John Morton, the director of Homeland Security's immigration enforcement agency, will resign from his post in July after more than four years to take a job at a private company, Morton wrote in a note to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees today.  He did not identify which company he would be joining.  Morton was appointed by President Barack Obama and appointed to the Senate in May 2009.  During his tenure, the number of people deported from the US skyrocketed - 89 percent from 2008 to 2009 - to reach 409,849 in 2012.

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"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," ICE Director John Morton said in the note, according to Reuters.  "ICE has truly come of age and become an innovative, leading force in federal law enforcement."

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Morton's tenure as director was marked by criticism coming from both sides of the political spectrum.  Social justice and immigrants' rights groups denounced the spike in deportations as reflective of a policy which they said sowed fear in immigrant communities, and insisted that many of those deported were either low-level offenders or people without records at all.  In 2011, over 160 immigrant rights organizations called the ICE a "rogue agency" in a letter calling for the resignation of the 21 members of a task force assembled by Morton which helped plan deportations carried out under the Secure Communities program.  Many of these groups said Secure Communities and programs like it encourage crime by discouraging undocumented immigrants from calling the police. Morton estimated that in 2012, his agency detained an average of 34,000 foreigners per day, though at the end of the year that number rose to up to 36,000 on some days.

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Likewise, Morton came under fire from Republican members of Congress after more than 2,200 immigrants were released from detention by the ICE in early 2013 as part of austerity measures by the agency.  Republicans summoned him for a hearing at the House of Representatives, accusing him of having turned out dangerous foreign criminals into American communities.  Of those released, 629 had criminal convictions, but were determined not to have posed a security risk and released on bond with monitoring bracelets or other tracking measures, according to the New York Times.

"There were no mass releases of criminals," Morton said then, "just efforts to live within our budget."