Why did the director of ICE resign?

The acting director of ICE resigned after spending only a few weeks at the helm of this agency that detains immigrants and conducts international criminal investigations.

Jonathan Fahey did not explain the reason for his abrupt departure from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in a short email to employees that evening, telling them that Wednesday was his last day on the job. He was replaced by Tae Johnson, current deputy director and now the agency’s fourth acting incumbent since August.

“I am sincerely impressed by the professionalism and integrity with which you carry out your duties every day,” he wrote in his farewell message obtained by The Associated Press.

“Despite leaving their ranks, I will continue to be a fervent supporter of this agency and its staff, hailing their successes and praying for their safety.”

Jenny Burke, an ICE spokeswoman, confirmed Fahey’s resignation and that Johnson will replace him, but did not state the reason for his departure. BuzzFeed News was the first outlet to report the resignation.

ICE belongs to the Department of Homeland Security, which has also seen a headline turnover during Donald Trump’s presidency. Chad Wolf resigned this week as acting secretary of a department that lacks a Senate-confirmed incumbent since Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign in April 2019.

ICE, with more than 20,000 employees, oversees a vast network of immigration detention centers and executes deportations.

Its Homeland Security Investigations unit handles a wide portfolio of cases, including child exploitation, money laundering, antiquities theft and human trafficking.

Fahey’s announcement surprised employees. He joined Homeland Security in March as an immigration policy advisor after serving years as a federal and state attorney in Virginia.

Johnson takes over the reins of ICE less than a week before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in. He has worked in Homeland Security and one of its predecessor agencies, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, for more than 25 years, including high-ranking positions in ICE’s division of surveillance and deportation operations.