Patrick “P.J.” Lechleitner, a Minersville native and 1990 graduate of Nativity BVM High School in Pottsville, has been named as the acting leader of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an internal Homeland Security notice informed congressional staffers.
Lechleitner’s new role comes as part of a larger reshuffle within the Department of Homeland Security’s primary immigration agencies, as reported by CNN.
The Schuylkill County native will assume the position of Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director. Prior to this assignment, he had headed Homeland Security Investigations. This selection arrives on the heels of an announcement that Tae Johnson would be stepping down.
The US Senate would normally confirm a new ICE Director but that hasn’t happened since the Obama administration. All nominees to the job officially since then have been stymied in the Senate.
Lechleitner’s alma mater posted this message on the Nativity BVM Facebook page on Thursday:
Patrick J. Lechleitner Background
As the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Director, Lechleitner commands the oversight of the agency’s daily operations. He directs a workforce of approximately 20,000 employees, including more than 6,800 criminal investigators in Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and 6,000 officers in Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
His duties span more than 400 domestic and international offices, and he is responsible for administering an annual budget exceeding $8 billion.
Lechleitner’s career progression includes key leadership roles in HSI. He served as the Acting Executive Associate Director for HSI and, prior to that, as the Assistant Director for HSI’s International Operations Division. In this capacity, Lechleitner administered an operational budget of over $160 million and supervised 80 offices across 53 countries. His oversight extended to more than 400 special agents and support personnel stationed at U.S. embassies, consulates, and Department of Defense liaison offices worldwide, marking HSI’s largest investigative presence abroad.
In his early leadership years, Lechleitner took charge as the Special Agent in Washington, D.C., overseeing all HSI investigations and field operations in the District of Columbia and the State of Virginia. His tenure at HSI headquarters witnessed him serving as the Acting Assistant Director for the National Security Investigations Division and as the Deputy Assistant Director managing HSI’s Cyber Crimes Division.
Before his stint as a special agent with the U.S. Customs Service and then HSI in Philadelphia, Lechleitner patrolled the streets as a Fairfax County Police Officer. His career track began in the U.S. military, where he functioned as a U.S. Navy signals intelligence specialist supporting national security interests.
Lechleitner, a Senior DHS Fellow, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from George Mason University, a Master of Arts degree in Criminology from St. Joseph’s University, and an Executive Leadership certificate from American University. He is a member of the Senior Executive Service.