WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Retired four-star Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to serve as secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, faces a Senate committee at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A full session of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is expected to question Kelly over how he would handle some of Trump's goals as he leads the DHS. Trump has proposed a crackdown on illegal immigration, including mass deportations, and the building of a wall and fencing along the U.S. border with Mexico.
Kelly is a 66-year-old military officer who has served for more than 40 years. Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, the general's son, was killed in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan, which made Kelly the highest-ranking military officer to lose a son or daughter in the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq.
"I believe in America and the principles upon which our country and way of life are guaranteed. I believe in respect, tolerance and diversity of opinion. I have a profound respect for the rule of law and will always strive to uphold it," Kelly wrote in prepared remarks he is expected to say during his opening statement. "I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations."
In 2003, Kelly became the first Marine colonel serving in active combat to be promoted to brigadier general since 1951. Kelly has repeatedly voiced concerns about drugs, terrorism and threats coming from south of the U.S. border.
In February, Kelly retired as commander of the U.S. Southern Command, an agency which oversees operations in 32 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The agency has programs to train local militaries, and is involved in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The Department of Homeland Security, created in 2002 under former President George W. Bush following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, employs about 240,000 people and has an annual budget of more than $40 billion -- making it the third-largest Cabinet department.