Defiant in the face of an international backlash, President Donald Trump pressed into his second week in office defending his sweeping immigration ban — and then fired and replaced a Cabinet head who refused to enforce it.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates earlier Monday ordered Justice Department lawyers to stop defending the executive order, which temporarily suspends the U.S. refugee program and bars all immigration for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days. By Monday night, she was out.
“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” the White House press secretary’s office said in a statement.
Trump named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve in Yates’s place until Sen. Jeff Sessions, his permanent pick for the position, is confirmed by the Senate. According to White House spokesman Michael Short, Boente was sworn in at around 9 p.m. Monday. Reporters and news photographers were not invited to witness the ceremony.
The Yates decision came as Trump pressed into his second week in office defending his sweeping immigration ban. Protests persisted at major airports, and concern mounted from U.S. diplomats and members of his own party.
The immigration ban has dominated Trump’s second weekend in the White House — and officials were pondering more actions moving forward.
According to a draft document obtained by The Associated Press, Trump is considering an executive order that would target some immigrants for deportation if they become dependent on government assistance.
The draft order calls for the identification and removal “as expeditiously as possible” of any foreigner who takes certain kinds of public welfare benefits. Such immigrants have been barred from the U.S. for the better part of a century and they can already be deported. The proposed order appears to signal a Trump administration effort to crack down on such welfare cases.
Another draft order under consideration would make changes to several of the government’s foreign worker visa programs. The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comments on the draft orders.