Immigration officials will soon be answering to a new boss. John Morton, the director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday that he will be stepping down from his current position at the end of July. ICE is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security that deals with enforcing immigration laws, mostly known for deporting undocumented immigrants. Morton’s announcement coincides with the heated and emotional Immigration debate going on in the Senate.
John Morton was born in Scotland and raised in Loudon County, Virginia. Before becoming the director of ICE, Morton spent fifteen years working in the Justice Department as an assistant U.S. attorney, counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division.
Morton has led ICE since he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate in May, 2009. During his tenure, ICE boasted a record high number of deportations. Morton claimed to focus on deporting criminal aliens; however, the majority of the deported immigrants were not criminals. Also during Morton’s time in office, ICE enacted the controversial Secure Communities program, a federal deportation program that uses local police to identify and detain removable immigrants. The program has grown nationwide.
Morton drew criticism from those who argued that the actions of ICE were not in line with what they claimed to be doing, as well as ICE employees themselves. Earlier this year, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council unanimously called for Morton’s resignation, claiming that he undermined their mission.
Many immigration advocates are welcoming Morton’s departure, but now we are wondering: Who will take over the position?
Whoever the new boss will be, this could be seen as a sign that major changes are indeed coming to the Immigration system. As for John Morton, he will be taking a private sector job as Senior Vice President and Head of Compliance of Capital One Bank in August.
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Click here to read more about Morton’s resignation from ICE.