US President Donald Trump's Sunday tweet announcing the resignation of US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and assumption of her position by the current Customs and Border commissioner has left many speculating if Washington has now appointed a more aggressive official.
"The purge of senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security is unprecedented and a threat to our national security", declared Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California.
Efforts by the Trump administration to remake border security have been overturned by court rulings.
When pressed, one White House official said there was a feeling in the West Wing that it was "just time" for Trump and Nielsen to part ways after bumping heads on numerous occasions during her 16-month tenure.
Nielsen went into the White House on Sunday to meet with Trump. Nielsen's name will be added to the long list of those who have shuttled in and out of cabinet posts in the last two years. And she's leaving the Trump administration "with her reputation in tatters". Border Patrol agents stopped or turned back an estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants in March alone.
The administration may also move to detain migrant children for longer than the 20 day maximum set by a court ruling, in order to set in motion a legal challenge that could overturn that limit, the official said.
Monday, outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, citing unnamed U.S. officials, claimed Nielsen endured open opposition from "border hardliners" such as National Security Adviser John Bolton and senior adviser Jared Kushner concerning immigration.
Nielsen's resignation comes less than a year and a half after she replaced John Kelly.
And she took ownership of the separation of families at the border. "She got caught up in President Trump's anti-immigration machine".
Several top DHS jobs are either vacant or filled on an acting basis, including positions responsible for disaster response, immigration enforcement, finance, policy, and science and technology. But last summer, HHS started receiving babies and toddlers, and there was not enough space to house them, said Jonathan White, the career civil servant tasked by Health and Human Services with helping to reunify children.
Abrar said that as United We Dream continues to "fight to stop ICE and CBP from becoming even more unsafe", the advocacy group would also be working to ensure that Nielsen's "legacy reflects the truth".
Both US and global law prohibit the US from refusing entry to people who are in danger of prosecution in their home countries; both US statute and court settlements offer extra due-process protections to asylum seekers, children, and families. "(DHS) Headquarters is full of people who just aren't really super enthusiastic about the president's broad agenda on immigration". In a separate story, CNN reported that Miller "played key a role in Nielsen's ouster", and his "heightened influence within the West Wing has been aided by the president, who recently told aides in an Oval Office meeting that Miller was in charge of all immigration and border related issues in the White House, according to a person familiar with the meeting".
"The president wants the problem solved and the crisis averted", Hogan Gidley, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said during a brief interview.