Trump's advisers have been increasingly criticizing the Homeland Security chief in private conversations with the president, arguing that she isn't doing enough to improve border security and noting that she wasn't a vocal Trump supporter during the campaign, three people familiar with the internal discussions told POLITICO.
Homeland Security spokesman Tyler Houlton posted on Twitter that the report is not accurate and Nielsen was not close to resigning.
Kelly said most illegal immigrants in the USA today "are not bad people. but they're also not people that would easily assimilate" because they are poorly educated. Nielsen issued her own statement Thursday evening saying the president is justifiably frustrated but that she is staying on the job.
Trump was furious with Nielsen, telling her he didn't think she was doing enough to secure the border. "I share his frustration", Nielsen said, according to CNN. A recent target of the president has been a migrant caravan traveling from South America to the US border.
Instead, she told the newspaper that she will "continue to direct the department to do all we can to implement the president's security-focused agenda" as head of almost 20,000 department employees. "We are a country of laws and the president and his administration will enforce them", she responded.
President Trump and Nielsen have "clashed for weeks about his belief that more should be done to secure the border". Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke did the same in November, according to the Washington Post, over White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly pressuring her to end temporary protected status for undocumented Hondurans living in the United States.
Also, does anybody else miss the days when White House reporters could go years at a time without having to use the word tirade to describe Cabinet meetings?
Hard-liners on immigration say Mr. Trump's anger is partly explained by a suspicion inside the West Wing that Ms. Nielsen, who served on the Homeland Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, is not sufficiently committed to Mr. Trump's agenda of tougher immigration policies.
In return, Nielsen reportedly defended her stance and cited laws in several instances to support her comments.
"I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country", Trump wrote last month.
Trump has also been frustrated with Congress's refusal to fully fund his promised border wall along the nation's southern border, and some in the administration had accused DHS leaders of slow-walking more aggressive efforts to separate children from their parents at the border.