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'Immigration Knife Fight' Breaks Out at White House

Stephen Miller wanted someone else to lead ICE, officials say
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2019 12:05 PM CDT
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – President Trump's right-hand man on immigration tried another shakeup at Homeland Security this week and triggered a behind-the-scenes battle—one so vicious that an aide called it an "immigration knife fight." Per administration officials, Stephen Miller objected to President Trump naming former FBI official Mark Morgan as head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying Morgan should lead Customs and Border Protection instead. That roused the ire of Kevin McAleenan, acting head of the Homeland Security, who said he was in charge of the department, not Miller, and Morgan was getting that ICE job. "This was a power struggle between McAleenan and Miller, and McAleenan won," a senior White House official tells the Washington Post.

Miller—who is widely considered the force behind DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's removal—has argued for tougher immigration policies and claimed that other officials are trying to undercut Trump's stance. The latest brouhaha comes after several DHS officials were replaced in recent weeks with people considered more loyal to Trump, per Business Insider. Miller's influence has prompted Democrats to criticize him as a secret architect, hiding in the shadows. "So I've got a proposal," Rep. Kathleen Rice said in April. "How about Stephen Miller asks the president to appoint him as the secretary of [DHS] so he can be up front, and he can come to the committees on the Senate and the House side and answer questions about these policies that he is pushing single handedly." (Read more about Miller's influence.)

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