WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned Sunday, amid President Trump's frustration over the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border with Mexico.
The move came days after Trump sank the nomination of Ronald D. Vitiello, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to become permanent director because he wanted the agency to go in a “tougher” direction.
Nielsen was picked for the job by former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, but the retired Marine Corps general left his job earlier this year. She will be replaced by U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who will become acting director of Homeland Security.
“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I have confidence Kevin will do a great job.”
More than 100,000 undocumented migrants crossed the southern border in March, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an increase driven by an unprecedented number of parents coming with their children. Overwhelmed, the agency has diverted 750 agents from the major points of entry to the border itself to help with the surge.
Nielsen’s resignation also comes days after the U.S. government said it could take up to two years to reunite migrant children separated at the border with their parents due to poor record keeping prior to April 2018.
Cover: Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), pauses during a House Homeland Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)