US ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief to retire


Matt Albence - U.S. Customs and Border Protection Provide Testimony at MS13 Hearing 21 June 2017

US Customs and Border Protection / US Government

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Comments by Sanwar Ali:

Matthew Albence, despite being an immigration hardliner, did not always follow the Trump line.  Recently Trump officials had criticised Albence for being too concerned over the welfare of immigrants, which it was claimed had interfered with enforcement action!  In fact there are concerns at ICE that he will be replaced with a political appointee at the end of August.  Whether or not the replacement at the end of August will be a political appointee most people who work for Trump at a senior level eventually fall out with him.  If Biden becomes President after the elections in November 2020, will there be yet another new director of ICE?

Lets not forget that actually more people were deported under “Deporter in Chief” Obama than under Trump.   Perhaps Democrat Presidents can get away with being tougher on immigration.  It seems that Trump has caused so much controversy over his immigration policies, that if Biden is the President he will have no choice but to be more liberal on immigration than both Trump and Obama.

After just a year in the role, acting director for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Matt Albence, is stepping down. Albence will leave the agency at the end of August, with seemingly no replacement lined up for the departing acting chief. Albence, a long serving law enforcement official, has served as the acting head of ICE and in other senior positions.

Announcing his departure, Albence said: “This was an exceptionally hard decision to make, a decision prolonged due to the uncertainty of a global pandemic and the essential role ICE continues to play in our nation’s response. Over the next month, I will work alongside DHS and ICE leadership to ensure a smooth transition.”

Chad Wolf head of DHS claims ICE successfully led

The acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, praised Albence’s service to ICE, saying “Matt successfully led ICE to record-breaking criminal arrests and seizures in furtherance of ICE’s critical national security and public safety missions, and helped restore integrity to this country’s immigration system.”

Albence’s latest stint as acting chief of ICE came following Mark Morgan’s move to ICE’s sister agency, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in the summer of 2019.

The long-time law enforcement official also assumed the role following the forced resignation of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and the surprise withdrawal of Ron Vitello’s nomination for the role.

Albence’s appointment as acting chief of ICE put him front and center of Donald Trump’s key campaign issue and left him in the hotseat justifying the actions of an agency that has been the target of heavy criticism for its role in US immigration enforcement.

International F1 visa students previously threatened with deportation

ICE was recently blasted for threatening to deport international students whose courses moved online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The policy was quickly withdrawn after a series of lawsuits were filed by US universities, including Harvard and MIT.

Albence has worked in federal immigration enforcement for more than 25 years, starting out as a special agent for the former US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Prior to serving as acting chief of ICE, he led the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations department, which is tasked with targeting, arresting and deporting undocumented migrants.

Before his latest stint in the role, he had to step in back in April 2019, when the man touted for the role, Ron Vitello, had his nomination mysteriously withdrawn by Trump. At the time, the US President said: “The administration intends to go in a little different direction. Ron’s a good man but we’re going in a tougher direction.”

Albence a US immigration hardliner

Albence has backed many of Trump’s hardline approaches to key US immigration issues.

In 2018, the retiring ICE chief hit the headlines in his role as head of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations when he said: “Family detention centers are more like a summer camp than a jail,” during a congressional hearing on the Trump administration’s  efforts to reunite families who had been split by Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy.

In September 2018, Albence backtracked on his comments about detention centers and refused to answer a question asking whether he’d send his own children to a detention facility.

At the time, he said: “The point is, the parent made the illegal entry. The parent put themselves in this position.”

Albence was against US sanctuary cities

Albence is also strongly opposed to so-called, US sanctuary cities, a term used to describe cities that do not cooperate or get involved with federal immigration enforcement.

However, Albence didn’t agree with every controversial US immigration policy pushed by Trump.

During a hearing in 2019, Albence seemingly distanced himself from a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decision to scrap a policy allowing undocumented migrants with serious medical problems to remain in the US and receive care. USCIS has since reinstated this policy.

In the hearing, Albence insisted that ICE had played no part in ending the policy, telling the House panel that he had been ‘blindsided by the move.’ As part of his testimony, he claimed that there had been discussions over the policy, but the final decision came from USCIS.

At the time, the departing acting ICE chief said: “To continue to suggest that ICE had some role in this process is not only inaccurate, as confirmed by the information already provided to this committee, but also irresponsible.” can help with US employment-based visas

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