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Acting Homeland Security Chief Is Out

Kevin McAleenan is stepping down
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 12, 2019 5:30 AM CDT
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In this Sept. 18, 2019, file photo, President Trump talks with reporters as he tours a section of the southern border wall in Otay Mesa, Calif., as acting Homeland Secretary Kevin McAleenan listens.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
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(Newser) – Kevin McAleenan, a career civil servant who became the unlikely point man for President Trump's hard-line immigration policies, is stepping down as acting Homeland Security secretary after six months on the job. McAleenan told the AP he's leaving on his own terms—a contrast to other top administration officials pushed out during Trump's tenure. But his departure ends an awkward period of leadership, one in which McAleenan delighted Trump by getting border crossing numbers to fall, yet remained an outsider in an administration where top figures (including in his own department) were brash Trump supporters popular on conservative media. A White House official confirmed it was McAleenan's decision. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that McAleenan was leaving to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector.

No replacement has yet been named. David Pekoske, acting DHS deputy secretary, is head of the Transportation Security Administration. McAleenan tweeted that he'd worked, with the president's support, to help stem the border crisis and that he'd help ensure a smooth transition at DHS. He took over in April after Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen quit. Trump said he'd name a replacement in the coming week, the fifth leader of DHS in two years. McAleenan was seen in Trump's circle as someone who could get control over the situation at the border, despite his stance as a moderate Democrat who pushed for aid to be restored to Central American nations. Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, says, "He attempted to do his job in a nonpartisan, nonpolitical way. That may not be possible. That may be why he's no longer there."

(Read more Kevin McAleenan stories.)

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