Department of Homeland Security Secretary Resigns

October 22, 2019

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.

rolled letter of resignation in hand

After just six months serving as Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Kevin McAleenan handed in his resignation on October 12. McAleenan was the fourth DHS Secretary of the Trump administration.

He focused his time at the agency cracking down on asylum applicants and reducing overall entries to the U.S. While McAleenan considered himself successful at the agency, he was said to have had an embattled relationship with the White House, taking increasingly extreme positions on immigration. McAleenan offered to stay on the job until the end of October and DHS was still promoting McAleenan’s activities several days after his resignation announcement.

As for a replacement for McAleenan, no name has yet been mentioned, though some are speculating it will be USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli would likely face a very tough confirmation battle in the Senate. Of late, the Trump administration has been designating key appointees as “Acting” directors and secretaries. The Federal Vacancies Act dictates who can be appointed to acting and interim positions and Cuccinelli’s USCIS appointment appears to violate the law and potentially provides a legal argument to someone seeking to challenge actions taken by Mr. Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli would similarly be ineligible for an interim DHS Secretary appointment and, according to the law, would need to be confirmed by the Senate.