Apr. 8–The Trump administration’s Homeland Security secretary resigned Sunday amid growing tensions over the influx of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Kristjen Nielsen, who was confirmed in December 2017, handed in her resignation to President Trump during a meeting Sunday afternoon.
“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted around 6 p.m.
Nielsen, 46, was reportedly taking heat from the White House for not doing enough to stem problems at the U.S. border with Mexico. Trump reportedly blamed Nielsen for an increase in arrests at the border.
Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable with the President becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests,” a senior administration official told CNN.
Nielsen reportedly did not plan on tendering her resignation when she started her meeting with Trump and sources told CNN that she “did not resign willingly.”
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has been named Acting Secretary in Nielsen’s departure.
“I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” Trump tweeted.
Nielsen betrayed no frustration in her resignation letter, which said she was “immensely proud of our successes in transforming DHS to keep pace with our enemies and adversaries — whether it is in cyberspace or against emerging threats from new technologies.”
“We have implemented historic efforts to defend our borders, combat illegal immigration, obstruct the inflow of drugs and uphold our laws and values,” she wrote.
“We have thwarted terrorist plotting against our homeland and launched new efforts to block terrorists and criminals from reaching our shores.”
She also wished her successor “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.”
As DHS secretary, Nielsen oversaw the controversial policy of separating migrant families at the border after the plan was launched by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in July 2017, despite at times denying that such a policy existed.
But Trump at times was unhappy with her. Late last year, Trump had considered removing Nielsen from the job within weeks, the Washington Post reported in November, but then-Chief of Staff John Kelly, her predecessor, had fought to keep her.
In May, Nielsen considered leaving the White House, even going as far as to draft a resignation letter, after the president blamed her during a cabinet meeting for failing to secure the border, the New York Times reported at the time.
It’s unclear if Nielsen’s resignation will be part of a larger shakeup within DHS.
Last week, Trump pulled the nomination of Ron Vitiello, a former Border Patrol official, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which works under DHS.
“Ron is a good man, but we’re going in a tougher direction,” Trump told reporters Friday morning, hours before visiting the U.S.-Mexico border with Nielsen.
Secretaries of Defense, Interior and DHS are all now operating on an acting basis, as is Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. ___
This article is written by Kate Feldman from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.