Dozens of high-level security officials have resigned or have been replaced in what top news outlets have been calling an “overhaul” of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among the departing officials is the DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the Secret Service Director Randolph D. Alles.
The stream of departures began on Sunday, April 7 when Secretary Nielsen turned in her resignation. The announcement came in the midst of mounting pressure over immigration at the border and administrative policies, which Nielson has struggled with since her nomination in October 2017. Her resignation makes her the third DHS Secretary to leave during the current presidential administration. Following the resignation, she tweeted on Sunday that “Its been an honor of a lifetime to serve with the brave men and women of @DHSgov. I could not be prouder of and more humbled by their service, dedication, and commitment to keep our country safe from all threats and hazards.”
The day following Nielsen’s resignation, the Department of Homeland Security was faced with a variety of resignations and dismissals. Chief among these was Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles who was fired Monday, April 8 after 40 years of service. In response to his dismissal, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement saying “ “Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles has done a great job at the agency over the last two years, and the President is thankful for his over 40 years of service to the country.” His dismissal was part of a coordinated overhaul of top security position that the Trump administrations had been planning as tensions over border immigration increased in the previous months. Other essential departures from the security administration include, Nielsen’s Undersecretary Claire Grady, the US Citizen and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna and DHS General Counsel John Mitnick.
The exodus from the DHS leaves a wide space in essential security positions. In a tweet on Sunday that acknowledged Nielsen’s service, Trump simultaneously announced her replacement to be Kevin McAleenan, who is the current US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner. Trump has he has “confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” and has remarked upon McAleenan strong immigration stance, a strong point of contention between him and ex-Secretary Nielsen. Alles’ replacement has also been announced as James M. Murray who will take over pending Alles’ official departure in May of this year.
The dozens of officials who faced dismissal or resignation were a part of a planned purge by the Trump administration in order to establish a “tougher” stance on border security. In the previous months, arrests made at the border have jumped into the hundreds of thousands while detention facilities remain filled beyond maximum capacity with immigrants. Issues of border security have been a tense issue in relations between DHS and the White House, as Trump and his staff have repeatedly questioned top security’s office’s role in immigration. On the dismissals, Wisconsin Representative Ron Johnson (R) said that the country was in need of “steady, informed and effective leadership in the administration and in Congress to have any hope of fixing our out-of-control border security and immigration problems.”
Nielsen, Allens, Grady, and the other officials are apart of a long list of top government officials who have been dismissed or have submitted resignations during the Trump administration. As issues of remain tense after Trump’s recent threats to close sections of the US-Mexico border, the new high-level DHS officials are transitioning into new roles.