morehouse.” Johnson continues to work with the school and student body there and even marked his 35th graduation anniversary this year by delivering the commencement address there.

Johnson is also said to be thankful for the privilege to have climbed the National Security ladder. Then President Bill Clinton set that process in motion. Johnson sent former President Bill Clinton a letter expressing gratitude for selecting him as counsel to the Air Force.

Meanwhile, during the College graduation season of 2014, I spent about an hour in the inner sanctum of Homeland Security with Jeh Johnson as he was putting the finishing touches on his commencement address to the Morehouse graduates. During the interview, we discussed the current plight of HBCU’s and his direct connection to HBCU’s through his late grandfather who served as the President of Fisk University. His grandfather also worked in Civil Rights being thought of as an “intellectual.”

LISTEN to my interview: 

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