A New Immigration Policy Maker — John Sandweg, Acting Head of ICE

By David North, August 13, 2013

John Sandweg, 38, an Arizona lawyer and Napolitano insider, was recently named acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, following the resignation of John Morton whose extensive use of prosecutorial discretion led to heavy criticism.

Sandweg's record would suggest that he will not seek to turn around the Morton legacy at the unit that handles interior enforcement of the immigration law and the department's detention operations.

Sandweg also joins a growing list of "actings" in the front offices of Department of Homeland Security. The secretary is scheduled to leave next month and no one has been nominated to replace her; there is no confirmed deputy secretary (although there is an acting one); and the head of Customs and Border Protection (which includes both the Border Patrol and the ports of entry) is the deputy commissioner acting as the commissioner. The inspector-general is an acting, as are a batch of assistant secretaries.

This may, a month from now, leave Alejandro Mayorkas, head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as the only major immigration decision-maker in the department without an "acting" in his title. He, in turn, has been nominated by the president to be the DHS deputy secretary, and is facing a rough confirmation process, as we have previously reported.

Sandweg has moved from one acting position to another; until recently he was the acting general counsel of the department, in effect managing a huge law firm inside the agency.

Sandweg got his law degree from Arizona State University in 2002 and between then and 2009 he practiced law with a Phoenix firm and engaged in local Democratic politics. After Napolitano (then governor of the state) became DHS Secretary, he joined the department as chief of staff to the department's general counsel (an entry level position for a political appointee) and then became a senior counselor to the secretary.

His (I must say loving) biography in the ASU Law School's newsletter indicates that he has been "[S]erving as a lead advisor for important programs like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals", the administration's on-going amnesty program for illegals who arrived prior to their 16th birthday.

Sandweg, presumably, would not have told his alumni publication of his DACA connection were he not proud of it.