Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News that former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen actively undermined President Donald Trump’s agenda on border security and immigration, offering her remarks on Monday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host Patrick Courrielche.
Mansour invited Vaughan’s comments on Nielsen’s conduct as the former head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) following Nielsen’s resignation on Sunday.
“I actually think that [Kirstjen Nielsen] has been on borrowed time for a long time and it shouldn’t have taken this long,” said Vaughan. “It’s the right move. It’s important to hold her accountable for her failures, especially this most recent crisis at the border.”
Vaughan speculated that Nielsen sought to deflect her former responsibilities for border security by initiating consideration of the establishment of a “border czar.”
“Recently, there was talk about appointing a border czar, and some names were floated of good people with the right vision on immigration policy,” recalled Vaughan. “But we have a border czar, [and] it’s the secretary of homeland security. Kirstjen Nielsen has been the border czar, and there was a report in CNN today that she was the one who started floating this idea, perhaps to distract some attention from her own failure to implement the needed policies.”
Vaughan continued, “Ultimately, she’s been held accountable. I’ll be interested to see what her plan is. Everyone always said she was more comfortable at Davos than in DHS, and I don’t know how — now that she’s the face of family separation — it’s going to be a hard move.”
Mansour asked Vaughan about Nielsen’s expansion of DHS’s “catch and release” policy.
“[Kirstjen Nielsen’s] strategy seemed to be that if things got really bad, and she could just explain to the members of Congress and to the public that things were really horrible at the border — that it’s out of control, that it truly was a crisis — that Congress would act the change the laws to enable her to stop this crisis,” explained Vaughan.
Vaughan went on, “[Kirstjen Nielsen acted as if] there was nothing that she could do [and that] it was all up to Congress. Anyone who’s paid any attention to politics and policymaking at all in the last ten years knows that Congress is not going to act on this, or at least not in a way that’s going to solve the crisis, especially now with Nancy Pelosi in charge of the House of Representatives. It was a naive strategy and incorrect and wrong strategy and it blew up in her face. Things just got worse.”
Vaughan added, “It really is a serious problem in the communities that have had to absorb this influx of tens of thousands of illegal crossers every month who have joined the illegal population and are causing major problems in schools around the country for taxpayers to support.”
Vaughan continued, “This is truly a disaster, and it worsened on [Kirstjen Nielsen’s\ watch, because she did not take steps early enough to make a difference, and then when she started to call for more action and take more action, it was too little, too late, and too half-hearted. So this is at her feet.”
Nielsen secured her role at DHS via her professional and personal proximity to John Kelly, recalled Vaughan.
“My understanding is that [Kirstjen Nielsen] was a trusted staffer for John Kelly, who was originally the first DHS secretary, and agreed to come over to the White House as chief of staff if she could be installed at DHS,” stated Vaughan. “But she already had a reputation at that point. People were dismayed when that happened, and actually there were some resignations in DHS when she was named to be secretary. [She was] someone with very little experience — none in immigration — and also someone who did not seem to be particularly in-step with the president’s agenda.”
Vaughan remarked, “When [Kirstjen Nielsen] became secretary, she brought in a group of people to work for her in the front office who decided that they were there so they could undermine things that other appointees of the president’s were trying to accomplish.”
Vaughan added, “It’s not just that [Kirstjen Nielsen] was incompetent and over her head. It’s that the people who worked for her were actively trying to undermine, for example, the ‘Buy American, Hire American’ initiative, enforcement of immigration laws, bolder steps to address the border crisis and get our immigration system back on track, and particularly to solve this crisis.”
Vaughan concluded, “It wasn’t just a matter of being incompetent. She was actively working against the president.”
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Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.
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