The director who has overseen U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during a period of increased deportations is resigning from his post.
John Morton, who has been in charge of the chief investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security since his confirmation in 2009, will return to the private sector at the end of July, The Associated Press reported Monday morning.
During Morton’s tenure, the agency has deported an increased number of undocumented immigrants — as many as about 410,000 in 2012 alone. The deportations have caused some immigrants’ rights groups to welcome Monday’s resignation and challenge President Obama to replace him with someone committed to immigration reform.
“Failure to replace Morton with someone more committed to immigrants, failing to take the resignation as an opportunity to shift or fundamentally alter failed policies that continue to cause massive immigrant grief, will say much about how committed President Obama is to real reform and to immigrant communities," Presente.org’s Arturo Carmona said.
Morton was also a major target for conservatives who often labeled Morton as a proxy for the president’s immigration reform agenda. In March Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, blasted the director after learning that, citing economic reasons, ICE released hundreds of previously convicted undocumented immigrants in Texas.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly identify the executive director of Presente.org