Skip to main content

Leonel J. Castillo

Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service, May 13, 1977 - October 1, 1979

From the INS Reporter, “Meet Leonel J. Castillo, Our New Commissioner,” Summer, v.26, no.1, p. 1

Leonel J. Castillo, former Controller of the City of Houston, Texas, has assumed a new role as Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization. He is the first Hispanic to hold that post.  President Jimmy Carter nominated Mr. Castillo on April 7, 1977, to succeed General Lenard F. Chapman, Jr.  His appointment was confirmed the U.S. Senate on April 27, 1977.

Mr. Castillo, 37, took the oath of office at an impressive ceremony held at the White House on May 13, 1977. Attorney General Griffin Bell administered the oath of office. In his remarks prior to the swearing in, President Carter said of Mr. Castillo, "He's a man who has the highest possible reputation. He's a public administrator, and I think I can tell you that he's going to take on one of the most difficult jobs in the Government.  Sometimes I think the Oval Office is a hot spot, but I think his own responsibilities at this particular time might be even worse."Mr. Castillo had been the Controller for the City of Houston since January 1972. He also served as a member of the INS Commissioner's Hispanic Advisory Committee, which he helped organize last December. Prior to his election as Controller, Mr. Castillo in 1970-71 was the Director of the Catholic Counsel of Community Relations for the Diocese of Galveston, Texas. He also served as director of projects under the Manpower Development Training Act for Jobs for Progress, Inc., where he was responsible for the administration and training and job placement programs for the disadvantaged persons. In addition, he was a Peace Corps volunteer and official in the Philippines.

A native of Galveston, Texas, Mr. Castillo was graduated with honors from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, where he received his bachelor's degree in English. He received his master's degree in Community Organization at the University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Castillo and his wife Evelyn, have two children, Avalyn and Efrem.

<< back to Commissioners and Directors


Last Reviewed/Updated: