The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is leaving

Trump pulled Ron Vitiello's nomination to lead ICE last week because he said he wanted to go in a "tougher" direction. Now Vitiello will leave the agency.
Image: Ron Vitiello
Ron Vitiello during an interview in Richmond, Virginia, on Nov. 9, 2018.Steve Helber / AP file

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By Julia Ainsley

WASHINGTON — The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement is leaving his post Friday, according to an agency spokesperson, the latest departure in a reshuffling of the Department of Homeland Security.

President Donald Trump had nominated the acting director, Ron Vitiello, to become the permanent head of ICE, but pulled his nomination last week.

A DHS official said the agency received an email Wednesday with the news that Vitiello would be leaving ICE.

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Trump announced his decision to rescind Vitiello's nomination last Friday, saying he preferred a nominee who would take the critical immigration agency "in a tougher direction."

"We're going in a little different direction. Ron is a good man, but we're going in a tougher direction," Trump told reporters before a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border, when asked about reports that Vitiello's nomination to lead ICE had been withdrawn.

Before Trump's comments, NBC News had reported that Trump had withdrawn the nomination, citing a document sent to members of Congress on Thursday. A DHS official confirmed the document's veracity.

DHS has not said who will replace Vitiello as acting director, but Deputy Director Matthew Albence is next in line.

Vitiello's departure comes after DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was pressured to resign on Sunday and Secret Service Director Tex Alles resigned on Monday.

NBC News reported that Nielsen left because of differences with Trump over restarting a family separation policy for migrants at the border.

Alles announced his departure after a Chinese national was apprehended inside Trump's Florida club, Mar-a-Lago, after getting past initial screening by Mar-a-Lago security.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump had selected James M. Murray, a career member of the Secret Service, to take over as director beginning in May.