Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday amid President Donald Trump's growing frustration and bitterness over the number of Central American families crossing the southern border.
If Nielsen does tender her resignation, it is expected that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan will replace her, at least temporarily.
Kirstjen Nielsen listens as U.S. President Donald Trump nominates her as next U.S. secretary of homeland security in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, October 12, 2017.
A veteran of the George W. Bush administration, Nielsen had been chief of staff to then-Homeland Security secretary John Kelly before he became Trump's chief of staff at the White House.
Democrats, who have been critical of Nielsen's actions at DHS throughout her time there, said her departure showed that Trump's immigration policy was too extreme.
"I've had conversations with Republican colleagues over the a year ago or so who swear that she was reluctant to impose some of President Trump's most egregious policies".
This is a developing story.
Nielsen received praise from the president for her handling of the issue, and she stood beside him as he signed the executive order ending the separations.
"Nielsen will go down in history as presiding over an exceptionally cruel regime that separated families and violated human rights", Chennai-born Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, tweeted. "Our system and facilities were never structured to withstand the current influx of immigrants", she said.
Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Democratic President Barack Obama, said McAleenan likely will not have much freedom to pursue policies opposed by Trump or his powerful senior aide, Stephen Miller.
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Nielsen had grown increasingly frustrated by what she saw as a lack of support from other departments and increased meddling by Trump aides on hard immigration issues, according to three people familiar with details of her resignation.
And in any case the children taken from their parents after crossing the border were "well taken care of", she insisted.
Her replacement, McAleenan, has helped shape numerous administration's policies to date and is considered highly competent by congressional leaders, the White House and Homeland Security officials.
As leader of DHS, Nielsen was responsible for carrying out some of Trump efforts such as his battle to build a wall on the border with Mexico, stepped-up deportations and treatment of migrant children, as images of children being held in cages were spread around the world.
The housecleaning blindsided Democrats, who have intensified their criticism of Nielsen and her deputies, particularly after she and then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a decision to prosecute all adults crossing the border illegally, even though it meant separating parents from their children.
A report from CBS News, citing USA officials, said Nielsen was expected to resign Sunday.
Sources have said Nielsen has been on thin ice before.
Ultimately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to have been able to talk the President out of closing the port of El Paso.
The announcement she is leaving her post comes days after the president visited the southern border. "And the problem is, the nature of the crossers, of migrants, coming across the border has changed", said York.