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Administrative Updates

February 24, 2009 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Action Directives: Earlier this month, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a series of "Action Directives," where she asked the various offices and agencies to provide a review of existing strategies and programs. The Directives focused on the Department's primary missions. A Directive on Immigration and Border Security focuses on: Criminal and Fugitive Aliens (including a review of the Secure Communities Program, the Institutional Removal Program, Fugitive Operations Teams, the Electronic Travel Document Program and the 287(g) program); Legal Immigration Benefits Backlogs; Southbound Gun Smuggling; National Guard deployment on the Border; Widows and Widowers of U.S. Citizens; Immigration Detention Facilities; and Electronic Employment Verification. Agency staff were to report back to the Secretary on February 20. The reports will be used to determine whether Department resources are being used in the most efficient manner. For more information, read the Secretary's Action Directives on the DHS Web site.

DHS Appointments: On February 23, the Department of Homeland Security issued a Press Release announcing the appointment of John Morton to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Esther Olavarria as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy. Esther Olavarria was for nearly 10 years Senator Edward Kennedy's chief counsel on immigration, and as such has been central to efforts to enact comprehensive immigration reform. John Morton has more than a decade of experience on immigration and criminal matters at the Justice department. Both appointees are veterans of the last round of immigration reform negotiations in the Senate and understand the complexities of the issue.

MPI Reports: The Migration Policy Institute has been examining the immigration functions in the Department of Homeland Security and issuing reports with recommendations for making some changes. The first report, Collateral Damage: An Examination of ICE's Fugitive Operations Program, notes how the program, established to remove fugitive aliens who pose a threat to the community, has instead focused on removing undocumented immigrants with no criminal record. DHS and Immigration: Taking Stock and Correcting Course, issued on February 11, makes recommendations for the three immigration agencies within DHS, as well as for administrative steps that may be taken without the need for legislation to change the overall direction of immigration policy and coordination.

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