US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigns after Trump ‘blamed her for the surge in illegal immigrants’

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US HOMELAND Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned after clashing with Donald Trump over the surge in illegal immigrants crossing over the Mexico border.

Nielsen, 46, is the latest casualty in the Trump administration’s unprecedented churn of top staff and Cabinet officials.

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned after clashing with Donald Trump
EPA

US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned after clashing with Donald Trump[/caption]

Nielsen, 46, is the latest casualty in the Trump administration's unprecedented churn of top staff and Cabinet officials
EPA

Nielsen, 46, is the latest casualty in the Trump administration’s unprecedented churn of top staff and Cabinet officials[/caption]

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Tensions are understood to have been mounting between Nielsen and the President for months amid his growing frustration over border security.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

He announced U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will be acting secretary.

Nielsen’s time at Homeland has been marked by a tumultuous relationship with Trump, who has railed against the flood of immigrants coming across the border and blamed Nielsen for not stopping it.

“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.”

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Though Trump aides were eyeing a staff shake-up at Homeland Security and had already withdrawn the nomination for another key immigration post, the development was unexpected.

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 was  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.

TENSIONS BOILING OVER

Tensions between the White House and Nielsen have persisted almost from the moment she became secretary, after her predecessor, Kelly, became the White House chief of staff in 2017.

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 on matters around the border and others like protected status for some refugees.

Once Kelly left the White House, Nielsen’s days appeared to be numbered.

She had expected to be pushed out last November, but her exit never materialised.

During the government shutdown over Trump’s insistence for funding for a border wall, Nielsen’s standing inside the White House even appeared to rise.

But in recent weeks, as a new wave of migration has taxed resources along the border and as Trump sought to regain control of the issue for his 2020 re-election campaign, tensions flared anew.

FINAL STRAW

The final straw came when Trump gave Nielsen no heads-up or opportunity to discuss his decision to pull the nomination of acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ron Vitiello.

Nielsen had wanted to discuss the move with Trump during their visit to the border Friday, but when there was no time, she asked for the meeting Sunday.

She walked into it prepared to resign, depending on what she heard.

There is understood to have been mounting frustrations on both sides, with Trump exasperated at the situation at the border and Nielsen frustrated by White House actions she felt were counterproductive.

Arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed recently.

Border agents are on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry at the southern border in March, over half of which are families with children.

Nielsen dutifully pushed Trump’s immigration policies, including funding for his border wall, and defended the administration’s practice of separating children from parents.

She told a Senate committee that removing children from parents facing criminal charges happens “in the United States every day.”

But she was also instrumental in ending the policy.


Under Nielsen, migrants seeking asylum are waiting in Mexico as their cases progress.

She also moved to abandon longstanding regulations that dictate how long children are allowed to be held in immigration detention, and requested bed space from the U.S. military for some 12,000 people in an effort to detain all families who cross the border.

Right now there is space for about 3,000 families, and facilities are at capacity.

Tensions are understood to have been mounting between Nielsen and the President for months amid his growing frustration over border security
Reuters

Tensions are understood to have been mounting between Nielsen and the President for months amid his growing frustration over border security[/caption]

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