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Watchdog: Follow the Money

ICE changes controversial job's name to avoid congressional defunding

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A highly controversial job at the Department of Homeland Security, formerly known as the "Public Advocate for immigrants," was rebranded by Obama administration officials this summer to avoid the congressional budget ax, according to the watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials announced the position in February 2012, describing Public Advocate Andrew Lorenzen-Strait as "a point of contact for individuals ... who have concerns, questions, recommendations or other issues they would like to raise" about immigration proceedings.

The House voted in June 2012 to defund the position, which Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who introduced the measure, called "an ill-conceived lobbyist position" for illegal immigrants.

"Contrary to what the Obama administration seems to think, the Department of Homeland Security was not created to act as a lobbying firm for illegal aliens," Black said at the time.

"Using taxpayer dollars to fund a position whose primary purpose is to advocate on behalf of individuals who have come into our country illegally is ridiculous and certainly a waste of precious taxpayer dollars."

The measure was re-introduced as part of the Senate's spending bill in March. It never passed, but it appears DHS didn't want to take any chances. Lorenzen-Strait is now listed at DHS as a deputy assistant director of "Custody Programs and Community Outreach."

Judicial Watch discovered what it called a "sneaky" change in an internal DHS document obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

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