Ronald Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will leave his post on Friday, the agency confirmed to HuffPost on Wednesday.
Vitiello, a former Border Patrol official, has been leading the immigration agency since June.
He praised ICE in a farewell email to employees viewed by Politico.
“The critical work we do is essential to the safety and security of the nation, and none do it with greater pride and determination than the men and women of ICE,“ he reportedly wrote.
President Donald Trump said last week he was pulling Vitiello’s nomination to head the agency on a permanent basis, saying he wanted to go in a “tougher direction.”
“We’re going in a little different direction. Ron’s a good man but we’re going in a tougher direction,” the president told reporters on Friday at the White House.
Vitiello’s impending departure from ICE comes amid a major shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security, including the departure of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Acting deputy secretary Claire Grady and Secret Service director Tex Alles are also leaving their posts.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is believed to be orchestrating the changes to the country’s immigration leadership, The Associated Press reported.
L. Francis Cissna, head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John M. Mitnick, Homeland Security general counsel, are also expected to be pushed out of their positions, three officials familiar with the matter told AP.
In addition to changes in leadership, Trump is reportedly also considering reinstating the controversial practice of separating migrant families at the border. The president denied reports Tuesday that he would reinstate the practice.
In a message to DHS employees on Wednesday, Nielsen praised Vitiello’s work on immigration enforcement.
“For over three decades, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Ronald Vitiello has protected our homeland with courage and conviction,” she wrote.