Border agents are on track to make 100,000 arrests and denials of entry at the southern border in March, over half of which are families with children.
The Trump administration adopted the policy of separating migrant children from their parents early past year as part of its "zero tolerance" approach to illegal immigration, meant to deter families from leaving home in the hope of entering the United States.
But the reprieve was to prove temporary. Trump threatened to fire her and she previously considered resigning, but officials at the time recognised there were no obvious successors in place.
"Let's be clear: This administration's dehumanization and cruelty toward migrants will not stop after Kirstjen Nielsen leaves office".
The U.S. Coast Guard is administered by the Department of the Homeland Security. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and The Dallas Morning News.
When Kelly moved to the White House as Trump's chief of staff in July 2017, Nielsen went with him as his deputy.
Nielsen, 46, had been DHS secretary since December 2017.
Described as being all-business, she oversaw a sprawling department with 200 000 employees and wide-ranging responsibilities. Disaster relief, cyber security, transportation security, the Coast Guard, customs and policing the borders all fall under the department's purview.
Trump has made a clampdown on illegal immigration a centerpiece of his two-year-old presidency, as he has sought to cut back on the number of newcomers, especially Mexicans and Central Americans, entering the United States without proper documentation. On the contrary, his administration clearly believes that we don't have enough people, since it has embraced a full slate of anti-abortion and anti-contraception policies geared towards forcing reluctant young women to have more children. She falsely claimed the administration had no policy of separating families and were instead enforcing a law enacted by Congress.
Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even risky idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President.
"The fact that Secretary Nielsen can no longer be an effective messenger for the White House shows just how out of touch and cruel the President's immigration policies are", he said.
"I did not hear that word used", she told a congressional hearing. She quickly became a trusted aide to Kelly, and the two worked together to impose order on a dysfunctional White House that lacked clear lines of command.
Nielsen, who served in President George W. Bush's administration, never overcame internal skepticism about her allegiance to Trump.
Kirsten Nielsen, the embattled homeland security secretary who over the past year has acted as the public face of some of the Trump administration's most contentious policies, has resigned.
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