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Senate confirms U.S. Attorney Saldana as Asst Secretary of ICE over Republican objections

Sarah Saldana

In comments made following the confirmation of former U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldana of the Northern District of Texas as Assistant Secretary of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), DHS Secretary Jay Johnson described Saldana as “an experienced federal prosecutor and public servant” who is “committed to supporting those that enforce our laws, protect the homeland and promote public safety.”

“As I’ve said before,” said Johnson, “good leadership starts with adding other good leaders to our team. Filling vacancies across the Department of Homeland Security has been a key priority of mine. Since my own confirmation a year ago this month, there have been eleven Senate-confirmed presidential appointments to senior-level positions within this Department. I urge the Senate to confirm the final pending nominee, Russell Deyo for Under Secretary of Management, as quickly as possible.”

President Obama released a similar statement indicating, “Sarah is the right person to lead the dedicated men and women at ICE in securing our borders, keeping American communities safe and upholding our values.”

But Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who had previously lavished praise on Saldana, describing her as “a person of conviction,” took a quite different position after he learned that she had defended President Obama’s actions to protect millions of people from deportation, saying “I will not aid and abet a president that is dead-sent on defying the nation’s immigration laws.”

According to many observers of the Senate vote, the initiative of Texas Senator Ted Cruz in using a parliamentary maneuver to force a vote on the constitutionality of funding the President’s immigration policies enabled the Democrats who supported the appointment of Saldana to keep the Senate in session over the weekend and, with the assistance of some who had lost their seats in the mid-term elections, to confirm more of the President’s nominees before they left office in January.

“Ms. Saldana has publicly pledged to enforce and uphold Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional executive amnesty,” said Cruz. “In my view, that makes her unfit to the position for which she was just confirmed.”

In his contribution to the discussion, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona expressed his view that Saldana was “not qualified,” and that she probably would not have been confirmed if the vote had been delayed until after the Republicans took over in January.

Among the Democrats, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware pointed out that the job of Assistant Secretary had been vacant for 16 months. “It doesn’t punish the president to leave this position unfilled,” he said. “In the end it punishes the citizens of this country.”

Democratic Senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, put it even more succinctly: “Senator Cruz did us a favor.”

Sarah R. Saldana is the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, a position she has held since 2011. She also served as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Previously, Ms. Saldana was the Deputy Criminal Chief for the Fraud and Public Corruption section of the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. From 1985 to 1999, she was an Attorney at Haynes and Boone, LLP and Baker Botts LLP. She clerked for Judge Harold Barefoot Sanders at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas from 1984 to 1985. From 1974 to 1981, she worked for several federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ms. Saldana received a B.A. from Texas A&I University and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University.

 

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