Border Protection Commissioner resigns

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin announced his resignation effective Dec. 30, and Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar has been named acting commissioner.

President Barack Obama nominated Bersin to head the border patrol and customs agency in September 2009 and appointed him commissioner in March 2010 during a Senate recess. He was one of 15 recess appointments that year.

However, the Senate to date has not acted on Bersin’s nomination, which is due to expire on Jan. 1. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, criticized the Senate’s lack of action.

“It is a sad testament to our broken nomination process that Mr. Bersin was never reported out by the Finance Committee and given the opportunity to have his nomination voted on by the Senate,” Lieberman said in the Dec. 22 statement, according to The Hill blog. “I urge the President to move quickly to identify his successor in order to ensure that CBP has the leadership it needs to keep our nation’s borders secure.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano praised Bersin for “historic steps to secure our borders while facilitating legal travel and trade.”

Napolitano named Thomas Winkowski, assistant commissioner for the Office of Field Operations, as acting deputy commissioner.

Bersin previously served as California's secretary of education from July 2005 to December 2006 under GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and served on the state’s Board of Education until 2009. He previously was superintendent of San Diego’s schools from 1998 to 2005.

Bersin also was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California for five years.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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