Former CBP chief Bersin in new DHS role

Monday - 1/2/2012, 8:11pm EST

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio
@jmooreWFED

Alan Bersin may be leaving the helm of Customs and Border Protection, but he's not bidding farewell to the Homeland Security Department just yet.

In a change-of-leadership ceremony Friday marking his departure from CBP, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Bersin had been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the department's first assistant secretary of international affairs.

In the new position, Bersin will serve as the department's chief diplomatic officer, Napolitano said. He will oversee the department's international engagement efforts, "leading the strategic development and execution of DHS international plans and policies and forging new partnerships with foreign governments and international organizations," she said.

Obama appointed Bersin to his CBP post in March 2010 in a recess appointment — one of 15 that year. However, Congress adjourned last month without voting to confirm Bersin's nomination. Bersin announced he would step down from CBP last month.

At the ceremony, Napolitano said Bersin had overseen "the most significant and successful expansion of border security" in U.S. history, noting a steep decline in border arrests. She also praised Bersin's forging of international partnerships, "fostering an unprecedented level of cooperation with Mexico," among other accomplishments.

Deputy CBP Commissioner David Aguilar, a former Border Patrol agent and "familiar face around these halls," Napolitano said, was sworn in as acting commissioner Friday. Thomas Winkowski will serve as acting deputy commissioner.

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