Updated Oct 12, 2019

Kevin McAleenan to step down as acting Homeland Security secretary

Kevin McAleenan delivers remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations on Sept. 23, 2019. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump announced on Friday evening that acting Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan will leave his position and move into "the private sector" after 6 months in the role.

The big picture: Trump has been wary of McAleenan, whom he associates with the Obama administration, officials told Axios in August. McAleenan, the former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, took over the acting role following Kirstjen Nielsen’s abrupt resignation.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Stef Kight: Many in the administration and conservative circles have distrusted McAleenan's commitment to Trump’s immigration agenda — despite significant declines in border numbers and McAleenan's role in implementing several big immigration policies, such as the recently blocked public charge rule and asylum deals with Central American nations.

Flashback: While in the role, McAleenan signed an asylum agreement with El Salvador to force Central American migrants who pass through the country to first seek asylum there or be sent back to the country once they reach the U.S.

  • On the Trump administration's recent proposal to cut the number of refugees permitted to resettle in the U.S. next year to just 18,000, McAleenan said the refugee cap would allow DHS "to focus on addressing the ongoing crisis at the southern border, reducing a staggering asylum backlog that unfairly delays relief for those with meritorious claims..."

The bottom line: No president in recent history has started his tenure with as many extended Cabinet vacancies as Trump, who has been happy to fill many positions with "acting" officials, saying it "gives me more flexibility."

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Trump to name Chad Wolf as acting DHS chief

Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump told reporters on Friday he planned to name Chad Wolf the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Where it stands, per the Washington Post: "it was unclear whether a formal appointment had occurred" as of Friday evening, "extending confusion about who would step in to fill one of the country's most crucial national security posts."

Go deeperArrowUpdated Nov 1, 2019

Trump to reinstate aid to Central American nations

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The U.S. will unfreeze at least some of the hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid for El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala that was blocked earlier this year, President Trump tweeted and the State Department announced on Wednesday.

Between the lines: Over the past few months, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan — who turned in his resignation last Friday and is currently in El Salvador — has signed asylum agreements with the three nations.

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019

McAleenan receives award from El Salvador ahead of DHS departure

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan with El Salvador's Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill, Oct. 28. Photo: DHS

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan received the National Order of José Matías Delgado award from the government of El Salvador on Monday morning, a thank you for his key role in advocating for Salvadorans in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program.

The big picture: McAleenan, whose last day as acting DHS secretary is Thursday, is married to a Salvadoran native and has sought to blunt the humanitarian impact of some of the Trump administration's hardline immigration policies, even as his department has carried them out. The White House has yet to announce his replacement.

Go deeperArrowOct 28, 2019