ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The turnover in the Trump administration keeps churning on. Tonight the latest news is that acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan is out. He has served in this position since the spring of this year. He took over after Kirstjen Nielsen resigned in April. NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez joins us to talk about this latest departure.
FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Hello.
SHAPIRO: There's a bit of a delay on the line. But to begin with, what can you tell us about why McAleenan is out?
ORDOÑEZ: Well, President Trump tweeted out. He said this news. He said that McAleenan did an outstanding job, that they had a good working relationship, that he is proud of the work that he did but that he want - that Kevin - and he used his first name - wanted to spend more time with his family.
SHAPIRO: He also said he was going to go into the private sector. As we mentioned, he was in this acting role for less than a year. How much was he able to accomplish in that time?
ORDOÑEZ: Well, we do know that, you know, it was a challenging time. He actually accomplished quite a bit in regards to issues that were important to President Trump. Those included getting Mexico to boost enforcement on its southern border to help stop or slow the flow of immigrants north. And he also got Guatemala and other countries to carry out agreements - to enter into agreements that would require asylum-seekers to seek asylum and ask for asylum in those countries instead of the United States. Those were very significant.
SHAPIRO: We saw so much controversy involving the Department of Homeland Security play out in the public space (inaudible). Privately, do you know if there were tensions between McAleenan and President Trump as there were with so many people who have left the Trump administration?
ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I mean, there has - as you know, there have been so much tension. He came in under the most difficult circumstances at the time when President Trump was literally going through a purge of the department, as you noted earlier. He pushed out Secretary Nielsen and other top officials. And when Kevin McAleenan came in, from the start, he was drawing scrutiny from hard-liners who were close to President Trump and were very concerned about McAleenan and his ties to the Obama administration, where McAleenan had served before. Many did not feel that he was tough enough. And look. McAleenan - in an interview with The Washington Post, he actually complained about the conditions of his - where he was working. He complained about the tone, the message. He had concerns about the public face and approach of the nation's immigration policy. He said he tried to keep it a neutral agency, but that was really impossible. Just tonight, after the news broke, I spoke to David Lapan, who was the press secretary for DHS earlier in the administration. And he said it's simply an impossible job right now, considering the outside expectations that President Trump has put on it. And if the measure of success is stopping immigrants from even coming to the border, then that is just not going to be achievable.
SHAPIRO: Well, given how high that bar is for whoever the new Homeland Security secretary - acting or otherwise - happens to be, any guess of who that would be and when we would find out? - just briefly.
ORDOÑEZ: We don't know who that will be. President Trump did tweet out, though, that he would be naming a new acting secretary next week.
SHAPIRO: NPR White House correspondent Franco Ordoñez, thank you.
ORDOÑEZ: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.