The woman who replaced White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in his old role as head of the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly so fed up with his attempts to pressure her into deporting thousands of Honduran refugees that she’s thinking about quitting.
According to the Washington Post, acting DHS secretary Elaine Duke is “angry” and wants to resign after Kelly called her on Monday to harangue her over her decision to extend so-called Temporary Protected Status for nearly 60,000 Hondurans living in the United States. (The TPS designation prevents the deportation of foreign nationals to home countries weakened by natural disasters.)
Earlier this week, Duke explained that she needed more time to asses the implications of deporting Hondurans who had lived in the U.S. for decades. She did, however, declare the end of TPS protections for some 5,000 Nicaraguans currently living in the U.S. saying they had a year to “seek alternative lawful immigration status” or prepare to leave the country entirely.
According to officials who spoke with the paper, Kelly insisted Duke’s decision is standing in the way of the White House’s “wider strategic goal” on immigration—that goal, of course, being to drastically reduce it, even for refugees.
What’s more, the officials claim, Kelly was frustrated that Duke’s decision might threaten the nomination of his hand-picked successor at DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen, by “kick[ing] the can down the road.”
“She was angry,” a current official told the paper. “To get a call like that from Asia, after she’d already made the decision, was a slap in the face.”
A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security attempted to play down the alleged rancor between Duke and Kelly, telling the Post:
As with many issues, there were a variety of views inside the administration on a policy. The Acting Secretary took those views and advice [on] the path forward for TPS and made her decision based on the law.
The spokesman also denied reports that Duke planned to resign from the department. However, according to the officials who shared the details of Kelly’s call, Duke has notified Kelly that despite President Trump’s request that she stay on at DHS, she’ll be leaving as soon as a replacement is confirmed by the Senate.