Tony Pham, interim director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will leave at the end of the year, he announced. Photo courtesy of ICE Twitter account
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Tony Pham, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, will resign at the year's end after five months on the job.
Pham, the son of Vietnamese refugee parents, thanked President Donald Trump for his brief time in service.
"Leading a law enforcement agency with such a committed workforce has been the honor of a lifetime," Pham said in a statement. "I will continue to be that tireless advocate for the hard working men and women at ICE.
"However, at the end of the year, I will be returning home to Richmond, Va., to be closer to my family."
Pham, a lawyer and government prosecutor for immigration cases, was appointed in August to replace acting director Matthew Albence, who retired.
During his brief time heading ICE, Pham was criticized for an October campaign to post billboards in Pennsylvania that pictured wanted immigration suspects.
"The placement and the timing -- the placement being Pennsylvania and the timing being a month before the election -- make it clear that this is a political move, not related to operational matters," David Lapan, a retired U.S. Marine colonel and former Trump administration press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security told CBS News.
Others blamed Pham for helping the Trump administration slow to a trickle the number of refugees admitted to the United States.
"Tony Pham chose to promote Trump's apartheid worldview, and turned his back on refugee communities, here and abroad," a group of California-based refugee organizations, including VietRISE, which supports Vietnamese refugees, said in a statement.
"ICE's racist billboards, its thinly-veiled electoral propaganda, the deaths in ICE prison camps and unlawful targeting of those who spoke out for Migrant Justice and for Black Lives all happened on [Pham's] watch," the groups said.