Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has reportedly withdrawn as commencement speaker for the University of Southern California’s (USC) law school, citing concerns about his enforcement of the Obama administration’s immigration policy.
"I informed Secretary Johnson that some faculty and students have raised concerns about the immigration policies of the Obama administration and, therefore, about having him as our commencement speaker,” Dean Andrew Guzman said in an email to faculty and staff, according to Inside Higher Ed. “Secretary Johnson shared with me that he believes that graduations should be free of tension and political controversy and for this reason has decided not to speak.”
Johnson served as head of the Department of Homeland Security from December 2013 through the end of former President Obama’s second term.
In April, two Chicano professors at USC's Gould School of Law wrote to express disappointment with Johnson’s invitation, noting his part in the detention of migrants fleeing an uptick in violence in Central America in 2014, as well as his arguments against judicial review of “kill lists” of combatants when he served as general counsel for the Department of Defense.
"USC’s choice to invite Secretary Johnson to speak normalizes illegal state violence. Inviting him to speak to the graduating class legitimates what federal courts and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized as a fundamental betrayal of core values,” wrote professors Daria Roithmayr and David B. Cruz. “Johnson has repeatedly failed to respect legal and moral limits on the use of government-sponsored coercive force, particularly against children, and has demonstrated a morally repugnant willingness to use those who are most vulnerable among us as means to an end."