A divided Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama's pick to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The 55-39 vote Tuesday elevates Sarah Saldana, now the U.S. attorney in Dallas, to lead the $6 billion federal agency that enforces federal border control, trade and immigration laws.

Saldana had claimed strong support among Republicans when she was nominated earlier this year, but that changed after Obama took executive actions to grant work permits to millions in the U.S. illegally.

Saldana backed Obama's move and a number of Republican senators, including senior Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, said they could no longer support her. Some said their opposition was meant to send a message to Obama that they opposed his executive moves, which her agency would be partly charged with enacting.