President Trump said Kevin McAleenan, the current Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will serve as acting Homeland Security secretary.
President Trump announced Sunday afternoon that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen”will be leaving her position” after 16 months in the job. 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 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.”Senior administration officials that Nielsen had a 5 p.m., meeting at the White House with Trump where she was planning to discuss with him the immigration and border issues and a path forward. She had no intention of resigning, according to one of the sources, but rather was going there with an agenda. Trump had grown increasingly frustrated with the situation at the border, which has seen an influx in migrants, predominantly from Northern Triangle countries. A senior administration official tells, Trump told border agents he wanted them to stop letting people cross the border, despite the fact that Central American asylum seekers according to US law can do so. Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable with the President becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests,”
“I hereby resign from the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), effective April 7th 2019,” Nielsen wrote in her resignation letter. “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.”
Nielsen also faced heated criticism from Democrats for defending the administration’s policy of separating migrant families who arrive at the border. Democrats had called for her resignation last year. Trump nominated Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary in October 2017, replacing her former boss John Kelly, whom Trump had named White House chief of staff months earlier. She was confirmed by the Senate in December of that year. Nielsen was viewed 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 Sunday that National Security Adviser John Bolton long felt that Nielsen was not the right person for the job and opposed her policy of using United Nations organizations to try to stem the flow of illegal migrants. The official added that Bolton and Kelly had a heated disagreement over Nielsen’s approach during an October 2018 policy meeting, after which Bolton went to Trump to protest what Nielsen was doing. Once Kelly left the White House at the end of last year, Nielsen’s days appeared to be numbered. She had expected to be pushed out last November, but her exit never materialized. And during the government shutdown over Trump’s push for funding for a border wall, Nielsen’s stock inside the White House even appeared to rise. Trump nominated McAleenan as CBP commissioner on the first day of his presidency, but McAleenan as not confirmed by the Senate until March of 2018.
He was appointed CBP deputy commissioner in November 2014 by President Barack Obama. Sources tell that it reminds to be seen whether McAleenan can handle the political duties required to be permanent homeland security secretary, though they noted that he has excellent relationships with the Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Council. McAleenan also has a reputation within CBP as a “brilliant” mind with “tremendous organizational skills.”