politics

Homeland Security Chief Kirstjen Nielsen Has Resigned, Here’s What Happened Under Her Tumultuous Tenure

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Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is stepping down in a move that signals the end of a controversial tenure. During her short time as secretary, Nielsen oversaw the “zero tolerance” policy in 2018 that resulted in the separation of thousands of families attempting to cross at the US-Mexico border. President Trump tweeted about Nielsen stepping down amidst reports that he wasn’t satisfied with her performance. This comes as the number of Central American people illegally entering the country has surged, which was a big factor in Nielsen’s resignation. While Nielsen might be leaving, the damage to the U.S. immigration system is done and the victims of the cruel policies are forever changed by the experience. Here’s Nielsen’s legacy at DHS.

More than 2,700 families were separated, two children died, and troops were deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border during Kirstjen Nielsen’s leadership.


Credit: @MariaTeresa1 / Twitter

Nielsen will be remembered for overseeing the widespread separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year. More than 2,500 children were separated from their parents, including families legally presenting themselves at the border for asylum. Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the program in May 2018. President Trump later folded and rescinded the policy after pressure from both parties.

She had defended the “zero tolerance” policy for border crossings and continued to insist there was no official policy for separating families. However, the fact remains that the Trump administration did implement the policy and Nielsen’s Department of Homeland Security enforced it.

As the number of asylum seekers grew and caravans headed to the U.S-Mexico border, Nielsen requested more help.

Credit: @MrFilmkritik / Twitter

Last October, 5,200 troops were deployed to support 16,500 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers along the southern border to help with the incoming caravan. Many called the move an election-year ploy to incite hatred and fear.

It was the death of a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died under CBP custody on Dec. 8 that got people talking. Maquin’s death occurred just days after she was apprehended and reignited the emotional debate over immigration in Congress.

Nielsen oversaw a huge increase in immigration detention that has been widely criticized for inhumane conditions.


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Nielsen has presided over a record number in immigration detentions due to controversial policies. The number of detained immigrants had grown from slightly over 40,000 in fall 2018 to 50,000 in early 2019. Images of children in chain link cages where a common sight in many of these facilities and caused an uproar with many immigration rights groups.

She was also behind the Migrant Protection Protocols where hundreds of Central American asylum seekers have been sent back to Mexico to wait for their U.S. immigration court dates. The policy, which was announced in January, was struck down by a federal judge on Monday.

The resignation also comes days after the U.S. government said it could take up to two years to reunite migrant children separated at the border with their parents due to poor record keeping prior to April 2018.

The resignation got a reaction from many in Congress who are hopeful to see change in the department.


Credit: @SenKamalaHarris / Twitter

Senator Kamala Harris tweeted that Nielsen’s resignation was “long overdue” and wouldn’t support a new nominee that “does not forcefully denounce this administration’s policy of separating families at the border.

Hilary Clinton chimed in as well saying even after the resignation, nothing much has changed. “Let’s be clear: This administration’s dehumanization and cruelty toward migrants will not stop after Kirstjen Nielsen leaves office. It is their principal policy,” Clinton tweeted.

What’s next for the Department of Homeland Security and will anything change after Nielsen’s resignation?

According the NY Times, President Trump had requested that Nielsen close ports of entry along the border and to stop accepting asylum seekers, which she didn’t agree with. Nielsen cited federal laws and international commitments that made closing ports of entry and rejecting asylum seekers illegal. This fueled Nielsen’s resignation and is a signal that the administration is looking to push tougher border policies.

In her resignation letter, Nielsen said it was the right time for her to step down. She also noted that her successor would need to make changes to existing immigration laws before the border could be secured.

It was announced less than a day later that Kevin McAleenan, the head of Customs and Border Protection, will serve as acting DHS secretary until a formal successor is nominated.

While Nielsen’s tenure was marked with controversy, it was also fueled by an administration determined to make a statement with it’s policies at the border. With a growing number of asylum requests and overcrowded detention centers, Nielsen’s departure was expected.

While Trump could nominate someone who is “more aggressive” when it comes to border policy, he’s going to have to get through the U.S. Senate. If the Trump administration has proven anything is it doesn’t matter who leaves their position because they’ll find someone who will satisfy their demands.

READ: Autopsy Report Shows Jakelin Caal Maquin Died Of A Bacterial Infection, Not Dehydration As Trump Alleges

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Federal Judge Rules That Trump Administration Cannot Send Asylum Seekers To Mexico

politics

Federal Judge Rules That Trump Administration Cannot Send Asylum Seekers To Mexico

The Trump administration is trying to pull out all the stops when it comes to immigration that goes above and beyond the legal process. The most recent examples of this include initiating a “zero-tolerance” policy, threatening to close the border, or holding asylum seekers under a bridge. Trump’s way, which he has verbalized before, is to do what he wants until a court shuts him down. That’s precisely what happened once again when his administration tried to pull another fast one.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration ordered all asylum seekers to return to Mexico to await the outcome of their case. A judge put an end to that.

Twitter/@cnn

In January, government officials began their “remain in Mexico” policy. Undocumented migrants would have to report to authorities, make their claim that they are seeking asylum, fill out paperwork, and be on their way back to Mexico to await the next process. This process was the government’s way of obeying the asylum law — somewhat — but not deal with the people themselves in the U.S.

Judge Richard Seeborg said the Trump administration is breaking the law by ordering asylum seekers to await their hearings in Mexico. In his ruling, he cited a law that states: “No Contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

The White House said they would appeal the ruling.


Twitter/@Newsweek

“We intend to appeal, and we will take all necessary action to defend the Executive Branch’s lawful efforts to resolve the crisis at our southern border,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

RAICES, an immigration organization, posted this heartbreaking story about why the U.S. government shouldn’t force people back into an environment that can be harmful, even fatal.

An immigrant from Cuba describes the dangers of remaining in a country that has their fair share of violence.

The woman described in the Twitter thread that they were attempting to cross the border through Mexico but instead were taken to a remote area. Their coyote demanded more money and when they didn’t pay were taken to a warehouse where they were tortured by Mexican police.

“I never want to go back to Mexico. It gives me panics. It was so violent. Mexico is not an appropriate place for migrants who are already fleeing the violence.” “This is why the Remain in Mexico policy is not just illegal, but also VERY dangerous,” RAICES stated.

READ: Conditions In Tijuana Are Getting Worse For Those Waiting To Claim Asylum