Obama Nominates Sarah Saldana to Take Over ICE

On August 27, 2014, President Obama nominated Sarah Saldaña to serve as the new director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is the chief investigative and enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). She currently serves as the U.S. Attorney in the northern district of Texas.

Saldaña has made a name for herself as a federal prosecutor by going after public officials for corruption, including the recent indictment of a Dallas County Commissioner. [See Obama Taps Sarah Saldaña to Head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, by Bill Hethcock, Dallas Business Journal, 28.Aug.2014.] She also has experience investigating and prosecuting crimes such as bank and mortgage fraud and human trafficking. The Hispanic National Bar Association named Saldaña the Latina Attorney of the Year for 2011.

If Saldaña is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she will become the first Latina to head ICE. While such “firsts” are typically noteworthy, in this instance, Saldaña’s heritage may be especially significant. There are longstanding tensions between the agency and the Latino community in this country, as many Hispanic Americans are critical of how ICE conducts certain enforcement measures, and how these actions disproportionately impact Latinos. Saldaña’s ethnic background may put her in a better position to help improve relations between this community and ICE.

Saldaña garnered bipartisan support in 2011 when the Senate confirmed her for her current position, so there is hope that she will not face stiff opposition during the upcoming confirmation hearings for her to become the new head of ICE. However, given the deep partisan divide, coupled with the looming elections this coming November, it remains to be seen how the Senate will greet this nomination.

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