January 24, 2003

Eduardo Aguirre Jr., a Cuban immigrant and a top official at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, will head the Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the White House announced Thursday.

Aguirre is a former Houston banker. The bureau he'll direct is responsible for providing services to immigrants such as applications for citizenship, work permits and international adoptions.

Most of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's responsibilities were absorbed by the Homeland Security Department. INS functions are split in the new department, with one bureau to enforce immigration laws and another to provide immigration services.

Aguirre has been at the Export-Import Bank since 2001 and was to serve through 2005.

He is a former University of Houston regent and was the regents' chairman for two years. He was picked by George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, for the regent's job and was the first Hispanic to serve in the post.

Aguirre is one of thousands of Cuban children who were sent to the United States by their parents between 1960 and 1962 as part of Operation Pedro Pan. In previous interviews, he has said he struggled throughout high school and his early college years because of his poor English.

Aguirre is a graduate of Louisiana State University and the American Banking Association's National Commercial Lending Graduate School at the University of Oklahoma.

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