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Doris Meissner

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Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, October 18, 1993 - November 18, 2000

 
Image of Doris MeissnerDoris Meissner was sworn in as Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) on October 18, 1993, following the U.S. Senate's unanimous confirmation of her appointment. As President Clinton noted when he nominated her, Meissner brought to the agency "a unique combination of management and policy experience" in immigration affairs, including an earlier term at INS. She previously served as Acting Commissioner in 1981, then as Executive Associate Commissioner until 1986, when she moved to the private sector as a Senior Associate and Director of the Immigration Policy Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

As Commissioner, Meissner’s accomplishments included: reforming the nation’s asylum system, creating new strategies to manage U.S. borders in the context of open trade, improving services for immigrants, managing migration and humanitarian crises firmly and compassionately, and strengthening cooperation and joint initiatives with Mexico, Canada, and other countries. After serving more than seven years as Commissioner, Ms. Meissner left the INS on November 18, 2000, to return to the Carnegie Endowment.

Ms. Meissner has written or contributed to numerous reports and articles, testified on policy matters before Congressional committee hearings, and addressed professional meetings and academic forums on a wide variety of immigration issues. Her career interest in these issues began with her selection as a White House Fellow serving as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General in 1973 and 1974. Following that appointment, she remained at the Department of Justice to become, in succession, Assistant Director of the Office of Policy and Planning (1975); Executive Director of the Cabinet Committee on Illegal Aliens (1976); and Deputy Associate Attorney General (1977-80).

Her professional credentials also included membership on a number of distinguished boards and panels, such as the Council on Foreign Relations (1990 to Present); the 21st Century Trust Workshop in International Migration in Cambridge, England (1991); the Higher Education Issues panel, Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities (1990-92); Board of Trustees for both the Refugee Policy Group (1987-93) and the Washington Office on Latin America (1989-93); the Advisory Board, program for Research on Immigration Policy, Rand Corporation/Urban Institute (1988-92); and the Advisory Council, U.S./Mexico Project, Overseas Development Council (1981-86).

Among the honors she has received are the White House Fellowship mentioned above, a Department of Justice Special Commendation Award, and listings in Who's Who in America and Outstanding Young Women of America.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ms. Meissner is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where she earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/19/2013