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Everything that happened during Trump's immigration purge this week

In the past week, President Trump made sweeping and at times unprecedented changes to the nation's immigration leadership.

by Alex Lubben
Apr 13 2019, 4:57pm

In the past week, President Trump made sweeping and at times unprecedented changes to the nation's immigration leadership.

He pushed out the head of the Department of Homeland Security amid a purge at the agency, withdrew the nomination of a new ICE chief, and threatened once again to close the U.S.-Mexico border. It also came out that Trump told the soon-to-be DHS chief last week that he’d be pardoned if he broke the law to stop the flow of migrants into the U.S.

Attorney General William Barr may be aiding the cause: The Department of Justice will reportedly adopt new judicial rules that could allow for quick, cursory hearings to decide whether immigrants should be deported, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Here’s what we learned in the last six days:

  • Trump recently threatened to close the border at El Paso, told agents to stop letting migrants in (which would quite possibly break the law), and wanted to separate even more families, per CNN.
  • Trump admitted the administration is considering a plan to release migrants to the streets of “sanctuary cities.” He tweeted Friday, “The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy — so this should make them very happy!”
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen submitted her resignation on Sunday. Nielsen reportedly believed that she was asked to break the law several times during her tenure.
  • Trump tapped the head of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, to take Nielsen’s place at the head of DHS.
  • Claire Grady, Nielsen’s second-in-command, also quit, which Nielsen announced via tweet on Tuesday.
  • ICE got a new boss, Matthew Albence, on Thursday. He once said that family detention facilities are “more like summer camps.”
  • Less than a week earlier, Trump withdrew the nomination of Ron Vitiello to push the agency in a “tougher direction.”
  • A California judge nixed Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which attempted to force asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases wind through the U.S. legal system.
  • Top immigration officials reportedly discussed whether the military could help build new tent cities for detaining migrants.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that DHS' general counsel, John Mitnick, left office this week. Mitnick has not left that position. Politico reported that White House adviser Stephen Miller has recently pressed to remove other immigration officials, including Mitnick.

Cover image: President Donald Trump visits a new section of the border wall with Mexico in Calexico, Calif., Friday April 5, 2019. Gloria Chavez with the U.S. Border Patrol, center, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen listen. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)