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First Latina Confirmed To Lead Immigration Agency, ICE

 / Updated 

The Senate Tuesday confirmed Sara Saldaña as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, making her the first Latina in the job.

The confirmation won praise from various Latino groups and from President Barack Obama who extolled her years of law enforcement experience. Obama noted in a statement that illegal border crossings are down and removal of dangerous criminals are up since he took office. "I'm confident Sarah will help us build on this progress ...," he said.

She takes the job as the administration is preparing to implement Obama's immigration executive action, including retooling rules on who is a priority for deportation. Ali Noorani, executive director of the pro-immigration reform National Immigration Forum said the group awaits Saldaña ending family detentions, expanding detention alternatives and implementing smart, new enforcement policies.

A vote on her confirmation was made possible after conservative Republicans led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, pushed for a vote to block Obama's executive action and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., maneuvered for votes on stalled nominations.

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