Shake-up at Homeland Security speeds beyond Nielsen’s exit

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen talks outside her home in Alexandria, Va., on Thursday, April 8, 2019. Nielsen says she continues to support the president’s goal of securing the border in her first public remarks since her surprise resignation. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

BY COLLEEN LONG and JILL COLVIN | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump and White House allies pushing for a harder line on immigration sped their campaign Monday to clean house at the Department of Homeland Security, pushing ahead with a mission far wider than the departure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and General Counsel John M. Mitnick were expected to leave their positions, according to two people familiar with the matter, and possibly several other longtime civil servants in other posts around the agency. The people were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Separately, the director of the Secret Service is leaving his job, but that was unrelated to the immigration shake-up, officials said.

Nielsen announced her resignation on Sunday, and Trump announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would take over as secretary on an acting basis, leaving his border position open. With Nielsen’s departure, there will be no confirmed leader — and no one officially in charge of interior immigration enforcement after the White House abruptly withdrew the nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week.

But the staff shake-up won’t get around the immigration laws and court challenges that are thwarting Trump at every turn, including his suggestions to reinstate family separations and his threats to shut the border entirely. Meanwhile, the number of migrants crossing the border continues to grow, and critics say the chaos in Washington is only going to encourage more.

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