Now-former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen standing all alone.

Kirstjen “Put Kids in Cages” Nielsen Has Left the Trump Administration. She Will Not Be Missed.

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Over the weekend, Donald Trump announced that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was resigning. As with so many Trump appointees, that resignation is said to have Trump’s idea, not hers.

Nielsen may be out, but she has ensured that she will forever be known as the woman who separated families at the border and put children in cages. That’s her legacy, and she earned it.

If she follows in the footsteps of other ousted Trump officials, Nielsen’s next steps will be to distance herself from Trump and the policies she enacted and enforced, to paint herself as a good person who was just following orders or who saw herself as a moral counterbalance necessary to keep Trump’s madness in check.

Fox News is, in fact, already working that beat.

Kirstjen Nielsen should be forever remembered as the face of family separation. She was not a hapless victim of the Trump administration’s war on immigrants and asylum seekers, she was a leader in it. But it is also true that her leaving won’t change anything, or at least not for the better.

Word is that Trump (essentially) fired Nielsen because he wanted to go in a “tougher” direction on immigration. That was the reason he gave for abruptly dumping Ronald Vitello, his own nominee to lead ICE, just a few days ago.

Trump has reportedly been wanting to reinstate those large-scale family separations—a policy his administration initiated (no, Obama didn’t have a family separation policy) and then reversed under extreme public pressure last summer. He’s apparently been pushing for this since January.

Nielsen reportedly opposed the reinstatement, but not because she’s such a good person.

As expected, Nielsen’s acting replacement is a man who has expressed some opinions on immigration that would make Stephen Miller smile.

By the way, Trump’s appointment of McAleenan might actually be illegal, as it looks like he ignored a statute that determines the succession of acting officials in case of a vacancy. But on the list of Things Trump Has Done That Are Probably Illegal, this seems pretty far down.

(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.