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Bersin goes for CBP job interview May 13

Bersin goes for CBP job interview May 13

Bersin

   In an odd procedural twist, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin will have his Senate confirmation hearing after already being on the job for six weeks.

   President Barack Obama appointed Bersin as commissioner on March 27, using a legal loophole that allows the nation’s chief executive to place a political nominee in a post when Congress is in recess. Bersin’s nomination had been slow to get reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee since being forwarded by the White House early last fall.

   The Senate Finance Committee will now hold a hearing to consider Bersin’s credentials for leading the border agency on May 13 at 10 a.m., CBP spokeswoman Erlinda Byrd confirmed.

   The Finance Committee has not posted the hearing date on its Web site and a spokeswoman there refused to provide any information about the upcoming hearing schedule.

   Although Bersin may not technically require Senate approval to remain in his post, DHS officials have indicated they he is prepared to go through the process whenever the Finance Committee is ready. And he would need confirmation if the administration wants him to continue until the end of the first presidential term in January 2013, or beyond if Obama is re-elected — and he wants to still get paid for his efforts.

   That’s because a recess appointment holds until the end of the next session of Congress, which is expected in late 2011. The president can reappoint officials, but according to the Congressional Research Service they would have to work without getting compensated.

   The hearing is likely to examine Bersin’s record on controlling the border and drug smuggling during his year-long stint as the DHS point man on the Southwest border and during the Clinton administration, as well as his views on border security and trade.

   Sen. Charles Grassley is also expected to raise the issue of Bersin’s failure to create I-9 forms for household employees at his home in San Diego. Employers are supposed to fill out and retain the document, issued by U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, to help them verify whether an employee is eligible to legally work in the United States.

   Immigration experts view the matter more as a technical mistake than a serious immigration violation, but one that someone in Bersin’s position should not have made. ' Eric Kulisch