The top lawyer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has resigned weeks before President Obama is expected to issue a major executive amnesty.
Peter S. Vincent, ICE’s principal legal advisor, resigned, telling colleagues in an email Tuesday afternoon “I have decided that the time is right for me to make a change and to move on to other opportunities and challenges.”
There is no evidence Vincent’s departure is related to potential executive actions by the president, although the timing is conspicuous.
Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE, said “Any insinuation that his departure is a reflection on ICE efforts to focus resources through prosecutorial discretion, or any possible administrative action related to immigration reform is inaccurate and a discredit to the tireless work he has performed for the agency over the past six years.”
In his farewell email to colleagues, Vincent did not provide any specific reason for his departure, nor any information about his plans after leaving the agency.
Christensen said Vincent’s “true passion lies in legal and international affairs and that is what he is planning to pursue in the next phase of his career.”
In addition to his title as “principal legal advisor,” Vincent also carried the title “senior counselor for international policy.”
Vincent was a key player in the implementation of President Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival” program issued in 2012, for instance issuing 2011 guidance to ICE lawyers about the program.
In the email, Vincent recounted how ICE’s work is often controversial.
“As I have often said, much of what we do at ICE to protect the homeland is, for better or worse, guaranteed to upset exactly 50 percent of the public, 100 percent of the time. You, more than any other group of dedicated professionals and committed public servants, are best suited and ideally situated to handle the incredibly delicate balance of protecting the homeland while, at the same time, remaining sensitive to compelling humanitarian concerns,” he said.
“Mr. Vincent has been a proud and valued member of ICE’s leadership team and his contributions will be greatly missed by the agency,” Christensen said.