Nielsen Out, McAleenan In

Garrett Summers | United States

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned April 7th after meeting with President Trump at the White House in what appears to be a complete overhaul of DHS. The president wants to move the Department into a “tougher” direction. Current Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan is temporarily replacing Nielsen. This temporary appointment is a move by President Trump to have a strong ally in the department with a tougher stance on border security, while also searching for a permanent replacement. McAleenan’s views on border security mirror Trumps more closely than Nielsen’s. By replacing her, the president has a stronger block of allies in the department to push for immigration reform and to potentially shut down the border, which he threatened to do last week.

Nielsen Not Tough Enough and Too Tough?

Coming from a cyber security background, Nielsen did not support a physical wall that spanned the entirety of the border, instead opting for more technology to monitor the border. This was not enough for Trump, who wants to fill this position with someone that supports his efforts to create a physical wall between the United States and Mexico. McAleenan would presumably support this goal. Nielsen supported separating families apprehended at the border. She felt this was good deterrent for those seeking to enter the United States illegally. President Trump recently condemned this policy, saying he “hates the children being taken away.”

Former Attorney General Jeff Session did not align with President Trump on this issue, amongst others, and is no longer Attorney General because, like Nielsen, he did not wholeheartedly support the president’s agenda. The president values surrounding himself with those that will support his goals, and he has made it clear that separating families at the border is not one of them.

What’s Next?

As President Trump continues pushing the construction of a wall along the Southern Border, he will continue to meet opposition from across the aisle. Democrats in Congress will likely meet his temporary appointment with significant contention. With their control of the House of Representatives, it is even more important for him to appoint as many strong allies as possible to his cabinet.

Coming from Customs and Border Patrol, McAleenan will likely wholeheartedly support the president’s declaration that the situation at the Southern Border is a national security risk. Unlike Nielsen, McAleenan will likely push to secure the border and create a physical wall. McAleenan was one of President Trump’s first appointments, so his decision to promote McAleenan is telling of what is to come and what the president means by a “tougher” DHS.


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