Customs' Bersin to Get Confirmation Hearing Thursday

Customs' Bersin to Get Confirmation Hearing Thursday

Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, is likely to get sharp questioning from the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday over his compliance with regulations to verify the eligibility of his nanny and other household workers.

The Finance Committee late Wednesday issued a report stating that during vetting sessions last August, Bersin “misspoke” about having a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9 on his nanny. The I-9 is a form on which employers verify that employees have the proper documentation to work in the United States. The staff also inquired about nine other people Bersin employed since 1993.

Bersin and his wife, Lisa Proctor, answered the staff members’ questions and provided additional material they requested, the report noted.

Bersin was among 15 key officials President Obama named as interim appointees on March 27. The president made the appointments after he grew impatient with stalling tactics by Senate Republicans.

The hearing will be the first formal step the Senate takes to confirm Bersin, although he has been a Department of Homeland Security executive since the beginning of the Obama administration. He was Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s “border czar” before the president named him to head Customs last September.

Before joining DHS, Bersin chaired the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and was California secretary of education for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He also was a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California and coordinated the Justice Department’s law enforcement efforts on the Southwest border.

Two Clinton administration nominees for attorney general, Kimba Wood and Zoe Baird, fell down on questions about documenting nannies, which also played a part in the failed nomination of Bernard Kerik to head the Department of Homeland Security. Timothy Geithner faced similar questions over the immigration status of a household employee but won confirmation as the Obama administration’s Treasury Secretary.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.