President Donald Trump says Kevin McAleenan is out as the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and says he will be announcing a new acting secretary in the next week.
Mr Trump said on Twitter Mr McAleenan had done an “outstanding job”.
“We have worked well together with Border Crossings being Way down,” Mr Trump said.
Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down. Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2019
But the President said Mr McAleenan wanted to “spend more time with his family and go to the private sector”.
His departure creates yet another top-level vacancy in Mr Trump’s Cabinet — at the department responsible not only for immigration enforcement but also for helping states secure elections.
Mr McAleenan thanked the President for his support and, wrote on Twitter he would work with the Department of Homeland Security on a smooth transition.
“We have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year,” he said.
I want to thank the President for the opportunity to serve alongside the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security. With his support, over the last 6 months, we have made tremendous progress mitigating the border security and humanitarian crisis we faced this year… pic.twitter.com/A4rTcZgJKF
— Acting Sec. Kevin McAleenan (@DHSMcAleenan) October 12, 2019
Homeland Security, a 240,000-person department, is tasked with election security and cybersecurity, disaster response and even the Secret Service.
A longtime US Customs and Border Protection official, Mr McAleenan was seen initially in Mr Trump’s circle as a level head who could effectively manage the US Mexico border crisis, despite his stance as a moderate who pushed for aid to be restored to Central American nations.
His tenure played out against a backdrop of outrage amid reports of children being held in squalid conditions on the US border and images of those who died trying to make the trek from Central America.
He took over in April after Kirstjen Nielsen quit, and he was the fourth person to lead the department in two years.
Ms Nielsen was named secretary after her predecessor, John Kelly, became the White House chief of staff in 2017.
Mr Trump had previously threatened to fire Ms Nielsen, who was viewed as resistant to some of the harshest immigration measures supported by the President and his aides, both around the border and on other matters like protected status for some refugees.
Mr Trump has not named anyone to fill the job yet — the acting deputy is David Pekoske, the head of the Transportation Security Administration.
He said he had “many wonderful candidates” to fill the position.