An angry Republican representative is investigating whether the Obama Administration hoodwinked Congress by merely renaming the role of “Public Advocate” for illegal immigrants rather than eliminating the position after it was defunded.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., wants to know if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) circumvented the law by changing the title of the agency official who was named as the agency’s “public advocate” while keeping him on the job.
In February 2012, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait was named to be Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s first Public Advocate, but he now serves as Deputy Assistant Director of Custody Programs and Community Outreach after Congress defunded the position in March.
Black is investigating whether Lorenzen-Strait is actually still serving as public advocate even though it is no longer his official role. According to her office and Judicial Watch, a non-profit government watchdog group which originally uncovered the advocacy position under ICE, the description of his role remains the same despite the name change.
Black sent a letter to ICE Acting Director John Sandweg on Tuesday and is asking the agency to answer questions as to why the position, which has been defunded, appears to be continuing under a different name.
“I write with serious concern that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has ignored current law that prohibits your agency from funding the position of Public Advocate,” said Black. “Additionally, it appears that Mr. Lorenzen-Strait was retained and assigned a new title with no substantive changes to his job function. If true, this represents a serious violation of the public trust. ICE has a moral and legal responsibility to comply with the law and the will of Congress.The sudden creation of a new position within your agency for Mr. Lorenzen-Strait casts further doubt on the idea that ICE has acted in good faith to comply with the law.”
ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez told The Blaze that Lorenzen-Strait, a career civil servant “has helped lead the agency’s public engagement and detention reform portfolio” since being hired by ICE in 2008, “during the previous Administration.”