The ouster of former Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, who was reportedly considered a “soft-on-the-border Bushy” by Donald Trump’s more hardline advisers, was essentially a power grab by Stephen Miller, who now has free rein to shape the department in his image. And on Tuesday, The Washington Post gave us an idea of what the future of D.H.S. might look like under Miller’s hand. Per the Post, Miller championed a plan to arrest thousands of immigrant parents and their children in cities across the country—a “blitz” operation meant to send a message that the administration is serious about its immigration crackdown.
The operation reportedly aimed to target as many as 10,000 immigrants in 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. It was an attractive option for Miller and Trump, who has pushed to adopt the “toughest” policies possible on immigration. But Nielsen and former Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Ronald Vitiello pushed back, not due to moral qualms, but because in true Trumpian fashion, the plan was so poorly thought out. “The proposal was nowhere near ready for prime time,” a D.H.S. official told the Post. Nielsen and Vitiello, who had his nomination for permanent I.C.E. director abruptly withdrawn, raised concerns about a lack of preparation, the potential for blowback, and the siphoning of resources from the border. “Both [Vitiello] and Nielsen instinctively thought it was bad policy and that the proposal was less than half-baked,” another DHS official told the Post. Their unwillingness to execute the ill-conceived sweep was reportedly a factor in the president’s decision to axe them. (Officials at ICE and DHS declined to comment to the Post, as did Miller, while Vitiello and Nielsen did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.)
Trump unceremoniously dispatched the duo in April, telling reporters he withdrew Vitiello’s nomination to go in a “tougher” direction, and forcing Nielsen to resign days later, apparently angry that her depravity had its limits where his clearly did not. (Separating children from their parents was apparently an insufficient show of strength.) With Nielsen and Vitiello gone, the president and his most ghoulish immigration hawks seem poised to get even more aggressive. They’re said to be plotting efforts to ramp up deportations, apply more scrutiny to which immigrants and asylum-seekers the country admits, and, yes, re-start family separations.
BY ERIC LUTZ for H I V E
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