Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has tapped Patrick “P.J.” Lechleitner, a career official, to serve in an acting capacity as the new leader of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a notice sent to congressional staffers.
“In compliance with legal requirements, Mr. Lechleitner will serve in his new leadership role as the Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director. Prior to this new position, Mr. Lechleitner led Homeland Security Investigations,” the notice stated.
It’s the latest personnel move within the department’s key immigration agencies and comes after the announcement that Tae Johnson would step down. Johnson led ICE in an acting capacity under the presidencies of Donald Trump and Joe Biden, after failed attempts to appoint a new director to the agency.
According to his ICE biography, Lechleitner “served in key leadership positions” for Homeland Security Investigations and earlier in his career, was a Fairfax County police officer and served as a Navy signals intelligence specialist supporting national security interests.
ICE hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed director since the Obama administration. Biden’s pick to lead the agency withdrew his nomination after a drawn-out process in the Senate.
Earlier this year, US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz also announced he would be retiring at the end of June after more than three decades with the agency.
Ortiz, who became chief in August 2021, led the agency as it faced a number of challenges in recent years, including the Covid-19 pandemic and the expiration of the pandemic-era public health restriction Title 42.