The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement will be leaving the agency by Labor Day, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed today.
The Washington Examiner reported Thursday night that Matthew Albence told senior ICE officials in an evening phone call that he would be retiring.
“After more than 25 years as a federal law enforcement officer, I am announcing my retirement from federal service,” Albence said in a statement today. “This was an exceptionally hard decision to make, a decision prolonged due to the uncertainty of a global pandemic and the essential role ICE continues to play in our nation’s response.”
“It has been my distinct honor and privilege to represent the outstanding professionals of ICE, who perform some of the most critical work in furtherance of our country’s national security and public safety,” he said. “I will continue to be an advocate for the agency’s people and its mission.”
Albence took over at ICE in June 2019 after Acting ICE Director Mark Morgan stepped into the acting commissioner role at Customs and Border Protection following the resignation of Acting Commissioner John Sanders.
Albence had been performing the duties of the agency’s deputy director since August 2018 and was briefly acting director after President Trump withdrew the nomination of Ron Vitiello on the grounds that he wanted “to go in a tougher direction” than the veteran CBP official and acting ICE director.
In 2017, Albence served as the agency’s executive associate director for Enforcement and Removal Operations and was also the assistant director for the ERO Enforcement Division. He began his career in 1994 as a special agent with the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and subsequently held roles as supervisory special agent in San Antonio, deputy assistant district director for investigations in Chicago, associate special agent in charge in Chicago, deputy special agent in charge in Detroit, unit chief for the ICE Office of Investigations Training Academy, TSA deputy special agent in charge of the South Central Regional Field Office and deputy assistant director for the ERO Criminal Alien Division.
“I want to thank Matt for his 25 years of dedicated service to the United States Government and this country,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said today. “As the senior law enforcement official for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he successfully led ICE to record-breaking criminal arrests and seizures in furtherance of ICE’s critical national security and public safety missions, and helped restore integrity to this country’s immigration system. He has been a tireless advocate for the more than 21,000 dedicated professionals of ICE and a critical member of the DHS leadership team.”
“I personally want to thank him for his integrity and steadfast commitment – a legacy he will leave behind with the men and women who perform admirably under the most dangerous and complex of circumstances every day,” Wolf added.
One official told the Examiner that they feared someone without Albence’s extensive agency experience would be named to the acting role: “Our fear is that they’re going to put a political appointee who’s never done the job and doesn’t know the difficulty we have in enforcing immigration law.”