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Former Homeland Security Secretary withdraws as Vassar commencement speaker

Feb 17, 2022 12:30 am

Brian Hubert is reporting for the Daily Freeman former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh [Jay] Charles Johnson has withdrawn as Vassar College’s 2022 commencement speaker, saying he does not want to add controversy to the celebration. Apparently, the controversy is his immigration record. Johnson was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2014-2017. Vassar President Elizabeth H. Bradley said in a prepared statement, “I respect his decision, and thank him for thinking so deeply about our students and community... Commencement is not always the right setting for those, sometimes difficult, conversations." Johnson's father was a lecturer at Vassar for 37 years. He made the decision to withdraw because he believes commencements “should be joyous, tension-free events for graduates and their families.” Johnson said, “In my public life I managed many difficult and contentious issues. In my private life, I do not seek to be the object of controversy or speak at commencement where students will object to me.” Johnson acknowledged that immigration is a “difficult and painful issue,” while defending his record as Secretary of Homeland Security. During his tenure, he said deportations decreased, those convicted of serious offenses and deported increased, and the number of people enrolled in DACA increased. A new speaker will be announced shortly, Bradley said. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.