Leon Rodriguez served as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) from 2014–2017, following an over twenty-five year career as a prosecutor, law firm partner, and government agency leader. As a partner at Seyfarth, Mr. Rodriguez assists clients in navigating complex and high stakes enforcement and public policy issues.
Mr. Rodriguez brings an inter-disciplinary approach to solving client challenges, incorporating compliance, litigation, investigation, policy development/advocacy and public relations tools. His substantive expertise includes immigration compliance and enforcement, immigration policy, health care privacy and security, health care fraud and abuse, civil rights, diversity and inclusion and professional ethics.
Mr. Rodriguez is a founding member of the firm’s Immigration and Compliance Specialty Team, chair of the firm’s Health Care Regulatory and Compliance Affinity Group, and a co-chair of the Health Care Privacy, Security and HIPAA Affinity Group. As director, he oversaw the efforts of approximately 19,000 workers in 250 worldwide locations. Mr. Rodriguez also oversaw the modernization of USCIS’s business, particularly the digital transformation of several of USCIS’ core business processes.
During his tenure as director of USCIS, Mr. Rodriguez lead the implementation of the Obama administration’s core immigration priorities, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, policies to improve U.S. business access to high-skilled workers, and the growth of the U.S. Refugee Admissions program at a time of unprecedented world-wide displacement.
Immediately prior to serving as director of USCIS, Mr. Rodriguez served from 2011 to 2014 as Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS-OCR), the agency responsible for the administration of the federal health information privacy laws, including HIPAA and HITECH, and the civil rights laws protecting beneficiaries of HHS funded programs.
Among Mr. Rodriguez’s core accomplishments as HHS-OCR director were: 1) the dramatic increase in HIPAA monetary enforcement activity, heralded as promoting greater compliance with health information privacy laws throughout health care industry; 2) issuance of updated HIPAA regulations as mandated under the HITECH Act; 3) successful completion of first HIPAA audit pilot; and 4) initiation of enforcement activity under Affordable Care Act anti-discrimination provisions.
From 2010 to 2011, Mr. Rodriguez served as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, where his duties included leadership of the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, which enforces laws prohibiting discrimination in employment based on citizenship status and national original.
From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Rodriguez was the County Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, where he led a staff of forty-seven lawyers in providing litigation, transactional and general counsel services to Montgomery County and related governmental clients. One of his top accomplishments was his successful role as the lead county negotiator in the acquisition and leasing of property for the Fillmore Theatre in downtown Silver Spring. The Fillmore Theatre agreement was a finalist for Washington Business Journal’s 2012 Deal of the Year (Community Impact category).
Mr. Rodriguez was an attorney at a major national law firm from 2001 until his appointment as County Attorney, specializing in white collar criminal defense and health law. He served as a federal prosecutor in the Western District of Pennsylvania form 1997 to 2001, including postings as Chief of the White collar Crimes Section (1998 to 1999), and First Assistant U.S. Attorney (1999 to 2001).
Mr. Rodriguez is active in community organizations including serving as a board member of HIAS, Inc., an international refugee serving organization, and Adventure Theatre Musical Theatre Center. Mr. Rodriguez also served on the Committee on Admissions and Grievances of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2004 to 2010.
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