McAleenan has respect from both parties, but will he have the toughness desired by Trump?
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned on Sunday after butting heads with President Donald Trump over policy and border control issues. He recently asked her “to close the ports of entry along the border and to stop accepting asylum seekers, which Ms. Nielsen found ineffective and inappropriate.”
Trump has chosen US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan as acting DHS secretary, but will he have the toughness Trump desires in the role? Some officials told CNN that they don’t consider McAleenan “an ideologue or fire breather” when it comes to immigration.
McAleenan began his career in 2001. President Barack Obama appointed him as deputy commissioner of CBP in 2017. He became the commissioner in March 2018 after the Senate confirmed him, 77-19.
It looks like McAleenan has respect from both Democrats and Republicans. The Washington Post reported that he “is generally well-liked by leaders in both parties and is viewed as a neutral, technocratic law enforcement official, rather than an immigration hawk.” While he travels to the border a lot to speak to officials and observe the situation, he also takes the time to speak with those who fled their countries and want asylum in America.
Former acting ICE Director Tom Homan told Fox News that Trump made the right choice because McAleenan “knows border issues, and he can hit the ground running.”
Homan believes McAleenan “will think outside the box” and “put his foot on the gas.”
McAleenan has shown agreement with Trump about the border. He told The El Paso Times that “the border has hit a ‘breaking point'” during a visit in March:
The immigration system “breaking point has arrived this week,” McAleenan said.
“CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest Border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso,” McAleenan said.
In the past two mornings, border officers took more than 12,000 migrants into custody along the border, McAleenan said.
“A high number is 4,000 — 6,000 is crisis level,” McAleenan said. “Twelve thousand is unprecedented. On Monday, we saw the highest total of apprehensions and encounters in years, with over 4,000 in a single day.”
He continued, “We are now on pace for over 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants, with 90 percent — 90,000 — crossing the border illegally between ports of entry. March will be the highest month in over a decade.”
McAleenan has tried to pressure Congress to fix our immigration system, especially by passing policy to expedite political asylum claims made by migrants since he found “that 10 to 15 percent of migrants have legitimate asylum claims, but it will take years for those claims to be heard in court.”
While many have blamed Trump, the DHS, and CBP for the problems at the border, it appears that officials like McAleenan have done everything they can to run the situation smoothly. They need that help from Congress.
This is why some say that McAleenan is the correct choice. From The Washington Post:
A DHS official said McAleenan is a well-timed pick to engage Democrats as the Trump administration clamors for more money for border enforcement. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said McAleenan could engage Democrats “a lot more effectively” than Nielsen because of his deeper understanding of the issues unfolding on the border.
John Sandweg, a former acting director of ICE under Obama and a top aide to then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, said McAleenan is a quality leader who will do “an incredible job.”
“McAleenan is a very smart guy and very competent. He’s enforcement-focused but not an ideological figure,” Sandweg said. “This administration likes tough-talking, sound-bite guys, and that’s not Kevin. He’s not a big loud talker, or the kind of guy who will say outrageous things to sound tough.”
After reading about McAleenan, I believe he is the right fit and hope he continues to pressure Congress to make changes. THAT is where the solution lies. Not with DHS, ICE, or CBP. Congress has to tackle our immigration system.DONATE
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