Donald Trump likely to oust US Homeland Security boss Kirstjen Nielsen; wants 'John Wayne' brand hardliner as replacement

Kirstjen Nielsen, the top immigration official in the Trump administration, is likely being booted out. “It’s no longer ‘if’, it’s ‘when’”, is the buzz at the White House which offered no comment on “personnel issues”. Trump has long understood to have had problems with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen - a protege of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly who has been the DHS Secretary’s champion from well before her appointment.

Nikhila Natarajan November 13, 2018 22:01:44 IST
Donald Trump likely to oust US Homeland Security boss Kirstjen Nielsen; wants 'John Wayne' brand hardliner as replacement

New York: US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the top immigration official in the Trump administration, is likely being booted out barely a year after serving the US President's restrictionist immigration agenda that remains top of the ticket for his political strategy. “It’s no longer ‘if’, it’s ‘when’”, is the buzz at the White House which offered no comment on “personnel issues”. Trump has long understood to have had problems with Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen - a protege of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly who has been the DHS Secretary’s champion from well before her appointment. Trump has blamed Nielsen for not doing more to address what he has calls an immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border - an issue that has become Trump's rallying cry in stump speeches to his most vocal supporters.

Trump is said to be considering tough talking Thomas Homan, former acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to succeed Nielsen. “Trump wants John Wayne on the border and Tom Homan is John Wayne,” a former Homeland Security official told Politico.

Donald Trump likely to oust US Homeland Security boss Kirstjen Nielsen wants John Wayne brand hardliner as replacement

Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary, US Department of Homeland Security. Reuters

DHS is the agency behind Trump’s controversial immigration crackdown and Nielsen instantly became the face of one of the most unpopular policies in America when she took over one year ago. The US president is reportedly looking for an immigration hardliner to replace Nielsen.

The Washington Post is reporting that Kelly is “fighting Nielsen’s pending dismissal and attempting to postpone it,” but it’s a time when Kelly’s sway is no longer what it once was and pressures are intensifying on Trump to deflect blame for his frightening immigration rhetoric that have not come to fruition. This is likely going to end up as a contest between Kelly and Trump.

Nielsen has been DHS Secretary since December and her relationship with Trump has been testy. That’s also partly to do with the history of Nielsen’s appointment itself: Kelly succeeded in convincing Trump who wasn’t very keen on the Nielsen appointment. Trump continues to see Nielsen as a George Bush acolyte and Kelly protege rather than as someone who owes her entire allegiance to Trump. Less than 100% loyalty is not something that works in the Trump White House.

Nielsen is a cybersecurity expert who previously worked in the George W. Bush administration and at the Transportation Security Administration. To those who know her well, Nielsen's stint so far as DHS Secretary has been a puzzle - those who speak on background say that they cannot understand how she is burning her professional reputation on behalf of Trump who is known to throw his own people under the bus at breakneck pace.

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