Trump shakes up lead­er­ship at Home­land Se­cu­rity Dept.

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! -

WASH­ING­TON — Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen re­signed on Sun­day amid Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s grow­ing frus­tra­tion and bit­ter­ness over the num­ber of Cen­tral Amer­i­can fam­i­lies cross­ing the south­ern bor­der.

Trump an­nounced on Sun­day in a tweet that U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sioner Kevin McAleenan would be tak­ing over as act­ing head of the de­part­ment. McAleenan is a long­time bor­der of­fi­cial who is well-re­spected by mem­bers of Congress and within the ad­min­is­tra­tion. The de­ci­sion to name a top im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cer to the post re­flects Trump’s pri­or­ity for the sprawl­ing de­part­ment founded to com­bat ter­ror­ism fol­low­ing the Sept. 11 at­tacks.

“I have de­ter­mined that it is the right time for me to step aside,” Nielsen wrote in her res­ig­na­tion let­ter. “I hope that the next sec­re­tary will have the sup­port of Congress and the courts in fix­ing the laws which have im­peded our abil­ity to fully se­cure Amer­ica’s bor­ders and which have contributed to dis­cord in our na­tion’s dis­course.”

Though Trump aides were eye­ing a staff shakeup at Home­land Se­cu­rity and had al­ready with­drawn the nom­i­na­tion for an­other key im­mi­gra­tion post, the devel­op­ment Sun­day was un­ex­pected.

Nielsen trav­eled to the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der on Fri­day with Trump to par­tic­i­pate in a round­table 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. She re­turned to Wash­ing­ton af­ter­ward on a Coast Guard Gulf­stream, as Trump con­tin­ued on a fundrais­ing trip to Cal­i­for­nia and Ne­vada.

Nielsen had grown in­creas­ingly frus­trated by what she saw as a lack of sup­port from other de­part­ments and in­creased med­dling by Trump aides on dif­fi­cult im­mi­gra­tion is­sues, ac­cord­ing to three peo­ple fa­mil­iar with de­tails of her res­ig­na­tion. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

She went into the White House on Sun­day to meet with Trump not know­ing whether she’d be fired or would re­sign. She ended up re­sign­ing, though she was not forced to do so, they said.

Nielsen is the lat­est per­son felled in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s un­prece­dented churn of top staff and Cab­i­net of­fi­cials, brought about by the pres­i­dent’s mer­cu­rial man­age­ment style, in­sis­tence on blind loy­alty and rash pol­icy an­nounce­ments.

Nielsen was also the high­est pro­file fe­male Cab­i­net mem­ber, and her exit leaves DHS along with the Pen­tagon and the White House staff it­self with­out per­ma­nent heads. Pa­trick Shana­han has held the post of act­ing de­fense sec­re­tary since the for­mer sec­re­tary, Jim Mat­tis, was pushed out in De­cem­ber over crit­i­cism of the pres­i­dent’s Syria with­drawal plans. Act­ing White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney has held his post since Jan­uary, fol­low­ing John Kelly’s res­ig­na­tion last year.

Her res­ig­na­tion let­ter lacked any sense of con­tro­versy — un­like those of oth­ers who have left. She thanked Trump and DHS staff for their hard work.

Her re­place­ment, McAleenan, has helped shape many of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies to date and is con­sid­ered highly com­pe­tent by con­gres­sional lead­ers, the White House and Home­land Se­cu­rity of­fi­cials. But it’s un­clear if he can have much more of an ef­fect on the is­sues at the bor­der. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has bumped up against le­gal re­stric­tions and court rul­ings that have ham­strung many of its ma­jor ef­forts to re­make bor­der se­cu­rity. (AP)

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