Alan Bersin

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Alan Bersin
Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection
In office
March 27, 2010 – December 31, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by David Aguilar (Acting)
Succeeded by David Aguilar (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1946-10-15) October 15, 1946 (age 71)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s) Lisa Foster
Alma mater Harvard University
Balliol College, Oxford
Yale University

Alan D. Bersin (born October 15, 1946) served as the acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Acting Commissioner Bersin was placed by President Barack Obama on March 27, 2010 as a recess appointment. As Acting Commissioner, Mr. Bersin oversaw the operations of CBP’s 57,000-employee work force and managed an operating budget of more than $11 billion. Bersin formerly served as the Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs, informally known as the "Border Czar." Bersin currently serves as Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Chief Diplomatic Officer for the Department of Homeland Security, a position he assumed on January 3, 2012.[1]

Bersin is a former Secretary of Education for California, as well as a former superintendent of San Diego City Schools, past federal Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, and former Attorney General’s Southwest Border Representative. He previously served as the chair of the executive committee of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.[2]


Bersin was born in 1946 to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York.[3] He attended public schools and Hebrew school in New York City. He received an A.B. in government from Harvard College, and then attended Balliol College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1974, he obtained a J.D. degree from Yale Law School.

From 1995-1998, Bersin served as the Attorney General’s Southwest Border Representative, coordinating law enforcement on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

His appointment in 1998 as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego City Schools put him in control of the eighth largest urban school district in the U.S. In 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him as California's Education Secretary.[4]

In 2007, the nonprofit electronic journalism outlet [5] reported that Bersin was considering a run for City Attorney of San Diego.[6]

On April 15, 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the appointment of Bersin as DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs. In the press release announcing his appointment, Secretary Napolitano said, "Alan brings years of vital experience working with local, state and international partners to help us meet the challenges we face at our borders. He will lead the effort to make our borders safe while working to promote commerce and trade.[7]"

Bersin's recess appointment in 2010 was effective only until the end of the next session of Congress. Through the rest of 2010 and 2011, Republicans in the Senate refused to hold a confirmation hearing on the nomination, so in December 2011 he was forced to step down.[8]

Since leaving government service he has been advisor at the international law firm Covington and Burling.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. "Board Members". Archived from the original on 9 February 2007. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  3. ^ San Diego Jewish Journal (2003). "The hardest job in America?". Archived from the original on 18 April 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2009. 
  4. ^ John Marelius; Maureen Magee; Gordon Smith. "Bersin to be state education secretary". Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2007. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Bersin Considering a Run for City Attorney". 
  7. ^ "DHS Press Release, April 15, 2009". 
  8. ^ Brinkerhoff, Noel; David Wallechinsky (December 24, 2011). "Senate Republicans Block Confirmation of Head of Customs and Border Protection". AllGov. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  9. ^ "Alan Bersin". Covington. Retrieved 4 July 2018. 

External links[edit]

Biography at U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Political offices
Preceded by
David Aguilar
Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection