Trump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE announced Friday night that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan would step down from his position.

“Kevin McAleenan has done an outstanding job as Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. We have worked well together with Border Crossings being way down," tweeted Trump, who tapped McAleenan to lead the department earlier this year.


"Kevin now, after many years in Government, wants to spend more time with his family and go to the private sector,” Trump tweeted. “Congratulations Kevin, on a job well done!”

Trump said that he will announce McAleenan’s successor next week, adding: “Many wonderful candidates!” 

Trump named McAleenan the department’s acting chief in April after Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenActing DHS secretary says he expects Russia to attempt to interfere in 2020 elections House Homeland Security rip DHS's 'unacceptable' failure to comply with subpoena Trump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report MORE's resignation. McAleenan was never nominated for the position full-time, and his eventual successor will require Senate confirmation.

His tenure was marked by successes in carrying out Trump's agenda in multiple areas. He oversaw a steady drop in the number of apprehensions at the southern border and the rollout of multiple policies aimed at reducing the number of illegal and legal immigrants allowed to enter the country.

McAleenan recently accompanied Trump on a tour of a section of border wall outside of San Diego, Calif.

But he was viewed with skepticism by hard-line immigration advocates inside and outside the administration, and he acknowledged in a recent interview with The Washington Post that he had been unable to control the message emanating from his agency.

“I think the words matter a lot,” McAleenan said. “If you alienate half of your audience by your use of your terminology, it’s going to hamper your ability to ever win an argument.”

Some of his critics accused McAleenan of leaking information ahead of planned immigration raids earlier this year that forced the operation to be postponed. He denied the allegations, but it underscored the degree to which he struggled to win over some influential voices within the administration.

He faced additional criticism from Democrats throughout his time on the job for the administration's treatment of migrants at detention centers near the border. 

McAleenan worked for the FBI and for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. He ascended to the top job in DHS after Trump forced Nielsen out when she was unwilling to carry out some of his policies.

Her exit was part of an agency-wide overhaul orchestrated by senior White House aide Stephen MillerStephen MillerConservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons Immigrants are an economic boon to America Giuliani's unofficial role allowed him to avoid White House disclosure rules: report MORE, one of Trump's most influential advisers on immigration.

Most of the top jobs in immigration enforcement are being filled on an acting basis. Mark Morgan is leading CBP on an acting basis, Matt Albence is serving as the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Ken Cuccinelli is the acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Cuccinelli in particular has emerged as the public face of Trump's immigration agenda, and may be a candidate to replace McAleenan. However, his appointment would likely remain on an acting basis as multiple GOP senators have cast doubts on his ability to be confirmed.