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Joseph M. Swing

Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, May 24, 1954 - Jan. 5, 1962

A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Joseph M. Swing graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1915 in the same class as Dwight D. Eisenhower. Swing’s military career spanned five decades, beginning during the 1916 campaign against Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. 

During the Great War, Swing served in France as a Captain in the field artillery. In 1926 he graduated as an honor student from the field artillery school at Fort Hood. Swing then served as an instructor at Fort Hood until 1931. Re-assigned to Washington, D.C., he graduated from the Army War College in Washington in 1935. As a Major General during World War II, Swing commanded the 11th Airborne Division in the Southwest Pacific. After the surrender of Japanese forces, the 11th Airborne was selected as the first unit to occupy Japan and, on August 30, 1945, Swing led the first air-transported troops to Tokyo. Thereafter, he assumed responsibility for occupying force on the island of Hokkaido and the northern portion Honshu. In February of 1948, Swing assumed command of the I Corps, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. 

Upon his return to the United States in 1949, Swing became commandant of the Army War College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1951, he was named commanding General of the Sixth Army at the Presidio in San Francisco. Swing held that billet until he retired from active duty on February 28, 1954.

After Swing’s retirement from the military, President Eisenhower, his friend and former classmate, nominated him to serve as Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. The Senate confirmed Swing’s nomination and he began his tenure as Commissioner on May 24, 1954. During his eight years as head of INS, Swing over saw a reorganization of the Service and implemented programs designed to attain more aggressive enforcement of immigration and deportation policies. He retired from the INS in 1961. Swing died on December 9, 1984, at the age of 90.

Compiled from the following sources:
“Joseph May Swing Takes Office as Commissioner,” The I&N Reporter, Vol. III No. 1 (Jul 1954): 1; Juan Ramon Garcia, Operation Wetback: The Mass Deportation of Mexican Undocumented Workers in 1954 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980);  Joan Cook, “J.M. Swing, Wartime Airborne Commander,” The New York Times, Dec 12, 1984: A29; Richard Pearson, “Joseph M. Swing, Ex-Immigration Secretary, At 90,” New York Times, Dec 12, 1984: C10.

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