Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2003 - 2005
Eduardo Aguirre, Jr., was the first Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an Under Secretary rank position in the Department of Homeland Security. President George W. Bush nominated him to this key leadership position in February 2003. The U.S. Senate recognized his managerial and business skills, international perspective, risk management experience, and commitment to service as valuable assets for USCIS, Homeland Security and the nation, confirmed the nomination on June 19, 2003.
Eduardo Aguirre was sworn-in as the first USCIS Director by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in the historic Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on August 15, 2003.
Director Aguirre fundamentally transformed the delivery of services by the U.S. immigration system. He led a team of 15,000 who annually served over 6 million applicants. The USCIS basic mission is to make certain that the right applicant receives the right benefit in the right amount of time, while preventing the wrong individuals from obtaining benefits. Under Director Aguirre’s leadership USCIS established three basic priorities: eliminating the immigration benefit application backlog, improving customer service, and enhancing national security.
For over three decades Mr. Aguirre has traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe and Asia, promoting economic growth, international trade and business opportunities as a banker, civic leader, and representative of the United States government. He joined the Department of Homeland Security from the Export-Import Bank of the United States where he was appointed by President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. From December 2001 to December 2002, he served as Acting Chairman of this of the Export-Import Bank and guided the agency through its Congressional reauthorization. During Mr. Aguirre’s leadership the Bank reorganized its structure to become more market-focused and customer-driven while enhancing risk management.
Prior to joining Export-Import Bank, Mr. Aguirre served as President of International Private Banking for Bank of America. In this capacity, he ran a highly profitable unit of this industry leader. Over the course of his 24-year career with Bank of America, his team was consistently acknowledged for excellence in customer service and employee satisfaction.
Mr. Aguirre was appointed by then Governor George W. Bush to the Board of Regents of the University of Houston System for a six-year term, serving from 1996-1998 as chairman. President George H. W. Bush appointed him to the National Commission for Employment Policy, and the Supreme Court of Texas appointed him to the State Bar as a Non-Attorney Director.
His deep commitment to community service is also reflected by his leadership involvement over the years in numerous professional and civic boards, including the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Texas Children’s Hospital, Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Texas Bar Foundation, Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, and the Houston chapters of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, among many others.
In 2002, Mr. Aguirre was bestowed the Order of Christopher Columbus by Hipólito Mejía, President of the Dominican Republic. The Order is the highest government honor for public sector leaders and was awarded in recognition of Mr. Aguirre’s achievements in facilitating trade and commerce in the Americas.
Mr. Aguirre holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana State University. He is a graduate of the American Bankers Association’s National Commercial Lending Graduate School, and has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Houston and the Universidad Tecnológica de Santiago in the Dominican Republic. LSU’s College of Business Administration inducted him into its Hall of Distinction in 2004. The International Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi awarded him its Lifetime Achievement Award.
He and his wife, Maria Teresa, each emigrated from Cuba as unaccompanied child at the age of 15. The couple maintains their permanent home in Houston, where they have lived for nearly 30 years, but presently reside in Washington, D.C. The Aguirre’s have two grown children, Eddy and Tessie.