Acting ICE Director To Leave, Days After Trump Withdrew Nomination Citing ‘Tougher Direction’

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Current Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Ronald Vitiello will leave that post on Friday, an ICE spokesperson confirmed to TPM Wednesday, just one week after President Donald Trump withdrew his nomination of Vitiello to be permanent ICE director, saying he wanted to go in a “tougher direction.”

“Mr. Vitiello’s last day as the Acting Director of ICE will be Friday, April 12, 2019,” an ICE spokesperson told TPM in an email.

Trump said Friday, after withdrawing Vitiello’s nomination to lead ICE permanently: “Ron’s a good man, but we’re going in a tougher direction.”

Recently-ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen named Vitiello the acting ICE chief in June of last year, replacing then-ICE Director Thomas Homan, who retired. Prior to his current job, Vitiello was acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, another DHS agency.

Vitiello is just the most recent in a series of resignations — forced or otherwise — at DHS that some have called a “purge.”

Nielsen’s resignation came Sunday afternoon, two days after Trump pulled Vitiello’s nomination. On Tuesday, the acting deputy secretary of DHS was reportedly forced to resign, clearing the way for Trump’s pick for acting DHS secretary, CBP commissioner Kevin McAleenan.

On Monday, the White House announced that the director of the Secret Service would be replaced, as well.

In a statement, the outgoing director, Randolph “Tex” Alles, said he was “told weeks ago by the Administration that transitions in leadership should be expected across the Department of Homeland Security.”

Various reports indicate that Francis Cissna, current director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, another arm of DHS, could be out by the end of the week, potentially to be replaced by an anti-immigration advocate who now serves as the agency’s ombudsman.

CNN reported that the DHS general counsel, John Mitnick, could be replaced as well.

Reporters noted that many senior DHS officials affected by the so-called “purge” were present at the ceremonial opening of the department’s new headquarters Wednesday.

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