Homeland Security Director Kirstjen Nielsen Nearly Resigns After Trump Blow Up

Kirstjen Nielsen

The Times cited "several current and former officials familiar with the incident", who said Nielsen has drafted a resignation letter but has not submitted it.

As the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Nielsen is in charge of the 20,000 employees who work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Frustrated by lawmakers who have prevented him from building a wall on the southern border, and by laws preventing him from deporting more migrants from the United States, Donald Trump has recently lashed out in anger at his subordinates and in rallies, fulminating over his inability to execute his sweeping campaign promises to keep more immigrants out of the country.

The New York Times reported Thursday that the president has growing increasingly angry with Nielsen over what he feels is the country's inability to adequately secure its border.

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Instead, she told the newspaper that she will "continue to direct the department to do all we can to implement the president's security-focused agenda" as head of almost 20,000 department employees.

Two senior White House officials described Nielsen as upset after the meeting, but said they were unaware of such a letter or threats to resign. During his first year in office, he had regularly extolled the continued decline in border crossings, which had fallen to the lowest level in decades.

An all-caps headline in Breitbart News screamed: "EXPERT: DHS SEC KIRSTJEN NIELSEN MADE "COLOSSAL MISTAKE" IN "INVITING" FOREIGN NATIONALS 'TO COME TO PORTS OF ENTRY'".

According to DHS data, there were about 30,186 total cases of foreign nationals claiming credible fear and thus requesting asylum in the US between October and December 2017 - at the same time that an amnesty for illegal aliens was being considered by Congress and President Trump's administration.

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"You can't allow people to pour into our country like they're doing", Trump said.

Nielsen said in a statement that Trump "is rightly frustrated" on border security issues.

"And now Kelly says to our own John Roberts - good reporting - 'I wanted to call her to make sure she wasn't going to quit.' So I guess the cover story didn't hold very long", he added. The blowup lasted more than 30 minutes, according to a person with knowledge of what transpired, as Trump's face reddened and he raised his voice, saying Nielsen needed to "close down" the border. When members of his Cabinet pointed out that the country relies on day laborers who cross the border each day, Trump said that was fine, but continued to complain, one person said.

The president was also said to have been triggered after discussing Mexico, which he believed was not sufficiently curbing undocumented immigrants crossing into the border.

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