WASHINGTON – President Bush named James Ziglar, the Senate sergeant at arms, as Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner Friday while underscoring his plan to restructure the troubled agency.
Ziglarhas been the Senate sergeant at arms since 1998, and the White House emphasized his work in the financial industry. Ziglar, who declined to comment on the appointment, has served as chief of protocol and law enforcement officer of the Senate.
"He has strong relationships with Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and has worked in both the public and private sectors," Bush said in a statement. "His history of overseeing large organizations and tackling management challenges make Jim an excellent choice as commissioner of the INS."
During his campaign, Bush said he supported splitting the INS to separate its enforcement duties from its citizenship, naturalization and other responsibilities. Bush expressed concern that families face long waits to become citizens.
The INS has come under fire for backlogs in its citizenship, visa and other work. A recent audit showed the agency could not account for hundreds of weapons and has not been keeping track of thousands of computers that may contain sensitive information.
Attorney General John Ashcroft applauded Ziglar's nomination, which must be confirmed by the Senate.
"Jim Ziglar has my full confidence," Ashcroft said. "His post is a crucial one, because while we must guard our nation's borders with vigilance, we must also remember that the greatness of our nation comes from generations of immigrants."
Ziglarpreviously worked as managing director of Paine Webber and has held several government positions, including assistant secretary of the Interior for water and science.
A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Ziglar received his undergraduate and law degree from George Washington University in Washington.