McAleenan Swears in New HSAC Members, Announces Tasking to Secure Houses of Worship

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan met with the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) on May 21 to discuss a range of homeland security issues and his priorities for the Department.

During the public session, Acting Secretary McAleenan announced a new HSAC tasking that is focused on the security and resiliency of houses of worship and faith-based organizations across the country.

“The right to practice our respective religions free from interference or fear is one of our nation’s most fundamental and indelible rights. That is why I have tasked HSAC with evaluating how DHS can work with houses of worship and faith-based groups to prevent and ensure protection from acts of violence. Worshiping free from fear is a basic and essential right we must defend and I look forward to receiving the committee’s critical feedback,” Acting Secretary McAleenan said.

The Acting Secretary also swore in two new members to the HSAC, Robert Bonner and Leon Fresco.

Robert Bonner is a retired partner of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, an international law firm, and formerly the senior principal of the Sentinel HS Group, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based homeland security consulting firm that provides strategic advice regarding homeland and border security issues. He is currently the principal of Bonner ADR Services. Mr. Bonner has held several positions in the federal government. In September 2001, Mr. Bonner was appointed Commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service and served until 2006 as the first Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Mr. Bonner is also a former Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. District Judge and United States Attorney for the Central District of California. He was the chair of the California Commission on Judicial Performance and currently serves on the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology. Mr. Bonner received a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1963 and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center 1966.

Leon Fresco is an immigration attorney in Holland & Knight’s Washington, D.C., office where he focuses his practice on providing global immigration representation to businesses and individuals. He also represents clients in administrative law and government relations matters and has extensive appellate, commercial litigation, and legislation experience.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Fresco was the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Immigration Litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Division. In this position, Mr. Fresco provided litigation risk assessments to cabinet members in Executive Branch agencies. He also oversaw all civil immigration litigation on behalf of the federal government, including representation of the DOJ, DHS, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of State (DOS). This involved supervision of more than 350 attorneys working on nearly 10,000 cases per year. He also advised and assisted client agencies in drafting immigration regulations.

Prior to joining the DOJ, Mr. Fresco was the staff director for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, handling matters involving immigration, refugees and border security, including managing the subcommittee’s oversight functions involving the DOJ, DHS, HHS, DOL and DOS. He was the principal advisor to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), former chairman of the subcommittee, on all aspects of immigration law and policy. During his time on the subcommittee, Mr. Fresco drafted several pieces of legislation, including: 1) the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act; 2) the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act; 3) the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act; and 4) the Israel E-2 Visa Bill. Mr. Fresco received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 2003.

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