Kirstjen Nielsen quits as US Homeland Security chief, Latest World News - The New Paper

Kirstjen Nielsen quits as US Homeland Security chief

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WASHINGTON: US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the front-line defender of the administration's controversial immigration policies, announced her resignation on Sunday, in a move linked by observers to the president's anger over Central American border crossers.

Her departure marks the end of a tortured relationship with US President Donald Trump, who reportedly blamed her for a recent surge in the number of migrants crossing the southern border and felt she was not tough enough to implement his crackdown.

During her 18 months at the head of the powerful agency, Ms Nielsen became synonymous with the controversial policy of separating children from their parents, making her a frequent target of progressive groups and the Democratic opposition who repeatedly called on her to resign.

None of this, however, seems to have been enough for Mr Trump, whose ever hardening push against illegal immigration has left no room for the 46-year-old, an old hand of the administration who signed on at the start of the real-estate tycoon's presidency.

"Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service," Mr Trump tweeted.

He said US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan would become acting secretary.

"Despite our progress in reforming homeland security for a new age, I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside," Ms Nielsen said in a resignation letter she later shared on Twitter.

Her resignation comes days after she and Mr Trump visited the Mexican border in California together, where he delivered a message to would-be illegal immigrants and asylum seekers: "Our country is full."

He had previously threatened to close the US-Mexico border if Congress and Central American governments did not act to stem a flow of migrants that saw Ms Nielsen last week order an "emergency surge" of personnel to handle the situation. - AFP