Acting Deputy Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection Ronald D. Vitiello was named the new deputy director and acting director for Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) beginning today, replacing retiring Acting Director Thomas Homan.
In a message to DHS employees today, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she’s “pleased that ICE will continue to be led by an experienced and well-respected career law enforcement officer who will be a strong advocate for the agency’s workforce.”
Vitiello began his career as a Border Patrol agent in Laredo, Texas, in 1985. In 2010, after working in the Operations Division of the former DHS Border and Transportation Security Directorate, he transferred to CBP headquarters to be deputy chief of the Border Patrol.
He was named chief of the Border Patrol in February 2017 and was named acting CBP deputy commissioner later in the year.
Homan, who has filled the role of acting director since January 2017, announced in April his plans to retire this month.
Homan had originally planned to retire with the incoming administration in January 2017 but was convinced to stay on as acting director until a permanent ICE director could be found. He was nominated to permanently fill the role in November but was not confirmed by the Senate.
Nielsen praised the outgoing deputy director as “a part of the DHS community since he entered on duty as a Border Patrol Agent more than 30 years ago.”
“Under his exceptional leadership, the men and women of ICE have made significant progress in restoring the rule of law to our immigration system and countering criminals such as human smugglers and those attempting to exploit children. This past year has seen arrests increase by 40 percent, interior removals increase by 30 percent, and the highest number of MS-13 arrests since 2008. Additionally in 2017, ICE seized approximately 7,000 pounds of heroin and more than 2,300 pounds of fentanyl,” she said.
“Employee morale also rose to its highest level since 2010, due in large part to Acting Director Homan’s passionate leadership,” Nielsen added. “In recognition of his exceptional service, Tom was honored with the 2015 Presidential Rank Award and more recently, with the 2018 Law Enforcement Leader of the Year award from the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. His faithful, professional, and tireless dedication to ICE and our nation has been a model of excellence for us all.”
Nielsen said Vitiello “brings to ICE the vision and leadership needed to continue the exceptional work the agency is doing to accomplish its crucial national security and public safety missions.”
The secretary did not say who would fill Vitiello’s role at CBP.