ICE chief Matt Albence announces decision to retire from federal service

Though there have been certain resignation announcements during President Donald Trump’s tenure in office that were entirely expected, a recent one seemed to take everyone by surprise.

On Thursday, the Washington Examiner broke the story that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Matt Albence plans to step down from his post.

ICE chief to step down

According to the Examiner’s report, Albence broke the news to his staff on Thursday, ultimately confirming the decision with a statement of his own on Friday.

Albence stated, “After more than 25 years as a federal law enforcement officer, I am announcing my retirement from federal service,” adding:

This was an exceptionally hard decision to make, a decision prolonged due to the uncertainty of a global pandemic and the essential role ICE continues to play in our nation’s response.

The outgoing ICE chief had been serving in this role since April 2019 following a lengthy career in various law enforcement capacities.

He was tapped for the role in order to strengthen the agency and aggressively implement the immigration policies of the Trump administration, and he has faced his share of criticism from all corners.

Who is next?

It is often the case that a high-level departure of this nature is anticipated well in advance, and a replacement candidate is waiting in the wings, but that does not seem to be the situation this time around.

According to the Examiner, there is growing concern within the administration about whom Trump will select to take the place of Albence, with some fearing that the role will be filled by a political appointee who lacks an appreciation of the challenges ICE agents face.

Whomever assumes this critical role will likely find it as challenging to balance law enforcement concerns with the political undercurrents that shape them as Albence did.

Revolving door

This particular administration position has been a bit of a problem for President Trump, as Albence was the fourth person to hold the job since 2017.

Not only has it been difficult to find the right candidates for post, the Senate has repeatedly erected its own obstacles in the way of facilitating confirmations.

It will be interesting to see whether the president chooses to fill this vacancy with a respected law enforcement veteran in the mold of Albence, or if rather more political calculations end up driving the decision.

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