Immigration Politics?: ICE Head Julie Myers Resigns Day After Election
Less than twelve hours after the results of this weeks’ election were announced, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Wednesday that Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is leaving the agency by November 15.
Myers, who has led the agency since 2006, was the controversial face of the Bush administration’s enforcement-focused immigration policy. As Feet In 2 Worlds has reported, recent large-scale ICE raids have been deeply unpopular, particularly among Latino voters and voters from other immigrant groups, and served to further tarnish the Republican brand. Post election analysis shows that Latinos gave Obama the winning edge in six states, helping to propel him into the White House and adding to Democratic majorities in Congress.
During Myers’ tenure, the agency doubled the number of undocumented immigrants swept up into deportation proceedings to reach a new record of 274,000 sent back to their home countries in 2006. The agency also saw its budget grow exponentially — and used it mostly for enforcement tactics including large-scale immigration raids that largely targeted undocumented workers rather than their employers.
Myers leaves amid speculation that she was the source of the leak to The Associated Press about the status of Obama’s undocumented Kenyan aunt only a few days before the general election. According to Rolling Stone’s Tim Wilkinson, Myers’ precipitous departure the day after the election and less than a week after the information on Obama’s aunt was leaked is likely no coincidence.
Earlier this week, Feet in 2 Worlds reported on how the immigration story of Obama’s family –including his aunt, who continues to live in Boston after her asylum claim was denied last year– reflects the situation of many mixed-status families in the U.S. The news was notable for its timing –the story broke the Friday before the election–as well as for the privileged information it disclosed.