Purge: Nielsen isn't the only one leaving DHS

The recent ouster of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, followed quickly by the head of the Secret Service represented a major shakeup in the power structure and direction of the department. But this morning we’re learning that the personnel changes aren’t stopping there. More firings/resignations are in the offing and people who have worked at DHS – both past and present – are expressing concerns that this will generate massive disruption in the agency’s mission. (Government Executive)

President Trump on Monday executed a dramatic overhaul of leadership at the Homeland Security Department, adding several top officials and component chiefs to the list of top brass removed from their jobs in recent days.

The White House confirmed Randolph “Tex” Alles would step down as head of the Secret Service, just one day after Trump announced the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen…

“I don’t think anything is like what we’ve seen today under the current administration,” said Jay Ahern, whose more than three decades in federal service included CBP’s head of the Office of Field Operations during the George W. Bush administration and acting CBP commissioner during the Obama administration. “Wholesale change, that’s not necessarily a healthy thing.”

There are some other big names supposedly on the list of those who need to clean out their desks. While not officially confirmed yet, L. Francis Cissna, the head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, is also on the way out. He will reportedly be joined by the DHS General Counsel, John Mitnick. We still don’t know who will be in charge of ICE, but it’s not going to be Ron Vitiello.

The nomination of CBP chief Kevin McAleenan to head DHS is leading to some further complications. First of all, it means that we now don’t have anyone at the top of Customs and Border Patrol, at least temporarily. In addition to that, the laws covering the creation of DHS have some “order of succession” rules built into them which aren’t applicable to the rest of the cabinet. Following those rules, the Undersecretary for Management (Claire Grady) would probably have had to replace Nielsen, so it looks like she’ll be departing also to clear the way for McAleenan.

I understand that the President is very frustrated with the lack of progress in addressing the situation on the southern border. It’s a mess, and he’s being fought tooth and nail every step of the way by Democrats in Congress and judges in multiple courts where his policies are being challenged. But this amount of change in executive positions taking place in such a short period of time is worrisome. If all of these groups are going to be going in a new, “tougher” direction, the workers responsible for all of these assignments are going to be left in some sort of limbo until new marching orders are received. And planning and rolling out these sorts of systemic changes takes time. I don’t know if the President thinks he’s executing a coup of the deep state here or what, but we need a functional DHS pretty much 24/7 and these moves could lead to stagnation in the short term.

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