This week, the revolving door at the front of the Trump administration claimed another career. On Twitter, President Donald Trump abruptly announced late Sunday that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would be leaving her position, and a resignation letter from the two-year leader of the high-profile department soon emerged. In his Twitter announcement, Trump indicated that Nielsen would be very soon if not immediately leaving her position and would be replaced by current Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who would serve as acting Secretary of Homeland Security.
Trump said he “would like to thank [Nielsen] for her service,” but privately, Trump has reportedly whined about Nielsen’s supposed ineptitude in addressing the crisis he insists is unfolding at the United States’ southern border. The president and his longtime, far-right adviser Stephen Miller have “blamed her for a rise in migrants entering the United States and not finding more creative ways to secure the border,” in the description of The New York Times.
Nielsen is one of many who Trump has blamed for his pet crisis that didn’t seem to be an issue until he came around. He’s also, for instance, targeted Mexico and other Central American countries, falsely claiming that they’ve orchestrated caravans of dangerous asylum seekers coming to the United States. In fact, they’re not behind those caravans, which are filled with people fleeing violence, not perpetrating it.
During her time in office, Nielsen has stood right by the president on some of his most contentious, antagonistic immigration policy pushes like the punitive separation of immigrant families arriving at the southern border. She went to particularly dramatic lengths to defend that eventually overturned policy, even insisting that the Trump administration didn’t have a family separations policy at all. The implication was that family separations were a side effect of dealing with oh-so-scary asylum seeking women and children. Nielsen also supported the president drawing back Temporary Protected Status provisions for numerous groups of immigrants who fled to the United States from some kind of disaster, but even that wasn’t enough for the president.
She’s actually been close to abandoning the department before, having reportedly drafted a resignation letter in May 2018 after being tensely “berated” for her supposed failures to curb undocumented immigration. The Times shares that people familiar with the situation say Trump often felt “lectured to” by Nielsen, again indicating how much national policy is turning according to the demands of Donald Trump’s ego above all else.
Nielsen, for her part, is going out under the same cloud of anti-immigrant sentiment she’s become known for. In her resignation letter, she explained:
‘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.’
The issue with “our nation’s discourse” is not that people have complained about policies like putting kids in cages just to send a message to prospective asylum seekers that they supposedly shouldn’t come here.
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