Nielsen resigns as DHS Secretary

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Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, announced her resignation from the department this past Sunday, April 7. It is difficult to confirm if Nielsen left the department or if she was pushed out by Donald Trump, but there is agreement that there is pressure to take immigration policy in a “tougher direction.” Some news sources — but not Fox News — are stating that Stephen Miller, a key Trump advisor who was a leading proponent of the travel ban, orchestrated the resignation to force such a policy change. It is interesting to me that different news organizations are creating opposing narratives.

For example, Fox News wrote that Trump oversaw the change in leadership. However, CBS News writes that, “[Nielsen’s] departure is a part of a massive DHS overhaul engineered and directed by top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, according to a senior U.S. official.” These news organizations put different levels of emphasis on Trump's role in making decisions, trying to create narratives of weakness and strength.

Recently, the prospective nomination for the role of the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been rejected by Trump, who stated that he wants ICE to go in a “tougher direction.”

If you don’t know, the current policy is brutal. Children of illegal immigrants are still being taken from their parents and sent into specialized detention centers. In these camps, two young children, aged seven and eight, have already died, along with a reported 20 others in the past two years. Obviously, concentration camps have a bad history. It is interesting to me that the current administration wants to fight a battle where these analogies can be referenced. Maybe they even benefit from the analogies.

Many fringe liberal sources have begun circulating the idea that these changes to the DHS, orchestrated by Stephen Miller, constitute a kind of coup. A few threads on Reddit threw around claims that this could lead to the creation of a “police state” which threatens everyone. I think this theory is supported in the public mind by the current narrative of the prioritizing security over privacy, which causes anxiety among libertarians.

The narrative, which characterizes this resignation as a kind of coup, inflames those who feel strongly about liberty, and antagonizes the Trump administration. Articles with this kind of speculative reporting create sensationalist headlines and attract more clicks than level headed commentary. Sensationalism is defined as, “the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.” They also overplay the potential consequences, which hinders organized and well-timed popular opposition. Lots of sensationalist reporting make people hear that the world is ending every day. This creates the feeling of exhausted apathy. Apathy snoozes the alarm of injustice until the pressure is too great. The response does not come at the right time, and is weakened and disunited.

As an individual who opposes the current immigration policies, these kinds of speculations frighten me, even though I know they are sensationalist. Since the potential consequences are so great, the obviously inflammatory reports need to still be considered. One cannot ignore an assault on core social values, even if the assault is probably smaller than it’s made out to be.