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Alan Bersin

Customs & Border Protection chief's term expiring

Customs and Border Protection head Alan Bersin is leaving office before the end of the year, the agency said Thursday.

Bersin was given a recess appointment in 2010 after the Senate didn't act on his nomination for seven months. He will step down Dec. 30, one day before his term is set to expire.

President Obama nominated Bersin to be commissioner of CBP in September 2009, and used a recess appointment to put him in charge of the border agency in March 2010 after the Senate didn't act on the nomination.

Recess appointments may be made when Congress is not in session, but may not carry over into a new congressional term.

"My service as commissioner has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my public life. I am immensely proud of the significant and meaningful achievements we have made on our borders and at our nation’s ports of entry over nearly two years," Bersin said in a statement announcing his resignation.

Praising Bersin for "distinguished leadership," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said "During his tenure, CBP has taken historic steps to secure our borders while facilitating legal travel and trade. Commissioner Bersin has also been instrumental in facilitating new international agreements and public-private partnerships as well as developing new paradigms throughout the world in combating terrorism and international crime."

"Commissioner Bersin has helped set CBP on a path to continuously adapt and seek new and innovative ways of keeping our country – and our communities – safe," she said.

CBP's deputy commissioner, David V. Aguilar, will serve as acting commissioner, Napolitano announced.

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Bersin at a Tucson press conference, February 2011.