This time around, the debate involves the Department of Homeland Security-and the resignation/firing/un-resignation/ ¯\_ (ツ) _/¯ of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
President Donald Trump, left, on stage with Republican gubernatorial candidate Secretary of State Kris Kobach, right, during a campaign rally at Kansas Expocentre on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Topeka. As a health care professional, Underwood attempted to highlight whether or not Nielsen and DHS were aware of the longterm harm the policy could cause. That's false. In fact, an image of a child locked in what appears to be some form of cage - which went viral during the migrant crisis last summer that involved family separations - was actually from a staged protest in front of Dallas City Hall, according to fact-checker Snopes.
Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, responded by summarizing Nielsen's tenure at DHS as "championing President Trump's cruel anti-immigrant agenda" and McAleenan's appointment "deeply disturbing" given the CBP commissioner's actions at the border. Unnamed officials who spoke to NBC said Nielsen told Trump the Department of Homeland Security could not act against federal court orders barring the policy, and that Trump would be defying his own executive order previous year that put an end to it. There's also plenty to say about decapitating the Department of Homeland Security in the middle of a putative immigration crisis, and what the change in leadership might portend for U.S. immigration policy going forward.
The administration is looking to change a handful of key immigration-related policies, even as the president continues his threats to shut down the border.
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In March, agents apprehended 100,000 immigrants at the southern border - the highest number in 12 years.
But Gidley and other White House officials were unable Monday to describe exactly what it was that the president wanted Nielsen's successors to do differently.
Nielsen initially joined the Trump administration in January 2017 as a an assistant to Trump's first Department of Homeland Security (DHS) secretary, John Kelly.
Concerned legislators were also rallying Tuesday to defend Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, whose job was said to be in danger.
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By Wednesday, Nielsen was at the border, overseeing efforts to keep asylum seekers in Mexico and preparing for the president's Friday visit to Calexico, California. White House senior policy adviser and immigration hard-liner Stephen Miller is blamed for the shakeup at the department. That includes reinstating family separations, a policy that previously prompted global outrage and could mean he would have to violate his own executive order and possibly run afoul of a federal judge overseeing reunifications. It's unlikely that many of these families, like those of enslaved black people in this nation centuries ago, will ever be reunited.
The Trump administration has enacted several controversial immigration policies over the past two years, including separating migrant families at the border and holding children in detention facilities. But last summer, HHS started receiving babies and toddlers, and there was not enough space to house them, said Jonathan White, the career civil servant tasked by Health and Human Services with helping to reunify children.
She was seen as someone who didn't have a lot of allies in the White House.
But by October she was back at DHS, this time as secretary.
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Nielsen's departure threw into sharp focus just how few full-time leaders are at the sprawling department of more than 240,000 people.