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Acting ICE director Tae Johnson to step down at end of June

Johnson, a longtime Immigration and Customs Enforcement official, has been leading the federal agency since 2021.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Tae Johnson testifies before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security on the FY2024 budget request for the agency, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Tae Johnson on Capitol Hill on April 18.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file

The head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Tae Johnson, is leaving the agency, making him the second senior immigration official to announce retirement plans in the past week.

An ICE spokesperson said Johnson, who has led the agency since 2021, will step down at the end of the month.

“I am grateful to Tae Johnson for his service to ICE, the Department, and the nation," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement Monday. He said Johnson has “overseen some of the nation’s most critical investigations,” including combatting counterfeit Covid vaccines and helping to “curtail the flow of fentanyl smuggled into the United States from Mexico.”

Johnson retirement was announced less than a week after U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said he would step down after more than three decades with the agency.

Johnson has been at ICE and its predecessor agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, for 31 years. In his final months, he helped oversee the wind-down of the Trump-era border policy known as Title 42, which ended last month.

ICE has not had a permanent director since 2017. It operated with five acting directors during the Trump administration. President Joe Biden's nominee to be director — Ed Gonzalez, the sheriff of Harris County, Texas — withdrew from consideration last year after more than a year without a Senate confirmation vote.

ICE has about 20,000 employees and an annual budget of $4 billion.