Trump has vented privately that Nielsen hasn't adequately secured the border or enacted stricter immigration rules, even as she became the face of policies that administration critics called heartless and illegal. When Kelly moved to the White House as Trump's chief of staff in July 2017, Nielsen went with him as his deputy.
But at the agency that oversees border protection and immigration matters - Trump's signature issue - it was inevitable Nielsen would find herself within the President's crosshairs. Nielsen was seen as Kelly's protegee.
Trump and Nielsen have battled behind the scenes over the administration's immigration policy and efforts to build a wall on the southern border.
The decision to name an immigration officer to the post reflects Mr Trump's priority for a sprawling department founded to combat terrorism following the September 11 attacks. Nielsen faced more public pressure after the Trump administration enacted a policy of family separation that resulted in thousands of migrant children being separated from their parents, which the president ultimately reversed.
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Nielsen's relationship with Trump has always been said to be hard. The Wall Street Journal reported in November that Trump had made a decision to replace Nielsen.
On Friday, US media reported that Trump also pulled his nominee to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement department - saying he wanted someone "tougher" to lead the department - a sub-agency of Nielsen's. But we're going in a tougher direction.
Trump insists that the arrival of immigrants across the southern US border constitutes a national emergency so important that he sidestepped Congress' refusal to provide him with several billion dollars he requested to build the border wall.
The meeting was taking place amid an ongoing influx of migrants at the U.S. -Mexico border that has been taxing America's immigration system and sparking frustration within the White House.
The Washington Post's Robert Costa tweeted that Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli were the frontrunners to the permanent nomination.
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