Trump's big gamble with the Homeland Security Department

Will sowing administrative chaos help Trump convince Americans that the immigration crisis is real?

President Trump.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Scott Olson/Getty Images, art-sonik/iStock)

Will the Republican Party and President Trump attempt to use their midterm playbook in next year's elections? A major change at the Homeland Security Department this week makes it all but certain that immigration will once again get the most attention in the Democratic primaries, all of it aimed at the president and his get-tough policies. And upcoming confirmation fights in the Senate will force Republicans on Capitol Hill to either defend Trump or try to position themselves as internal critics in a party that hasn't tolerated them.

The catalyst for the showdown was the departure of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whose tenure would be considered relatively brief in any other administration. Nielsen served in the position less than two years after her mentor and predecessor John Kelly gave up the job to become White House chief of staff. Nielsen endured public and private criticism from Trump during her term at DHS as border crossing attempts peaked. Nielsen worked hard to project unity with Trump on immigration enforcement, but it became apparent that Trump didn't think Nielsen had taken a tough enough approach to the job.

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.