President Donald Trump is replacing Kevin McAleenan, the acting homeland security secretary, after a tenure in which McAleenan reduced border crossings and oversaw major Trump administration immigration policies but clashed with senior officials and struggled to earn the president’s trust, the Washington Post reports. McAleenan had become increasingly frustrated with a cadre of Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles, and was struggling to control the messaging coming out of his department. Hard-line figures have attacked him as insufficiently committed to the president’s agenda, while critics of the administration say he has used conciliatory rhetoric to lend cover to harsh measures.
A person close to McAleenan said he resigned after weeks of growing disenchantment with his standing in the administration. He was never formally nominated for the job and there was no indication he would be. McAleenan told the Post he felt he had lost the ability to shape how the Trump administration characterized immigration enforcement. A career law enforcement official, McAleenan had tried to present a relatively neutral approach to the border and felt that political partisanship was taking over. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is a potential replacement for McAleenan. Acrimony between Cuccinelli and leading GOP senators would be a major obstacle to his confirmation. Trump’s pick to replace McAleenan will be the fifth DHS chief in less than three years. McAleenan’s tenure at DHS was marked by the implementation of several contentious border policies that have significantly tightened access to the U.S. asylum system. The department’s acting deputy secretary, David Pekoske, is in line to succeed McAleenan. Pekoske, also the top official at the Transportation Security Administration, is the only other senior DHS leader who has been confirmed by the Senate.
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