After withdrawing his nomination of Ron Vitiello for the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and forcing the resignation of Department of HOmeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump continued his rampage through the ranks of his own hand-picked security and immigration officials.
Never mind that ICE has not had a permanent head since he took office. Never mind that Kirstjen Nielsen is the third head of DHS in the first two years of the Trump administration. Never mind that by trying to appoint Kevin McAlaneen as acting secretary of DHS, he will leave both ICE and the Border Patrol without leaders. Despite this chaos, there’s more to come: the dismissal of Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles and the rumored next steps: firing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Francis Cissna and Office of the General Counsel’s John Mitnick.
The dismissals are all part of a Trump/Miller plan to “get tougher” on immigrants. That plan comes at the same time that yet another judge orders a temporary halt to yet another ill-conceived and unconstitutional Trump policy, the Remain in Mexico directive barring asylum seekers.
As usual, Vox has a good analysis:
“It suggests Trump is determined to get tougher on immigration but lacks any concrete plans to do so — his administration was already being about as tough as possible within the confines of the law — beyond saying he wants to get tougher policy agenda on immigration.
“The shake-up started with the surprise announcement Thursday night that Trump had withdrawn the nomination for acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Ron Vitiello to run the agency on a permanent basis. White House policy adviser Stephen Miller is rumored to be advocating for the ouster of Lee Francis Cissna, the current director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The New York Times has added more names to the list of potential targets.
“Meanwhile, Trump is attempting to name US Customs and Border Protection Chief Kevin McAleenan as acting DHS secretary, even though the statute requires the job to go to Undersecretary for Management Claire Grady. And for the past week there’s been talk of creating a new “immigration czar” post to ride herd officials from across the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State, aiming to better coordinate the Trump administration’s efforts to curb Central American asylum seekers.
“All of this adds up, in theory, to an even harder line from the White House on immigration. But what it amounts to in practice is not clear.”