Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leaving administration

Posted April 08, 2019

President Trump announced Sunday afternoon that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen "will be leaving her position" after 16 months in the job.

Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will become the acting secretary for DHS, Trump announced.

Nielsen had a 5 p.m. meeting Sunday at the White House with Trump where she was planning to discuss with him immigration and border issues and a path forward, senior administration officials tell CNN.

Nielsen was tapped to lead the agency after Gen. John Kelly left to take up the chief of staff position in the White House. Once Kelly left the White House previous year, Nielsen's days appeared to be numbered.

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Her departure however may be part of a redesign of the DHS under the oversight of Trump advisor Stephen Miller, CBS is reporting. McAleenan is a longtime border officer, reflecting Trump's priority for the department initially founded to combat terrorism after the September 11 attacks. And during the government shutdown over Trump's push for funding for a border wall, Nielsen's stock inside the White House even appeared to rise.

In that role, she has become the face of the Trump administration's anti-immigration policy, including the widely condemned practice of separating migrant children from their parents, as part of the administration's "zero tolerance" approach to illegal immigration, meant to deter families from leaving home in the hope of entering the United States.

Nielsen visited El Paso, Texas, on Wednesday, marking her first stop on a border tour aimed at assessing the surge of migrants and the department's response. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Trump had chose to replace Nielsen.

Her tenure was marked throughout by tensions with Trump, who reportedly lashed out at her several times because illegal border crossings have not been stopped.

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"We're going in a little different direction".

Trump recently threatened to close the border with Mexico, or parts of it, if Congress did not change US laws to fix what he called immigration "loopholes".

The Washington Post's Robert Costa tweeted that Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli were the frontrunners to the permanent nomination.

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