WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department has appointed a public advocate to handle complaints and questions about its immigration enforcement policies.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton said Monday that senior ICE adviser Andrew Lorenzen-Strait will lead the effort.
Lorenzen-Strait's appointment was to be announced Tuesday.
Morton said the position was created to ensure that the public and immigration advocates understand various changes being made within the department and what the changes mean for those immigrants being jailed by immigration authorities or those facing deportation. Lorenzen-Strait will also address concerns about ICE enforcement involving U.S. citizens.
"We have undertaken a significant number of reforms from a policy perspective and we want to make sure they are evenly understood in the public and advocacy communities," Morton said.
Lorenzen-Strait, a lawyer who has been an ICE adviser since 2008, said he sees his new job as being the facilitator "of a two-way dialogue." He will report to Gary Mead, ICE's head of enforcement and removal operations.
In recent months DHS has announced changes in the way authorities determine which illegal immigrants are deported.
In June, Morton outlined when agents and immigration prosecutors could use discretion in opting not to pursue a deportation case. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano went a step further in August when she announced the review of roughly 300,000 pending deportation cases as part of the department's efforts to focus its resources on deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, repeat immigration law offenders and those who pose a public safety or national security threat.
After a review of cases pending in Baltimore and Denver, DHS officials earlier this year recommended closing more than 1,600 deportation cases involving non-criminal illegal immigrants. The review is ongoing in other parts of the country.
Morton said Lorenzen-Strait will be responsible for helping the public understand the prosecutorial discretion policy and other changes as well as addressing complaints about the changes.