Trump's pick to lead border security wins support from Bush- and Obama-era officials

President Trump has nominated Kevin McAleenan to lead border protection.

The White House announced Thursday that Kevin McAleenan is the president's nominee to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security in charge of preventing the illegal entry of goods and persons into the country.

More than a dozen Republicans -- many of them former border patrol chiefs -- are among the signers of a letter sent to Congress on Thursday in support of McAleenan's nomination. But so are former President Obama's most-recent homeland security secretary, Jeh Johnson, and deputy secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas.

McAleenan is “supremely qualified” to lead the border protection agency, the letter says.

He was one of the first administration officials to publicly concede missteps with the executive order, telling reporters in late January, “I think it's fair to acknowledge that communications, publicly and interagency, haven't been the best in the initial rollout of this process.”

After the president's Jan. 27 executive order on immigration and refugees was put on hold by a federal judge, the White House replaced it in early March with a new, somewhat less broad executive order designed to withstand legal challenges.

McAleenan left a "legal career for public service” after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the letter supporting him states. He has ever since “faithfully served as a career civil servant,” regardless of which party has been in control of the White House, the letter says.

Prior to becoming acting head of the border protection agency, McAleenan served as its deputy commissioner and chief operating officer, overseeing 60,000 employees and a $13 billion budget. Previously, as assistant commissioner of the agency's field operations, the letter said, “he led agency operations” to facilitate “lawful trade and travel at 329 ports of entry” across the country and at 70 locations overseas.