Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is aiming to win over President Trump and his base of supporters in the wake of a caravan of Central Americans having inundated the U.S.-Mexico border and surges in illegal immigration.
Nielsen was the subject of a number of reports last week in which sources claimed she was planning to quit after Trump berated her in a White House meeting for a spike of illegal immigration at the southern border and the poor handling of a caravan of 1,200 Central Americans.
Allies of Trump, in behind-closed-door conversations, blasted Nielsen as a member of the failed “Never Trump” movement, an accusation that derived from a series of Breitbart News reports which exposed the DHS secretary’s close relationships with the national security establishment and anti-Trump Washington, D.C., bureaucracy.
Coupled with the reports from the White House, Nielsen took heat from Trump supporters and pro-American immigration reformers after she pleaded with foreign nationals to use the ports of entry at the southern border to seek asylum in a congressional hearing, as Breitbart News reported.
The comments came as the southern border has been overwhelmed with foreign nationals claiming “credible fear” at the ports of entry and by illegally crossing the border, Breitbart News noted, with more than 30,000 asylum claims in the last three months of 2017, alone.
To shake the hits from Trump and his base, Nielsen ditched the “please come to the ports of entry” comments in her congressional hearing on Tuesday, instead focusing more attention on the fraud within the country’s asylum system.
Nielsen said of the asylum process:
They claim asylum, they go into the asylum bucket. Again, the problem with the asylum bucket is the backlog and it’s very heavily abused by those who actually do not seek asylum there by putting those who need asylum in jeopardy of not receiving it in a timely manner. [Emphasis added]
Likewise, Nielsen repeatedly defended the Trump administration’s strict immigration enforcement at the border where illegal aliens are readily prosecuted.
Following the hearing, Nielsen made an even bigger play to Trump and his base by appearing on Fox News’s The Laura Ingraham Show, where she talked tough on the border and reasserted the need for a border wall at the southern border.
“I think the president has been very clear on this, and it’s very easy,” Nielsen told Ingraham. “We need a wall.”
Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, large doses of illegal immigration to the U.S. threaten the wage growth that Trump has been able to secure for sectors of the blue-collar workforce.
While the stricter immigration enforcement in the interior of the U.S. has garnered wage increases for a number of blue-collar American workers, white-collar American workers continue having to compete against large numbers of foreign nationals on a variety of visas.