Trump Explodes at Staff for Not Deporting Immigrants Faster

Donald Trump and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

Donald Trump and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

President Donald Trump berated Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a dispiriting Cabinet meeting on immigration Wednesday, according to three administration officials, but her colleagues denied reports that she has threatened to quit.

Nielsen, who was chief of staff for John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, oversees the 20,000 employees who work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Trump nominated Nielsen to lead the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He declined to say whether Nielsen had been treated fairly in the meeting, saying only, "We had a good Cabinet meeting", during a brief question-and-answer session in the White House Rose Garden.

"The president is committed to fixing our broken immigration process and also our porous borders".

The New York Times reported Thursday that the president has growing increasingly angry with Nielsen over what he feels is the country's inability to adequately secure its border.

Nielsen battled back, one person said, telling Trump that laws limit some of what she could do to block the flow of undocumented immigrants.

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Tyler Houlton, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, disputed that Nielsen had drafted a resignation letter and was close to resigning, calling those assertions "false". A conviction for illegal entry carries a maximum penalty of six months in custody for first-time crossers, though they usually do far less time, and two years for repeat offenses. "The laws in this country for immigration and illegal immigration are absolutely frightful".

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week announced a new "zero-tolerance" policy toward people who enter the United States illegally that may cause more separations.

Trump repeatedly said during the 2016 campaign that the border wall, which would cost close to $25 billion, would be funded by Mexico - though Mexican officials have said repeatedly that they will not pay for the wall. When members of his Cabinet pointed out that the country relies on day laborers who cross the border each day, Trump said that was fine, but continued to complain, one person said.

Trump has also been frustrated with Congress's refusal to fully fund his promised border wall along the nation's southern border, and some in the administration had accused DHS leaders of slow-walking more aggressive efforts to separate children from their parents at the border. "I share his frustration".

Trump has clashed with Nielsen for weeks. Nielsen recently worked with state governors to send contingents of National Guard troops to help secure the border after Trump called for them to do so.

Those numbers have since risen to more normal levels, pro-immigration groups speculate, because illegal immigrants were initially stunned by the president's early messaging but are now disregarding it.

Trump's tirade went on so long that many present began fidgeting in their seats and flashing grimaces, White House aides said.

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