Read The Remarkable Resignation Letter Sent By A Homeland Security Adviser

"There was a time when America welcomed refugees."

Four members of the Homeland Security advisory council resigned via a letter sent to Department Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week. The letter doubled as a staunch defense of past U.S. immigration policy and of keeping immigrant families together.

In comparison, the group called the Trump administration's immigration policies "ill-conceived" and "morally repugnant." The letter also noted that the Department of Homeland Security had not consulted with the advisory council before it implemented its widely criticized policy of separating families who had crossed the border illegally.  (The policy has since been rescinded.)


"Were we consulted, we would have observed that routinely taking children from migrant parents was morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered," the letter said. "We cannot tolerate association with the immigration policies of this administration, nor the illusion that we are consulted on these matters."

The members of the council who resigned were Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic congresswoman, Richard Danzig, a former secretary of the Navy, and two former officials from President Barack Obama's administration: David Martin, a former DHS deputy general counsel and Matthew Olsen, who served as director of National Counterterrorism Center. 

Holtzman, who has been outspoken about her disagreement with some of the Trump administration's policies on immigration, penned a second letter to Secretary Nielsen that was even more remarkable. In that letter, she referenced America's dedication to resettling refugees after its failure to act during World War II to protect victims of the Nazis. Holtzman, who helped author The Refugee Act of 1980, said "there was a time when America welcomed refugees," noting that we once took in more than 600,000 refugees from Cuba, 750,000 from Vietnam and 100,000 Jews from the Soviet Union.

"Considering that history, the thought that the US government is afraid today of 2,000 children and their parents is both laughable and appalling," she wrote. "Under your administration and that of Donald Trump's, DHS has been transformed into an agency that is making war on immigrants and refugees."

Holtzman's letter quickly went viral on social media, and her strongly worded condemnations of recent immigration policies were celebrated by the left. 

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton told The Washington Post that it was "disappointing, but not surprising, that appointees from the previous Administration would resign."

"It is unfortunate that instead of first bringing their concerns directly to the Secretary in the spirit of an Advisory Committee member," Houlton said. "They chose to simply resign four weeks after the Administration ended the practice of concern."

But in her letter, Holtzman went beyond just referencing the family separation policy on the border, She also condemned the "religiously motivated travel ban," the "refusal to provide relief for Dreamers" and a "mass deportation program."

"Although it is I who am resigning in protest against these policies, it is you who should be tendering your resignation instead," Holtzman wrote.

Cover image via BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.