Time's Up: Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin Announces His Departure

By Susan Jones | December 23, 2011 | 5:29 AM EST

U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner Alan Bersin said during a discussion at the Center for American Progress on Aug. 4 that the U.S. border with Mexico could “theoretically” be sealed. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) - The nation will begin 2012 with a new Customs and Border Protection chief.

Commissioner Alan Bersin said on Thursday he was resigning, effective Dec. 30, which is one day before his recess appointment expires.

President Obama nominated Bersin to head CBP in September 2009, but the Senate Finance Committee did not act on the nomination.

President Obama's decision to recess-appoint Bersin in March 2010 drew a sharp rebuke from Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

Baucus, in a May 2010 statement, noted that while the Finance Committee had been vetting Bersin's nomination, "We discovered that you failed to properly complete and maintain Employment Eligibility Verification forms, or I-9s...for any of the 10 household employees whom you employed over the past two decades. As the person responsible for securing our nation’s borders, your failure to follow the law in this matter is unacceptable," Baucus said at the time.

In announcing his forced departure on Thursday, Bersin said he was "immensely proud" of the achievements CBP has made on the nation's borders and ports of entry: "Through innovative solutions and strengthened partnerships, we have measurably strengthened border security, enhanced our ability to prevent potential terror threats, streamlined the entry process for lawful trade, and expanded our trusted traveler programs," he said in a statement posted on the CBP Web site.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose agency oversees CBP, thanked Bersin for his "distinguished leadership" and for "developing new paradigms throughout the world in combating terrorism and international crime."

Napolitano has appointed Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar to serve as Acting Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Field Operations Thomas Winkowski will serve as Acting Deputy Commissioner.