United States Flag
Official Website of the Department of Homeland Security

Report Crimes: Email or Call 1-866-DHS-2-ICE

Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)

"We work to ensure that criminals face justice in a court of law."

The largest legal program in DHS, ICE's Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) is the exclusive legal representative for the U.S. government in exclusion, deportation and removal proceedings before the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. OPLA attorneys also litigate immigration-related hearings on behalf of the United States involving criminal aliens, terrorists and human rights abusers.

OPLA is the largest legal program in the Department of Homeland Security, providing legal advice, training and services in cases related to the ICE mission.

OPLA also is the exclusive legal representative for the U.S. government in exclusion, deportation and removal proceedings before the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Moreover, OPLA attorneys litigate immigration-related hearings that involve criminal aliens, terrorists and human rights abusers.

OPLA also provides critical legal support to ICE components focusing on customs, worksite enforcement, ethics, employment law, tort claims and administrative law issues.

OPLA is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has 26 offices throughout the country, each headed by a chief counsel.

Mission

OPLA protects the homeland by diligently litigating cases while adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct, and providing timely and accurate legal advice in support of the agency's mission.

Peter S. Vincent, Principal Legal Advisor and Senior Counselor for International Policy
Peter S. Vincent
Principal Legal Advisor and Senior Counselor for International Policy

Peter S. Vincent is the Principal Legal Advisor and Senior Counselor for International Policy for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Mr. Vincent joined ICE as the Principal Legal Advisor in May 2009. As the Principal Legal Advisor, he oversees the largest legal program in DHS. Mr. Vincent supervises over 1,000 attorneys and an additional 450 legal and mission support specialists who represent ICE in removal proceedings before immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. In addition, he advises ICE's numerous enforcement components on issues ranging from customs law to Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues.

In his role as Senior Counselor for International Policy, Mr. Vincent advises the Office of the Director on issues related to the formulation and execution of the agency's international diplomatic engagement.

In July 2002, following a successful career as a litigator in private practice, Mr. Vincent joined the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. He later served on the National Security Litigation Team in the San Francisco Office of the Chief Counsel for ICE. As a trial attorney, he represented the government in immigration proceedings involving terrorists and individuals who provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations. In addition, Mr. Vincent advised the local Joint Terrorism Task Force on issues relating to counterterrorism and foreign counterintelligence.

In November 2006, Mr. Vincent was appointed to serve as the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) assistant judicial attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. In December 2008, he was promoted to judicial attaché. In those capacities, Mr. Vincent advised DOJ, the U.S. Department of State, and various law enforcement and intelligence-gathering agencies on matters concerning extradition, terrorist organizations, and narco-trafficking. During his tenure at the U.S. Embassy, he coordinated nearly 500 extraditions to the United States, including the extradition requests for dozens of high-profile leaders of designated foreign terrorist organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

In November 2011, Mr. Vincent was named as the Acting Director of the agency's Office of International Affairs (OIA). With attachés in 75 offices in 48 countries, including 7 combatant commands, OIA is the largest international investigative component within the DHS. Mr. Vincent served as Acting Director through July 2013.

Mr. Vincent graduated with high honors from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Virginia Journal of International Law.

 

Chief of Staff

  • Headquarters Administrative Operations
  • Executive Communications Unit
  • Executive Services Team

Enforcement and Litigation

  • District Court Litigation Division
  • Enforcement and Removal Operations Law Division
    • Detention and Removal Law Section
    • Enforcement Law Section
  • Homeland Security Investigations Law Division
    • Criminal Law Section
    • Human Rights Law Section
    • National Security Law Section
  • Immigration Law Practice Division

Field Legal Operations

  • 26 Offices of the Chief Counsel overseen by the Director and Deputy Directors of Field Legal Operations

General Law

  • Commercial and Administrative Law Division
  • Government Information Law Division
  • ICE Ethics Office
  • Knowledge Management Division
  • Labor and Employment Law Division
  • Mission Support Division
  • Training Division