8 More Obama Bureaucrats Trump Can Fire or Remove at Homeland Security

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 31: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the beginning
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

One week after President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by curbing the arrival of refugees from several Muslim-majority countries, a senior bureaucrat at the Department of Homeland Security countermanded his presidential directive.

The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of Homeland Security, Lori Scialabba, sent out a February 2 memo directing her employees to continue processing documents for refugees from the countries named by Donald Trump. The memo was leaked to The Intercept website and was made public on Document Cloud.

USCIS Guidance Concerning Executive Order On by Breitbart News on Scribd

According to The Intercept:

LESS THAN ONE week after senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security issued a policy guidance that threatened to bring much of the government’s asylum and refugee work to a grinding halt, a new directive issued to employees appears to reverse key elements of the procedures U.S. immigration officials are expected to follow… According to an internal memo issued Thursday by Lori Scialabba, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the portion of Trump’s controversial ban pertaining to the issuance of visas and other benefits to immigrants from the targeted countries “does not affect USCIS adjudication of applications and petitions filed for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country or nationality.”

The new memo, obtained by The Intercept, stands in direct contradiction to the earlier DHS guidance, which effectively blocked U.S. immigration officials from issuing decisions in any adjustment of status cases for nationals of the banned countries — including applications for permanent residency and naturalization by individuals already in the United States.

Scialabba’s actions spotlight the need for Trump to nominate his top appointees so they can clean house in the many agencies that they were elected to oversee.

Trump nominated General John Kelly as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and he was confirmed January 20, but much of the implementation of the department’s policies is still controlled by holdover bureaucrats, such as Scialabba. Until they are removed, sources say, the Department of Homeland Security will not come close to implementing President Trump’s agenda, even with Kelly at the top of the organization.

“It normally takes a president more than a year to get the lion’s share of his appointees in place, leaving the management of agencies and departments in the hands of career employees who are not in position to make critical and long-term decisions,” Max Steir reported at Bloomberg Views.

Sources tell Breitbart News that the Department of Homeland Security, and in particular U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS], is a hotbed of career open borders ideologues, many of whom intend to directly and indirectly subvert President Trump’s agenda.

“If you go down the list of current management at USCIS, probably 80 percent are open-borders left-wing ideologues,” a source, who has worked at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a decade and supports President Trump’s agenda, tells Breitbart News.

“USCIS probably has the most violent anti-border people in the United States. These are in the management. These do not believe in borders. I know them personally,” the source says.

“I am deeply concerned President Trump will not clean the deepest swamp, USCIS,” the source says:

All the work that is done on “vetting” of aliens is primarily for only two reasons; to keep bad guys out or to find and remove bad guys from the country. While everyone agrees that CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] is the main agency to keep bad guys out, nobody ever notices that USCIS is the agency responsible for denying applications in order to remove avenues of relief for aliens that need to be removed. Billions can be spent on border controls, but if USCIS isn’t on board, every alien that steps foot in the U.S. could find protection to stay. Even if they eventually receive a removal order, USCIS can, by policy, keep them in the U.S. for decades.

Scialabba, who has worked as USCIS deputy director since 2011,  is one of the most effective open borders ideologues at the Department of Homeland Security, the source says.

She “served as acting director of USCIS from December 2013 to July 2014” in the Obama administration, according to her bio on the Department of Homeland Security’s website:

From 2006 to 2011, Scialabba was associate director of USCIS Refugee, Asylum and International Operations. She concurrently served from 2007 to 2009 as a senior advisor to former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff on issues affecting Iraqi refugees…

Her career began in October 1985 with DOJ through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. There, she litigated deportation cases as a trial attorney for INS [the Immigration and Naturalization Service] in Chicago.

As a career civil servant, and not a political appointee, Scialabba is protected by The Pendleton Act, which makes it very difficult to fire career bureaucrats.

However, nothing prevents Secretary Kelly or President Trump from immediately beginning the process of removing her from any position of authority at USCIS.

The case for removing Scialabba from USCIS entirely is particularly compelling.

In her previous position at USCIS, Director of Refugee Asylum and International Operations, “it was common knowledge that her email was directly available to anyone in the Iraqi community who wanted to apply for asylum,” the source adds.

“Iraqis that come into the country on visas were applying for asylum right away. Their cases would be denied because they didn’t qualify, they didn’t meet any of the five grounds for asylum. They didn’t have well founded fear, they weren’t persecuted,” the source notes.

“Any Iraqi that was denied asylum, they would email Scialabba directly. She would email her subordinates at the local offices, and those cases would be re-opened and approved, basically to please her,” the source said.

One attorney in one of the eight cities where local asylum approval officers were located appeared to have a direct line to Sciallabba as well. Iraqi immigrants would flock to that city because that particular lawyer, working through the local USCIS office, had a virtual 100 percent record of securing asylum approvals for Iraqis.

“I don’t know if you could make a case Scialabba had broken any laws, but it certainly was unethical because she was giving advantage to one nationality over all other nationalities,” the source tells Breitbart News.

A 2009 article in The New Yorker confirmed many of the details the source provided to Breitbart News.

George Packer wrote in the March 9, 2009, edition of The New Yorker:

I was going to write a post in praise of an obscure career civil servant who does her job with unusual conscientiousness. Her name is Lori Scialabba, and she is the—we’re dealing with the federal bureaucracy here—associate director of the Refugee, Asylum, and Operations Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as well as serving as the department’s senior adviser on Iraqi refugees. In other words, she’s the person appointed to cut through the red tape that was keeping all but a trickle of Iraqi refugees from reaching these shores.

An Iraqi friend with an enterprising spirit began writing e-mails to Scialabba last May—first on behalf of his own petition for asylum, which seemed to be languishing somewhere in the system, then on behalf of friends waiting in Baghdad to hear about their immigration applications, which also seemed to be languishing, then on behalf of his in-laws in Syria, where they were also languishing. Pretty soon, Scialabba was hearing from Iraqis on a regular basis. And this is why she deserves some sort of medal: far from discouraging the correspondence, she always wrote back quickly. My friend’s first e-mail has a time stamp of 2:26 P.M. Scialabba’s reply came at 4:52 P.M. on the same day. He thanked her at 8:21 P.M., to which she replied at 8:37 A.M. the next morning. One of her e-mails, to an anxious Iraqi-refugee applicant who was languishing in Jordan, was sent at 10:06 P.M. on a Friday evening. To Iraqis who had grown accustomed to a sluggish and indifferent American bureaucracy after growing up with a sinister Iraqi one, Scialabba’s responsiveness must have seemed angelic. And her alacrity was matched by her efficacy: she always got the case moving, and she persisted until it was resolved.

“If Scialabba stays where she is at USCIS, and President Trump appoints a political hack to run the agency, she will continue to lead USCIS down the path of destruction to this country,” the source says.

Scialabba’s actions at USCIS subsequent to the inauguration of President Trump appear to support that view of her stewardship there.

She issued her countermanding memo on February 2, 2017 — one day before Federal District Judge James Robart issued his controversial temporary restraining order halting President Trump’s January 27 executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” nationwide.

In addition to Scialabba, DHS sources cited seven additional career bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security whom President Trump can fire or remove now in order to remove potential obstacles to his agenda:

2. David Grannis, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.

3. Tracy Renaud, Acting Deputy Director, Management Directorate, USCIS, DHS

4. Daniel Renaud, Associate Director, Field Operations Directorate, USCIS, DHS

5. Joanna Ruppel, Acting Associate Director, Refugee, Asylum and International Operations, USCIS, DHS

6. Mark Borkowski, Assistant Commissioner for Technology Innovation and Acquisition, Customs and Border Patrol, DHS

7. Seth M. Stodder, Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy, Office of Policy, Department of Homeland Security

8. Mary E. Giovagnoli, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy, Department of Homeland Security

Here is the case for firing or removing the seven other Obama loyalist holdovers on the top eight list of bureaucrats President Trump can fire or remove at the Department of Homeland Security:

2. David Grannis, Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security.

As a civil servant, Grannis cannot be fired from his job.

A lifelong Democrat, “[p]rior to joining DHS, Mr. Grannis served as the Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) from 2009 through 2014 and as the Minority Staff Director for 2015. During this time, he served as the principal intelligence advisor to SSCI Chairman Dianne Feinstein and SSCI Members and led the Committee’s efforts to produce and enact annual Intelligence Authorization Act from 2010 through 2016 and the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, according to the DHS website.

He has spent his career working for partisan Democratic members of Congress:

He previously served as a staff designee to Senator Feinstein on the SSCI from 2005 until 2009 with a varied portfolio of committee responsibilities. Mr. Grannis worked on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security with responsibilities for intelligence, aviation security, and science and technology from 2003 to 2005 and was Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Jane Harman on matters of national security from 2001 to 2003.

3. Tracy Renaud, Acting Deputy Director, Management Directorate, USCIS

“All the top management of USCIS opposes President Trump’s agenda,” a source at the Department of Homeland Security tells Breitbart News.

“Anything Trump tries to do will be blocked by this current management team,” the source adds.

Renaud, another career civil servant at USCIS, is part of that current management team.

“Renaud has spent more than 32 years working in the area of immigration benefits and services,” according to her bio on the Department of Homeland Security website:

Tracy Renaud became the acting deputy director on Jan. 20, 2017. She previously served as the associate director of the Management Directorate, a position she assumed on Nov. 2, 2014. In that role, she had responsibility for the operations of USCIS’ Office of Administration, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Contracting, Office of Human Capital and Training, Office of Information Technology, Office of Intake and Document Production, and Office of Security and Integrity. Before becoming the associate director, Renaud served as the deputy associate director of the Management Directorate…

In addition, Renaud held the position of deputy associate director of Refugee Asylum and International Operations, where she was responsible for overseas USCIS offices overseas and refugee and asylum programs.

“She began her distinguished career with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1982 at the Vermont Service Center. During her time there, she held a number of positions including supervisory adjudications officer, before transferring to Headquarters in 1999,” according to her official bio.

4. Daniel Renaud, Associate Director, Field Operations Directorate, USCIS

“Daniel M. Renaud has served as a federal immigration professional since 1988,” according to his bio on the Department of Homeland Security website.

Like Tracy Renaud, “[h]is career began with the Legalization program in Vermont.”

There is no publicly available information that discloses the nature of the relationship between Daniel Renaud and Tracy Renaud. Given their same last name, their origin in Vermont, and the parallel nature of their careers, it would appear there is a familial connection of some sort. While there may be no specific regulation that prohibits individuals connected by familial ties from working at the same agency, it is highly unusual for two such individuals who appear to have such ties to be simultaneously in the leadership of such a high-profile government agency.

According to his bio, Renaud has had a lengthy career working for the federal government:

In 1989, he later joined the Vermont Service Center as an adjudicator and was promoted to supervisor in 1996. Renaud was selected as a branch chief in the Headquarters Field Services Operations Division, where he was responsible for providing operational guidance to field offices. In that capacity, he served as operations coordinator on the LIFE Act implementation team and was the project manager for the indirect and direct mail processes. He was also a key player in planning and establishing the National Benefits Center in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and the USCIS/Treasury Lockbox in Chicago, Illinois. He served as the fourth director of the Vermont Service Center from 2008-2013. In March 2013, Renaud became the acting chief of the Immigrant Investor Program (IPO).

“He later transitioned to the role of deputy associate director for the Field Operations Directorate and began serving as the associate director on February 22, 2015,” according to his official bio.

5. Joanna Ruppel, Acting Associate Director, Refugee, Asylum and International Operations, USCIS, DHS

The Refugee, Asylum and International Operations (RAIO) office at USCIS has been well known as a partisan advocate for promoting asylum to unqualified applicants since at least the 2000s when Lori Scialabba headed the office.

“What USCIS has done through policy, not law, is they have made it impossible to deny asylum to people that gut feelings say is a bad guy,” a source in the Department of Homeland Security tells Breitbart News.

Anyone at USCIS who has experience in that office is tainted by that record, and current Acting Associate Director Joanna Ruppel fits into that category.

6.  Mark Borkowski, Assistant Commissioner for Technology Innovation and Acquisition, Customs and Border Patrol, DHS

“I think he is an ideologue. I believe he is opposed to border security because everything he does to do that job fails, and he ignores real solutions,” a source familiar with Borkowski’s eleven-year record at DHS tells Breitbart News.

Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) was highly critical of Borkowski when he testified in May 2016 at a hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security titled “Border Security Gadgets, Gizmos, and Information: Using Technology to Increase Situational Awareness and Operational Control.”

A recent article at the Homeland Security News Wire pondered how many times Borkowski will get to fail:

Once again Mark Borkowski has testified before Congress in recent months, detailing the status of the Arizona Technology Plan, or what he calls the “Plan.” According to Borkowski’s testimony, new border wall surveillance infrastructure and technology are already failing to meet management deadlines; he also acknowledges a highly critical GAO report on the status of his newest border security plan. The Plan is the lynchpin of the Southern Border and Approaches Campaign – previously called the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet). SBInet never worked and fell hopelessly behind schedule, and in 2011 DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano pulled the plug on it.

“Borkowski was there when the Boeing virtual fence failed eleven years ago. They lost $1 billion of the taxpayers money,” the source tells Breitbart News.

“The problem I’ve identified on the border is the total disinterest on the part of Borkowski in measuring the accountability of technology he is funding,” the source adds.

“They’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars putting up these fixed towers in the mountains around Nogales, Arizona. They can’t see anything,” the source notes.

“He’s a loyal American,” the source says, but adds that he’s just not effective at controlling the border.

“Assistant Commissioner Mark S. Borkowski leads the new Office of Acquisition, created within CBP in June, 2016,” according to his bio at the Department of Homeland Security website:

Previously Borkowski was the assistant commissioner of the Office of Technology Innovation and Acquisition starting in July 2010. As such, Borkowski was responsible for ensuring that CBP’s technology efforts are properly coordinated and focused on meeting CBP’s complex border mission.

Prior to this appointment, Borkowski served as CBP’s executive director of the Secure Border Initiative, where he oversaw the implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to develop enhanced situational awareness for frontline CBP personnel along the U.S. borders…

Borkowski served more than 23 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, retiring in 2004 at the rank of colonel. His last assignment in the Air Force was as system program director for the Space Based Infrared Systems program office. In that capacity, he oversaw satellite programs worth more than $40 billion.

7. Seth M. Stodder, Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy, Office of Policy, Department of Homeland Security

An Obama political appointee, Stodder can be fired now by President Trump.

“Seth Stodder was appointed by President Obama to serve as Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Border, Immigration & Trade Policy in March 2016,” according to his bio at the Department of Homeland Security.

Stodder also has ties to the George W. Bush administration, according to his bio:

This is Assistant Secretary Stodder’s second tour of duty at DHS. Earlier in his career, Assistant Secretary Stodder served in the Bush Administration as Director of Policy and Planning for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In that role, he helped lead the development of U.S. border policy in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, and the creation of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), the Container Security Initiative (CSI), and the National Targeting Center (NTC), among a variety of other initiatives focused not only on securing the borders of the United States, but also on facilitating the secure flow of lawful travel and trade.

8. Mary E. Giovagnoli, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy, Department of Homeland Security

Giovagnoli reports directly to Assistant Secretary Stodder.

Giovagnoli represented the Department of Homeland Security at a June 2016 symposium of the American Association for the Advancement of Science that used “the Syrian [refugee] Crisis as a case study.”

“Prior to joining DHS in 2015, Mary served as the Director of Policy for the American Immigration Council, managing its Immigration Policy Center, and contributing to the legislative and academic debate on immigration reform from 2009 to 2015,” her bio from that event states.

“In 2005, Mary became the senior advisor to the Director of Congressional Relations at USCIS. She was also awarded a Congressional Fellowship from USCIS to serve for a year in Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office where she worked on comprehensive immigration reform and refugee issues,” her bio adds:

This list of eight Obama holdover bureaucrats merely scratches the surface of bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security who are problematic for the new Trump administration.

President Trump was elected on a promise to drain the swamp in Washington D.C. The swamp at the Department of Homeland Security is much larger than anyone had imagined. Now that he’s been in office for a little over one month, President Trump has a lot of work to do if he wants to accomplish his goal of draining the swamp.

 (Note: Breitbart News embedded that February 2, 2017 internal memo signed by Scialabba within this article prior to its temporary removal from Document Cloud. Late on February 22, the document was restored to Document Cloud. The current status of that Document Cloud document can be seen by clicking here. Breitbart News retained screen shots of the internal memo prior to its initial removal.)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.