- Homeland Security officials viewed President Donald Trump’s purge of the department’s leadership with gallows humor, according to The Washington Post.
- Some concerned officials reportedly correlated their circumstance with the location of their new headquarters in Washington, DC.
- The department’s new headquarters was built at the former location of part of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the federal government’s first mental health facility.
- Trump’s revolving door of Homeland Security’s top brass took many people by surprise, including Republican leadership.
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Concerned officials at the Department of Homeland Security responded to President Donald Trump’s purge of the department’s leadership with gallows humor, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.
Some of the officials pointed out that the location of their new headquarters in Washington, DC, is on a former campus of part of St. Elizabeths Hospital, the federal government’s first mental health facility.
The construction of the 4.5 million square-feet building was reportedly delayed for over a decade, but will be ready to house employees this month, The Post said.
Trump’s revolving door of the department’s top brass took many people by surprise, including Republican leadership. Republican lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said they were concerned and urged Trump to reconsider some of the proposed changes.
On April 7, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was ousted from her position. Multiple reports suggested Nielsen’s tenure was on shaky ground, particularly after statistics revealed the number of families detained at the US-Mexico border was increasing despite Trump’s emboldened efforts.
Two days later, Nielsen’s deputy, Claire Grady, Homeland Security management undersecretary, resigned. Grady was a career government official and was reportedly reluctant to leave, according to unnamed sources in a Wall Street Journal report. But the White House encouraged Grady to vacate her post, and one administration claimed she was not qualified to become Nielsen’s replacement.
Nielsen was replaced with Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan, a former official during President Barack Obama’s administration.
The following day, Ronald Vitiello, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s acting director, announced he would leave ICE. Vitiello was nominated by Trump in August and was awaiting confirmation from the Senate. The White House pulled his nomination earlier in April.
Secret Service director Randolph Alles will also be leaving soon, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump reportedly soured on Alles, a retired Marine Corps general, and poked fun at his physical appearance by calling him “dumbo,” according to officials familiar with the discussion.
Trump signaled he wanted to take a “tougher direction” on immigration after the surge in migrant family apprehensions at the southern border. Apprehensions at the border reportedly peaked in March, the highest since 2007.
“We’re going in a little different direction,” Trump said earlier in April. “We’re going in a tougher direction.”