Henry Cuellar: Texas congressman calls for border security chief resignation

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Rep Henry Cuellar is a senior Democrat on the House appropriations panel and had been supportive of Donald Trump’s pledge for a wall on the US-Mexico border

A senior Democratic Congressman says acting Homeland Security chief Pat Kelly should step down “immediately” and be replaced by Texas congressman Henry Cuellar.

Cuellar has suggested that Mr Kelly had been leading “an inexperienced and untested administration”.

In a letter sent to US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, the Texan wrote “the border czar that we need should not come from Texas”.

Mr Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, has been serving as acting secretary since John Kelly was ousted as president Donald Trump’s chief of staff in July.

Mr Kelly stepped up as the acting secretary when Mr Trump sacked John Kelly as chief of staff – as well as homeland security secretary – in July.

He also stepped in in January when Jeff Sessions was abruptly replaced as attorney general.

Mr Cuellar has backed Mr Trump’s pledge to build a wall on the US-Mexico border but has criticised his administration for failing to appoint a full-time border security chief.

He warned the US administration that it risked losing the trust of Mexico and its president Enrique Pena Nieto if it does not hold a border security summit soon with their respective governments.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Cedillo said the Trump administration had failed to respond to “productive and meaningful meetings” with Mexican officials

Cadena Medina, a spokesman for Mr Cuellar, said that the congressmen had been in contact with Mexican officials on border security matters for two years.

On Friday Cedillo said it had been “an incredible opportunity to work alongside our Mexican friends” but added that the Trump administration had failed to respond to “productive and meaningful meetings” with the Mexican government on border security.

Mr Cuellar’s letter makes clear that Mr Keller, who was acting secretary for about a year, “was not chosen by the president”.

Mr Cuellar added that Mr Kelly “wants to build a wall to make a big deal – but I don’t think there is a big deal to make”.

On Monday the US Department of Homeland Security said it had reviewed the letter and will provide a response to Mr Cuellar “in due course”.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mr Cuellar wrote in his letter that the border ‘czar’ is ‘an untested and inexperienced administration’

Earlier this week Mexican Interior Minister Alfonso Navarrete also said that the country’s president Pena Nieto “would love to meet” with Mr Trump on securing a “strong relationship” between the two countries.

Mr Homan has said his department is committed to cooperating with Mexico to ensure the secure border.

On Friday the Department of Homeland Security said its border deployment strategy had been to “try to reduce amounts of smuggling,” including through family reunification programmes.

In his letter to Ms Nielsen, Mr Cuellar said: “I respectfully request that you take immediate action to replace acting secretary Pat Kelly with Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar as the border czar that we need.”

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