“Trumpism” is the new American fascism, and no one has been a more loyal foot soldier in implementing Trump’s anti-immigrant white nationalist agenda than Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson.
She has consistently and repeatedly lied to Congress under oath about the Trump administration’s child separation policy for legal asylum seekers, detaining those children in cages, and making excuses for why the government is so grossly incompetent in keeping records of those children and their parents for reunification. U.S. Says It Could Take 2 Years to Identify Up to Thousands of Separated Immigrant Families.
It is a government-sanctioned child kidnapping policy that makes orphans out of these children as a punitive measure for their family having legally sought asylum in the United States.
Despite her loyal service to “Dear Leader,” “Her entire time in the job was spent batting back suspicion from the president, even as he told people he liked how she performed on television and enjoyed dealing with her personally.” Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns as Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary:
Ms. Nielsen had been pressured by Mr. Trump to be more aggressive in stemming the influx of migrant crossings at the border, people familiar with their discussions in recent months said.
The president called Ms. Nielsen at home early in the mornings to demand that she take action to stop migrants from entering the country, including doing things that were clearly illegal, such as blocking all migrants from seeking asylum. She repeatedly noted the limitations imposed on her department by federal laws, court settlements and international obligations.
Those responses only infuriated Mr. Trump further. The president’s fury erupted in the spring of 2018 as Ms. Nielsen hesitated for weeks about whether to sign a memo ordering the routine separation of migrant children from their families so that the parents could be detained.
In a cabinet meeting surrounded by her peers, Mr. Trump castigated her repeatedly, leading her to draft a resignation letter and to tell colleagues that there was no reason for her to lead the department any longer. By the end of the week, she had reconsidered and remained in her position, becoming an increasingly fierce supporter of his policies, including the family separations.
“Dear Leader” announced on Twitter (of course) on Sunday that Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned as secretary of homeland security, marking the exit of a second top immigration official in a matter of days as the White House continues to grapple with an influx of migrants on the southern border. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen leaving Trump administration amid surge of migrants:
“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted Sunday evening. “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!”
The meeting between Trump and Nielsen was not disclosed on the president’s public schedule, and it came three days after the White House abruptly yanked the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been picked as Trump’s director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The president later signaled that he wants the nation to go “in a tougher direction” on immigration.
In her resignation letter to Trump, Nielsen said it was the “right time for me to step aside,” despite what she described as “progress in reforming homeland security for a new age.”
* * *
Two senior administration officials said that Nielsen had no intention of quitting when she went to the meeting Sunday with the president and that she was forced to step down. The announcement of her departure came shortly after the meeting.
Isn’t this the point where she was supposed to bite the cyanide capsule and die in the bunker to prove her loyalty to “Dear Leader”?
“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 Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
* * *
Trump told aides last fall that he wanted to fire Nielsen, and he grew increasingly agitated as a large caravan of Central American migrants reached the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego. She appeared to regain her footing after U.S. Border Patrol agents used tear gas to repel a large crowd attempting to break through a border fence — the kind of “tough” action Trump said he wanted in a DHS secretary.
Nielsen’s job security improved again after she helped persuade Mexican officials to agree to an experimental policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, which require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases work their way through the U.S. court system. That policy began in January.
Nielsen issued a memo last week ordering a rapid expansion of the program in an attempt to deter the record number of families who continue to arrive each month. Trump has alleged that those who are seeking asylum are scamming the United States and taking advantage of asylum laws to enter the country.
The president grew frustrated with Nielsen again early this year as the number of migrants rose and as she raised legal concerns about some of Trump’s more severe impulses, particularly when his demands clashed with U.S. immigration laws and federal court orders. Nielsen also disagreed with the White House’s decision to dump Vitiello, who had been on track for Senate confirmation in coming weeks.
Trump also was unhappy that Nielsen had been in London last week ahead of meetings with Group of 7 security officials in Paris, according to two people familiar with the matter. Nielsen returned early from Europe and was with Trump in California as he toured the border on Friday.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Nielsen convened calls with other Cabinet members and White House aides, asking them to help at the border and saying she would be giving specific requests to officials, aides said.
She said there would be daily calls — which surprised other Cabinet officials — and emphasized the need to make immediate progress.
White House officials said there was a conspicuous lack of praise for Nielsen at Friday’s roundtable, which presaged her professional demise.
Among those pushing the president to remove Nielsen was national security adviser John Bolton, who repeatedly told the president he did not think she was the right fit for the job, a senior administration official said.
Nielsen’s removal — and the withdrawal of Vitiello’s nomination — also show the growing sway of senior adviser Stephen Miller, who has privately derided other officials to the president for not being tough enough and who shares the president’s hard-line impulses. In a recent Oval Office meeting, Trump told advisers that Miller would be in charge of all immigration initiatives, White House aides said.
Ah yes, Trump’s dark prince of anti-immigrant racist hysteria and demonization. This freak of nature is the face of pure evil. Stephen Miller is orchestrating a behind-the-scene purge to fill Trump administration with anti-immigrant hardliners:
Stephen Miller, the hardline anti-immigration White House adviser, has been calling mid-level officials in several federal agencies to deliver angry tirades about their failures to stop immigrants from crossing the border.
The senior adviser to President Donald Trump has been pushing for changes to bring in more hardliners like himself, and three sources familiar with the situation suggested Miller was behind the ouster of Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, reported Politico.
“There’s definitely a larger shakeup abreast being led by Stephen Miller and the staunch right wing within the administration,” a person close to Nielsen told the website. “They failed with the courts and with Congress and now they’re eating their own.”
Miller has been skipping over department and agency heads, according to a source briefed on the situation, to directly telephone certain officials — including Craig Symons, chief counsel at Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Carl Risch, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs; ICE deputy director Matthew Albence; and Kathy Nuebel, policy and strategy chief at USCIS — and lecture them about poor work performance by their colleagues.
“It’s intimidation,” said one of the people briefed on the calls. “Anytime you get a call like this from the White House it’s intimidation.”
The 33-year-old Miller has reportedly been pushing the president to fire USCIS director Lee Francis Cissna, and he appears to have played a role in Trump’s surprising withdrawal of the nomination of acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Ronald Vitiello, saying he wanted to push the agency in a “tougher direction.”
“He thinks we can be tougher — that if we only can do more tough talk this may stop,” said a source close to DHS.
Nielsen protested the Vitiello withdrawal and shocked congressional Republicans, and one congressional aide and a source close to DHS wondered where the president would find qualified candidates to fill the roles opened up by Miller’s purge.
Trump, no doubt, would like to nominate Stephen Miller to be his Homeland Security Secretary, but there is no way that he could be confirmed in the Senate, even after “The Enemy of The People,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, invoked the “nuclear option” last week for Trump nominees. Even Republicans fear and loathe Stephen Miller.
Another name previously floated is GOP voter suppression specialist and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who made his reputation as an anti-immigrant hardliner at the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), a legal affiliate of the nativist Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), where he still retains an “of counsel” position.
Kobach helped to write Arizona’s infamous anti-immigrant “show me your papers” law, Proposition 200 (2004), and has helped to shape—and defend in the courts—draconian immigration restrictions in states and municipalities across the country. He helped to shape Donald Trump‘s border wall policy in 2016. Koback was passed over for Gen. John Kelly in 2016. Kris Kobach appears to miss out on top Homeland Security job. It is not clear to me that Kobach could be confirmed in the Senate either.
As the New York Times editorializes, Kirstjen Nielsen Enforced Cruelty at the Border. Her Replacement Could Be Worse.
Whatever the secretary’s personal views, and no matter how impossible her job, she was the face of some of the administration’s most poorly conceived and gratuitously callous policies. At best, she was complicit and, yes, hopelessly weak.
Sadly, Ms. Nielsen’s response to her boss’s displeasure and abuse was both morally anemic and strategically incoherent. Last summer, as Republicans and Democrats — and many in the American public — protested the administration’s practice of tearing migrant children from their parents at the border, Ms. Nielsen rushed to publicly defend the policy. Scratch that. She insisted, repeatedly and bizarrely, that the administration had no such policy, even as her agency was enforcing and justifying it.
* * *
Ms. Nielsen’s departure is seen by some as part of a broader restructuring of her department. Just two days before meeting with the secretary, the president withdrew his nomination for the next head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, saying that he wanted to go in a “tougher direction.” Presumably he plans to chart a similar course with Ms. Nielsen’s successor.
For now, Ms. Nielsen’s acting replacement will be Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. This leaves Homeland Security without a top official at either of its critical immigration agencies. It comes as the swell of migrant families across the border pushes the system toward collapse.
Within this leadership vacuum, it seems likely that more influence will be exerted by Mr. Miller, who inspires and reinforces Mr. Trump’s harshest ideas on immigrants and immigration.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said of Ms. Nielsen’s departure, “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.”
If Ms. Nielsen wants to perform one last act of public service, she could come clean about the costs of the policies she enforced over the past year and half, not only to the desperate migrants seeking a better life in the United States, but also to the thousands of employees of her department charged with carrying out an inhumane and ineffective set of policies.