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John Sandweg, Counselor to the Secretary; General Counsel (acting) John Sandweg, Counselor to the Secretary; General Counsel (acting)

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2013 Security / Homeland Security Department

John Sandweg, Counselor to the Secretary; General Counsel (acting)

photo of Rebecca Kaplan
July 16, 2013

Sandweg, a native of Phoenix, says that immigration is an issue that "hits close to home." As the acting general counsel for DHS and counselor to Secretary Janet Napolitano, he helps develop policies, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (which gives agents discretion not to deport children), that reflect the department's priorities for immigration enforcement. The big challenge ahead for Sandweg will be helping usher immigration-reform legislation through Congress. He spent a lot of time on the Hill this year assisting the Senate Judiciary Committee and ensuring the administration's goals were reflected in the bill recently passed by the upper chamber. "We view that as a very important issue to promote border security and public safety," he said. Sandweg followed Napolitano to DHS in 2009 after spending several years at the Phoenix law firm of Quarles & Brady. During that time, he was active in Arizona's Democratic Party and helped on Napolitano's campaign. At DHS, he served as chief of staff in the Office of General Counsel for a year before becoming a counselor to Napolitano for three years, a position he holds alongside a dual role as the acting general counsel. Sandweg, 38, obtained a bachelor's and a J.D. from Arizona State University.

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