Friday, October 11, 2019
Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan resigned today after six months in the position. The reasoning behind the decision, as reported in interviews for an article in the New Yorker, “was sixty per cent because he had achieved the mission objectives, and forty per cent because he had to avoid being branded as Trump’s border cop.”
“I want to thank the President for the opportunity to serve alongside the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. With his support, over the last 6 months, we have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year, by reducing unlawful crossings, partnering with governments in the region to counter human smugglers and address the causes of migration, and deploy additional border security resources,” he said in the statement.
McAleenan’s primary goal was reducing immigration to the U.S., a goal where he largely suceeded. McAleenan's border policies enlisted governments in Central America and Mexico in ramping up their own immigration enforcement and resulted in the number of immigrants apprehended at the southern border declining by sixty-three per cent as of September 2019.
McAleenan previously served in the Obama administration. He was the fourth person to lead the department in the Trump era and had extensive experience on immigration policy. The New Yorker describes him as "a technocrat and an institutionalist who had spent much of his career at Customs and Border Protection, a D.H.S. sub-agency. In his view, mass migration was a humanitarian crisis which threatened to overtake both D.H.S. resources and the asylum system writ large. It was a problem, he once told me, that partisan Washington was unable to address."
Still, according to the New Yorker, unlike Trump or his chief adviser, Stephen Miller, McAleenan was never an anti-immigration ideologue. He publicly opposed Trump’s decision to cut aid to Central America. He took over the Department at a moment when more than a hundred thousand migrants were being apprehended at the border in a single month. He had been frustrated with a cadre of Trump’s appointments to senior immigration roles and recently told The Washington Post that he was struggling to control his department.
“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump said of his top immigration official.