Trump’s Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Is Out

We’ll be talking about what we she did for decades.

Sec. Nielsen

Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA Wire

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is officially out of a job as of Sunday afternoon, after a tumultuous 16-month tenure that made her a public face of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown. Nielsen’s resignation came just days after President Donald Trump withdrew the nomination of Ronald Vitiello to lead the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency—a move that Nielsen was reportedly blindsided by.

Trump confirmed the news in a tweet Sunday evening, revealing that the current head of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, will now serve as acting DHS secretary: 

Nielsen’s tenure will be remembered above all for the family separation policy, an outgrowth of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ policy of “zero tolerance” on prosecuting people who come across the border. When the effects of the policy began to ripple through the press—the New York Times reported in April 2017 that more than 700 kids had been separated from their parents, with more than 100 younger than four—Nielsen at first denied that any such family-separation policy existed:

But subsequent reporting found that family separation was not simply a side-effect, but a deliberate decision—separating small children from parents, the administration hoped, would discourage families from coming across. Not only did Nielsen’s team make it a policy priority to separate children from parents, their actions put those children in horrific conditions, and they failed to keep track of the families they separated, making it difficult to reunite parents and children later on.

“Under the present system, migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property,” a federal judge in San Diego wrote last year, in a decision that put Nielsen’s policy on hold.

On Friday, the administration said it may take up to two years to identify all the families separated under the policy.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate