Homeland Security deputy secretary retiring

John Tien announced he is leaving Tuesday.

June 20, 2023, 10:21 AM

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John Tien is retiring from the Department, he announced in an internal message to department staff on Tuesday.

Tien, an Army veteran who served three tours of duty, including in Operation Desert Storm, is leaving the Department on July 20, according to the message.

“After 26 years of combined federal service including three combat tours in Iraq and living apart from my family for the last two years, I have decided to return to Atlanta to re-join them there,” Tien said to the Department workforce in an email. “When I depart from DHS on July 20, 2023, I will most fondly remember what the Secretary and I tried to do for the workforce to vastly improve the lives of our fellow employees in terms of pay, training, facilities, and technology support, all essential to improving morale.”

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security John K. Tien arrives for a G7 Interior and Security Ministers Meeting in Eltville am Rhein, western Germany on Nov. 18, 2022.
Andre Pain/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The outgoing deputy secretary served in the military for 24 years after graduating from West Point with the school's highest honor.

Tien is also one of the highest-ranking Asian Americans in the Biden administration. He spoke about it to ABC News last month.

"As a first-generation Asian American, I know that I've got a responsibility to be both seen and heard," he explained in May.

In a message to the workforce obtained by ABC News, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called Tien a "patriot."

"On behalf of 260,000 of us throughout the Department of Homeland Security -- across the country and around the world -- I express our profound thanks to him for making our Department and all of us the beneficiaries of his dedication to country and qualities as a person for the past two years," Mayorkas said.

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