“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service….,” tweeted Trump on April 7.
Kirstjen Nielsen, the second person to hold the position of Secretary of Homeland Security under Donald Trump, announced her resignation on Sunday, April 7, effective at close of business on Wednesday. She is the twelfth Trump Cabinet member to leave the Trump administration.
Kirstjen Nielsen is seen as the face of last May’s “zero tolerance policy,” or “family separation policy,” which called for detention and prosecution of migrant adults entering the country illegally at the U.S.’ southern border, thus separating them from their children. It will be this policy and its aftermath that will be Kirstjen Nielsen’s White House legacy.
Nielsen blamed previous administrations for the family separation policy, and claimed that the Trump administration was only following what was already mandated by law: that it was legal and necessary to separate a child “who is ‘in danger, there is no custodial relationship between ‘family’ members, or if the adult has broken the law.’” (“Breaking the law” included crossing the border illegally.)
Kirstjen Nielsen and Donald Trump have frequently been at odds regarding the handling of migrants into the U.S. from Mexico. Trump blamed Nielsen for the inability to convince Congress to fully fund his famous proposed border wall. Though Trump frequently disparaged Nielsen, taking out many of his frustrations regarding illegal immigration on her, it’s not yet known for sure whether Nielsen is leaving voluntarily, or is being forced out.
The announcement of Kirstjen Nielsen’s impending resignation occurred not long after Trump tweeted that he wanted to “go in a tougher direction,” and dropped his nomination of Ronald Vitiello for ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) director. Nielsen’s upcoming departure is part of Trump senior policy advisor Stephen Miller’s plan to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security.
Kirstjen Nielsen has frequently been a staunch and outspoken advocate for tough border policies. Going along with the Trump administration’s assessment that the situation at the U.S.- Mexico border is a national security crisis, Nielsen has compared it to a category 5 hurricane.
“The rate at which this crisis is evolving is tremendous,” said Nielsen on CNN. “So we absolutely need additional resources, more than we can reprogram or otherwise use under executive authority without Congress…We have tried everything that we can at DHS.”
Kirstjen Nielsen has faced harsh criticism and questioning from Democrats for her hard-line treatment of migrants at the border. The Trump administration and many of its supporters, however, claim that Nielsen hasn’t gone far enough in deterring border crossings.
“When even the most radical voices in the administration aren’t radical enough for President Trump, you know he’s completely lost touch with the American people,” said Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate minority leader, regarding Kirstjen Nielsen’s upcoming departure.
DHS Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen resigned. Did Trump ask her to? |
Fox Business [2019-04-08]
Kirstjen Nielsen resignation is part of massive DHS overhaul |
CBS This Morning [2019-04-08]