April 9, 2019


Twelve days of chaos: Inside the Trump White House's growing panic to contain the border crisis (David Nakamura, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim April 9, 2019, Washington Post)

Trump was souring again on Nielsen over her opposition to his demands that DHS reinstate the family separation policy that the president had reversed last summer after a political backlash. Trump considered firing her upon her return, aides said, and though he held off briefly, Nielsen's demise was sealed.

In the end, Trump chose not to close the border but instead turned his ire on his senior DHS leadership team: He forced out Nielsen and rescinded the Senate nomination of a career official to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Trump named CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to take over DHS in an acting capacity.

The goal, White House aides said, was to create a more assertive agency, but some administration officials are privately concerned that Trump, influenced by senior adviser Stephen Miller, a border hawk, will only hire "yes men" who will not stand up to a president whose orders have, in many instances, been blocked by federal courts.

Trump's increasingly erratic behavior over the past 12 days -- since he first threatened to seal the border in a series of tweets on March 29 -- has alarmed top Republicans, business officials and foreign leaders who fear that his emotional response might exacerbate problems at the border, harm the U.S. economy and degrade national security.

The stretch also has revealed that a president who has routinely blamed spiking immigration numbers on others -- past presidents, congressional Democrats, Mexican authorities, federal judges, human smugglers -- is now coming to the realization that the problems are closer to home. Though his aides have taken the fall, and it is unlikely that Trump will blame himself, the president is facing an existential political crisis ahead of his 2020 reelection bid over the prospect of failure on his top domestic priority.

"He was politically grandstanding for his base, for his reelection, and not thinking through a plan," said Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, who has met with White House senior adviser and the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner to discuss immigration reform. "He has no plan except to talk about immigration as a political piƱata to score points with the far right. But illegal immigration has increased in the two years he has been president."

Posted by at April 9, 2019 7:40 PM