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Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in D.C. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) top legal adviser Tony Pham will be the agency's next top official, after current acting director Matthew Albence retires, according to an email sent to Department of Homeland Security employees Tuesday.

Between the lines: Pham and his family came to the U.S. as Vietnamese refugees in 1975 and became citizens 10 years later, according to his bio on DHS' website.

  • "As Tony has been a trailblazer in the field of law and corrections, I am confident he will successfully lead the men and women of ICE in their mission to keep our borders safe and protect Americans," DHS acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli wrote in the email.
  • Albence announced his retirement at the end of last month.

The big picture: The announcement of ICE's new leadership comes the same day that President Trump announced he would nominate acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to lead the agency permanently.

  • DHS has struggled with permanent leadership under Trump, and its agencies have been through several shake-ups.
  • ICE is tasked with immigration enforcement inside the U.S., rather than at the borders, and oversees the country's immigration detention centers.
  • It has become one of the most controversial government agencies, with some immigration activists and progressives calling for ICE to be "abolished" altogether.

What they're saying: "As a seasoned leader with DHS Tony will ensure ICE continues to safeguard our country’s borders from crime and illegal immigration," an ICE spokesperson said.

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Sep 17, 2020 - Economy & Business

America's cities are facing an immigration deficit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

America's cities are facing a historic shortage of two vital resources: money and immigrants.

Why it matters: Cities drive American economic growth, and immigrants drive cities. The coronavirus pandemic has effectively stanched the main source of talent that municipal economies have long relied upon.

Why some Republican governors oppose anti-trans bills

Photo Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Chistopher Goodney (Bloomberg), Drew Angerer, Stephen Yang/Getty Images

Some Republican governors have found themselves at odds with their own party over a record number of bills targeting transgender children.

Why it matters: Social conservatives see a winning issue in bills to restrict trans students' participation in sports and access to health care, but the sudden push has met resistance even from some staunch conservatives.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
11 hours ago - Science

China makes history with successful Mars landing

A model of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition at the National Museum of China in Beijing. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP via Getty Images

A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.

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