Trump And Miller Purge DHS, Eye Illegal Policies And Expanded Child Separations
Before President Trump signed the executive order (pictured above) ending his “zero tolerance” policy of migrant family separation, he claimed he didn’t want families to be separated. After at least 2,700 migrant children were taken from their parents and detained. Reports claimed that the images of crying children got to him. Other reports claimed Melania and Ivanka Trump appealed to his humanity and that’s why he ended the policy. We now know definitively that those were false narratives.
On Sunday, Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out of her position in an ouster partially engineered by White House Senior Adviser (and immigration hardliner) Stephen Miller. As DHS Secretary, Nielsen has overseen a department that is currently detaining at least 48,000 immigrants, that lied about the administration’s migrant family separation policy, had migrant children die in their custody, and has been plagued by reports of forced miscarriages and abuse at migrant detention centers.
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Nielsen and Trump have reportedly been at odds for months. President Trump has blamed her for the migrant surges at the border, even though his own policy of metering is partially responsible for the backlog. It was also reported that one of the reasons Nielsen was pushed out is because she resisted President Trump’s efforts to institute an expanded version of his migrant family separation policy. The expanded policy wouldn’t just separate the families of undocumented immigrants, but legal asylum seekers as well. According to CNN, Nielsen reportedly protested on the legal, not moral, merits of the policy:
According to multiple sources, the President wanted families separated even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. The President wanted families separated even if they were apprehended within the US. He thinks the separations work to deter migrants from coming.
Sources told CNN that Nielsen tried to explain they could not bring the policy back because of court challenges, and White House staffers tried to explain it would be an unmitigated PR disaster.
U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was fired Monday, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna, DHS undersecretary for management Claire Grady and DHS general counsel John Mitnick are also leaving the administration. The officials’ departures are part of a system-wide purge of senior management at DHS as top Trump adviser Stephen Miller looks to overhaul immigration-related policy and personnel.
Claire Grady was fired to clear the way for the current head of the Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan to take the role of acting head of DHS. This was nothing less than a full-fledged purge. NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams said earlier today on MSNBC that this is the most disorganized the DHS has been since its creation in 2002. For a President that claims national security is his highest priority, he appears hell-bent on crippling one of the departments responsible for protecting it.
Just today, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s policy that sought to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico. In the past couple of weeks, President Trump has called for the border to be closed, defamed asylum seekers as criminals, called for the asylum process to be shut down entirely, and said we need to “get rid of judges”. According to CNN, President Trump went as far as to ask border patrol agents to violate the law:
Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”
Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”
After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.
President Trump is once again bumping against the restraints of the rule of law in his endeavor to fire up his anti-immigrant base. Meanwhile, the Republican Party stands firmly behind him.
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