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Customs chief failed to file paperwork for household help

By Ed O'Keefe

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan D. Bersin said Thursday that he didn't know he's required by law to file paperwork verifying his household employees were authorized to work in the United States.

Bersin told senators that he and his wife tracked the immigration status of a nanny, housecleaners and babysitters “on a piece of paper that was on file in our home."

“No employee ineligible to work in the United States has ever worked in our household,” Bersin said. “No employee who has worked in our household has not had taxes paid for.”

According to a memo by the Senate Finance Committee, Bersin has employed 10 household workers since 1993 and failed to complete I-9 forms for all of them. The I-9 form is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which shares immigration enforcement responsibilities with CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

President Obama nominated Bersin last September, but issued a recess appointment for him and 14 other nominees in March. Despite delays in the confirmation process, Obama said all of the nominees would remain in the Senate for confirmation.

The Finance Committee considered Bersin's nomination on Thursday, but chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) told Bersin that his failure to file the paperwork was “unacceptable.”

“Part of the agency’s responsibilities is to secure our borders. To credibly enforce the law you must first follow the law,” Baucus said, adding later that Bersin’s term “will expire at the end of the next session.” Nominees installed during a Congressional recess serve until the end of the next Congressional session, meaning Bersin’s term would expire in late 2011 if the Senate does not confirm him.

Bersin previously served as Obama's U.S.-Mexico border czar, advising Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on border security matters. The former California education secretary, San Diego schools superintendent and private attorney also served as a U.S. attorney during the Clinton administration. He maintains the full support of the White House.

“Mr. Bersin has responded honestly and candidly to all questions from Committee staff,” said White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro. “He has displayed the integrity and forthrightness that have been hallmarks of his career in government, academia, and the private sector.”

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By Ed O'Keefe  | May 13, 2010; 4:54 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Confirmation Hearings  
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Not this again....

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I was going to make a Turbotax joke.. a la geithner... but then i wonder --- can he blame turbotax for this?

Posted by: yetanotherpassword | May 13, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

BUT, he paid his taxes.

Didn't he?

I mean really, didn't he??

Posted by: bgreen2224 | May 13, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

A recent best-selling book asserted that the average American unknowingly commits three felonies a day, just due to the sheer number of criminal laws that are out there.

If even the CBP commissioner can't keep up with the legal requirements, what hope is there for the average American?

We've created a system where, if anyone from the government WANTS to put any given person in prison, it's almost certain that they'll be able to find several perfectly legitimate reason to do so.

This kind of situation leads inexorably to authoritarianism: when you KNOW that displeasing a government official can result in your being investigated and (inevitably) found guilty of *something*, then you're not living in a free country anymore.

Posted by: kcx7 | May 13, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Bersin is a snake.

Posted by: belugajedi | May 13, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Ok...let me see if I have this right. This man is the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner and "...he didn't know [that] he's required by law to file paperwork verifying his household employees were authorized to work in the United States."

When one gets positions like these, they are told exactly what needs to be filled out and submitted. If he is a new fed, this would have been covered in his orientation. If this is a promotion, he would have been informed as soon as the appointment was official.

I could understand if he said he forgot. While it's a poor excuse, it does happen and it's happened to many of us. But to say he didn't know? In his position? There isn't a printable adjective to describe how lame that is.

Posted by: overhereontheleft | May 13, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Orientation? You've got to be kidding. Most employees when they are hired are barely afforded the luxury of proper orientation whith the exception of sign here, sign there, fill out this form, this other, and do it quick before they go poof. Then they are left wondering how everything else works.
In the other hand, IRS requirements are that proper taxes be paid, he paid. Social Security requirements are that employers verify that household employees are legally able to work and to pay ssn dues for each employee; according to this article he verified, filed and paid.
Uhmmmm... no, I cannot honestly say that he is lying.

Posted by: venusita | May 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

And that's why I clean my own damn house. But then again, I rock the boat at work and don't kiss up to anybody, so I will never have to worry about getting nominated to any one of these highfalutin' positions.

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | May 13, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the rich, celebrities and high level officials usually are held to different, more permissive, standards than the ordinary people in this country. Always has been true, probably always will be.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | May 14, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking of working for this outfit
I have second thoughts....

Posted by: llemick | May 14, 2010 4:03 AM | Report abuse

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