Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday, giving President Donald Trump the chance to further reset his policies on illegal immigration, as he demands that Mexico do more to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs, and that Congress approve legislation to make major changes in U.S. immigration laws.
"I hereby resign from the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), effective April 7th 2019," Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a letter released on Sunday evening.
"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 added in her letter.
Soon after Nielsen's announcement, President Trump said he was moving the current head of Customs and Border Patrol, Kevin McAleenan, into the DHS job on an Acting basis.
....I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
More apprehensions (captures)— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2019
at the Southern Border than in many years. Border Patrol amazing! Country is FULL! System has been broken for many years. Democrats in Congress must agree to fix loopholes - No Open Borders (Crimes & Drugs). Will Close Southern Border If necessary...
....Mexico must apprehend all illegals and not let them make the long march up to the United States, or we will have no other choice than to Close the Border and/or institute Tariffs. Our Country is FULL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2019
This afternoon I submitted my resignation to @POTUS and thanked him for the opportunity to serve in his administration.— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) April 7, 2019
From the outset, Nielsen seemed to be on the outs with President Trump, who has been looking for a tougher public front on the border.
Last Friday, Mr. Trump suddenly scrapped his nominee to head immigration services in the federal government, as the President said he wanted to go in a 'different direction.'
Democrats denounced Nielsen, having long accused her of lying to Congress about the actions of the Homeland Security Department in dealing with the separation of illegal immigrant families.
“It is deeply alarming that the Trump Administration official who put children in cages is reportedly resigning because she is not extreme enough for the White House’s liking,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Nielsen ripped families apart and put children in cages,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX). “God help us with what may come next."
“Secretary Nielsen took babies out of the hands of their mothers and put them into cages," said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). "Good riddance."
"Kirstjen Nielsen may not have been the architect of Donald Trump’s inhumane immigration agenda, but she was its steward and her departure is long overdue," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), as Democrats savaged the immigration policies of the Trump Administration.
DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen's resignation brings a great sense of relief. However, the sad truth is she probably didn't put enough children in cages or served enough lies to Congress to satisfy this Administration.— Rep. Gwen Moore (@RepGwenMoore) April 7, 2019
Nielsen has been the primary voice defending Trump’s child separation strategy.— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) April 7, 2019
She failed to acknowledge or address its terrible impacts.
She would have been far better off to resign in protest rather than to facilitate this evil & heartless plan to inflict trauma on children.
Two weeks ago, I called for @SecNielsen resignation because it was abundantly clear that she was either deliberately using our government to harm border communities, her personnel, and vulnerable migrants -or - she was profoundly incompetent.— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) April 7, 2019
I welcome her departure. https://t.co/Psua2m8joI
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation was long overdue. Her tenure will be remembered for her cruel and inhumane policies of separating families, putting children in cages and turning away legal asylum seekers. https://t.co/GRpbqZXUCS— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) April 8, 2019
The move will give the President the chance to nominate someone new - but it will also require Senate confirmation hearings on that nominee, which are certain to become center stage for a public battle over the President's border and immigration goals.