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Donald Trump

Trump replaces acting US immigration chief after firing attorney general

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 January, 2017, 5:30pm

US President Donald Trump on Monday replaced the acting head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a holdover from Barack Obama’s administration, as he battled mounting fallout over his controversial immigration orders.

No reason was given for the decision to replace Daniel Ragsdale, announced barely an hour after Trump fired another Obama appointee, acting attorney general Sally Yates, for breaking rank over the ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Ragsdale’s replacement, Thomas Homan, will help “ensure that we enforce our immigration laws in the interior of the United States consistent with the national interest,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in a statement.

Unlike the firing of Yates, the replacement of Ragsdale came with no explanation except a tweet from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement that he would remain deputy director.

In a blistering statement announcing Yates’ replacement, the White House cited Yates’ memo earlier in the day ordering to Justice Department lawyers not to go to court to defend sharp restrictions Trump ordered last week on immigration from seven majority Muslim countries.

Like Yates, Ragsdale had stayed over after having served as deputy director of his agency during the presidential transition.

Two dismissals in one night held uncomfortable echoes of President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday night massacre” during the Watergate scandal.

Then, Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating him, prompting the departures of his attorney general and deputy attorney general.

The events catalysed Nixon’s impeachment.

Agence France-Presse, CNBC