WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton, who has overseen an increase in illegal immigrant deportations, said he's leaving the agency.
Morton said Monday he will leave ICE at the end of July, the Washington Post said. He took the post after unanimous confirmation by the U.S. Senate in May 2009.
"I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished together during that time and look with awe on the incredible progress ICE has made as an agency," Morton said in a memo to employees Monday. "ICE has truly come of age and become an innovative, leading force in federal law enforcement."
Since joining ICE, Morton has overseen a shift in policy when it comes to illegal immigration under the Obama administration. Obama tasked Morton with shifting the emphasis from general deportation of illegal immigrants to targeting dangerous aliens involved in criminal undertakings.
Though more targeted, Morton's tenure saw a significant uptick in the overall number of deportations due to an individual's immigration status.
The agency is expected to play a key role in the ongoing debate over immigration reform, with Republicans insisting on a ramped up effort to secure the nation's southern border before those already in the United States illegally can move forward with the normalization process.