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Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA)

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We will protect the homeland by diligently litigating cases while adhering to the highest standards of professional conduct, providing timely and accurate legal advice; and optimizing resources to advance DHS and ICE missions.

The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA) is the largest legal program in DHS, with over 1,100 attorneys and 350 support personnel. By statute, OPLA serves as the exclusive representative of DHS in immigration removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, litigating all removal cases including those against criminal aliens, terrorists, and human rights abusers.

OPLA also provides a full range of legal services to ICE programs and offices.  OPLA provides legal advice and prudential counsel to ICE personnel on their customs, criminal, and immigration law enforcement authorities, the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act, ethics, legal liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and a range of administrative law issues, such as contract, fiscal, and employment law.  OPLA represents the agency before the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Board of Contract Appeals. OPLA attorneys provide essential support to the Department of Justice in the prosecution of ICE cases and in the defense of ICE’s authorities in federal court.

In addition to its headquarters in Washington, D.C., OPLA has 26 Offices of Chief Counsel with a presence in more than 60 locations throughout the United States.

Tracy Short, Principal Legal Advisor
Tracy Short
Principal Legal Advisor

Tracy Short serves as the Principal Legal Advisor for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In this capacity, Mr. Short oversees the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, the largest legal program within the Department of Homeland Security, comprised of more than 1,100 attorneys and 300 support professionals throughout the United States.  The Office of the Principal Legal Advisor is charged with litigating administrative immigration proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and its attorneys provide a wide array of specialized legal services to ICE clients in support of ICE’s homeland security and public safety missions.

Mr. Short began his federal law enforcement career in Dallas, Texas in 2001, as a trial attorney with the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003, Mr. Short became an Assistant Chief Counsel in the ICE Dallas Office of Chief Counsel. In 2005, he was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, where he managed complex civil litigation involving ICE. In 2007, Mr. Short was selected as a Senior Attorney. In that role, he was assigned to litigate significant and complex immigration cases, and he served as the lead attorney for matters involving customs law and criminal investigations. Also in 2007, he served as the Acting Deputy Chief Counsel in Dallas and was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas to prosecute criminal cases. From 2009 to 2015, Mr. Short served as the Deputy Chief Counsel in the ICE Atlanta Office of Chief Counsel.  Most recently, Mr. Short served as counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. 

Prior to his service with the former INS and ICE, Mr. Short was a judicial law clerk for a U.S. district judge and for a justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the Louisiana Department of Justice and as a state public defender. Mr. Short received his law degree from the Louisiana State University Law Center and his undergraduate degree from Texas Christian University. He is a member of the Louisiana State Bar and federal district bars in Louisiana and Texas.

 

Chief of Staff

  • Executive Communications Unit
  • Headquarters Administrative Operations
  • Knowledge Management Division

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

General Law

  • Commercial and Administrative Law Division
  • Government Information Law Division
  • ICE Ethics Office
  • Labor and Employment Law Division
  • Mission Support Division
Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/03/2017