Controversial ICE chief retiring, replacement named
(CNN) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement chief Tom Homan is serving his last day Friday as the controversial face of the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration retires.
Homan’s final day was confirmed by spokeswoman Liz Johnson.
The polarizing face of the administration’s immigration enforcement, and a favorite of President Donald Trump himself, Homan had announced in April he would be taking his long-delayed retirement this month.
Homan has told the story of receiving the request to stay on as chief of ICE under Trump while celebrating at his going away party — a retirement that was deferred for a year and a half.
On Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced that acting CBP Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello would take over as acting director of ICE in Homan’s stead.
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,” Nielsen said in a statement.
“I am 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,” she added.
A source familiar with the situation had told CNN that Vitiello was expected to be named acting director of ICE as soon as Friday.
Vitiello has been a familiar face for the media as well, often speaking with reporters about the President’s border wall project.
Homan had been able to serve temporarily in the role since the beginning of the Trump administration, despite never being confirmed by the Senate, because he had already been the deputy in line for the job. But since Vitiello comes from a different agency, it’s likely that federal law would prevent him from serving in the role in an acting capacity while also nominated to the Senate for the permanent position.
Homan was nominated for the position in November, but his nomination was withdrawn in May, never having a confirmation hearing.
Nielsen said that 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.”
Any nomination in the Senate would likely by highly contentious, as ICE has been the main focus of criticism regarding the President’s aggressive immigration agenda.