Leaks, accusations and staff shuffle: Turmoil inside DHS
WASHINGTON (AP) — Leaks. Pointed accusations. A top official’s resignation. And above all, increasingly dire conditions for migrants — those who make it across the border and those who fail, as captured in the searing images of a father clutching his child, both drowned , on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Ever engulfed in turmoil under President Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security has entered a new stage of dysfunction and finger-pointing as the administration continues to rearrange staff and push hardline rhetoric and policies that have failed to contain a surge in illegal border crossings, according to more than a dozen current and former administration officials, congressional aides and people familiar with the events. Many spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
The squabbling and jockeying over jobs come amid outrage over reports of children being held in squalid conditions and families dying as they try to make it to the U.S.
Over the past week alone, a scrapped immigration roundup targeting families prompted infighting and accusations of leaking. The acting leaders at both U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which manages the border, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which handles immigration enforcement inside the country, have either stepped down or been reassigned. And questions remain about whether the president has confidence in the man he recently tapped to head the sprawling DHS, acting secretary Kevin McAleenan.
The leadership merry-go-round has spun so many times that it’s hard to keep track of who is in charge of what. And most of those leaders have not been officially nominated by Trump, let alone confirmed by the Senate.
“DHS is charged with keeping the nation secure, but the president is putting its leadership through a constant game of musical chairs to fit his political agenda,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The 240,000-person department is tasked with election and cyber security, disaster response and even the Secret Service. But in Trump’s world, Homeland Security means one thing: immigration. The president’s signature issue makes the department his focus and his ire . Balancing a White House eager to push major changes with the reality on the ground is a constant challenge.
Trump’s efforts in recent weeks have featured whiplash-inducing threats and reversals. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.