Two Republican lawmakers have expressed "extreme concern" to President Barack Obama over his choice for acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, citing John Sandweg's "critically thin" experience in law enforcement.
“A litany of concerning allegations has been raised against Mr. Sandweg,” said the legislators, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul and Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, in a letter to Obama. "Perhaps the most concerning is the clear political partisanship displayed throughout his career."
McCaul chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security and Duncan is the chairman of the panel's Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee.
The legislators' letter was reported by Fox News
on Wednesday and follows a report the network published last week detailing Sandweg's close ties to outgoing Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and his experience as a criminal defense attorney.
According to the congressmen's letter, Sandweg, 38, now heads the principal investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, and oversees 20,000 employees and an annual budget of almost $6 billion despite a "gaping lack of experience."
"Despite extensive political experience, Mr. Sandweg's qualifications are critically thin in one area: experience in law enforcement," the letter states.
“Such a critical agency to our homeland security demands a leader with proven experience, significant managerial acumen, and tested judgment,” the legislators wrote. “We fear your choice may possess none of these crucial qualities.”
In its Aug. 14 report, FoxNews.com explained that Sandweg represented sex offenders and murderers while in private practice in Arizona, where he also served as a fundraiser for Napolitano while she was governor.
The lawmakers cited much of the Fox report in their letter to Obama.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment from Fox.
Sandweg’s supporters include David Aguilar, who recently retired as deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“I think he’s extremely qualified to serve as the acting director of ICE and that’s in my opinion. That’s the opinion of a 35-year cop,” Aguilar told Fox.
He said he worked with Sandweg on immigration and border-control issues.
But McCaul and Duncan noted Sandweg’s recent participation in the National Immigration Law Center’s National Low-Income Immigrant Right’s Conference, which included workshops on “anti-deportation education and organizing.”
“These facts suggest he may not implement ICE’s mission in a non-partisan manner,” the legislators wrote.
A Homeland Security official cited Sandweg’s work as general counsel for the department as providing experience for his current position, according to Fox.
He helped develop border-security and immigration-enforcement strategies, helped remove more than 950,000 convicted criminal aliens since 2009, and worked with the Pentagon to deploy the National Guard to the Southwest Border, the official told Fox.
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