A visibly angry Donald Trump pushed members of his administration to reinstate the controversial policy of taking migrant children from their families at the U.S. border, a person inside the contentious meeting has revealed.
On Sunday, Trump announced the ouster of Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen in what was reportedly a larger purge to bring a harsher immigration policy. As CNN reported, Trump has been pushing not only to bring back the family separation policy but also close the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso.
One person who was at the meeting where both ideas were brought up noted that Trump was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.” But officials did not follow through — the report noted that Trump ordered Nielsen to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, which was Friday, March 22. That never came to pass, as Nielsen persuaded Trump it would cause too much trouble, especially for the Trump-supporting governor of Texas, Greg Abbott.
Nielsen then informed Trump that if he were to close down legal entry points, it would only force more migrants to make dangerous entries between ports. As people in the room for the meeting noted, Trump responded by saying, “I don’t care.”
Donald Trump’s approach to immigration has come under a sharper focus in the past few days amid what many are describing as a purge of department heads, with reports noting that adviser Stephen Miller is pulling the strings. As NBC News noted, Miller is one of the very few survivors from the beginning of Trump’s tenure as president and has become the chief architect of a hard-line immigration approach.
“Stephen Miller’s fingerprints are all over Secretary Nielsen’s resignation letter,” Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor with close contact with the Trump administration, told NBC News. “Trump wants to double down on the immigration strategy and Nielsen was apoplectic at the idea of closing the border.”
Stephen Miller just showed who really holds the power over immigration https://t.co/KZwmdlSPIO
— Brian Cozad (@Cozad2Brian) April 8, 2019
It is not clear if Donald Trump will return to the idea of closing the border or reinstitute the family separation policy, but some reports indicate that Trump may have bigger plans in mind. Reports have indicated that Trump hopes to use the separation policy to draw strong opposition that he can use as a bargaining chip in negotiations with Democrats, who so far have stood in the way of plans for Trump to build the border wall he has promised since the 2016 presidential election.