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Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

President Trump elevated Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to acting secretary of homeland security following Kirstjen Nielsen’s abrupt resignation Sunday evening.

The bottom line: McAleenan has now been thrust further into the bitter escalating fight over Trump's immigration policies and put in charge of some of the president's key hardline initiatives, including a push for a long-promised border wall and a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Catch up quick
  • McAleenan joined CBP agency in 2001 and served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Before joining the Trump administration in January 2017 as the agency's acting commissioner, he served as deputy commissioner under President Obama.
  • 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," per the Washington Post. He received a 2015 Presidential Rank Award, the country’s highest civil service prize.
  • The Senate confirmed his nomination in March of last year to lead the CBP, in a 77-19 vote.
  • But his nomination was delayed for three months amid allegations of misconduct that were eventually dismissed and cleared of wrongdoing, NBC News reported at the time. Anonymous accusers reportedly alleged that McAleenan had an affair with a subordinate and sidestepped procedures to fund an immigration detention center.
  • McAleenan has been responsible for identifying designs and locations for Trump’s long-promised border wall.
  • He told reporters in El Paso, Texas, last month that the country’s immigration enforcement system along the southern boundary was at "the breaking point," as the number of immigrant families attempting to cross the U.S. border with Mexico continues to spike. He called on Congress to act, but notably did not mention the border wall.

Worth noting: With McAleenan's appointment, Trump now has an acting homeland security secretary, defense secretary, interior secretary and chief of staff.

The latest: Nielsen said in a tweet Sunday night she had agreed to stay on as homeland security secretary until Wednesday "to assist with an orderly transition and ensure that key DHS missions are not impacted."

Go deeper

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.