Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen visits U.S. Border Patrol McAllen Station in McAllen, Texas, on March 21, 2019. (DHS photo by Tara Molle)

House Homeland Chairman: Nielsen Departure ‘Could Not Come at a Worse Time’ for DHS

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee declared that the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “could not come at a worse time for the day-to-day management of the Department of Homeland Security and the over 220,000 employees that need leadership in order to best help keep the country secure.”

Trump announced Nielsen’s departure on Twitter after an early evening meeting with Nielsen, adding that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would serve in the acting role leading DHS until a replacement for Nielsen is confirmed.

“There is now currently no permanent secretary nor deputy secretary at the department,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. “The department will quickly need proven, Senate-confirmed leaders in place that can work with Congress in good faith to help keep the country safe and to fix the Trump-inflicted situation at the border.”

Thompson characterized Nielsen’s tenure as “hampered by misstep after misstep” and “a disaster from the start.”

“It is clearer now than ever that the Trump administration’s border security and immigration policies — that she enacted and helped craft — have been an abysmal failure and have helped create the humanitarian crisis at the border,” he said. “It is truly unfortunate that Nielsen refused to take responsibility for her actions and was simply unable to lead and stand up to the president for his misguided, wall-obsessed anti-immigrant agenda.”

Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) said in a brief statement that Nielsen “served her country honorably as Homeland Security secretary, despite facing numerous challenges including dire conditions at our southwest border.”

“Although Commissioner McAleenan will have his work cut out for him, I am confident the department is in capable hands,” Rogers said. “I look forward to working with McAleenan in his new role and to learning who the president intends to nominate on a permanent basis.”

In the upper chamber, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) stressed that “we need steady, informed and effective leadership in the administration and in Congress to have any hope of fixing our out of control border security and immigration problems.”

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