Oct 28, 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.

What's next: DHS' undersecretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans, Chad Wolf, has been seen as one leading contender to step in, at least in the near term. The White House's personnel office informed Trump that one favored candidate, USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli, could not legally take the acting position.

  • "There's been no one more committed to the DHS mission and the president's agenda than Chad," a senior administration official told Axios.
  • But some conservative hardliners have pushed back against Wolf, who they don't see as sufficiently committed to Trump's immigration agenda.
  • "If Wolf’s background as a lobbyist for employers of H-1B workers doesn’t disqualify him, then his time as chief of staff to Kirstjen Nielsen, who utterly failed at the job, should," Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations at NumbersUSA, an organization that advocates for stricter limits on immigration, told Axios in a statement.

Trump could still nominate Cuccinelli for the permanent position of DHS secretary, launching a Senate confirmation process.

  • But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he does not support Cuccinelli for any administration position. Cuccinelli was president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has backed McConnell's primary challengers.

Between the lines: McAleenan is getting a warmer send-off from El Salvador than from the U.S. The president and his team have at times viewed McAleenan warily because he served during the Obama administration. Trump has been more enthusiastic about personalities like Cuccinelli and CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan.

  • Meanwhile, McAleenan was subpoenaed by the House Homeland Security Committee and received blowback from panel Democrats for saying he wouldn't testify in his final week on the job.

Go deeper: DHS grants hundreds of thousands of Salvadorans an extra year to leave U.S

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Numbers USA seeks reduced immigration and not an outright ban.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.