Published: Sat, October 12, 2019

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan steps down

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan steps down

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan submitted his resignation to the White House on Friday, after serving in the post since April.

The announcement has been planned for weeks, sources close to McAleenan say, and has nothing to do with the Ukraine scandal in which Trump and several other Cabinet officials are now enmeshed.

President Donald Trump tweeted out McAleenan's departure on Friday evening, commending the DHS official for bringing US-Mexico border crossings "way down", before attributing his departure to the classic political excuse that he "wants to spend more time with his family".

McAleenan said in a subsequent tweet that he wanted to thank the president for his support and that he'd work with the Department of Homeland Security on a smooth transition. But he said McAleenan remains a poor fit to lead DHS.

Moreover, with the numbers of undocumented immigrants apprehended or turned away at the border coming down for the fourth consecutive month - 52,546 in September, a 65% drop from May - the lack of crisis is dissuading members of Congress to act and compromise.

As the New York Times notes, because of the Vacancies Act: "none of those hard-liners can immediately succeed Mr. McAleenan".

"He did his best as a professional public servant but those qualities are not prized in this administration", said Bersin, an assistant Homeland Security secretary for global affairs and Customs and Border Protection commissioner under Obama. "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".

It got worse - reports of children being held in squalid conditions for weeks at border facilities, young mothers with no medical care for their infants, and child deaths.

His tenure played out against a backdrop of outrage amid reports of children being held in squalid conditions on the United States border and images of those who died trying to make the trek from Central America.

And he didn't always agree with White House-pushed policies.

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Lake Charles Civic Center, October 11, 2019, in Lake Charles, La. Details of the operation were leaked to the media.

McAleenan served in the role for six months, replacing Kirstjen Nielsen, who sat at the helm of the powerful agency for 1.5 years. That may not be possible.

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