Katherine Gorka to be Customs and Border Protection press secretary
Katharine Gorka, a political appointee at the Department of Homeland Security who has stirred controversy for her views on terrorism and her role in the department’s efforts to combat violent extremism in the US, is expected to be the new press secretary at Customs and Border Protection.
Acting CBP Commissioner John Sanders told CNN Tuesday that Gorka is expected to take the position and he advocated for her to join the agency.
The move comes as President Donald Trump continues his rhetoric against undocumented immigrants and the increasing number of migrants crossing the southern border and claiming asylum.
Customs and Border Protection is the agency responsible for policing the US borders and facilitating legal trade and travel. It is also the frontline agency dealing with the surge of migrants at the southern border. If Gorka steps into this new role, she will be taking on the public face of the agency at the center of the President’s attention, which has been struggling with capacity and resource issues.
The Department of Homeland Security has also seen a major turnover in senior staff in the wake of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s forced departure in April. Several CBP officials joined Kevin McAleenan at DHS headquarters when he was named acting Homeland Security secretary.
In response to a request for comment on her new post, Gorka told CNN Tuesday, “I am honored for this opportunity to serve at CBP.”
Gorka is married to Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to Trump, who was an outspoken and combative defender of the President’s national security agenda, known for his dire warnings of Islamic terrorism while writing for Breitbart.
Sebastian Gorka left the White House in August 2017, in the wake of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon’s forced departure.
Both Gorkas wrote for Breitbart, where Bannon served as an executive before and after his time at the White House.
In a 2014, Breitbart story, Katharine Gorka, under the name Katie Gorka, wrote that “Presidents Bush and Obama both publicly declared Islam to be a religion of peace, which has struck a sour chord for many. “
“To date, American and Western leaders have preemptively shut down any debate within Islam by declaring that Islam is the religion of peace and that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam,” she wrote.
In another 2014 article, she wrote that the Obama administration “narrowly defined the enemy as only the most violent jihadists: first Al Qaeda and now ISIS.”
“This inaccurate assessment of the enemy has its roots in left-wing theories about social movements,” she wrote in part.
Gorka has supporters within the administration and department and was recommended by various people for a DHS policy job. “She was very good at her job and is very intelligent,” said the senior official about her time at DHS.
Gorka, who has been with the Trump administration since its beginning, was under consideration to lead the new DHS terrorism prevention office, but was not offered the position, according to two sources. An administration official said DHS did not want her past controversies to be a distraction from the work of the department.
While at DHS, she worked in the policy office on what is known as “countering violent extremism” issues, according to the official. Countering violent extremism efforts have historically been associated with preventing individuals from radicalizing and joining or carrying out attacks on behalf of Islamic terror groups, but some activity has been focused on thwarting threats from domestic terror movements, like white nationalist extremists.