Kirstjen Nielsen | Media Matters for America

Kirstjen Nielsen

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  • Lou Dobbs has been trying to get Trump to fire Kirstjen Nielsen from DHS

    Blog ››› ››› COURTNEY HAGLE

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    On April 7, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned from her role in the Trump administration after weeks of Fox Business host Lou Dobbs urging President Donald Trump to fire her.

    In her time with the Trump administration, Nielsen became the face of many of Trump’s most hardline anti-immigration policies, including infamously separating children from their families and subsequently failing to reunite many of them, destroying families and leaving children traumatized. CBS reported that her ousting was part of a “massive immigration overhaul, spearheaded by Stephen Miller,” one of Trump’s most extreme advisers on immigration.

    Nielsen’s decision to leave the White House comes as many are questioning the role and influence Fox has over Trump’s decision-making. It has been widely reported that Trump values Dobbs’ opinion -- according to The New Yorker, Dobbs has even “been patched into Oval Office meetings, by speakerphone, to offer policy advice.”

    Dobbs has been urging Trump to fire Nielsen for weeks, often calling her a “failure” and criticizing her leadership for what he perceives as not doing enough to enforce the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy. It’s clear from Dobbs’ comments that he strongly supports Trump’s anti-immigration agenda and believes Nielsen has been an obstacle impeding Trump’s ability to secure the border:

    Dobbs criticized Nielsen for referring to asylum seekers as “vulnerable populations and migrants” instead of more derogatory terms. Dobbs asked his guest, “Does language matter anymore? Doesn’t she understand what the impact of that is?” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 4/3/19]

    Discussing a conversation he had with Nielsen, Dobbs said that she seems “impeded by the system” and that “that government is not moving with urgency at all.” His guest, Fox contributor Ed Rollins, said that “she needs to be tough, needs to crack the whip, she needs to implement what the president has talked about.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 4/3/19]

    Dobbs claimed the “Department of Homeland Security’s failure to gain control of the border crisis is the result of the failed and ineffective leadership” of Nielsen. He also criticized her for “only now” asking for help when Trump issued “that national emergency declaration six weeks ago.” He also complained about her decision to refer to migrants as vulnerable and not “illegal immigrants or illegal aliens.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 4/2/19]

    Dobbs criticized Nielsen for describing the border crisis as a “system-wide breakdown” of “the system she is in charge of.” Dobbs added that “she appears to be more a part of the problem than the solution.” He also said that the “president’s strong stand to secure the border” is in “contrast to that of his secretary of Homeland Security,” criticizing her for waiting “six weeks after president had declared a national emergency on our border with Mexico before she sought authorities and resources to deal with the crisis.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 4/2/19]

    Dobbs claimed that Nielsen is “flailing, and her department appears utterly paralyzed under ineffectual leadership.” He added that she is “so desperate that she’s trying to raise, it seems, a posse of DHS employee volunteers to help secure the border.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/29/19]

    Dobbs complained that undocumented immigrants are “being allowed in by Kirstjen Nielsen and the DHS that has decided that they are there to tell you about how difficult their job is, instead of getting it done.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/28/19]

    Dobbs asserted that Nielsen “obviously doesn’t know what she is doing” and called her handling of the border “quite a spectacle.” He called it “incredible to have the people who are responsible for securing that borders crying about the fact that” the border is in “meltdown.” He asked his guest, Bristol County, MA, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, “Why in the world is Kirstjen Nielsen not fixing it?” Hodgson pointed out that the “she is trying to fix it” but “the problem is not Kirstjen Nielsen, it’s Congress.” Dobbs responded by asking, “What would the folks in your county say if you said, ‘I'm trying to enforce the law, I’m trying to take charge.’ This just isn’t acceptable at any point. … It’s just preposterous to me what we’re accepting here.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/28/19]

    Dobbs said that the border is an “utter disaster” and complained that “we have DHS officials walking around whining about having to protect the border,” adding that it’s “absolutely dereliction of their duty.” He also said Nielsen is “an example of someone who is in over their head.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/27/19]

    Dobbs said that the Department of Homeland Security “is thumbing their nose” at Trump and “looks like a complete joke.” He added that Nielsen is “utterly unqualified for the job.” He concluded by saying, “Kirstjen Nielsen has done everything but rejoin the Obama mantra of ‘strategic patience.’ My God, it’s a disgrace.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/27/19]

    Dobbs claimed DHS is “surrendering our border” and Nielsen is “whining about the inability of her department to protect the homeland despite the president’s best efforts.” Dobbs hit Nielsen for her past, saying that her “most notable career accomplishments were serving in several staff roles in the George W. Bush administration.” Dobbs added that “Secretary Nielsen is in way over her head” and claimed that the “crisis on our southern border” shows “the inability -- or the refusal -- of DHS to secure that border.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/27/19]

    Dobbs told his guest that “when the DHS secretary cannot manage the system, cannot defend the border, then it has to be a matter of political will on her part.” He added that Nielsen is “failing at her job.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/18/19]

    Dobbs asked Rollins, “Why doesn’t he fire Kirstjen Nielsen? Why doesn’t he fire his secretary?” He added that “she’s supposed to be guarding that border, and I don’t want to hear about how tough it is.” Dobbs concluded by warning Trump “if the president doesn’t start firing people for incompetence and absolutely just anti-Trump conduct -- I mean, this goes beyond not doing the job, they’re fighting this president.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 3/6/19]

    While discussing Nielsen in December, Dobbs told his guest that “I personally think ... up until very recently, she had to be almost forced to carry out her duties as secretary of Homeland Security. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/20/18]

    Dobbs asked his guest if Nielsen is “strong enough to deal with this crisis.” His guest, former acting ICE Director Tom Homan, began to defend her and the president before Dobbs cut her off and said, “I’m asking you a very simple question, Tom.” Homan again said she is “strong enough to do it” with the president, and Dobbs cut him off again to emphasize that “I have no question about the president. My question is about his secretary of Homeland Security.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 10/30/18]

  • Trump officials and right-wing media use Jakelin Caal Maquin's death to rally for Trump's wall

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Update (12/18/18): This piece has been updated with an additional example.

    Following reports of the December 8 death of Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old girl from Guatemala who died after being taken into Border Patrol custody, high-level White House officials and prominent right-wing media personalities exploited her death to advocate for President Donald Trump’s desired border wall while accusing her father of causing the tragedy.

    On December 13, The Washington Post reported that Caal Maquin “died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert.” She did not receive medical treatment until an hour and a half after it was requested. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claimed that Caal Maquin “reportedly had not eaten or consumed water for several days” before her death -- but this was quickly disputed by her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cruz. According to a statement from his lawyers, Caal Cruz “made sure she was fed and had sufficient water." The family wants an investigation into Caal Maquin's death.

    The Post first resported Caal Maquin’s death several days after it happened. But once the story broke on December 13, right-wing media personalities and major Trump administration officials immediately began exploiting her death or claiming that her father had caused it:

    Fox News host Sean Hannity: “A wall can prevent these types of heart-breaking stories.”

    White House senior adviser Stephen Miller during a Fox appearance: “If you want to stop the horrors on the northward trek, ... then, for the love of God, fund the border wall.”

    MSNBC contributor and talk radio host Hugh Hewitt: Caal Maquin’s death "is about the most complete argument for building a long, strong" border wall.

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a Fox appearance: "This family chose to cross illegally."

    Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz: "That should be the message, don't make this journey, it will kill you."

    CNN political commentator and BlazeTV host Ben Ferguson: “This is child abuse in its worst form. … This is sick.”

    Fox News guest and Border Patrol Council Vice President Art Del Cueto: “No one’s pointing the finger at this father, they’re all pointing the finger at the Border Patrol agents, and that’s just disgusting.”

    One America News host Graham Ledger: Caal Maquin was a “seven-year-old illegal” whose parents should be “investigated for probable child abuse.”

    One America News host Liz Wheeler: Caal Maquin’s father “forced her to undergo the dangerous journey to the U.S. border and didn’t feed her or give her water for days and days on end.”

    Fox News host Laura Ingraham: “Now they’re, ‘Oh, it’s Trump’s fault that a seven-year-old girl died after her father dragged her across a desert for seven days.’ That’s Trump’s fault?”

    Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro: "The person responsible for all of this is the father who didn't feed the child."

    Video by Leanne Naramore