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  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (L) looks on in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2019.

    U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (L) looks on in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 4, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 April 2019

U.S. President Trump pressures DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign despite her months of banning Central American refugees and non-Christians from entering the country for the administration. 

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is stepping down from her post just as border patrol agents detain an unprecedented 100,000 asylum seekers and migrants in March at the U.S. southern frontier with Mexico.

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A senior administration official said Trump asked for Nielsen's resignation, which she announced via a Twitter post Sunday night along with her formal letter to President Donald Trump who, an hour later tweeted: "Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service."

In a separate tweet, Trump said Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner, will be the acting DHS secretary. Nielsen said that she would stay on until Wednesday “to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted."

Nielsen, who has been in charge of DHS since December 2017, oversaw the implementation of the administration’s draconian ‘zero tolerance’ policy that led to some 3,000, mainly Central American, children being separated from their parents between March and June of 2018 as they tried to enter the U.S. in search of refuge from poverty, violence and overwhelming government corruption in their home countries.

Over 45 percent of all parents and guardians were criminally prosecuted by June, a sharp contrast from previous administrations that rarely indicted parents with children entering the U.S. at the Mexico border. Even though a federal court ordered all families to be reunited by July of last year, hundreds of minors were lost in bureaucracy and government ineptitude and have not been reunited with their parents or were put up for adoption without family consent. According to Reuters, separations have continued into 2019 and as many as 47,000 minors are in U.S. custody, says the Associated Press.

Last June, Nielsen was heckled out of Mexican restaurant in Washington by critics of ‘zero tolerance’ and 42 percent increase in arrests by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the DHS fold, during the first year of her tenure. She nearly gave her resignation around that time. At least two Guatemalan childrenluding 

John Bolton, a senior Trump advisor, recommended that Nielsen be sacked last year as she hadn’t been able to deliver on the administration’s desire for a hermetically sealed border to foreigners from non-Christian, economically poorer, and colonized countries. After the DHS director leaves only four women will occupy a spot on the president’s highly-rotating cabinet.

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Trump has become so frustrated about the continual wave of Central Americans seeking U.S. asylum that he announced he would cut off U.S. aid to the main migrating countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. He also threatened to close the border with Mexico, although he later backed off that proposal with a threat to impose tariffs on auto imports.

"I hope that the next Secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America's borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation's discourse," Nielsen wrote to Trump.

Trump took advantage of the moment to also attack Congress on the matter Sunday: "Country is FULL," adding Democrats in Congress must "fix loopholes." He reiterated his threats from last week that he’d close the border or impose tariffs if Mexico does not do more to deter asylum seekers trying to reach the U.S.

In her resignation letter, Nielsen asked for more from Congress and the courts, which have opposed Trump’s unconstitutional ‘Muslim ban’ and the border wall the president has long-promised would be paid for by Mexico and constructed along the over 3,000 km border with the same country.

DHS officials released apprehension numbers last week showing that approximately 100,000 migrants were arrested at the southern frontier in March alone, the highest amount in a decade.

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