Obama to name ex-Pentagon counsel as Homeland Security secretary

Washington, Oct 17 (EFE).- President Barack Obama will name former Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson to replace Janet Napolitano as secretary of Homeland Security, White House officials said Thursday.

If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer during Obama's first term, will replace Napolitano amid the continuing battle to pass immigration reform.

"The president is selecting Johnson because he is one of the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders," a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Johnson, if confirmed, will be the fourth person to head the Department of Homeland Security since its founding in November 2002.

Obama will make the announcement on Friday.

Napolitano, the 55-year-old former Arizona governor, early this month took over her new post as head of the University of California system.

Earlier on Thursday, Obama called on lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform before the end of the year after the resolution of the fiscal crisis resulting from the partial government shutdown and near-default.

The Senate approved an immigration reform bill in June, but since then the House of Representatives has not managed to reach bipartisan agreement on the text of its own bill.