President Trump has been pressuring officials to reinstitute family separation policies and threatened to close the US-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas. His conflict reached a boiling point with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen as he tweeted her resignation on Sunday evening, CNN reports.
Three weeks ago, the President was "ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue" at a meeting in the Oval Office with high-ranking officials in the White House, including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, and more, one of the attendees said. Senior officials reported that Trump then commanded Nielsen and Pompeo to close the port of El Paso the following day, Friday March 22, at 12 PM. He planned to shut down more ports in the subsequent days.
Nielsen objected, warning that it would be a risky and even dangerous decision and reminded him that Texas governor and Republican Greg Abbot has been very helpful for Trump. Instead, Nielsen proposed slowing down entries at the ports instead of closing them. If ports were totally closed, migrants would just go between ports, but legal trade and travel would be totally halted, she argued.
In response, the President said: "I don't care," two attendees reported.
White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney managed to calm Trump down, but he insisted on denying asylum seekers entry instead. The White House counsel also told Trump that this would not be feasible.
According to CNN, two sources reportedly heard the President tell border agents in Calexico, California last Friday to not let migrants in. He told them to tell migrants that they don't have the capacity. He told them to defy judges trying to stop them and to say, "Sorry, judge, I can't do it. We don't have the room."