Trump unexpectedly announces resignation of his acting Homeland Security secretary

Trump unexpectedly announces resignation of his acting Homeland Security secretary

Trump added that he has "Many wonderful candidates" to fill the Homeland post.

Prior to his appointment with DHS, McAleenan worked in various positions with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and was confirmed as commissioner of CBP in March 2018.

Trump said McAleenan was leaving to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.

Although McAleenan was not a member of Trump's inner circle - he is a career civil servant and Democrat - or a frequent presence on television like others in the department, he was respected by the White House for his efforts, and his departure came as something of a surprise. But he said McAleenan remains a poor fit to lead DHS.

McAleenan, who focused his tenure on addressing what he has characterized as an immigration system at the breaking point, recounted his accomplishments in a statement Friday night. "The President's threat of tariffs on Mexico provided McAleenan with more opportunity to engage with an historically intractable partner on border security, resulting in a precipitous decline in apprehensions along the southern border".

McAleenan's resignation comes amid reports that he also felt undermined by immigration hardliners in the administration who frequently appeared on conservative news outlets calling for tougher policies.

In an interview, Mr McAleenan lamented not having control over "the tone, the message, the public face and approach of the department in an increasingly polarised time".

He has overseen the president's tough policies aimed at curbing immigration across the Mexican border.

Under Trump, the DHS secretary position has morphed into a border cop role. In his first full month as acting secretary, his department apprehended 130,000 migrants, CBS News reported.

Migrants arrested at the border fell to just over 52,000 in September, the final month of the 2019 fiscal year, down from more than 144,000 in May and the lowest monthly figure in one year. And most recently, the administration made migrants ineligible for asylum if they crossed through a third country on their way to the U.S. McAleenan has held also held senior posts within Customs and Border Protection in President George W. Bush's administration.

The acting secretary's exit leaves the bare-bones leadership structure at DHS even thinner.

Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute in Washington said people are questioning what McAleenan stands for, "questioning why he went along with the Trump administration and some of the things they did, but I believe he was a professional", he said. Trump tweeted that he "will be announcing the new Acting Secretary next week".

McAleenan was named to the Homeland Security post in April following the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen.

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