April 9, 2019

Kirstjen Nielsen Resigns

“Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid President Donald Trump’s growing frustration and bitterness over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border. Trump announced on Sunday in a tweet that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would be taking over as acting head of the department.” AP News

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From the Left

The left is highly critical of Nielsen, but worries that Trump may eventually appoint someone even worse to replace her.

“It’s no secret that Mr. Trump had a problem with Ms. Nielsen, whom he considered ‘weak’ on matters of border security… 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, rather weak.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Nielsen carried out “Trump’s ghastly family separation policy at the southern border… [and] designed a plan that strictly limited the number of asylum-seekers allowed to enter the United States. And she implemented what was ultimately ruled to be an unlawful policy to prevent immigrants from applying for asylum if they entered the country illegally… [But] Nielsen drew the line at Trump’s ‘clearly illegal’ demands, including ‘blocking all migrants from seeking asylum.’ She also reportedly refused to resume family separations, despite Trump’s entreaties, because she did not want to violate a court order…

“If Nielsen and [other DHS officials who were recently fired] were not sufficiently extreme, it is alarming to consider what might come after them. Both bent the law as far as they could to implement hugely controversial and frequently vicious policies to further Trump’s nativist goals. It wasn’t enough for the president. With their ousters, DHS is entering a new era, one in which the agency will do whatever Donald Trump and Stephen Miller think it can get away with.”
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

Many ask, “Can McAleenan be the ‘tough’ secretary Trump wants?... McAleenan has praised the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Central America — immediately putting him at odds with the president, who has ordered a cutoff of assistance to those countries. And McAleenan refers to the migrants arriving at the border not as scammers looking to cheat their way into the country but as ‘vulnerable families’ who need more humanitarian treatment. He has urged a fast and responsible screening process that will let true asylum seekers start their new lives in the United States once a court rules on their claims… Whether that is what the president and Stephen Miller, his top immigration adviser, are looking for on a long-term basis is not clear.”
Nick Miroff, Washington Post

Others note that “the DHS is a sprawling giant of 22 agencies that merged together in the wake of 9/11. The department's 240,000 employees handle everything from hurricanes to cyber security to border security to terrorism. As secretary of homeland security, a lot of things can happen on your watch: A botched response to a hurricane, or a serious cyber attack, or a major terrorist assault, or rising numbers of migrant families trying to cross the southern border…

“Almost a century ago one such desperate migrant, Mary Anne MacLeod, left the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland, one of the most poverty-stricken parts of Europe, to find work as a servant in New York. Mary later married Fred Trump. They had five children, including a son named Donald. Trying to dissuade migrants such as Mary Anne MacLeod from leaving countries where they see no future to seek their fortune in the United States is likely beyond the ken of any secretary of homeland security.”
Peter Bergen, CNN

“US immigration law is a balance between the desire to minimize unauthorized entry into the United States and the desire to protect vulnerable people who may be fleeing harm and persecution. Both US and international law prohibit the US from refusing entry to people who are in danger of [persecution] in their home countries; both US statute and court settlements offer extra due-process protections to asylum seekers, children, and families. Trump’s anger at Nielsen is really anger at this delicate balance… if Trump wants a DHS secretary who will stop people from setting foot on US soil, none of [the] options will satisfy him.”
Dara Lind, Vox

From the Right

The right thinks that it is unfair to blame Nielsen for the current crisis at the border.

The right thinks that it is unfair to blame Nielsen for the current crisis at the border.

“The President is obviously frustrated with the situation on the border, recently saying that our country is ‘full’ and people should turn around and go back. But the DHS Secretary doesn’t have the ability to change those policies with the wave of a wand… It’s unclear what the President thinks he’ll be able to accomplish with a new temporary DHS secretary. Policy statements can be issued, along with executive orders, but they will all be challenged and locked up in the courts by liberal opponents. Kevin McAleenan won’t be able to produce any more magic than Nielsen could. As much as I support the President’s desire to strengthen the border and block the flow of illegal aliens, this seems like an unproductive move.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation Sunday as secretary of Homeland Security is best understood as a ritual sacrifice for the failures of the American political system on immigration. Ms. Nielsen wasn’t responsible for the surge of Central American migrants arriving at the border to claim political asylum, but Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress both needed a fall guy… Mr. Trump’s immigration strategy is failing even on his own top priority of border security. He needs to get past his fixation with the border wall and make the case to the public and Congress for bipartisan immigration solutions.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

The crisis at the border could be quickly brought under control if Congress would take these necessary and common sense steps: fund the wall; provide adequate resources for detention; speed up asylum claims processing, and close the legal loopholes that allow activists and criminals to encourage flooding America with unprecedented numbers of illegal immigrants.”
James Jay Carafano, Fox News

“Blaming Nielsen for the border chaos is like blaming your energy commissioner for an oil shortage brought upon by an OPEC embargo. The obvious culprit in the present border overload is the Democrats’ refusal to address the asylum law loopholes that prohibit border agents from turning illegal aliens around at the border once they utter the words: ‘I want asylum.’ Asking Nielsen to single-handedly reverse this insane policy would be asking her to break the law.”
Steve Levy, Fox News

Some, however, argue that “in government as well as the military, when disastrous defeats occur, recovery is only possible when leaders are held accountable. Sometimes that means honorable figures must lose their jobs in order for a new team to come in, clean house and then move in a more decisive manner. Nielsen’s successor deserves more support from Congress as well as the White House than she received, but it won’t hurt to have someone in the job who is perceived as tougher by observers on both sides of the border… In a crisis like the one we’re facing at the border, Trump should keep firing people until he finds the ones who will do the job.”
Jonathan Tobin, New York Post

DHS is “a $40 billion department that employs almost a quarter of a million people, and most of them don’t work on immigration issues. DHS is charged with protecting the country from terrorism, preparing for and responding to emergencies of all sorts, coordinating the federal government’s cyber-security efforts, and assisting state and local law-enforcement in countless ways. The department is home to the three immigration services… but it is also home to the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Protective Service, and more…

“In considering possible replacements for Nielsen, the president and his advisers should keep in mind that the Secretary of DHS is not a kind of minister of immigration. The person in charge of that department needs to have some background or capacity for the much broader set of challenges involved in the job.”
Yuval Levin, National Review

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