Is the White House in a panic over President Trump’s threat of closing the southern border this week due to the continuing invasion from illegal immigrants? Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was called home Monday from her meetings in London, canceling the planned meetings with G7 Interior Ministers’ Meeting in Paris later this week. Instead, she’s back in Washington, D.C. and going to the border mid-week.
Secretary Nielsen wants to be around to personally supervise some of her department’s actions on the border. Tuesday she said during a conference call with reporters that DHS is facing a system-wide meltdown at the southern border, according to reporting on Fox News Channel.
The official, who was speaking on background, said Nielsen left her European trip early because she wants to personally oversee certain aspects of the department’s response to the border situation. That includes the speeding up of the surge of at least 750 officers to assist US Border Patrol along areas of the southern border and the immediate expansion of the department’s policy of returning asylum-seekers to Mexico.
Nielsen has decided to fly to the border mid-week to assess the implementation of the new actions, the official said. She is delegating US representation at the overseas meetings to acting Deputy Secretary Claire Grady.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 2, 2019
Nielsen left early Sunday for London. By early Tuesday morning, she was back in Washington. Politico Playbook reports:
We spoke to several senior administration figures who described a White House freaked out about the implications of closing the border — both for the USMCA, the president’s top legislative priority, and because they believe it will result in an immediate spike in the cost of consumer goods.
There are people in the White House who are trying to cobble together a plan to present to Congress that would seek to tighten immigration laws — a way to beg the president off his close-the-border plan. Of course, you should be very, very skeptical anything would get through Congress, but the people who work for the president are trying to head off what they see as another self-inflicted wound.
Since Politico is quoting “sources” we have no way of knowing if the White House staff is in a “panic” or not but it sounds to me like Secretary Nielsen is simply doing her job and making sure policy decisions are put into place. Thus, the shortened trip to Europe, though she does say there was some success in those meetings she was able to take. All was not lost.
Nielsen is expected to head to the southern border on Wednesday, the official said. The president is scheduled to make his own trip to the border in Calexico, California, on Friday, near where the administration says a section of Trump’s proposed border wall has been built.
Despite the extremely short trip, a source says Nielsen “had sensitive discussions on counterterrorism and cyber issues” while in the UK.
“But as Washington was asleep, Secretary Nielsen made some decisions on border response and decided she needed to oversee those personally. So we asked our Deputy to tap in and take over the trip,” the official said.
This sounds more to me that Nielsen wants to continue to hammer home the message that the border is now in a meltdown crisis stage to counter the protestations of Democrats for political reasons. It makes sense. While Democrats are calling Trump’s bluff on his threat to close the border if there isn’t more cooperation from Mexico, Trump is saying he’s not playing games. I think if Trump was bold enough to follow through on a threat to close down the government, he’ll probably be determined to follow through on this threat, too, regardless of short-term consequences. .
The situation at our southern border has gone from a crisis to a near system-wide meltdown. As @POTUS has declared—this is a national emergency. @DHSgov is working to tackle the problem at the source: https://t.co/NYEgnk2feB
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) April 2, 2019
I’ll end with this short video of what the Border Patrol is facing every day on the border.
In video obtained by @ABC, a family of asylum seekers attempts to cross through a hole under the border wall near Yuma, Arizona, despite warnings from CBP agents—and a woman who makes it to the U.S. side is separated from her sister’s family. Watch: https://t.co/j1WbdnZNCD pic.twitter.com/bcT1G05RA0
— ABC News (@ABC) April 2, 2019