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Biden USCIS Pick Ur Jaddou Advances with Senate Panel Vote (1)

June 24, 2021, 2:45 PMUpdated: June 24, 2021, 4:30 PM

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced President Joe Biden’s choice for director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Thursday, bringing the nomination of the agency’s former chief counsel one step closer to a full Senate vote.

Ur Jaddou, the California-born daughter of Mexican and Iraqi immigrants, was approved by the Senate panel in a party-line 11-10 vote, with one abstention from Sen. Tom Tillis (R-N.C.). Her confirmation hearing was on May 26. She’s been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as immigrant rights groups and a union representing USCIS employees.

In addition to serving as chief counsel at USCIS—a part of the Department of Homeland Security charged with administering U.S. immigration—Jaddou led a DHS watchdog project with the progressive immigration advocacy organization America’s Voice.

Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) noted that she would be the first woman to lead USCIS, and said at the start of Thursday’s committee meeting that Jaddou is well qualified and would provide “sorely needed experience and competent leadership” at the agency.

Citing reasons for his opposition to her nomination as the meeting began, the committee’s ranking Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said Jaddou appeared to hold an expansive view of DHS’s authority to grant temporary permission, or parole, to some immigrants who unlawfully entered the U.S. to temporarily remain in the country. The Immigration and Nationality Act allows this on a case-by-case basis, such as for humanitarian reasons.

“I’ve long had concern about DHS’s unlawful use of parole authority to grant parole to large classes of people,” he said.

After leaving USCIS in 2017, Jaddou was counsel at the Washington law firm Potomac Law Group PLLC, and served on Biden’s transition team.

If confirmed, she will face demands for the agency to address ballooning visa backlogs and calls for changes to its rules for programs such as the H-1B visa for skilled workers.

(Numbered Revision: Updates to add details of committee vote. Updates to add comments from Sens. Durbin and Grassley in paragraphs six, seven, and eight.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia O'Neal in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Travis Tritten at; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at; Andrew Harris at