Kirstjen Nielsen, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), resigned Sunday after President Donald Trump decided that Nielsen was not tough enough on undocumented immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Mr. Trump in recent weeks had asked Ms. Nielsen to close the ports of entry along the border and to stop accepting asylum seekers, which Ms. Nielsen found ineffective and inappropriate,” The New York Times reported.
The countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been plagued with gang violence and poverty. Hundreds of thousands of parents and children have fled those countries in search of a better life, and some have been caught attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
In 2014, then-President Barack Obama sought a solution. Under then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, the Obama administration tried to detain families, but the administration later opted for a catch-and-release policy.
In return, Trump criticized Obama for being too weak on immigration. Still, it’s worth noting that Obama holds the record for deporting more migrants than any other president — more than 2.5 million by 2015, according to reports.
So, how does Nielsen enter the picture?
At a May 2018 congressional hearing, Nielsen said she was unaware that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump win, according to an intelligence community assessment. You don’t have to be a part of the resistance to acknowledge that the Russian government wasn’t fond of Hillary Clinton.
The fact that Nielsen claimed to be unaware of Russia’s involvement in the election is baffling. How do you expect to lead the DHS if you can’t acknowledge a fundamental truth like Russian election meddling?
Needless to say, Nielsen was terrible at her job.
On June 18, 2018, Nielsen lied to Congress by repeatedly claiming there was no family separation policy, even though the Trump administration separated roughly 2,000 children from their parents in six weeks. The Washington Post fact-checked Nielsen's claim and labeled it "Orwellian.”
In short, she lied.
Publicly, Nielsen spent weeks claiming that the Trump administration couldn’t end the “zero-tolerance” policy. Behind closed doors, she pushed for an executive order that would accomplish precisely that, sources told Politico last year. And on June 20, 2018, Trump signed that executive order.
Citing border arrest data, an August report by The Washington Post found that family separation policy was not effective at deterring migrants from crossing the U.S. border illegally. As it turns out, if you’re fleeing for your life, you could care less about a country’s border policy.
Last month, in a testimony to Congress, Nielsen was criticized for not keeping track of separated migrant children under her watch.
Calling this situation “awful” doesn’t do it justice. Sure, Nielsen might have tried her best — but her best was far from enough.
So long, Kirstjen Nielsen — and good riddance.