Trump administration taps criminal prosecutor to run ICE


The Trump administration appointed a criminal prosecutor as the new leader at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement following the departure of its sixth leader under President Trump, the Washington Examiner has learned.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf announced the promotion of acting ICE Principal Legal Adviser Jonathan Fahey in an email to staff Thursday afternoon, though it has yet to be publicly announced.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Fahey as the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Wolf wrote. “As a former criminal prosecutor, Jonathan brings a wealth of experience to the position. … I am confident he will successfully lead the men and women of ICE in their mission to keep Americans safe.”

Fahey was a criminal prosecutor at the federal and state level for nearly two decades prior to moving to ICE. He will take over for exiting Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director Tony Pham, who was promoted to the role in September.

Trump terminated Daniel Ragsdale from his position atop ICE in January 2017, and Tom Homan was nominated director. After a year and a half, Homan retired after going unconfirmed. Ron Vitiello, the second-in-command at fellow DHS agency Customs and Border Protection, was moved to ICE and nominated in June 2018 to run ICE. His nomination was pulled in April 2019, and ICE official Matthew Albence temporarily took over. Former Border Patrol Chief Mark Morgan, who Trump fired in 2017, was hired at ICE in May 2019, but only stayed six weeks until he was moved to head CBP, the agency that oversees Border Patrol.

In July 2019, Albence was promoted again to ICE director. The Washington Examiner first reported in August that he planned to step down in September and that Tony Pham would be promoted in his place. Pham revealed in early December that he would leave at the end of the year.

Historically, officials overseeing an agency or department at the time a new presidential administration takes office are not asked to stay on in that role.

Screenshot: Washington Examiner

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