Title: Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs
Reports to: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
Appointed: April 2009
Agencies that might have handled similar issues: Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
• Will coordinate all of the department’s border security and law-enforcement efforts.
• Essentially had the same job under President Clinton; served as Attorney General Janet Reno’s special representative on border issues, a job that he held while retaining the position of U.S. attorney for San Diego.
• This time, boss will be Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who will expect him to handle illegal immigration and drug violence issues along the Mexican-American border
• Previous experience: Chairman of the San Diego Regional Airport Authority (2006 to 2009); Secretary of Education for California (2005 to 2006); Superintendent of San Diego Public Schools (1998 to 2005); U.S. Attorney for San Diego (1993 to 1998)
• Graduate of Harvard and Yale Law School
• Talking about border security shortly before he was named Clinton border czar in 1995, said he wanted to focus on suspected smugglers of both drugs and people and was not interested in prosecuting “economic migrants.”
• Often tied to the 1994 border policy called “Operation Gatekeeper.” The policy shifted the U.S. focus from the arresting of immigrants who actually crossed the border to an increased border presence designed to stop border crossing in the first place. When Bersin left the position in 1998, border arrests were on pace for an 18-year low of just more than 200,000. Latino groups complained that Operation Gatekeeper was immoral, saying the program monitored the border near San Diego but simply forced illegal immigrants to other, more dangerous areas.
• Has given more than $50,000 to political campaigns since 1999, almost all of it to Democrats.