DHS deputy head Elaine Duke to leave Trump administration

Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeTrump mulled selling Puerto Rico, former aide says Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Senate paves way for Trump's next DHS chief MORE, the No. 2 official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is stepping down from her post in the Trump administration.

Duke, the agency's deputy secretary who played a key role at the helm of DHS last year, is set to leave in April, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump's acting ICE chief to leave post Trump's fight with city leaders escalates Neo-Nazi pleads guilty to 'swatting' Black church, Cabinet official, journalists MORE announced Friday afternoon.

"Elaine has selflessly served the federal government for three decades, and this Department for more than 10 years spanning multiple Secretaries," Nielsen said in a statement.

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"Since taking office, she has been instrumental in helping the Department address emerging threats and in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the 2017 hurricane season."

Duke is leaving the Trump administration after serving in the federal government for nearly three decades, under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE nominated her for the No. 2 position at DHS in January 2017, and she formally took office in April. She later would serve for several months at the helm of DHS as acting secretary after Trump tapped then-DHS Secretary John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE as his new White House chief of staff. Duke served in the post until Nielsen was confirmed in December.

During her time as the top DHS official starting in late July, Duke oversaw the department's response to a series of hurricanes that devastated parts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida, as well as U.S. territories in the Caribbean.

Duke came under fire, however, after she suggested that the federal response to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico, was a "good news story." 

Duke also reportedly faced pressure from Kelly, who urged her in November to deport thousands of Hondurans residing in the U.S. after DHS extended temporary protected status for the residents.

According to a Washington Post report, that episode angered Duke, who refused to reverse the decision to extend the residency permits.