On Sunday, US President Donald Trump announced the departure of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, underscoring his intent to toughen immigration policy amid a surge in illegal crossings along the southern border.
Nielsen’s exit marks the end of a difficult relationship with her boss, who was said to be unhappy with her performance despite her unswerving loyalty and full-throated defense of the president’s most controversial policies.
During her 18 months at the helm of the powerful agency, the 46-year-old became synonymous with the controversial practice 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.
“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump tweeted.
He added 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,” Nielsen said in a resignation letter she later shared on Twitter.
The move came just two days after she and Trump visited the Mexican border in California together, with the president delivering a stern message to would-be illegal immigrants and asylum seekers: “Our country is full.”