by Kate Kalmykov
Two leadership changes have taken place at DHS and USCIS this month. Earlier this month, the Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as the new Secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Johnson has served as General Counsel to the branches of the military and other government agencies during two different presidential terms. In 1998, President Bill Clinton appointed him to serve as General Counsel of the Air Force. In 2001, Mr. Johnson returned to private practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, until he was appointed by President Obama to serve as Department of Defense General Counsel. Mr. Johnson played a key role in a number of the Obama Administration’s policy initiatives. He helped to develop the U.S. military’s current counterterrorism policies and he served as co-chair on a study which examined the impact of the potential repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On his recent confirmation as the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Mr. Johnson said, “I hope to be a visible leader [and] remind people of the importance of the overriding, unifying mission of homeland security.”
In addition, USCIS will see a change in leadership with (now former) Director Alejandro Mayorkas being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Assuming the vacant USCIS Directorship will be Leon Rodriguez, who has served as Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services since October 2011.Mr. Rodriguez has had extensive experience working as an attorney in the public sector. In the early ‘90s he served as a trial attorney in the Criminal Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, and he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh from 1997 to 2001. After a stint in private practice from May 2001 to May 2007, Mr. Rodriguez served as the County Attorney for Montgomery County, Md. He returned to DOJ in January 2010 as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, before heading up the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Earlier this month, we reported that the USCIS also appointed a new head of the EB-5 Program Office- Nicholas Colucci who transfers to the Immigration Service from FINCEN. FINCEN is an agency under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Treasury and is tasked with investigating financial crimes and leading the fight against money laundering.