Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement: Who is John Morton?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

If John Morton is confirmed as the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he will be a marked contrast to the last person to hold the post, President Bush’s appointee, Julie Myers. Myers was well-connected, but had little experience. Morton, on the other hand, is a low-key career federal prosecutor who has handled immigration crime, and has quietly worked for the past 15 years for the Department of Justice (DOJ), helping develop policies attacking human smuggling and passport and visa fraud.

Morton began his career as a trial attorney in the Justice Department’s honors program in 1994, serving for two and a half years as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General and focusing primarily on immigration matters.
From 1999 to 2006, Morton was as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Major Crimes and Terrorism Units of the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Morton led the effort to crack down on Virginia’s flourishing fake ID industry, prosecuted an illegal Salvadoran immigrant who falsely certified two of the 9/11 hijackers as Virginia residents. In 2002, Morton coordinated the airport busts of nearly 100 people who lied on their applications to get security badges for restricted parts of Dulles International and Ronald Reagan National airports.
In 2005, Morton was one of several prosecuting attorneys who handled federal indictments stemming from “Operation Jakarta,” a two-year, ICE-led Eastern District Fraud Task Force investigation into the illegal practices of Indonesian immigration brokers and consultants operating in Northern Virginia and Maryland.
The investigation revealed that the defendants aided thousands of Indonesian aliens living throughout the United States to apply by fraud for a wide variety of government benefits through alien labor certification, Virginia driver’s licenses and identification cards, US passports, and Social Security cards. The government alleged that the principal frauds pursued by the defendants were asylum fraud, labor certification fraud and identification document fraud.
Morton later became Deputy Chief of the Domestic Security Section at DOJ, and from September 2007 to January 2009, he was acting chief of the Domestic Security Section and senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. In these roles, he was responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases and the development of DOJ policy in the areas of immigration crime, particularly human smuggling and complex passport and visa frauds; human rights offenses, particularly torture, war crimes, genocide, and the use of child soldiers; and international violent crime, particularly violent crime under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act.
Immigration leadership takes shape at Homeland Security (by Katherine McIntire Peters, Government Executive)
Career prosecutor to lead immigration agency (by Eileen Sullivan, Associated Press)
Julie Myers (AllGov)


Leave a comment