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President Cleans House at DHS, Hoping to Solve Border Crisis


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With the 2020 election looming and growing frustration at the border, President Donald Trump is moving this week to change the leadership line-up at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and considering an array of tougher policies that include family separation.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is out. Her official last day on the job is Wednesday.

The president has replaced Nielsen with Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection. He will take over on an acting basis. McAleenan has pushed for asylum changes to make screenings faster and decide cases quicker.

The Associated Press reports that more changes are on the way. It says the White House will push out Francis Cissna, the head of US Citizenship and Immigration Servies, and John Mitnick, the Homeland Security general counsel.

Over the weekend, the administration withdrew the nomination of Ron Vitiello to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

These changes plus other vacancies add up to a significant lack of leadership at DHS. It includes no deputy secretary, no head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and no head of Customs and Border Protection since McAleenan is moving over.

Trump advisor and immigration hawk Stephen Miller is the catalyst behind the changes according to AP.

But there's no doubt that the president is exasperated with the flood of immigrants at the border, tweeting on Monday: "Country is full!"

He's apparently considering separating immigrant families at the border again, despite the outrage that he received last year when the policy was implemented in the spring. Prominent evangelicals, including evangelist Franklin Graham, Samuel Rodriguez, and the Southern Baptist Convention, denounced the short-lived effort that separated children and parents once they crossed into the US.

Meanwhile, Border Patrol agents are struggling to keep up with a historic flow of migrants. In March, agents apprehended 100,000 immigrants at the southern border - the highest number in 12 years.

CBN News visited with San Diego Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott last week. He said the San Diego sector, which includes 60 miles of US/Mexico border, expects to double its number of apprehensions this year.

Scott blamed court rulings which have forced Border Patrol to release families within 20 days.

"When people know that they can come in, that they're just going to be processed and released into the US for a court date sometime in the future - that creates a nonstop flow," said Scott.

Scott, like many others, is looking to Congress to solve the problem by fixing the legal loopholes that force Border Patrol to quickly release families. "Something has to change," he said, "this is not a sustainable situation that we're currently in."

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About The Author


Heather Sells covers wide-ranging stories for CBN News that include religious liberty, ministry trends, immigration, and education. She’s known for telling personal stories that capture the issues of the day, from the border sheriff who rescues migrants in the desert to the parents struggling with a child that identifies as transgender. In the last year, she has reported on immigration at the Texas border, from Washington, D.C., in advance of the Dobbs abortion case, at crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, and on sexual abuse reform at the annual Southern Baptist meeting in Anaheim