The former defense attorney who rode Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s political coattails to become acting head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is stepping down from the post this week.
According to Fox News, John Sandweg, 38, announced the resignation in a letter to ICE employees on Friday. He gave no reason for the departure from the post he’s held for only six months, but said he will return to the private sector. He will resign Friday, according to the report.
Sandweg’s appointment over the summer to head the nation’s second-largest law enforcement agency – despite having zero law enforcement experience – stirred opposition from conservative lawmakers. Combine the lack of law enforcement with a career spent in criminal defense, they argued, and Sandweg was uniquely unqualified for the post from a professional point of view.
From a political viewpoint, though, Sandweg had been a fundraiser for Napolitano when she was the Democrat governor of Arizona while he was defending accused and convicted violent felons. His appointment was criticized by Republican lawmakers as “blatant politicization” of the immigration system.
Critics included U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, and chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., chairman of the committee’s Oversight Subcommittee.
In a letter to President Obama, McCaul and Duncan wrote that “a litany of concerning allegations has been raised against Mr. Sandweg. Perhaps the most concerning is the clear political partisanship displayed throughout his career.”
“Despite extensive political experience, Mr. Sandweg’s qualifications are critically thin in one area: experience in law enforcement,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Such a critical agency to our homeland security demands a leader with proven experience, significant managerial acumen, and tested judgment. We fear your choice may possess none.”
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