John T. Morton

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John Morton
John t. morton ice director.jpg
official DHS portrait
Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Department of Homeland Security
In office
May 12, 2009 – August 31, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJohn Torres (as Assistant Secretary, acting)
Succeeded byJohn Sandweg (acting)
Personal details
Born1966 (age 52–53)
Inverness, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Virginia (B.A.)
University of Virginia School of Law (J.D.)

John T. Morton (born 1966) was the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from 2009-2013. Morton was appointed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2009.


Morton served in the Peace Corps before obtaining a law degree from the University of Virginia Law School and becoming a prosecutor.[1]


In an interview conducted shortly after his appointment, Morton emphasized a need for moderation:

And you're putting people in jail, and that's good work but it's also awesome work. I mean your actions lead to somebody going to jail. So I think, you know, the way to look at Government service is as a great honor and privilege. ... As a Government employee, balanced perspective is critical, trying to reach the common good is critical. You're not an extreme advocate. Your job is to try to get it right, and that's a very rewarding and satisfying position to be in.[1]

Morton's ICE[edit]

John T Morton at a 2009 Drug Trafficking Press Conference

One of Morton's first acts in office was an expansion of I-9 audits. These were applied to over 650 businesses suspected of employing undocumented workers.[1]

Morton also expressed dissatisfaction at ICE's reliance on state and local prisons to house detainees, stating: "Immigration detention is a civil function, it is not a penal function. Over the years, however, the system has largely become dependent on excess jail space."[1] Under his leadership, ICE constructed a new detention center in Karnes County, TX. Morton called the new detention facility "sensible, sustainable and attentive to the unique needs of the individuals in our custody".[2]

Political response[edit]

Because he worked on controversial issues, Morton complained of criticism from the right and the left. "I can get criticized on the same issue from both sides on the same day," he said in 2010.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Morton, John T. (22 August 2009). "Interview". Business of Government Hour. IBM Center for the Business of Government. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  2. ^ Nevins, Joseph (28 March 2012). "Immigrant Detention in the United States: Hope and Change, or More of the Same?". Border Wars (NACLA). Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  3. ^ Aizenman, N. C. (20 March 2010). "Latinos increasingly critical of Obama's record on immigration". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2012.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
John Torres
Director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Succeeded by