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Racial gaffe may sink nominee

Associated Press
Published November 18, 2007


WASHINGTON - Just when it appeared Julie Myers had cleared every hurdle in her quest to officially become the nation's top immigration official, a dreadlocks wig and a prisoner's outfit could cost her the job.

Myers, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ran into trouble this month after she and two other agency managers gave the "most original" costume award to a white employee who came to the agency's Halloween party dressed as an escaped prisoner with dreadlocks and darkened skin.

The incident drew complaints of racial insensitivity and an apology from Myers. It also cast doubt on whether she'll get a confirmation vote before the end of the year, when her original appointment expires.

It would be a stunning collapse for Myers, 38, who worked hard over the past two years to convince skeptical lawmakers that someone with little immigration experience was up to the task of running the government's second-largest investigative force.

With just a few more weeks to go before the end of the session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has not scheduled a vote on Myers. Spokesman Jim Manley said last week that Reid has "serious concerns" with the nomination and is consulting with other lawmakers about how to proceed.