Senate Confirmation Hearing of Eduardo Aguirre

Senate Confirmation Hearing Testimony

Eduardo Aguirre
June 5, 2003 – Testimony
Senate Judiciary Confirmation Hearing

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 Representatives.

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 Security
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.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 03060941.