Matthew Albence is resigning as the acting head of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency as President Trump heads into the 2020 reelection campaign.
“This was an exceptionally hard decision to make, a decision prolonged due to the uncertainty of a global pandemic and the essential role ICE continues to play in our nation’s response,” he said in a July 31 statement. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my country and to help protect it from those who would do it harm.”
Reuters reported that ICE will get a new acting leader:
Kathy Nuebel Kovarik, a Trump appointee at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers the legal immigration system, is expected to move to ICE on Monday. She will take over as the chief of staff, a role that usually involves advising senior leadership.
The news was announced in the Washington Examiner, which also posted comments from an insider who worries Trump will put an enforcement advocate in the job for the next several months:
“There’s concern because we don’t know who’s going to be put in it,” the official said during a phone call. “Matt has been — he’s not only a great guy, he’s been such a defender. He’s not a political appointee. Matt’s a guy who has done the job. Our fear is that they’re going to put a political appointee who’s never done the job and doesn’t know the difficulty we have in enforcing immigration law.”
The Washington Post reported:
Trump, who took office vowing to immediately deport millions of immigrants, made ICE into a central element of his immigration agenda, and Albence welcomed the president’s praises. Behind the scenes, though, he sometimes pushed back on directives from the White House that he viewed as unworkable or unlawful, including a plan he resisted last year seeking to bus migrants to liberal-leaning “sanctuary cities.”
More recently, Albence clashed with Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of DHS, whom he viewed as attempting to interfere politically in his agency, according to DHS officials who described the tensions on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
ICE is increasingly a target of Democrat hatred, partly because it does the tough task of sending foreign people home, amid the televised anti-deportation rhetoric about “divided families,” “Abolish ICE!” or “children in cages,” issued by well-funded, pro-migration activists and business groups.
Albence helped to shield the agency, and its 20,000 agents, from some of the invective. His departure makes ICE more vulnerable to progressive retaliation, especially if Trump loses the November election.
“Over the next month, I will work alongside DHS and ICE leadership to ensure a smooth transition. I am honored and beyond grateful to have served with the most dedicated men and women in law enforcement,” Albence said in his departure statement.
“Every day, against incredible odds, constant politicization, and misperceptions of the incredibly critical and complex mission they perform, ICE employees carry on with professionalism and integrity. I will continue to be an advocate for the important work they do every day.”