Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 03060941 (posted Jun. 9, 2003)"
Senate Confirmation Hearing Testimony
June 5, 2003 – Testimony
Senate Judiciary Confirmation
Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Leahy, Senators. I am very pleased to come
before you today as you consider my nomination to be the first-ever Director of
the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the newly created
Department of Homeland Security. At the onset, I would like to thank my wife of
35 years, Maria Teresa Aguirre for her continued support in my quest to serve my
country through public service. Representing our family and with me today, is my
daughter Tessie who is a senior at Texas A & M University and is studying in
Washington, D.C. this summer.
Should the Senate act favorably on my nomination, this would mark my second
Senate Confirmed Presidential Appointment service to my adopted country. Almost
42 years ago, I came to this land of freedom and opportunity as a 15-year-old
Cuban refugee with no family, no money, and no working knowledge of the English
language. Along the way, I was sheltered and taught by Catholic Charities, cared
for by the United Way, and helped by many, many others. Later, a very affordable
U.S. Government student loan program allowed me to attend college and eventually
earn a degree from Louisiana State University. I have overcome real and imagined
obstacles on my journey to realize my version of the American Dream, and I am
grateful beyond words. I am extremely proud and humbled to have been selected by
President George W. Bush to serve the United States in his Administration.
The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for
providing the right immigration benefits, in the right amount of time, to the
right applicants; and to prevent the wrong ones from accessing our benefits. The
United States always has, and continues to be, a nation of immigrants; however,
we are a nation under threat by enemies who try to harm us by abusing our
benevolence. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Secretary Ridge,
Deputy Secretary England and the rest of Homeland Security leadership and staff,
in addition to others in President Bush’s Administration, to advance our
country’s immigration agenda, including a serious focus for the security
responsibilities within our scope. Also, as demonstrated in my position as Vice
Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of the Export-Import Bank of the United
States, I welcome the opportunity to work with the Senate and the House of
I am confident that one and one half years in a leadership role at the Ex-Im
Bank, thirty-four years in commercial banking, and a number of hands-on civic
leadership roles, have prepared me to accept this considerable challenge. Beyond
my inherent sensitivity to immigrant issues, I hope to bring to the job my
proven management and leadership skills, my customer service background, my
broad risk analysis experience, a respectful awe for the trust placed on me, an
open mind, and some measure of common sense. These skills should be particularly
important to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as we face the
unique challenges of the 21st Century. My vision is to lead a world-class Bureau
that will excel in customer service and effective risk management. During my
tenure, Integrity, Respect and Ingenuity, will be our core values.
In closing, I want to acknowledge my family as the bedrock of my value
system. We are hard-working, God-fearing people who recognize and treasure our
immigrant roots as we strive to give back some of the many blessings that have
come our way.
Mr. Chairman, Senator Leahy, Senators, I respectfully ask for your favorable
consideration of my nomination and stand ready to respond to any questions that
you may have.
Thank you for your attention.
6/9/2003 2:39:34 PM
BCIS Vision Statement
Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland
Eduardo Aguirre – Acting Director
May 30, 2003
Director’s vision for the BCIS
“My vision is to lead a world-class Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration
Services that will excel in customer service and effective risk management.
During my tenure, Integrity, Respect and Ingenuity will be our core values.
We will bring into the 21st Century our nation’s historical tradition of
welcoming immigrants, while recognizing the unique challenges of this era. In
order to effectively manage the heavy volume of applications, new and efficient
processes must be interwoven with technologically advanced security screening
procedures. Our goal is to deliver the right benefits to the right applicants in
the right amount of time, while preventing the wrong applicants from accessing
our benefits. We have the opportunity, the talent and the leadership to
focus our efforts in delivering this important service to our nation.
Providing world-class customer service, reducing backlogs, and maintaining
the integrity and security of the system are our three immediate leadership
goals. Improving employee morale is a critical element as well.
The challenges we face today have been created over the years; thus, we
recognize that no quick fix will resolve all our problems. Nevertheless, on
March 1st we began our journey into a higher level of excellence by asking the
leaders in our Bureau to immediately review our processes, identify
opportunities for streamlining and further improvement, and begin to implement
meaningful change. Just last week, we launched the electronic filing of two of
our most popular immigration forms via the Internet.
On a personal level, I continue to be guided by President Bush’s vision of
“welcoming immigrants with open arms…not endless lines”.
Biography of Eduardo Aguirre
Eduardo Aguirre Jr., Acting Director of the Bureau of Citizenship and
Immigration Services (BCIS), was appointed by President Bush to this key
leadership position in the Department of Homeland Security in February of 2003.
Mr. Aguirre reports to the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security and functions
in the same capacity as an Under Secretary. As Director of the BCIS, he will be
responsible for the fair and balanced administration of immigration laws. His
sound managerial and business skills, international perspective and commitment
to service will be of tremendous value to the BCIS, the Department of Homeland
Security and the Nation. Mr. Aguirre brings to the BCIS over 30 years of private
sector experience and a strong commitment to civic and public service.
He joins the Department of Homeland Security from the Export-Import Bank of
the United States (Ex-Im Bank) where he currently serves as vice chairman and
COO. President George W. Bush nominated him to this position in May 2001, and in
December of that same year he was confirmed by the United States Senate. From
December of 2001 to December of 2002, Mr. Aguirre served as acting Chairman of
the Bank. During his tenure as head of the Ex-Im Bank, Mr. Aguirre is credited
with guiding the Bank through its most recent five-year Congressional
reauthorization and with shaping the bank into a more customer service and
results-oriented organization. This transformation included the implementation
of streamlined customer procedures, improved risk management focus, the
implementation of quality assurance standards, oversight, and targeted
communication initiatives designed to facilitate customer and stakeholder
interactions. Under his leadership, in fiscal year 2002, the Ex-Im Bank
authorized more than $10 billion in financing to support nearly $13 billion of
U.S. exports to markets worldwide.
Prior to joining the Ex-Im Bank, Mr. Aguirre served as President of
International Private Banking for Bank of America. During his 24-year career
with Bank of America, he led the integration of new teams and corporate cultures
into a unified structure responsive to customers, shareholders and the community
at large. In addition to running a highly profitable unit of this
50,000-employee world-class bank, his team was consistently ranked high in the
areas of customer and employee satisfaction.
As a nationally recognized
business and civic leader he was appointed by then Governor George W. Bush to
serve as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System
for a six-year term until 2001. Mr. Aguirre is credited with bringing clarity of
purpose and direction to the four university system and its approximately
50,000-student body. During his tenure, he was responsible for consolidating the
offices of the Chancellor and President and directing the implementation of key
academic and administrative changes that further enhanced the stature of this
world-class academic institution.
Appointed by the Supreme Court of Texas as a non-attorney director for the
State Bar, Mr. Aguirre was instrumental in improving grievance procedures and
fee structures, making them more accountable and accessible. He also became the
first non-attorney chair of the Texas Bar Foundation. Under his leadership, the
Foundation annually awarded over $500,000 in grants to non-for-profit
organizations making legal services available to those of lesser means.
Named “one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the nation” by Hispanic
Business Magazine, Acting Director Aguirre has traveled extensively in Latin
America, Europe and Asia promoting economic growth, international trade and
business opportunities. He has represented the United States in meetings with
heads of state, cabinet ministers and other high-ranking government officials
and private sector executives in discussions related to trade financing.
As a civic leader, he is the founding chair of the Houston Livestock Show and
Rodeo – Go Tejano Committee, further empowering Houston Hispanics with access to
college scholarships. He also served on numerous professional and civic boards
including the Texas Children’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Center for
Excellence in Education, Bankers Association for Finance and Trade and the
Houston chapters of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.