Confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on July 9, 2014, Mr. Rodriguez Becomes the fourth Director of the world’s largest Immigration Service. Mr. Rodriguez, born in Brooklyn and raised in Miami, comes to USCIS with a broad legal background and he will lead the nearly 18,000 employee agency, which is charged with administering the nation’s immigration and naturalization system.

Mr. Rodriguez had no experience working in the immigration field. While Mr. Rodriguez’s resume in law and civil service is impressive; it is unclear what specifically qualifies him to direct the United States’ immigration agency. Trained as a lawyer, Mr. Rodriguez has extensive experience working in the public sector for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. He has also worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.

He previously served as the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, a position he held from 2011 to 2014. From 2010 to 2011, he served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Department of Justice (DOJ). Previously, Mr. Rodriguez was county attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland from 2007 to 2010. He was a principal at Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver in Washington, D.C. from 2001 to 2007. He served in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2001, first as chief of the White Collar Crimes Section from 1998 to 1999 and then as first assistant U.S. Attorney until his departure. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Rodriguez was a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ from 1994 to 1997 and a senior assistant district attorney at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in New York from 1988 to 1994. He received a B.A. from Brown University and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

President Obama’s recent declaration that he will take unilateral executive action in the absence of Congressional action on immigration reform means that Director Rodriguez will have his work cut out for him. Hopefully, Director Rodriguez will help create a stream-line and generous set of processes to help qualifying individuals. Until we see either Congressional or Executive action, it remains to be seen how effective a leader Director Rodriguez will be for USCIS.

By John J. Dooney, III