US Homeland Security chief Nielsen ‘leaving her position’: Trump

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee on border security on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 6, 2019. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP)

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) –US President Donald Trump on Sunday announced Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the front-line defender of the administration’s controversial immigration policies, would leave her position.

“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted.

He added US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would become acting secretary.

Nielsen initially joined the Trump administration in January 2017 as a an assistant to Trump’s first DHS secretary, John Kelly. When Kelly moved to the White House as Trump’s chief of staff in July 2017, Nielsen went with him as his deputy.

But by October she was back at DHS, this time as secretary.

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.

Nielsen’s relationship with Trump has long been said to be difficult. But despite reports he complained constantly about her performance, she remained steadfastly loyal.

Last month, she defended the president’s declaration of a national emergency to secure funding for his pet project: a wall on the US-Mexico border.