Monday, April 08, 2019


Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned as homeland security secretary. Her acting replacement, Kevin McAleenan, was warmly welcomed by the president on Twitter yesterday.

I can see why Trump might believe McAleenan is a good choice:
Described by colleagues as a savvy political operator, Mr. McAleenan worked cooperatively with Obama administration officials but later embraced Mr. Trump’s agenda, which included unshackling Border Patrol agents from restrictions that the previous administration had imposed.

Mr. McAleenan was also one of three Department of Homeland Security officials who had urged Ms. Nielsen to sign the memo authorizing the routine separation of migrant families at the border.
Well, yes, that, but also this, which I'm sure was much more important to Trump:
For a president who places a premium on appearances, McAleenan, 47, also looks the part, with close-cropped hair and a stern bearing.
Yes -- he looks the part. That's extremely important to Trump.

But there is that former service in the Obama years. And there's this:
Married to a Salvadoran immigrant, Mr. McAleenan is a lawyer who wrote an honors thesis at Amherst College on marriage equality....
And this:
The border cop image belies what is behind it. McAleenan is an attorney with degrees from the University of Chicago and Amherst College who pours over academic reports on migration trends and speaks of international aid as being vitally important to stemming the northward flow of Central Americans. And perhaps most importantly, at a time of great policy upheaval, McAleenan will be a rare Trump administration official who remains in good standing with lawmakers from both parties....

A longtime CBP official who received the nation’s highest civil service award from President Obama in 2015, McAleenan has praised the effectiveness of U.S. aid to Central America — immediately putting him at odds with the president, who has cut aid to those countries. And McAleenan refers to the migrants arriving at the border not as scammers looking to cheat their way into the country but as “vulnerable families” who need more humanitarian treatment, urging a fast and responsible screening process that will let true asylum seekers start their news lives in the United States once a court rules on their claims.

“If they don’t have a valid claim, we’ll repatriate,” McAleenan said. “If they do, they’ll be released with the certainty that they have asylum with the ability to plan, to invest in a business, to make these choices for schools. Right now, they don’t have that. They live with uncertainty for years at a time because the system is broken and overwhelmed.”

... he is well-regarded by Democrats, in part because he speaks of border and immigration issues as a neutral, nonpolitical law enforcement professional, not a partisan firebrand.
There's no way Trump knows all this about McAleenan, because if he did, he'd never have elevated him, even temporarily.

I'm no expert on McAleenan, but I've read the New York Times and Washington Post stories quoted above, and now I know more than the president does about the guy. And now you do, too.

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