Top Department of Homeland Security lawyer fired amid immigration lawsuits

Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
Top Department of Homeland Security lawyer fired amid immigration lawsuits

General counsel to the Department of Homeland Security John Mitnick has been fired, according to media reports.

The move comes as DHS is contending with multiple lawsuits in response to immigration policies.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the move on Tuesday, the White House made the call to fire Mitnick.

"We thank John for this service, and we wish him well,” a DHS spokesperson said in a statement to USA TODAY.

The DHS spokesperson said that DHS Principal Deputy Joseph Maher will take over for Mitnick. The spokesperson did not provide a reason for Mitnick's departure.

The agency has overseen Trump administration immigration policies such as zero tolerance and the public charge rule, which would bar from entry immigrants who are deemed likely to become recipients of public aid services.

Several states including California, Maine and Pennsylvania have filed suit against the department and other immigration agencies over the public charge rule.

The administration recently announced that it would seek to hold migrant children indefinitely in detention with their families, thus ending a 1997 ruling that limits the amount of time children can be held to 20 days. 

Mitnick was nominated by President Donald Trump for the position in August 2017 and confirmed by the Senate early 2018.

The department has seen multiple staff changes over the last several months, including former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who resigned in April amid tension with the administration, and former DHS aide Andrew Meehan.

Mitnick, too, was reportedly being eyed by the White House for dismissal back in April.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DHS lawyer John Mitnick fired as agency faces immigration suits