DHS investigator named new director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Lechleitner is a founding member of the DHS in the early 2000s and worked his way up through agency ranks until he led Homeland Security Investigations
June 30, 2023 7:51am
Updated: June 30, 2023 7:51am
The Biden administration has selected Patrick Lechleitner, a Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) investigator to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the nation’s primary infrastructure identification and removal agency, according to a notice sent to congressional staffers.
“In compliance with legal requirements, Mr. Lechleitner will serve in his new leadership role as the Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director. Prior to this new position, Mr. Lechleitner led Homeland Security Investigations,” the notice stated.
After a career of more than 20 years with the DHS, Patrick “P.J.” Lechleitner will become the new acting director of ICE. Lechleitner is a founding member of the DHS in the early 2000s and worked his way up through agency ranks until he led Homeland Security Investigations, ICE’s branch that is in charge of dealing with human trafficking.
Last month, ICE’s Deputy Director Tae D. Johnson announced that he would retire at the end of June, after dedicating 30 years of service to the nation. He assumed his post as Deputy Director from the start of the Biden administration in January 2021, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the agency and more than 20,000 employees.
His retirement announcement came less than a week after U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz also announced his retirement, making him the second border-related official to retire in a month.
The announcement comes as a record number of undocumented migrants continues to attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. In May, Border Patrol agents encountered a total of 204,561 undocumented migrants crossing the northern and southern border, bringing the total number of migrant encounters for Fiscal Year 2023 so far to 1.6 million.
There were 2.4 million encounters in Fiscal Year 2022 and 1.7 million in Fiscal Year 2021.
DHS is also facing an increasing number of narcotic smuggling attempts across the border. Over the past two months, authorities seized almost 10,000 pounds of fentanyl as part of a crackdown operation.