In another sign that the Obama administration is preparing for — or at least thinking about — sweeping reforms of the nation’s broken immigration system, the agency that polices the nation’s immigration laws has created a new position to work on issues related to possible new legislation.

John W. Salter, who previously ran the Los Angeles legal office for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was recently named to the newly created post of ICE Special Counsel for Legal Affairs, ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley confirmed in an email to the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Salter’s other responsibilities include “working with ICE’s Headquarters legal division to prepare legal guidance on complex areas of immigration law, monitoring the development of case law and analyzing the impact of these changes on ICE’s litigation strategy and working on issues related to comprehensive immigration reform,” Haley wrote.

The Obama administration has said that fixing the nation’s immigration system will have to wait until next year. In the interim, the Department of Homeland Security, which has been tasked with planning for the legislative push, is drafting language for a possible bill, sources say.

Earlier the month, Alejandro Mayorkas, the director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, told The New York Times that his agency is preparing for the possibility of giving “legal status to millions of illegal immigrants” as part of a legislative package.

Salter assumed his new duties on Sept. 28. He reports to the director of field legal operations. Salter had been the chief counsel in Los Angeles for ICE and the former INS since 1991, according to Haley. The Los Angeles chief counsel’s office made big news over the summer with the ICE crackdown on illegal immigrants employed by LA-based clothier American Apparel.

The new ICE chief counsel in Los Angeles, the agency’s largest field office, is James S. Stolley. From Haley:

Stolley oversees a staff of approximately 100 attorneys and 33 support personnel. During the course of his federal career, Mr. Stolley has held a variety of key legal positions. Most recently, he served as the Chief of Staff to ICE’s Principal Legal Advisor in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Chief Counsel for ICE in San Francisco, a position he assumed in 2002. Mr. Stolley received his law degree from the University of Maine School of Law. He began his government career as a trial attorney for the former INS in 1994 in San Francisco.

Let’s break this down, abilities, credentials, and degrees aside:
ICE’s principal legal advisor (top attorney) — whom Mr. Stolley served as chief of staff — is Peter Vincent (bio here). After graduating from the University of Virginia law school in 1995 (he took an bachelor of arts degree with high honors in political science from the University of California, Berkeley), he worked for about seven years in the legal department as a litigator for the multi-national engineering firm Bechtel Corporation before he joined the former INS in July 2002. His first INS job was in the San Francisco chief counsel’s office, where Stolley was deputy chief counsel.

John T. Morton, assistant secretary for ICE (bio here), graduated from the University of Virginia law school a year before Vincent. He joined the federal government in 1994, first in New York as an INS trial attorney through the Justice Department honors program. He went on to become special assistant to INS general counsel David A. Martin, who took a leave of absence as a law professor at the University of Virginia from 1995 to 1998, to serve in that position.

Martin (brief bio here) is now the principal deputy general counsel of the Department of Homeand Security.

Quick question: Why would Salter leave a post he held for 18 years?

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Andrew Becker is a reporter for Reveal, covering border, national and homeland security issues, as well as weapons and gun trafficking. He has focused on waste, fraud and abuse – with stories ranging from border corruption to the expanding use of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, from the militarization of police to the intersection of politics and policy related to immigration, from terrorism to drug trafficking. Becker's reporting has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek/The Daily Beast and on National Public Radio and PBS/FRONTLINE, among others. He received a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. Becker is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.