SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK: A senior administration official said Trump asked for Nielsen’s resignation and she gave it.
Trump, who has recently expressed growing anger about the situation at the border, said on Twitter: “Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service.”
In another tweet, Trump said Kevin McAleenan, the current US Customs and Border Protection commissioner, would become acting DHS secretary.
In a tweet late Sunday, Nielsen said that she would stay on until Wednesday.
“I have agreed to stay on as Secretary through Wednesday, April 10th to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted,” she said.
Nielsen, 46, had been DHS secretary since December 2017. Her departure had been repeatedly rumoured over the past year, particularly after a wave of anger over the administration’s 2018 family separation policy at the border with Mexico and most recently as U.S. border officials estimated that 100,000 migrants were apprehended at the southern border in March, the highest level in a decade.
Another senior administration official said Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, after a blowup with Nielsen late last year, also recommended to Trump that she should go.
Trump has made a clampdown on illegal immigration a centrepiece of his two-year-old presidency, leading chants of “Build that wall” at his rallies as he has sought to cut back on the number of newcomers entering the United States without proper documentation.
Many of the migrants picked up last month were Central Americans seeking U.S. asylum.
Trump was so frustrated about the increase that he announced he would cut off U.S. aid to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He also threatened to close the border with Mexico, although he later backed off that proposal with a threat to impose tariffs on auto imports.
In her resignation letter, Nielsen asked for more from Congress and the courts, which have opposed such Trump administration initiatives as his effort to limit immigration from Muslim nations and the border wall.
“I hope that the next Secretary will have 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,” she wrote to Trump.
Trump also took aim at Congress in another tweet later on Sunday, saying: “Country is FULL,” and saying Democrats in Congress must “fix loopholes” and repeating his threats to close the border or impose tariffs if Mexico does not do more.
Nielsen’s resignation was the latest high-profile departure from the Trump administration, and leaves just four women in his Cabinet. Among others, Trump currently lacks a permanent secretary of defense or chief of staff.