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Alan C. Nelson

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Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, February 22, 1982 - June 16, 1989

Image of Alan Nelson

 From the INS Reporter,Introducing Alan C. Nelson: Our New Commissioner,” Spring 1982, v.30, n.3, p.1.

Alan C. Nelson, former member of the Reagan Administration in California and General Attorney for Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in San Francisco, has assumed the position of Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Mr. Nelson on November 18, 1981, to fill the post which had been vacant since Leonel J, Castillo resigned on October 1, 1979. His appointment was confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on February 8, 1982.

Mr. Nelson, 48, took the oath of office at a ceremony held at the INS Central Office on February 22, 1982; Attorney General William French Smith administered the oath of office. In his remarks following the swearing in, Attorney General Smith said, "Now, under the direction of Commissioner Nelson, we must invigorate and organize the Service so it can perform its functions effectively, expeditiously, and fairly. No reform legislation, however enlightened, can have more than a cosmetic effect until this is done. That is why Alan Nelson has been chosen to be Commissioner and that is what we must set about doing. Commissioner, this is a responsibility in which you enjoy my full support and that of the Department.”

Mr. Nelson was appointed Deputy Commissioner on September 23, 1981. Prior to that appointment, he had been a General Attorney with Pacific Telephone and Telegraph since 1976. From 1972 through 1975 he was Director of the Department of Rehabilitation for the State of California, and from 1969 through 1972 served as Assistant Director for the Department of Human Resources Development (now known as the Employment Development Department) for the California state government.

He was Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County from 1964 through 1969 and an attorney in the law firm of Rogers, Clark & Jordan from 1958 through 1964.

During his six years in the state government in California, Mr. Nelson played a key role in developing and gaining passage of Governor Reagan's welfare reform program. Also he was former Chairman of the California Governor's Committee for Employment of the Handicapped. He received numerous awards from various public and private organizations for his role in working with the handicapped in California.

Upon his appointment to the Deputy Commissioner post in September, the Attorney General said. "Alan Nelson brings to INS a solid background of achievement in management both in business and government, and will make a significant contribution in strengthening our Nation's Immigration Service."

He is a 1958 graduate of the University of California Law School, and earned his undergraduate degree in business administration at California. He is a member of the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association.

Mr. Nelson is married and has three children.

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Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/19/2013