New Picks for DHS Raise Hopes for Immigration Reform
President Obama announced today that he plans to nominate John Morton — a longtime Justice Department official and current acting deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division — to be assistant secretary of homeland security for immigration and customs enforcement (ICE). Esther Olavarria, a Senior Fellow and Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, is his pick for deputy assistant secretary of homeland security for policy.
Olavarria, in particular, signals a major change for DHS.
Not only does she come from the progressive CAP, but she spent almost ten years as counsel to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees — where she worked on immigration proposals that included comprehensive immigration reform. Olavarria started her career as an immigrants’ advocate when she was a managing attorney of the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center; directing attorney of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Pro Bono Project; and staff attorney at the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami.
Here’s what the National Immigration Forum had to say about today’s choices:
Esther Olavarria is deeply committed to the goal of crafting immigration policies that are both enforceable and enforced. No person is better suited to help the Secretary and the President understand what ails our current immigration mess and what needs to be done to restore legality, transparency, and fairness to our immigration system.