(CNN) — Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of Homeland Security who has become a face of President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration push, is leaving the administration, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Sunday afternoon.
“Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will be leaving her position, and I would like to thank her for her service,” Trump said on Twitter.
“I am pleased to announce that Kevin McAleenan, the current U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, will become Acting Secretary for @DHSgov. I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!” Trump continued.
McAleenan is a holdover from the Obama administration. He was sworn in on March 20, 2018, as commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection. He is expected to serve as the acting secretary “in the short term,” meaning he is not expected to be in the position for the long term, according to a White House official.
Senior administration officials told CNN that Nielsen had a 5 p.m., meeting at the White House with Trump where she was planning to discuss with him the immigration and border issues and a path forward. She had no intention of resigning, according to one of the sources, but rather was going there with an agenda.
Trump had grown increasingly frustrated with the situation at the border, which has seen an influx in migrants, predominantly from Northern Triangle countries.
In California on Friday, a senior administration official tells CNN, Trump told border agents he wanted them to stop letting people cross the border, despite the fact that Central American asylum seekers according to US law can do so.
Nielsen “believed the situation was becoming untenable with the President becoming increasingly unhinged about the border crisis and making unreasonable and even impossible requests,” a senior administration official tells CNN.
“I hereby resign from the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), effective April 7th 2018 (sic),” Nielsen wrote in her resignation letter. “Despite our progress in reforming homeland security for a new age, I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside.”
In a series of tweets, Nielsen said, “it has been an honor of a lifetime to serve with the brave men and women” of DHS and repeated what she also said in her resignation letter that she “could not be prouder of and more humbled by their service.”
Nielsen has felt “in limbo” for the last week, a person close to her says, as she bore the brunt of the President’s anger over the border.
She’s been increasingly on thin ice in the eyes of the President. She did not realize how dire it was when she left the US last weekend, but quickly did, as she abruptly returned.
She did interviews — including on CNN — to try and improve the President’s souring view of her, the source close to Nielsen said, but to little avail.
“Nothing she could do or say could change how the President started viewing her,” the source close to Nielsen said.
That said, she was prepared to be fired at any moment, but did not know going into Sunday’s meeting it would be imminent.
Democrats immediately reacted to the news.
“Hampered by misstep after misstep, Kirstjen Nielsen’s tenure at the Department of Homeland Security was a disaster from the start. It is clearer now than ever that the Trump Administration’s border security and immigration policies – that she enacted and helped craft – have been an abysmal failure and have helped create the humanitarian crisis at the border,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also released a statement: “When even the most radical voices in the administration aren’t radical enough for President Trump, you know he’s completely lost touch with the American people.”