Updated 12:52 p.m.
Juan Osuna, the acting director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review since December, was named Tuesday evening the permanent head, the Justice Department said.
Osuna has served in the office, which conducts immigration court proceedings and appellate review, for more than a decade. Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Osuna in 2000 as a Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) judge.
Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in a prepared statement that Osuna “has developed an extensive knowledge of immigration litigation and issues, and demonstrated himself to be a diligent and thoughtful advocate and manager."
As director of the immigration review office, Osuna supervises the chairman of the BIA, the chief immigration judge and the chief administrative hearing officer. Osuna will oversee more than 1,300 employees and 59 immigration courts across the country.
Osuna was not immediately reached for comment today. In a statement released through DOJ, he said: “I am honored by the Attorney General’s appointment and look forward to continuing to serve the department and the American people on these important issues.”
Osuna took over the immigration office from Kevin Ohlson, who was named director in 2007. Ohlson, a former member of the immigration appeals board and EOIR’s deputy director, now leads a unit that reviews cases of attorney misconduct.
In 2008, Osuna, then the chairman of the BIA, spoke about the deluge of new immigration cases entering the system and the burden on available resources.
Osuna was a witness this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing on improving efficiency in U.S. immigration courts.
The immigration office, Osuna said, still suffers from an increasing docket, in particular cases involving aliens who are detained while waiting for hearings. In large part, the new cases involve individuals who have criminal convictions that may lead to deportation. Osuna said EOIR is hopeful to continue a hiring initiative that centers on adding additional judges.
"EOIR faces the demands of a large and increasing caseload, but, with Congress’ continued support, the Department is confident that EOIR will effectively meet that challenge," he said in prepared testimony.