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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

Buffett eyes slow U.S. progress, but says "never bet against America"

Warren Buffett in New York City in 2017. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

Restaurant software meets the pandemic moment

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Food delivery companies have predictably done well during the pandemic. But restaurant software providers are also having a moment as eateries race to handle the avalanche of online orders resulting from severe in-person dining restrictions.

Driving the news: Olo filed last week for an IPO and Toast is rumored to be preparing to do the same very soon.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than outright destroying jobs, automation is changing employment in ways that will weigh on workers.

The big picture: Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.