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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Biden Unveils Picks to Lead CBP and USCIS, Along with a No. 2 for DHS

President Biden picked a police chief from a border state to run U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with the former director of DHS Watch to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the latest round of nominees released today by the White House.

Biden also selected a No. 2 at DHS: John Tien, who served as the National Security Council senior director for Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2009-2011, was announced as the nominee for deputy secretary.

Tien, who retired from the Army as a colonel in 2011, has been a Citigroup managing director since then. He also served as a National Security Council director for Iraq in the Bush administration, and as a White House Fellow in the Office of the United States Trade Representative during the Clinton administration.

CBP has not had a Senate-confirmed commissioner since 2019, when CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan assumed the duties of acting Homeland Security secretary and then resigned that fall. John Sanders only served in the acting commissioner role for fewer than three months before Mark Morgan was moved into the acting commissioner post and served in that capacity until the end of the Trump administration. Troy Miller, who served as director of field operations for CBP’s New York Field Office, has been serving as acting commissioner in the Biden administration.

Police Chief Chris Magnus of Tucson, Ariz., was selected to lead CBP. Magnus has previously served as a chief of police in Fargo, N.D., and Richmond, Calif. “In each of these cities Magnus developed a reputation as a progressive police leader who focused on relationship-building between the police and community, implementing evidence-based best practices, promoting reform, and insisting on police accountability,” the White House said, adding that “because of Tucson’s proximity to the border, he has extensive experience in addressing immigration issues.”

In a 2019 op-ed, Magnus argued against a sanctuary city ballot initiative, writing that his department has “one of the most rational, compassionate and comprehensive approaches to interacting with undocumented persons among states with similar laws” and that clamping down on relationships with federal law enforcement would “make our entire community, including our undocumented residents, far less safe.” Previously, he criticized the Trump administration’s campaign against cities it deemed to be sanctuary jurisdictions.

Biden picked Ur Jaddou, who led the Biden transition team reviewing DHS, to lead USCIS. She was most recently director of DHS Watch, a project of America’s Voice, and is an adjunct professor of law at American University, Washington College of Law and counsel at Potomac Law Group, PLLC.

Jaddou served as chief counsel for USCIS from June 2014 to January 2017. She served as counsel to Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) from 2002-2007 and as chief counsel to the House Immigration Subcommittee chaired by Lofgren  from 2007-2011. Jaddou served as the deputy assistant secretary for regional, global and functional affairs in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the State Department from 2012-2014.

The White House noted that California-born Jaddou is a daughter of immigrants – a mother from Mexico and a father from Iraq.

Jen Easterly is Biden’s nominee to lead the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has been without a director since former President Trump fired Director Chris Krebs in November for asserting that the presidential election was not fraudulent.

Easterly is a managing director at Morgan Stanley, serving as global head of the firm’s Fusion Resilience Center, and a senior fellow at New America’s International Security program. After her NSA role from 2011-2013, she served on the National Security Council as special assistant to the president and senior director for counterterrorism.

Easterly served more than 20 years in the Army and was responsible for standing up the Army’s first cyber battalion. She was also instrumental in the creation of U.S. Cyber Command, and served as executive assistant to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice for a time.

Jonathan Meyer, a partner at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP, was nominated to serve as DHS general counsel. He previously served as DHS deputy general counsel and senior counselor, and before that was deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, special deputy general counsel at Amtrak, and Biden’s counsel when the then-senator was on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Biden has also chosen Rob Silvers, former assistant secretary for cyber policy at DHS, to serve as DHS undersecretary for policy, an office formerly led by onetime Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf.

Silvers is a partner in the litigation department at Paul Hastings, where he serves as vice-chair of the firm’s Data Privacy and Cybersecurity practice, co-chair of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) practice, and a member of the Investigations and White Collar Defense practice.

During his DHS service, Silvers was the most senior official for cybersecurity policy and was responsible for cyber defense engagement with the private sector. He also served as DHS deputy chief of staff from 2014-2016, senior counselor to the deputy secretary from 2013-2014, and senior counselor to the director at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2011-2013.

“I am excited that President Biden has nominated an extraordinary group of individuals for critical leadership positions in the Department of Homeland Security,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. “They are highly regarded and accomplished professionals with deep experience in their respective fields. Together they will help advance the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to ensure the safety and security of the American people. I look forward to working with the Senate in support of their swift confirmation.”


Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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