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WASHINGTON (AP) — The notice to Congress from the White House was met with confusion: Why would President Donald Trump withdraw his nominee to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement?
Longtime border official Ron Vitiello appeared to be cruising toward confirmation. One Senate committee had endorsed his nomination and a second was likely to follow suit despite opposition from some Democrats and a union representing some agency officers.
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No one in the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the immigration agency, had been notified about the intention to remove Vitiello from consideration, according to people familiar with the decision. Officials at Homeland Security and congressional aides thought it must have been a paperwork error made by the White House personnel office that would be resolved quickly.
Turns out, it wasn't a mistake. It was just another day in the Trump administration.
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The president on Friday confirmed he had pulled the nomination, even as he called Vitiello a "good man."
"But we're going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction," he said.
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Trump did not explain what that meant and did not say whom he had in mind as a replacement. But the decision, first reported by The Associated Press, comes as his administration is struggling to deal with an influx of Central American migrants, which has led to a 12-year high in U.S.-Mexico border crossings, straining the U.S. immigration system.
Trump had threatened to close the border entirely to cope with the flow, before backing off this week.
Government - Officials - Immigration - Issues - Decision
Six government and congressional officials involved in immigration issues suggested the decision to drop Vitiello could be an impulsive staff shake-up driven by the fact that White House policies intended to stop migrants have not succeeded. Many blamed Stephen Miller, the influential West Wing aide, and saw it as part of a plan to replace...
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