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Top Republicans are less than pleased that President Trump is doing away with his administration’s top immigration and security officials at a time when border crossings, especially by families, are at their highest in a decade.
The major shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security has seen secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resign Sunday night, followed by Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles being pushed out Monday, and more departures expected: Reportedly, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lee Francis Cissna, and DHS general counsel John Mitnick could be next.
Here’s what Republicans are saying:
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to Politico: “It’s a mess. Strikes me as just a frustration of not being able to solve a problem. Honestly, it wasn’t Secretary Nielsen’s fault. It wasn’t for lack of effort on her part. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s going to be able to do more.”
- Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to the Washington Post: “The president has to have some stability and particularly with the number one issue that he’s made for his campaign, throughout his two and a half years of presidency. He’s pulling the rug out from the very people that are trying to help him accomplish his goal.”
- Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) to Politico: “He thinks it’s a winning issue. It works for him. It may not work for everybody else.”
- Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) to Politico: “If someone resigns and then the White House staff cuts ’em to pieces, I think that’s just classless.”
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to NBC News: "We are dealing with a humanitarian and security crisis at the border because Congress has failed to act. In addition to Congressional dysfunction, I am concerned with a growing leadership void within the department tasked with addressing some of the most significant problems facing the nation."
The Homeland Security purge comes as Trump attempts to harden his immigration platform ahead of 2020, and is widely believed to be at the urging of Trump adviser Stephen Miller, an immigration hard-liner. Last month, Border Patrol agents arrested or turned away more than 100,000 people who illegally crossed the border or were deemed inadmissible at ports of entry. The surge in undocumented migrants has been driven, in part, by parents and children attempting to enter the United States and escape violence in Central America.
Republicans have largely agreed with Trump’s goal to stem illegal immigration. However, his more recent attempts to attack that issue — firing experts and threatening to close the border — have stoked fury among the party that’s meant to provide him with support. Trump is also reportedly considering bringing back his administration’s policy of separating families, which inspired anger toward his party last year and boosted Democrats.
Cover: Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, leaves a Republican lunch meeting and heads to the chamber as the Senate voted to reject President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the southwest border, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in defying Trump. Cornyn voted to not reject Trump's emergency declaration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)