The Trump administration is in the midst of turnover in one of the president’s key areas of priority: border security.
The Washington Post reports that Kevin McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a man with whom Trump has sometimes been at odds, is leaving his position.
McAleenan assumed the interim post in April, following the departure of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, according to UPI. He was the fourth individual to lead the department since Trump took office.
President Trump made McAleenan’s departure known in a series of tweets on Friday evening.
“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security,” he wrote, according to Politico. “We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down.”
The president went on to suggest that the decision to leave the administration was McAleenan’s. “Kevin now, after many years in [g]overnment, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump said.
Not seeing eye-to-eye
Before joining DHS in April, McAleenan served as the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. In both positions, he and Trump often disagreed.
Breitbart hinted at the dysfunctional relationship between the two in a series of reports in which McAleenan took actions in defiance of Trump’s stated immigration policies. McAleenan is alleged to have attacked Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” in an interview with The Washington Post, to have told federal immigration officials not to follow Trump’s orders at the U.S.–Mexico border, and to have even leaked details of planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.
As such, some hostility between Trump and McAleenan would not be particularly surprising. However, this parting appears, at least on the surface, to be an amicable one, with Trump tweeting: “Congratulations, Kevin, on a job well done!”
In a tweet of his own, McAleenan stated that he would “work with the White House and DHS leadership teams on a smooth transition.”
“I want to thank the President for the opportunity to serve alongside the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” he added. “With his support, over the last 6 months, we have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year.”
Trump stated that he “will be announcing the new Acting Secretary next week,” according to USA Today, adding that there are “many wonderful candidates!” It seems highly likely that the president will be looking for someone whose views on immigration and border security more closely align with his own.