Ex state ed official to run U.S. border security

Alan Bersin – the former federal prosecutor turned education administrator who did a stint as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education – will be nominated to serve as U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today.

Bersin, 63, already has been serving in the Obama Administration as Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs — what some have called the “Border Czar.”

“Under Alan’s leadership over the past several months, we have forged new international and domestic partnerships along our borders to strengthen security,” Napolitano said in a news release. “I look forward to continuing to work with Alan in his new position, where he will lead the Department’s efforts to implement practical, innovative solutions to protect our country from threats to our national and economic security and facilitate legitimate travel and trade.”

As CBP Commissioner, Bersin will lead the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to secure America’s borders while overseeing enforcement of immigration, customs and drug laws. CBP has more than 57,000 employees working to secure U.S. land and maritime borders.

Before joining the Obama Administration in April, Bersin — a Democrat and a Brooklyn native — was chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, appointed in December 2006. Earlier, he was Schwarzenegger’s Secretary of Education in 2005-06; superintendent of the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, in San Diego, from 1998 through 2005; and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California from 1993 to 1998. While U.S. Attorney, he was appointed as Special Representative for the Southwest Border in 1995 by former Attorney General Janet Reno, overseeing coordination of border law enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border for three years.

Schwarzenegger back in April said President Obama “could not have selected a more qualified, more experienced person to join his administration – especially when it comes to issues along our southwest border. Alan was a tremendous asset to my Administration, I’m grateful for his service to California, and I look forward to working with him on border issues that, as he knows well, significantly affect California.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.