Stephen Miller’s attempt to shift the soon-to-be ICE director nominee to another agency left acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan threatening to quit.
Miller — a White House senior adviser who’s taken an outsized role with immigration issues — urged President Donald Trump on Wednesday to make Mark Morgan the next commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), according to officials who spoke with The Washington Post. Miller reportedly wanted Morgan to lead CBP, despite him being tapped by the president to be the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director, because Miller wanted the current acting ICE director to remain in place.
However, this request did not sit well with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kevin McAleenan, the man who leads all of DHS’ various agencies.
McAleenan on Thursday told senior administration officials, including White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, that he was the leader of the department — not Miller. The acting DHS chief went on to argue that personnel decisions should left up to him, or at the very least he should be involved in the decision-making process.
One White House aide who spoke to The Washington Post likened the altercation to an “immigration knife fight.”
McAleenan ended up winning the White House brawl: Morgan will become next acting ICE director next week, and Matthew Albence — the current acting ICE director — will go back to his position as ICE deputy director.
The incident marked the latest White House immigration clash involving Miller.
It was recently discovered that, prior to then-DHS chief Kirstjen Nielsen’s removal in April, she blocked a secret White House plan backed by Miller that called for apprehending thousands of parents and children in a sweeping operation to crack down on illegal immigration. Both Nielsen and then-ICE acting director Ron Vitiello had objected to “hastily put together” plan, arguing the administration wasn’t prepared.
The Trump administration embarked on a major immigration staff shakeup in April — removing Nielsen from DHS, pulling Vitiello’s nomination to officially lead ICE, and accepting acting Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security Claire Grady’s resignation. The removals were lead in large part by Miller.
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