By Jeremy Herb and Jordy Yager - 01/14/13 03:33 PM EST
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will remain in President Obama’s Cabinet at the start of his second term, a White House official confirmed to The Hill.
Napolitano is the latest member of the president’s Cabinet to choose to stay on. She joins Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, all of whom the White House said would remain in their posts last week.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis resigned from Obama’s Cabinet last week, and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stepped down last month.
Napolitano is the longest-serving head in the history of DHS and has garnered a great deal of praise from her Republican predecessors.
The former Arizona governor has stepped into the spotlight repeatedly during her tenure as secretary, which has focused heavily on border security and immigration enforcement.
Under Napolitano’s direction, the ranks of Customs and Border Protection and the Border Patrol have swelled to unprecedented levels and according to DHS statistics there has been a decrease in the number of attempts to illegally cross the border.
Many Republicans argue, though, that the border is still not secure and say more action needs to be taken before Congress takes up the issue of reforming the country’s immigration laws.
By committing to stay on for a second term Napolitano has positioned herself squarely next to Obama for what is likely to be a grueling and arduous debate as the administration pushes immigration reform as one of its major legislative priorities later this year.
Napolitano was in charge of implementing a deferred action program for certain illegal immigrants last year, in which young undocumented immigrants without violent criminal histories can apply for temporary visas and work permits.
As secretary, Napolitano has also taken a large role in attempting to protect the nation from terrorists, earning praise from both parties for helping to stop numerous bomb plots throughout the U.S., including the underwear bomber of 2009.
Justin Sink contributed.
This story was last updated at 10:56 a.m.