As the debate over US immigration policy continues to heat up, President Donald J. Trump announced that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “will be leaving her position” after 16 months in the job.
At the same time, Trump also announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will replace Nielsen as acting secretary, tweeting: “I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”
Nielsen tweeted on Sunday, April 7, that she had submitted her resignation and added: “Its been an honor of a lifetime to serve with the brave men and women of @DHSgov.
I could not be prouder of and more humbled by their service, dedication, and commitment to keep our country safe from all threats and hazards.”
She included an image of a resignation letter to Trump in which she wrote, “Despite our progress in reforming homeland security for a new age, I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside.”
In a later tweet, Nielsen addressed “the brave and dedicated men and women of @DHSgov,” saying she was “eternally grateful and proud of what you do each and everyday [sic] to protect our homeland”.
“Our missions as a Department are vast and have never been more vital,” Nielsen continued in praise of those in her department. “You are in the arena- keep up the good fight. Thank you for your sacrifices and those of your families. God bless you and God bless our great country.”
Nielsen Resigns After Meeting With POTUS
According to Fox News, Nielsen met with Trump at the White House on Sunday amid an ongoing influx of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border that has been taxing America’s immigration system and sparking frustration within the administration.
The Associated Press, citing two sources, reported that Nielsen had been frustrated with the difficulty of getting other departments to help her deal with the growing number of families crossing the southwestern border.
Administration sources told Fox News that Nielsen’s background in cybersecurity made her a poor fit to handle border issues, while McAleenan best fits Trump’s requirement of being the “toughest cop” on the frontier.
Prior to the meeting with Trump, and her eventual resignation, Nielsen visited El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, marking her first stop on a border tour aimed at assessing the surge of migrants and the department’s response.
“Our system and facilities were never structured to withstand the current influx of immigrants,” she said.
On Friday, Nielsen and Trump participated in a roundtable discussion with border officers and local law enforcement.
There she echoed Trump’s comments on the situation at the border, though she ducked out of the room without explanation for some time while Trump spoke. As they toured a section of newly rebuilt barriers, Nielsen was at Trump’s side, introducing him to local officials.
Trump nominated Nielsen to replace John Kelly as Director of Homeland Security in October of 2017 when Kelly was tapped for White House Chief of Staff. However, even then, there were those in the Trump administration who did not think she was the right fit for the job.
Some viewed her as “resistant” to some of the harshest immigration measures supported by the president and his aides, particularly senior adviser Stephen Miller, both around the border and on other matters like protected status for some refugees.
A senior administration official told Fox News that National Security Adviser John Bolton long felt that Nielsen was not the right person for the job and that he “opposed her policy of using United Nations organizations to try to stem the flow of illegal migrants.”